Over-reaction or realism?

Published April 6, 2012 by crazyinpink

Yesterday I had a bit of news….sort of.

I’ve been waiting to hear about funding for my PhD and since I’ve got an essay due after the Easter holidays I thought I’d distract myself with some research. I emerged from the library yesterday afternoon to venture forth for some much-needed caffeine when my phone lit up with emails waiting to be read. Among the usual spam and random updates there were two emails from my supervisor. The first, a reply to an email I’d sent that morning about this essay. The second made me stop dead. The Head of the School had suggested to him to draw my attention to a studentship on offer. The studentship entails a fully funded 3 year PhD as part of a larger research project. I felt like the bottom had dropped out of my stomach.

As Best Friend pointed out, this email did not state “You have not received PhD funding” but to me, it may as well have. I know this studentship has only just become available but why would they recommend it to someone they have already decided to give funding to? My supervisor and I have a great relationship and he knows me better than some of my friends at times. He knows that I would never give up my topic to do another. I am a religious historian. This studentship is for a project on poverty and welfare. The only intersection between my research and this project is the period. Why would they suggest it to me unless they knew that I wasn’t going to get the money to do my own?

Best Friend met with me and immediately told me off for over-reacting. He said that I was blowing it all out of proportion and I probably am, but he just doesn’t see it the way I do. When he applied for his PhD he applied twice, once for his own topic and once for a pre-chosen one. He got into the pre-chosen one and was all set to do it until a week before starting when he suddenly got the money to do his own. Because of this, he thinks its just the same. But its not. He applied simultaneously, I applied a month ago and now they are suggesting I apply for another, after the decisions have been made.

I don’t know what to do now. Assuming that I haven’t got the funding for my PhD, I can either stick to my guns and do it anyway or apply for this other one. But what if I get it? Could I really spend three years researching something that I have absolutely no interest in? I found it hard enough to continue with my Masters when I had absolutely zero interest in what I was doing. I have a feeling that if things were to get hard, I wouldn’t even have the motivation to get out of bed to go work on something I would eventually grow to hate. And I would be stuck with a specialism I don’t even like. My post-doctoral prospects would be completely based on this topic, a topic that isn’t even mine.

Or I do my own, part-time and stay in my current job to support myself? I would be completely exhausted and probably wouldn’t have the time or energy to do much else besides work and study. But at least my research would be something I’m passionate about. And I could reapply for funding after the first year, or I’ll spend the next six years hovering between academia and employment.

I have absolutely no idea what I should do. At least I have the whole Easter holidays to brood on it.

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