Here is my situation, I got a MSc from a renowned university in Europe and I have been working as a lecturer in a non-EU country until now. I am in my mid thirties (upper part =)) and I have came to an important decision to make:

  • I have been offered to work as a full time lecturer with all my benefits in a local renowned university in the country that I am staying

  • At the same time I have an offer to follow PhD studies in a ZA university, but I am not very keen about it, mainly because the problems with the crime rates and low salary per month

I have seen that there are a lot of possibilities for getting funded PhD positions worldwide, but I am afraid of the following:

  • That after my studies and if I do not get an academic position in the place that I did my PhD studies, to not be able to get another academic position as the one that they are currently offering me (I will be ending my PhD at 42 years old approximately)

I have a high interest for academia, unfortunately the universities in the country that I am working are not so much oriented to research, but only to lecturing. That is why I feel like bored and stressed to do the same task everyday, to do research is very hard because I must occupy my little free time and most of my ideas get stuck after a while (mainly because there are not other academics to talk about problems encountered along my projects)

I would not really like just to end with the MSc and I feel that is something missing in my life, this has lead me to a problem of anxiety and depression.

Any advice?


2 Answers 2


First of all, nobody can tell you what the best decision for you in such a decision is.

That said, what you need to look at are the opportunity costs of your different options. What do you gain from each of the different possible choices? Equally important is to ask yourself what will you have to give up to pursue those choices.

For you, you need to ask yourself:

  • How important is being a researcher compared to being a lecturer?
  • How difficult do you think it will be to get a position when you finish your PhD?
  • Is your offer of graduate admission worth the upheaval it would cause in your life?

And other questions like these. Once you get a feel for how important these issues are to you, the easier it will be to make a decision. It will still be a very tough decision (these sorts of choices always are), but ultimately it will be your decision, and you'll need to be comfortable with the decision you've reached.

  • I am sorry. But I think you didn't answer the question, you just reproduced it in a new format.
    – user4511
    Feb 19, 2014 at 18:30
  • 1
    No. My point is that the problem she has posed is not unanswerable in its given form. I can't tell her "stick with your current job" or "go back to school." I don't know how important it is for her to do research? Does she think that it's an essential component of the remainder of her career or not. Therefore, I'm saying she should prioritize her "needs" and "wants," and figure out which option works best. Recommending a specific path would, in my mind, be irresponsible.
    – aeismail
    Feb 19, 2014 at 18:41
  • I agree somehow with what you said. My point is your answer can be summarized as: "this is an issue that you have to decide by yourself". Therefore, you did not answer the question, but you just asked her to think about all aspects of the problem and then decide. And if we read her question again, we see that she has already noticed some of the pros and cons of each side of the decision.
    – user4511
    Feb 19, 2014 at 18:49

You are contemplating a choice that has a high risk of failure.

  1. Risk of not completing Ph.D.
  2. Risk of not liking research.
  3. Risk of not finding even a lecturer position afterwards, much less a research position.
  4. Risk of unhappiness due to the conditions during the Ph.D.
  5. Risk of being academically unrewarded/isolated even in a research position.

If all things unfold perfectly, then you will achieve a research position in some years. You may like this more, but will objectively be similar to the position you have now: indoor work, no heavy lifting, job security and benefits, education field, some things you like and some things you dislike.

This seems like a poor risk, particularly for someone already pushing 40 -- the potential upside is smaller. My advice is to correspond with scholars at other institutions, to achieve your spiritual fulfillment while still earning a good paycheck.

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