So, Why Do You Want a PhD?
07/03/2011 § 22 Comments
The title of this post is a question that I have been asked a *million* times (OK, slight exaggeration) over the last year as I’ve filled out applications, done interviews, and talked with friends, family, and colleagues about the process. Everyone has different motivations and experiences that lead them to the PhD, but for those who are curious, here are my reasons:
1. I love research. Can’t get enough of it. Many friends and family members have been bored nearly to tears as I’ve gone on long-winded rants about some amazing new piece of information I found or a breakthrough I had in writing a chapter. Not only do I love research, I love writing about my research and sharing what I learn with other people. This brings me to my next point…
2. Teaching/mentoring makes me happy. Granted, I don’t have the most experience with this, but I love sharing what I know and learning from others, and what better place to do that than in the classroom? I also want to make my classroom a place students want to be, and where people feel safe sharing new ideas and growing together. How do I hope to do this? Well, that’s where you come in (see below).
3. LIS rocks. You already know this, but if you didn’t, you heard it here first. So many exciting things are going on in our field, and I feel like it’s a great time for folks who want to collaborate and stretch the boundaries of what we do and how we approach our work. I really want to be on the forefront of that change, and training future info pros to be impassioned and informed is a great way to do it.
4. I like learning. I love to learn new things, and the more new things I learn in a given day, the happier I tend to be. It might be hard to thrive in LIS unless you love to learn, and I suspect it would be *really* hard to be a PhD student (and someday, one hopes, a faculty member) when you stagnate and stop seeking out new ways to learn and grow.
So, LIS students past and present, this is where I want your input, both for my own growth and for other folks out there considering the PhD track. Since at least a goodly chunk of us plan on being professors, it would be great to know what it is you love (or don’t) about your faculty members’ approaches (or about curricula, although that’s been addressed somewhat elsewhere). One request I have is that we avoid a string of comments about a lack of experience in a library: it’s true, many faculty have little experience or haven’t worked in a library for years (more on that in a future post). What I would like to talk about instead is how the faculty members have made materials interesting (i.e. was there a theory that bored you to death until that one faculty member was able to explain it in a way that it clicked and became relevant?) or teaching strategies you especially enjoyed (for example, awesome Andre Brock in my department used a wordpress-based class blog for discussion, which resulted in the most involved and insightful discussions I’ve ever been a part of in a class). Part of the HLS philosophy is to use this space to talk about how we as students see LIS education (including both what we love and where we see room for improvement). I want to foster an educational environment where faculty and students are collaborators and where students have a meaningful role in shaping our degrees, so this seems like a great place to start getting that input while I’m still a student too!