Advantages to starting a PhD program mid year (second semester/term)

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When I was applying for this program, I wondered how different it would be to start in the middle of the academic school year. I wasn’t sure if it would have been strange or leave me at a disadvantage. Mostly it has felt the same, although in some cases you feel like you missed half of the party.

  • You are less likely to fade into the crowd because the number of people starting at the same time as you will be much smaller. This might also mean that administrative staff will be less stretched thin than for the first semester of the academic year, but that might not be true.
  • If you have a lot of coursework and/or teaching duties but have summers off in between semesters, starting during the second semester means that you have a bigger summer break in between your first 2 semesters to work on other important things like getting your preliminary research going and preparing for your qualifying examination. This could be a MAJOR advantage to consider since you would get this long break in the middle of your first year, as opposed to towards the end of it!
  • Housing could go either way. There might be fewer options for on-campus housing but if you are looking for off-campus housing there might be less competition. This will greatly depend on where you are of course.

There are some disadvantages though, like having to keep telling people that you only just started if they assume that you have been around for a semester already. Another disadvantage might be that you don’t have as strong a bond with your cohort or as big a cohort that you start with and go through your program with, but assuming you have some social ability, I think you could overcome that within a few weeks of being in your lab group.

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2 Responses

  1. Chia-Yi says

    It wasn’t that hard to find housing. I looked at 3 or 4 places, and the bulk of the time spent was looking through ads online. I think we were lucky, though, to find this place right at the time when we needed a place. Socially, it has been ok. Moving here without knowing anyone was a big change. I really like the people in my lab group and the other labs that we share space with.

  2. Nat says

    Interesting thoughts. How did you find it, though? Was it hard to find housing? And how have things felt socially?