Actually, I wanted to write something to follow up Thanhdad’s recent entry on ‘Girls doing a PhD’ (in which he ‘kindly’ and ‘generously’ dropped my name several times as a great example to disillusion all the ‘dreamers’ out there). But while doing some ‘research’ for that, I came across this article written by Patrick Tomlin from Oxford University. It’s kind of cool.
According to Patrick, there are 8 types of graduate students:
1. The Wannabe Undergraduate
They had such fun as undergraduates that they cannot bear it to end. They prop up the bar, talking to undergrads about their thesis, rather than actually writing it. They judge success by notches on the bedpost and hangovers accrued instead of marks, grades and the intellectual respect of their peers.
2. The Student Who Tried Employment
Some postgraduates have been out into the real world and had a real job, with a desk and a computer and a pay cheque and a lunch break and a pension and appraisals and meetings and everything. And, for whatever reason, they have found it wanting.
3. The Couldn’t-Survive-Anywhere-but-at-University
The group most likely to be cultivating eccentricities – keeping a mouse in their pocket or wearing socks with Marxist slogans sewn into them – while still too young to shave.
4. The CV-Filler
Their primary focus is not what they study, but what it will look like on their CV. They believe this qualification will give them “that extra edge”. Most likely to end up as accountants or lawyers, never employing the knowledge gained.
5. The Prestigious Scholarship Recipient
Rather than worrying about what the subject they study will look like on their CV, their primary focus is who is paying for it. In a reversal of the usual relationship between funding and studying, in which the former is a means to the latter, the funding is regarded as an end in itself and the studying something that has to be endured to be able to call themselves a [insert name of dead white man] scholar for the rest of their lives.
6. The One Who Just Needs Answers
They really are motivated purely by the desire to find answers about their specific area of interest.
7. The Eternal Student
They are not bothered whether their academic career shows linear progress, they’re just collecting qualifications and trying to get every letter of the alphabet after their name.
8. The Polymath
These geniuses could have studied anything, anywhere. They will probably go on to great things across several disciplines, and already understand your thesis better than you do. An unfortunate subset are also charming, witty and good-looking, and therefore hated by everyone.
In my two cents, I’ll add another type (which suits me best): the opportunists, who decide to go for a PhD simply because an opportunity (a ‘too good to be true’ one) comes up. Those are the ones who apply for a PhD in a moment of madness, thinking of it as a chance to spend someone else’s money on traveling, shopping, eating, drinking, enjoying themselves, etc. for a good time while dreaming how to earn a decent living afterwards, and how to reach a permanent commitment with a so-called ‘family’. The word ‘research’ is a taboo. Pray for me, my dear!
Whichever type you are, enjoy the game!