One of the things that I hear a lot of people talk about is wanting to get a doctoral degree. They mentally associate the Ph.D. – one of the highest degrees one can earn – with being super smart, accomplished, and reaching the pinnacle of their career potential. What they don’t understand is that if your career interests do not necessarily align with those of the Ph.D., then what you’re endlessly pursuing may very well be a huge waste of time, energy, and effort.
It is quite whimsical to associate graduate school with a love of learning, but it actually encompasses much more than that. After undergrad, the shift is from consuming knowledge to creating knowledge. The idea of devoting a career to reading classic literature might sound like a dream, but the amount of time spent reading Dickens would pale in comparison to the amount of time studying rhetoric, sentence structure, or creative technique. Rather than simply reading and enjoying (which everyone is free to do so long as they have access to a public library), you will spend a lot of time researching and writing scholarly papers.
For the person who longs to receive a Ph.D. in psychology, are you well aware that the bulk of your time (and your career) will be spent designing research studies and delving into statistics? Can you really imagine devoting five to seven years of your life for the pursuit of original knowledge or answering the unanswered questions about human nature, understanding, and knowledge? If so, then a Ph.D. sounds like a great career investment. If not, then I would be sure to consider other options.
In this day and age, it seems as if people are endlessly in pursuit of degree after degree without taking time to assess whether the degree is a good fit for their career goals. Many years and thousands of dollars of student loan debt later, some people are entering the “real world” with a disillusioned idea of their careers, as well as the necessary training for a career which they are not particularly fond of.
Save yourself the time and effort. Do some career research before you blindly apply to Ph.D. programs. Perhaps a bachelors is really all you need or even a masters degree. I divert from the crowd of masses when I say there is no glory in devoting many years of study for a degree that “looks” good on paper, but in reality puts you no closer to your career goals than when you first started.