Things you should never ask a PhD student — R Voice

Things you should never ask a PhD student

Kakoli Majumder
Kakoli Majumder Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 148 admin


This is so relatable! What are some of the other annoying questions you've been asked? Keep adding to the list. 😄 Tag at least one other R Voicer.


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  • Kakoli Majumder
    Kakoli Majumder Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 148 admin

    I'll go first:

    So, when will you actually start working?

    @Hollie McDonnell @Karen Hall Keep adding to the list. Don't forget to tag someone else. 😁

  • Mdumiseni Mazula
    Mdumiseni Mazula Member Posts: 54 ✭✭✭

    What year are you going to graduate?

    This question always turns me off

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 455 admin
    edited September 6

    I have two.

    1. How are you STILL in school?
    2. So you probably make a lot of money doing a PhD, right?

    @Shruti Turner @Soumi Paul can you think of any more?

  • Kakoli Majumder
    Kakoli Majumder Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 148 admin

    You bet! And the worst part is, they ask you the same question even when you meet them a few weeks or months later! 😥

  • Kakoli Majumder
    Kakoli Majumder Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 148 admin

    The first one's really epic! Who asks that?? :D :D Regarding the second one, since there's a perceived respect and if I may say so "prestige" associated with being a PhD, people often assume it must be a well-paid profession - and I don't really blame them - it should be well-paid, considering it involves such hard work and excellence. I can just hope that someday, we will be able to give a positive answer to the second question.

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 303 ✭✭✭✭

    All of the above mentioned in this post are definitely irritators!! The main ones that irritate me are when people ask about my "studies", especially when I try to explain that it's more like "work" and they brush me off and say something about it not being a "real job". Especially when it comes to how hard "a real job" is, with only 20 days leave and set hours etc. - like a PhD isn't tough?

    What are you doing next? Even now as a post-doc researcher - when are you going to leave "school" or "studies" and get a job? You're lucky that you still have long summers off - why are you complaining about working hard?

    Anything around my personal life: does your husband mind that you are still a student? When are you going to give up on this studying and have a baby/family?

    To be honest, a lot I have tried to block out because I can't be doing with that negativity. It makes this more difficult. It also made me feel like if what I really needed to do was quit for my own health, that I would be judged massively for it and so I felt that wasn't an option. A lot of these comments come from ignorant/older family, but my friends are super supportive and ask some of these questions but from a different position. So when I was writing up they would ask how long to go for motivation or because they could see I was struggling/stressed/shutting myself away. Said friends also accept when I gave some non-committal deflecting answer and changed the subject for me. Intent matters to me, a lot.

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 455 admin

    @Shruti Turner oh gosh I can only imagine how annoying that must be. But anyone who thinks a PhD is not a real job really doesn't know anything about how academia works and should get better informed.

    The questions about your personal life are completely out of line 😓

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 303 ✭✭✭✭

    @Andrea Hayward I completely agree about being more informed about how academia works! Alas, I think that is a wider battle to be honest. It's a difficult one to try and fix, we can try and inform those in our circles (which I guess is always the start with these things!) I don't know when I learned what a PhD was...I feel like somehow I always knew haha (probably not true, but I feel it says a lot that we get taught about university in a one dimensional sort of way)

    Yes - I agree about personal life questions in any context. I go with the approach of asking an open question and take the person's lead on how personal the conversation can be!