She’s a double-doctor; I’m a double-dunce.
She just finished defending her dissertation; I just finished defending my dessert. “Hey, keep your hands off the ice cream. I’m saving it for breakfast!”
She spent four years earning a Ph.D. in veterinary epidemiology; I spent four years learning how to spell “epidemiology.” (Please don’t ask me what it means. I can’t afford another four years.)
Most people believe that Ph.D. stands for “piled higher and deeper.” That’s not true at all. Ph.D. stands for “permanent head damage.”
Almost all college professors in America, not just the ones teaching organic chemistry, suffer from Ph.D. A few suffer from an acute form of Ph.D. known as “persistent head dilation.” This condition can usually be alleviated through acupuncture, a procedure that allows large amounts of hot air to escape.
In fact, since this condition was first diagnosed in 1987,several professors from Harvard University have been recruited to help keep the MetLife Blimp aloft.
A Ph.D., as you can see, can put more stress on a human brain than almost any endeavor, except perhaps filing taxes and negotiating peace in the Middle East.
If you visit any large university, you can easily spot the Ph.D. candidates. They’re the ones walking around in a daze, muttering to themselves, without having smoked anything illegal.
Many have dark circles around their eyes, partly from lack of sleep and partly from banging their heads against walls.
Earning a Ph.D. is similar to sex. You never know how long it’s going to take. Some people are quick; others take an eternity. Some drop out in the middle, too exhausted (or bored) to continue. Many are involved in xperimentation.
And the results often make them scream.
A Ph.D. is hard because, unlike a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you cannot buy your research papers on the Internet. You must conduct original research. Originality is important, because your research will likely be published in a prominent journal and read by as many as three people. Yes, it could make you “world famous in your field.”
But not everyone can achieve fame in a prominent publication like the Journal of Indeterminate Variable Engineering (JIVE). Some must settle for a lesser publication like the Journal of Unappreciated Native Kitsch (JUNK).
If you’re lucky, you’ll be invited to present your findings at an academic conference, where other people with Ph.D.s will nod their heads, clap their hands and pretend they understand what you’re saying.
Of course, before you can achieve such celebrity, you must complete your Ph.D. You must resist the temptation to just drop out and become a normal human being, one who has no chance of attaining that blissful state known to university professors as “tenure.”
Tenure allows you to become a permanent fixture at a university, outliving not just the chairs and desks, but also most buildings. Tenure allows you to live a grander, more stable life than the poor untenured masses.
Yes, a Ph.D. can definitely improve your life. My wife, who also has a doctorate in veterinary medicine, hopes to work permanently as a university researcher. “The Ph.D. will be good for my curriculum vitae,” she says.
Curriculum vitae? I hope she sees a medical doctor about that. Sounds rather painful.