They have little vision as to the power available in the doctoral degree. All three to me seemed to be floating aimlessly in a dream world. I have always wondered how one can keep to a huge hard goal when there is little future gain expected. These three have no forward looking mental map and they see no reward at the end of all this hard work. Right now they are being propelled forward by telling everyone around them that someday they will be doctor such and such. They bask in these little amounts of social reward. Their answers to a few of my questions show a lack of any real reason for them to go through all the hell involved in mastering a doctoral degree.
It costs a lot to obtain a doctoral degree and it takes a lot of time. You also put off a lot of fun things that must wait until you graduate. You should expect to be paid back for the time and money put into a doctoral degree. Many times your behavior is influenced by your expectations so make sure to expect a greater salary, more interesting work and other benefits once you graduate. Grab hold of that expectation of better things as you trudge through your daily doctoral student life. Bring some brightness and energy into your life while it is still an ongoing quest to graduate.
In this world, people who work hard are generally rewarded in line with the effort. Money is not bad, it is the love of money that seems to wreck folks. Money if used well is great but if you are thinking about it all the time and those thoughts dominate you then yes it could be a problem. If you graduate and sell a startup internet company and make a billion dollars call me and we can work through your guilt. But for the rest of you, there is nothing wrong with visualizing what you will do with your new degree. After graduation acquiring a new job, car, wardrobe, travel and excitement are fine. Expect a payback for your hard work.
The doctoral degree process is a competition where many of the smartest people in the world are tested in every way in a cauldron of pain. The exact numbers are very hard to quantify but depending on who you listen to, what you read and how you measure it, the number of successful candidates runs from two to twenty five percent. (I gave up trying to get an accurate measure years ago). Colleges want higher numbers and people who failed the degree want low numbers of graduates to justify their own failure. Just realize a lot of folks do not make it through this doctoral degree process. Some colleges are much better at graduating docs so that throws off any meaningful numbers even more.
All of the folks accepted into a doctoral degree program were chosen by the colleges because they were smart, tough and outstanding. You put these outstanding folks into a long term testing arena that demands intelligence, perseverance and creativity. They must borrow money and many go deeply in debt. The process is long, confusing and they are challenged constantly. Their work is criticized and attacked by their doctoral committee and others. Friends not in the doctoral process do fun things, go places and spend more on their families. Mentally, you have to push forward and focus on a goal. You are tested physically, spiritually and mentally. You work a full day at your regular job and then spend three hours at the library. In that same day you still have to meet the needs of loved ones, stroke the inflated egos of committee members and get up each day and do it over again.
So yes, when you have graduated expect that there are financial opportunities. There is nothing wrong with putting some of your focus on that fact as you move forward toward completing your degree. People with advanced degrees many times make more money in life. Financial blogs who pull apart government reports talk about the unemployment rate being much lower for well-educated folks. Yes we all know one very well educated person who is unemployed but he or she may have been booted at the first sign of a company cut back because they had poor people skills and were a nightmare to manage. People who are hard to work with seem to be shown the door first unless they have a very valuable skill that the company needs. So treat other folks well if you want to stay and have a job. But expect to make more money once you have completed the doctoral degree. It may take patiently looking for a new job but someone out there needs your skills. Choose carefully and enjoy the process.
Mind your goals,
Dr. Randy Parker
National Doctoral Student Association