Tuesday, August 6, 2013

FAQ of Mama PhD Students

These are the top 5 questions that I get asked as a Mama PhD student.  They are in no particular order, and numbers 2-4 are asked of every PhD student that ever was.  

1. How do you do it all?
I DON'T.  My house is pretty much a wreck in need of some serious scrubbing at all times, and PBS Kids might actually be turning my kids' brains into mush.  Honestly, I get a whole lot of help from not only my husband (who is so much more than an equal partner and really does carry a BIG load for me) and our family and friends here.  These folks are the reason that dissertations have acknowledgement pages!

2. When are you going to be finished?
I don't know, so please stop asking.  Ok, so I really do know, but this question is just a little bit rude.

3. How's your dissertation coming?
For a proper ettiquette answer to this question, please see Jorge Cham's fabulous PhD Comic.
My personal answer: "It's coming along just fine." No matter how it is coming, this is what I will always say.

4. What are you going to do when you're finished?
I'm having trouble with this one right now the most.  This question makes me feel like a 6 year old whose parents are asking, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  As the holder of a PhD I have a whole bunch of different options open to me, many of which require long applications which then result in long tedious waiting periods.  I'm keeping all of my options open by applying to postdoc positions, writing a couple of grants, writing chapters with articles in mind, and researching jobs outside of academia too.  It is a long long process, and frankly I'm not sure exactly what I want to do.  I'm seeing what my options are when I get the yeses and nos back, and THEN I'll make a decision.  There's no point in counting my chickens before they are hatched.  BTW: Nobody likes this answer, so sometimes I just say, "I don't know," if I see their eyes start to glaze over in boredom.

5. What about the kids, are you just going to move them wherever you get a job then?
YES.  Isn't that what most parents do?  Why are academic parents any different.  I'm lucky in that my husband the computer geek will be able to find a job anywhere we go, and he's pretty open geographically (though the coasts would take some serious persuasion on my part).

This is the face I try to avoid making whenever someone asks me any of the above questions. 


  1. A+

    I am already 1000x fed up with the "what are you going to do with your degree" question, especially since the answer for our house is part time work while my kids are little and then whatever I can get in our hometown (since we are geographically bound).

    Also don't ask me how many more years I have and then look at me in horror. Ever.

    1. Oh the looks of horror, aren't they great?

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  3. Who cares what anyone says or asks...you'll have a PH flipping D! You're smarter than them all! ;)

    1. I WISH that was true, but I'll certainly act like it is.. bwahahahaha.

  4. HA HA HA! Love it! Cracking up at your face...p.s. I totally related to number one, and I am not even attempting to further my academic learning! ;)-Ashley

    1. I should have specified that #1 is not Mama PhD specific, rather ALL mom specific most of the time!



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