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Starting A PhD? Here Are Four Things That You Need To Know

ByDave Stopher

Aug 23, 2021

Embarking on a PhD can be a daunting experience. You are setting out on at least three years of research, study and writing without the kind of framework you would have on an undergraduate or master’s degree. It is an incredible opportunity, and you will be doing some amazing work. However, it is important that you prepare yourself properly and give yourself the best possible set-up to succeed, both in your studies and your time off the clock. Here are a few important things to remember.

You Need To Give Yourself A Framework

One of the first things that you will need to figure out for yourself is how and when you work best. Some people start a PhD by throwing themselves in headfirst, only to discover that they are not really getting anything done. Others end up procrastinating to the point where they are rushing to meet due dates. The pandemic showed that some funding bodies can be highly inflexible when it comes to moving those deadlines. Think carefully about when you work best during the day and try to create a daily routine that you can stick to. There will always be rushes and lulls but having that framework to fall back on will help.

You Also Need To Give Yourself A Break

Something that a lot of people find hard with a PhD are the long stretches without quantifiable success. No one is giving you a test at the end of every week, and until your next supervisor meeting, it is generally assumed that you are just getting on with it. Because of this, a lot of people panic themselves into working every hour they have. It is important to remember that PhDs are long-haul projects, and you need to give yourself a break every now and again. Find a way to step away and lift your head up.

You Need To Look For Financial Support

During the course of your PhD, you will need to be proactive when it comes to organising your finances. Do your best to create a monthly budget and stick to it. If you need to travel for your studies, see if you can request financial support from your university. Make the most of any and all student discounts that are available to you, from public transport to council tax.

Along those same lines, make sure you do your research if you are thinking of buying a new home. Although some financial institutions are not too keen on providing mortgages to PhD students, there are others that understand that this financial situation is only temporary. If you are looking to buy a property, the stipend advice from Jamie Thompson Mortgages in the linked article will be able to guide you. This outlines how much you’ll be able to borrow, whether student debt will impact getting a mortgage and where you can get a stipend mortgage from.

You Need To Keep Talking

We have all found ourselves missing our social circle during the pandemic. One of the things that PhD students often find is that this kind of study can feel quite solitary. We have all seen the reports on how the pandemic has impacted our mental health and it is so important that you keep talking to your friends and family about how you’re doing. You should also reach out to the other students in your intake group. It will help a lot to talk to other people who know what you’re going through, even if you are working on vastly different projects.