- Overworking is a common issue among PhD students
- PhD programs can pose significant mental health challenges
- Unconventional habits may develop from the academic pressure
- There’s a need for structural and expectation reassessment in academic institutions
As a recent Twitter thread surfaced, it shone a spotlight on the unexplored and often unspoken realities of pursuing a doctoral degree. The original post asked, “What’s a bad habit you picked up from your PhD program?” The ensuing conversation offered a raw, unfiltered look at the psychological, professional, and social implications of undertaking such an advanced academic endeavor.
Work-Life Imbalance: The Endless Pursuit of Knowledge
A key theme that emerged from the Twitter conversation was the tendency to overwork, with many confessing to perpetually long hours and little to no time off. One respondent mentioned their inability to work “short and efficiently,” suggesting that their Ph.D. program had conditioned them to work more extended periods instead.
Even more concerning, some contributors admitted to working seven days a week all year round, seemingly implying that their studies left little room for personal time or relaxation. One user candidly shared, “I worked all day every day, including evenings and weekends, and believed it was necessary: maximize ‘time on task.'”
Mental Health Under Siege: Anxiety Amidst Academia
Another concerning trend that arose from the discussion was the significant strain on mental health. Many participants acknowledged that their PhD programs had fueled feelings of anxiety and stress. In a more alarming revelation, one PhD student studying drug addiction expressed curiosity about potential increased risks of substance use disorders among their peers during and post their PhD programs.
Unconventional Habits Spawned from Doctoral Studies
However, not all the habits reported were strictly related to workload or mental health. Some users shared more idiosyncratic behaviors that they had developed. For instance, one person found themselves habitually inserting jokes into their PowerPoint presentations, an act frowned upon by their department chair.
Another user confessed to having developed a habit of jumping into giving feedback without acknowledging the positives first. These unconventional consequences of doctoral studies, though less severe, offer further evidence of the wide-ranging impacts of such programs on an individual’s habits and behaviors.
Overall, the thread brings into sharp focus the importance of addressing these unintended side-effects of doctoral programs. The conversation illuminates the need for academic institutions to reassess their structures and expectations, with an aim towards fostering healthier learning environments.
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