Common Mistakes PhD Students Make in Application

Getting a Ph.D. degree is a life-changing decision. One must think about it very carefully. For many, pursuing a Ph.D. degree is the same as being a student, just learning more advanced topics. This is a misconception. A Ph.D. student is a junior researcher (despite the word ‘student’).

As a Ph.D. student, you have to complete a research project. When you have solid results from your research, you can write your Ph.D. thesis. This is a very demanding task. You have to devote all your time to the writing of your dissertation.

This is why many students end up being exhausted and cry out loud: “Please, someone, write my PhD thesis like an expert!” Some of them prefer addressing professional writing services like WriteMyPaperHub to have their doctoral thesis projects written online.

However, you will never get to that situation if you make the right decision. If you are convinced that you want to pursue a PhD, then you have to apply for a doctorate program. However, to increase your chances of success, you must avoid some common mistakes.

Trying to be accepted into a PhD program is completely different from applying to university (undergraduate degree). Thus, in the following, you will learn what common mistakes you must avoid. Take note and good luck with your PhD application!

Two Different Types of PhD Projects

Before we start talking about the application mistakes, let us clarify the types of PhD projects you can find. Broadly speaking, a PhD project can be either an advertised project or a self-proposed project.

The first one is a research project that has very clear objectives that cannot be modified. In most cases, it is part of a larger research project. Commonly, the funding is already available and you know who the supervisor will be. Hence, the university or research center advertises the open position with all the candidate’s requirements.

In the second type, you have to submit your research proposal to a university. The good aspect of this approach is that, if accepted, you will work on a topic you are interested in. However, you have to look for an academic that is willing to supervise your project. And more importantly, you will need to look for funding.

Common Application Mistakes

Now that you know the types of PhD programs, it will be easier to talk about the most common application mistakes. Here it is a list:

  • The most obvious mistake is using the wrong application strategy for the type of PhD program. For an advertised PhD position you have to apply the same way you would do for a job. You have to convince the “employer” that you are the right person to fill the position. Thus, you have to address all the requirements listed in the position advertisement and explain how you meet them. It would be a mistake to elaborate on your ideas on how to modify or change the project. That would work for a self-proposed project, but not for an advertised PhD position. Similarly, when you apply for a self-proposed project you must emphasize the good aspects of your project. It would be a mistake to spend more time talking about your personal and academic qualifications;
  • Another common mistake is not following the order of the procedure. Read carefully the instructions to apply. Submit only the papers you are asked for. If you are asked to submit your study certificates and CV at the beginning, do it. However, it would be a mistake to send your research proposal if you were not asked for it. Probably you have to submit it at a later stage. Just follow the order of the application;
  • Another mistake is not applying formally to be accepted as a PhD student. This is a common mistake with self-proposed projects. Some candidates convince a scholar of the worthiness of their projects and make great plans for research collaboration. However, you still have to do all the formalities for your research to be recognized as valid toward a PhD degree;
  •  A big mistake is not customizing your application for a specific PhD program. Many students write a single cover letter or research statement to apply for different PhD positions. This is a recipe for failure. In the case of advertised PhD positions, as mentioned above, you must address each of the requirements for the position. A general description of your abilities and interests will not be enough. Likewise, for a self-proposed project you have to explain in detail how your project would fit the research group;
  • Last but not least, do not make the mistake of not asking questions when you do not understand everything. Remember that you will spend several years to complete a PhD project. Thus, understand what you are signing up for.

Knowing these mistakes you will be able to avoid them more easily to Survive your PhD program.

Muhammad Saim Rasheed has won four fully-funded scholarships to the United States, Egypt, Turkey, and the Maldives. He is a Motivational Speaker and educationist. He started a Scholarship blog Opportunities Corner for young students to find global opportunities for Free.