Why pursuing a PhD is worth it if you’re passionate about a topic

Prove me wrong. #2

The freedom to study your passion and interests makes graduate school worth it.

The most common question I get asked by people who work outside of academia is why I’m pursuing a PhD. My simple answer to their question is that a PhD allows me to focus on and pursue my immediate interests to the fullest extent.

A PhD is a passion project. It’s a project that‘s supposed to improve the current state-of-the-art. It’s a project that you can talk about for hours on end. It’s a topic that you want to learn about hours into the night. It’s a project that simply excites you from the moment you open your eyes.

I am extremely proud and grateful to be pursuing a PhD. Although it sucks to be constantly questioned and challenged on why I choose to stay in academia, I wouldn’t change my decision of pursuing a PhD. I aspire to one day be an expert in a field that I’m passionate about and care to advance. By doing a PhD, I’m giving myself the best opportunity to discover change and advance my field. I have an opportunity to suppress the current limitations we face today.

Although, the main (and significant) downside to doing a PhD is the lack of pay (a future topic to discuss), the excitement I feel when I wake up in the morning is a feeling that outweighs the very few downsides.

Every day is an uphill battle through a dense forest with no end in sight. You never know what obstacles you’ll confront, but the sense that your research is gradually progressing is enough momentum for me to continue taking each and every step through the endless brush. Even though I don’t know exactly when the light will breach through the dense brush, I do know that the only way to find the end is to keep progressing, questioning, reading, experimenting, and most importantly pursuing ideas. There is no infinite loop or endless path in life; eventually, the final steps will appear, the finish line will be in sight, and the most beautiful sight will appear in view.

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PhD student @ UC Santa Cruz | Security Engineer @ Looker

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