Why I Chose PhD School

In August, I will begin work on a PhD in Economics at the University of Iowa. The program will take five years and is designed to set me on the career path to be a college professor. People often ask me why I want to keep going to school and work on a doctorate. I don’t have one true answer. Instead, many small reasons joined together to help me make my decision. These reasons represent my personality, motivations, and goals in life. Here they are!


For more on making tough choices, read my post on Big Decisions are about the Little Things.

It presents a great opportunity. The Economics PhD program at Iowa provides a great fit for me. It has been successful and has had great placements in the past, yet it isn’t a top dog. It is small and collaborative, which will be important for me, since I don’t have a background in economics. I didn’t really expect to get accepted to Iowa, so I believe I was accepted for a reason. I can’t pass up this chance. I will also never have this chance again.

It gives me the most potential. I have a Master’s Degree in Mathematics, but I still feel limited. There are jobs that I still won’t qualify for, and I don’t like that. With a PhD, I can qualify for any type of job. I can be a college professor or a research scientist or an entrepreneur. It will also allow me to attend conferences, meet people, and create connections. This will only open up more opportunities for me.

I like learning and teaching. Like most successful people, I want to be a lifelong learner. I definitely don’t need school to learn, but when you are in a school setting, it is much easier to concentrate your efforts on learning. Also, teaching has always been a passion of mine. When I was in high school, I thought about being a high school teacher and coach. With a PhD, I could teach at the college level. Thus, more school equals the opportunity to learn and teach.

It will be a challenge. If you personally know me, you know that I like challenges. I tend to do unnecessarily crazy things just to say I did it. Now, I’m not going to work on a PhD just to say I did it, but I look forward to the challenge of learning a new subject. It will motivate me to dig in and get the most out of my experience. In the end, I will come away as a wiser, more discipline person.

It creates freedom. I’m not ready for a 9 to 5 job. I want to meet people, attend conferences, and not have a strict lifestyle. While at school, I will be fully concentrated in my studies, but I will also be able to do some things that I couldn’t otherwise.

It gives me a chance to go somewhere and experience something new. I have lived in South Dakota all my life. Don’t get me wrong, South Dakota is great. But, I need to experience new people and new things. Iowa City will be that place. Everybody tells me how cool Iowa City is, and I can’t wait to live there. Even though it is a college town, there will be many like-minded people around me. It is also not far from many large cities.

I can still be an entrepreneur. This spring, I saw an article on LinkedIn about Iowa City being one of the top new hubs for entrepreneurs. (Thanks to Joel for finding the link to the article!) This excited me as I was making my school and life decisions. In Iowa City, I can expect to find people with similar interests. Maybe I will find someone who I can start a company with. I also hope to get involved with the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, which is located in my building at Iowa.

I couldn’t find the perfect job. I have had my eyes open for possible jobs for the past two years. Nothing jumped out to me as the perfect job. I had some great opportunities for jobs that many people would be happy with, but they weren’t perfect. Could I really expect to find the “perfect” job out of college? No. But I am certainly going to try. Now, I will have five more years to find that opportunity with a new range of options.

It keeps me young. If I stay in college, I am still young and have no responsibilities. That’s how it works, right?

4 Responses to “Why I Chose PhD School”

  1. Joel Thompson

    Hey Lance! Great stuff. I think this is the article you’re looking for about Iowa City… https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140401200950-7979133-the-new-iowa-where-startups-are-growing-like-weeds

    • lancecundy

      Yes, Joel! That’s the article I was looking for. I’m not sure why I had so much trouble finding it again. Thanks! You rock!

  2. Swaff

    Heck yeah buddy, proud of you! Get that PHD!!!


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