What are the pros and cons of doing a PhD when you are 25? - PhDData

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What are the pros and cons of doing a PhD when you are 25?

October 2022

At the age of 25, being too young has a lot of pros as well as cons for you; let’s discuss them:


+ You don’t really have any other commitments. You may are in a relationship, but probably don’t have any kids, you don’t own a car or your own home, your parents are healthy and don’t need to care for them. So it doesn’t matter that you don’t make very much money and that you sometimes work very long hours.

+ You started your PhD straight after finishing your undergraduate degree, so you still remember most of what you learned.

+ You feel like you still have a lot of energy, you are still young and you still have a lot of time. So if the decision to take on a PhD turns out to be a mistake, that doesn’t matter too much. You will finish it, graduate, and try something else.

+ You really don’t have a tight schedule. You rarely have to deliver for a deadline, which means less everyday stress.

+ You work flexible hours. You can start at 10am, or work at 1am, as you like.

+ You get to know people. You can build a network that can benefit you later on, both in industry and in academia.

+ You can work on what you like. (If your supervisor is not too strict of course)


– The PhD prepares you for a career in research, and that only. The skills you develop are less useful outside research environments.

– Your skill set narrows down. Unused skills fade.

– Long hours. PhDs often work 60+ hour weeks.

– Procrastination. You can’t imagine any other job in which it is harder to avoid procrastination. It begs you.

– You always feel like you need to work. You will feel guilt whenever you don’t work (evenings, weekends, holidays).

– Your pay is very low. You cannot start a life or a family, buy a home, etc. (unless your parents are wealthy).

– There will be high strain on your relationship (mainly with your partner, but also with friends / family).

– You will be tied down to a city for 3-5 years. There is no mobility.

– You will have to face cousins and other relatives. Questions like “So when will you finally graduate?” and “When will you finish studying?” or “When will you start earning some money?” or “When will you get a real job?” will become commonplace.

– It is hard to get a permanent academic job. There are few places, you’ll likely need to do postdocs before you can get a permanent position.

– You don’t have any “real world” experience. You don’t have any industry connections. It makes it difficult to bring anything unusual or unexpected to the table in meetings.

– This also means that you have no idea what you want to do with your life. You’ve only ever really experienced academia. You like academia, but having not tried anything else you have no way of knowing if other careers might suit you better.

– Quitters have a hard time. If you quit a few years in, you’ll have a hard time explaining this to potential employers. If you quit late, after some postdocs, you are in an even worse position.

– If you don’t have a clear idea about your research topic and your supervisor doesn’t tell you what to do, it can be stressful.

– You have very little feedback. You get very little feedback or recognition for good work or results.

– Virtually no one cares about what you are doing. You can’t talk about it with your friends or family, almost no one reads what you write.

Still ready to begin your PhD at 25?

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