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Re: Modified schedule / timeframe for PhD studies
I just would like to say that this isn't the attitude I found here. At least here, professors are usually very aware of the need for life outside the PhD. We have a budget so we can meet outside the university, go to a restaurant, things like that. My advisor asks about things not related to work or classes, what I like to do for leisure, if I'm doing exercises to be in shape, etc. People from the department are usually very supportive, very understanding. I really don't feel like I'm being forced to make the sacrifices that you mentioned, or in fear of being penalized. Professors also work extremely hard, and they also don't want to sacrifice everything else.
Originally Posted by ProspectivePhD
However, no matter how nice people are, that doesn't change the fact that doing a PhD is a lot of work, we have a lot of things to do, often with tight deadlines. Even if they let you spread the coursework, oftentimes the coursework is not the most demanding part of doing a PhD. A lot of work can't wait. If you are not able to do the work as expected, that probably means that other PhD students will have to take that load. Grading exams, cleaning datasets, analyzing data, conducting experiments, organizing events, among other tasks. I don't know what your restrictions are, but if you will not be able to even do 3 courses a semester, it sounds really bad. And the longer you take to do the coursework, the longer it will take for you to develop the skills and knowledge needed to help the department and yourself.
So, I agree that wanting to work 60-80 hours a week, sacrificing everything else, is ridiculous. But that's not my experience. On the other hand, limiting yourself to just one or two courses a semester doesn't seem reasonable either. Doing the coursework is not something that should take so many hours of your time, it's like the bare minimum. One student here took 4 courses instead of 3, for example. I don't think asking a student to do 3 courses a semester is really asking too much, it's pretty reasonable.
What we are expected to do here is to work hard, get results, help the department, AND still be able to have a life. Of course a few sacrifices will be made, but that is true for any kind of work where you are expected to achieve great results.
I don't know how other universities, or departments are. But asking to spread the coursework wouldn't make much sense here.