>phd_year(4) = 0

Grad school has been good to me. On the whole. Of course, not every part of it was good, but, all things considered, the last five years have been interesting and rewarding. I’ve been lucky.

But I still think I’m leaving academia. At least for now.

This September I am starting my sixth year as a grad student and fourth year as a Ph.D student. The industry standard is for a Ph.D to take four years, but increasingly it seems like it is taking people five-or-more to graduate.

Again, I’ve been lucky; I am set to graduate this time next year. I’ve had several interesting projects go smoothly, and  I’ve managed to accumulate enough original research to write a thesis. If all goes according to plan, I will be Dr. Fortais in twelve months. This doesn’t mean I get to coast though. I have a To-Do list. It looks like this:

  • Finalize drafts of three papers, and submit to journals
  • Finish one last project
  • Attend a big conference in March
  • Write thesis
  • Defend thesis

I have three papers in the first draft stage. At this point I just need to pass it back and forth with my supervisor a bit and they will be ready to go. We have also decided I have time to finish up one more lingering project. It’s a project I’ve been playing with for a long time now, and the fact I haven’t had the chance to solve it has been bugging me. Related to this, my research group goes to one large conference every year. I will need to have a good portion of this final project finished so that I have something to present. Finally, I need to write and defend my thesis. The writing should be relatively simple since it will be a “sandwich” thesis – the bulk of it will be my published works, with an introduction and conclusion bookend-ing them.


So if everything is going smoothly, why am I leaving academia? That’s a good question, and something I’m going to dissect in the coming weeks.

>phd_year(4) is my attempt to openly and honestly record my final year as a Ph.D student. I am in a position that I believe many near-grads go through – transitioning to life outside academia. However, my experiences are my own. I acknowledge that my story exists within the context of my privilege, and will do my best to not overstep the format of personal narrative.

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