PhD Warning: DON'T DO IT!


So you're about to graduate with a degree in computer science, and you're thinking of trying for a PhD. This is what's going to happen to you. I may be overgeneralising here, but hey, personal experience is all I have to go on.

Halfway through the first year, the irreversible damage will become evident. You'll develop an inexplicable interest in evolutionary genetics and presocratic philosophy, spend half your grant on hi-fi and CDs, and be forced to supervise courses you flunked the year before (to get money for more CDs). All your friends will go away and your dog will die. You'll decide that food is an unnecessary luxury, stop eating and have religious visions (being an atheist is no defence). You'll spend days copying the Yellow Pages by hand while listening to Philip Glass operas. You'll still find the time to complete half your PhD project.

In the second year, you'll get glandular fever. You'll buy more CDs (no more Philip Glass, though). You'll see your transformation into a raving leftie looming on the horizon but be unable to do anything to stop it. Another quarter of your PhD project will summon itself into some semblance of existence, and you'll have no idea how.

The third year is gonna be fun, oh yes it is. You'll finish the project, realise you have to document it in a 60,000-word dissertation, and finally, irrevocably lose your mind. You'll spend the next two years watching your hair grow long. You won't even miss the summers (they don't have summers in the UK. They only think they do).

Finally, dozens of irrelevant books and hundreds of even more irrelevant CDs later, you'll find yourself pulling the first-ever, last-ever all-nighter of your student life. You'll submit your thesis, drop all pretensions of rationality, and embark on a month-long InterRail tour of Eastern Europe (including former Yugoslavia). Amazingly, you'll live to tell the tale, return to Cambridge for the viva, then go home and have the best summer ever, regressing to early childhood before the Navy claims the wretched, abandoned husk that once housed an intelligent, promising young man.

Believe me: three extra letters after your name, even funky mixed-case ones, are not worth all this. Emigrate to Central Africa; join a monastery; donate your organs to science or something. Whatever you do, DON'T DO A PhD.


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