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I was once told by a professor who I respected very much how he gives advice to prospective PhDs. When someone asks "should I get my PhD?" the answer is always "no". Because the only people who will enjoy grad school are the ones who will do it anyways.

I have found this to be good advice for people who are thinking of starting companies too.

Yes, this is a good advice. I never asked anyone whether I should do a PhD. I always knew that I want to do it. And I'm doing it right now, and I really enjoy it. (Speech recognition, Translation, Deep Learning; RWTH Aachen University, Germany.)

(PhD here) An ex-colleague in grad school caught me once on a bad day and I told her she shouldn't do a PhD, stick to a Master's. To this day she credits me with convincing her to graduate at the Master's level - and she is grateful and thanks me for it. None-the-less, I have always felt guilty because my PhD experience was great and that sort of responsibility on someone else's life is kinda heavy.

I didn't get the logic behind this advice ! if they would enjoy it, shouldn't the advice be to do it ?

If they know they'll enjoy it, they'll do it and not ask for validation before.

This advice definitely rings true.

However, I can't help but think that this mentality does scare away certain personality types that would otherwise make for great researchers. I fall into the category of people who ignored advice and did it anyway, but I try to be welcoming to other types too.

My answer is always "no" as well - for many of the reasons outlined in this essay. But really, most of the students who have asked me this question just want someone to say "yes" and don't end up listening to my reasons for "no" anyway.

I think that's a form of gatekeeping and privileges certain groups of people.

It depends of course in hwo the "no" is worded.

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