Skip To Content

    Academia: Expectation Vs Reality

    "Work-life balance is when you drink and write at the same time."

    1. Expectation: As a student, you'll learn the secrets of the universe in inspiring lecture halls and grand old libraries.

    Gabrielle Ghnassia / Via unsplash.com

    Reality: You learn how to pass exams and where the best place is to sleep in the library.

    2. Expectation: During your PhD you'll make a real, significant contribution to humanity's understanding of the world.

    Reality: You spend three years trying to make your experiment work, then scramble together a thesis once your funding runs out.

    3. Expectation: While you write up your thesis, you'll work in a different coffee shop or library each day to keep things interesting.

    Reality: You binge-watch a different programme each day to avoid doing work as long as possibly can.

    4. Expectation: When you get your PhD, you'll garner more respect from peers as you're now a "Dr".

    Pnuar006 / Getty Images

    Reality: You spend a lot of time explaining that you're "not a real doctor" but your Grandma still calls you with medical questions.

    Reason to do a PhD #19: woman having baby on plane "Is there a Dr on board" Me: yes lol *gets out laptop and loads up MATLAB* #phdchat

    5. Expectation: Once you finish your PhD, you'll be the leading expert in the world in your particular sub-sub-sub-field.

    Reality: You really are. But nobody cares.

    Oh you have a PhD, how nice. Just put your CV in this "collection box".

    6. Expectation: As a lecturer, you'll inspire the next generation of scientists in your classes.

    Halfpoint / Getty Images

    Reality: You'll make loud noises every now and again to wake up the sleeping students in your class.

    7. Expectation: In your research, you'll work at the cutting edge of your field and make exciting, groundbreaking discoveries.

    Nobel Foundation / en.wikipedia.org

    Who knows, maybe you'll win a Nobel prize... someone has to, right?

    Reality: You'll spend 99% of your time getting nowhere and wondering why nothing works.

    8. Expectation: When you submit a paper for peer review, you'll receive clear, constructive, and thoughtful feedback from your peers.

    Wavebreakmedia Ltd / Getty Images

    Reality: Sometimes they will give you great feedback. Sometimes they will give you this:

    9. Expectation: You'll publish your work in a timely manner and watch as science progresses in front of your eyes.

    Universal Pictures

    Reality: Your paper will go through several unnecessary revisions before it even goes to the journal, and then this will happen:

    Take your publishing sob stories and tell them to the first author of this paper https://t.co/kuBRSOmM10

    10. Expectation: You'll go to conferences in far-flung destinations and stay in luxury hotels.

    Reality: You will go to one dream location, but you spend the entire time in an air-conditioned conference room. All of the other conferences you go to will be in Hull.

    Disney / ABC

    11. Expectation: You'll be able to balance your work and home life seamlessly.

    CBS / Via cbs.com

    Reality: Work-life balance is writing a grant proposal with one hand and holding a glass of wine with the other.

    BuzzFeed Daily

    Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form