I'm a physics PhD student at a top-tier university in the US and am about to start my 4th year. The norm in my group is to finish your PhD in 6 years. However, I'm not sure if I can meet that target for my own PhD for the following reasons:
- I carried over a large amount of residual burnout from undergrad, which resulted in a not-so-productive couple of years. I lacked motivation and discipline and really underperformed compared to those around me. I do feel much better now and feel much more motivated and disciplined, but I'm afraid I wasted the first half of my PhD. In hindsight, I would have taken a break between undergrad and my PhD, but it is what it is now.
- My advisor is extremely hands-off and my research does not align with their area of expertise. So, it's taken me much longer to become acquainted with my field and understand what research directions I need to pursue. I do feel quite independent now, but the first 3 years have really been tough given the lack of guidance.
- As a result of the two items above, I've only published one paper, which is honestly not even great and is something I'm not proud of.
I understand the PhD trajectory is not linear and most of the progress is usually made towards the end, but I'm really unsure if I can finish in 6 years given the circumstances above. I don't want to bring up the possibility of a 7 year trajectory with my advisor yet as I don't want to give a wrong impression, but I want to know if taking a year longer to finish my PhD will hurt my chances of finding good postdocs and, eventually, a tenure-track position?
Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!