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Thread: Higher Education / Graduate School

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    Lightbulb Higher Education / Graduate School

    For the first time ever in my life I seriously have considered pursuing a PhD program. But I feel like I wish i could do undergrad all over again, to take different courses and raise my marks and so on. But still, the urge is there.

    IDK if this will be a delta thread on higher education in general, or what, but, I'm curious as to what other people's experiences have been in general - what made you want to go to graduate school, or even what made you want to go to college or finish highschool / GED. What made you want to do that, and what did you want to do with it.

    And, something like "was it worth it", but more like - how did you benefit (or suffer) from your experiences?



    That's all for now, more later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryu View Post
    For the first time ever in my life I seriously have considered pursuing a PhD program. But I feel like I wish i could do undergrad all over again, to take different courses and raise my marks and so on. But still, the urge is there.

    IDK if this will be a delta thread on higher education in general, or what, but, I'm curious as to what other people's experiences have been in general - what made you want to go to graduate school, or even what made you want to go to college or finish highschool / GED. What made you want to do that, and what did you want to do with it.

    And, something like "was it worth it", but more like - how did you benefit (or suffer) from your experiences?



    That's all for now, more later.

    I think at some point in life, everyone runs across a time of "I need step off the highway to figure out where I want to go." I am at such a crossroads myself at the moment.

    In terms of your decision-making, it really depends on what you want your career and lifestyle to be, and I think ultimately that should be the question you're deciding. That can be difficult to envision though immediately post-college (it was impossible for me).

    So, perhaps the better question to decide would be what are you interested in? What sort of life's work do you think would bring you satisfaction when you are old, retired, and thinking back on it? Once you figure that out, then see if you need to get there via grad school, business school, professional school, or start climbing the ladder and gaining experience in the workforce now.

    For me, I knew I wanted to continue my education after college, partly going to all these job fairs going on during college, didnt really pique my interest at all in any of the jobs. Going into college, I was thinking law school, because I liked the idea of being an advocate for people and i love writing in defense of someone, but I took a freshman advising seminar called "anatomy of a lawsuit" which made me realize that reading law was painfully boring, and I probably wouldnt be able to handle speaking publically that much (like during trials). So that plan went out the window. After that I considered CS (which may not have required grad school), management (too formal--everyone went to class in suits and had name placards and were graded on how many questions they asked in class, and microecon was my worst subject!), then chose materials science as my major because I thought it was cool to decide what sort of materials are best/safest for certain things and I liked a mat sci chem course i took as a freshman. As I started the major, I realized it was the chem aspect of it that i liked. And at that point i was finding out i definitely wanted a people-oriented field to be satisfied with my life, so i switched to chem and became pre-med. That said, I did have a dilemma about whether to do grad school instead, especially as i was doing some lab research and enjoying it quite a bit.

    You know, having finished med school and gone through medical training, and having essentially sacrificed my 20s, i still wonder about whether grad school or b-school or working straight out of college or becoming a teacher would have been the better route. However, i enjoy the flexibility of my education and degree in terms of me being able to choose among a much larger variety of settings in which to work (part of the problem now actually I gotta pick one!). I enjoy the job security--there ALWAYS will be a physician shortage. I enjoy the option of working with people (or not) and potentially being able to get their problems solved or bettered anyway. Right now I am facing a decision of whether to FURTHER continue my medical training to become a subspecialist, or to stay generalist, whether to be more research involved or more clinical. I really like all the fields of medicine so it's been difficult for me to choose a subspecialty, but I also like research and to stay in research you really have to go into a subspecialty it seems. Im starting to think "to hell with it" and just open my own primary care office where i can run things the way I think is right (longer patient appointments, nice staff, setting my own hours). Which means I think i need an MBA to know how to do it right. I may do a part-time one.

    As far as undergrad grades go, i think it really depends what you're planning on doing. If you want to do med school, then some people do end up needing to take a "masters" premed program to beef up their GPAs and do their premed requirements. I really dont know about law school--i think you can get away with a lower GPA if youre ok with not being at the top top schools. I dont know too much about grad school GPA requirements, but I think if you can rock the GREs that can make up for a lower GPA to an extent. On the other hand, maybe your GPA is awesome and you are just being a perfectionist LSE and you should quit worrying.

    I hear u though about wanting to do undergrad all over again, just to take all these courses I didnt get to take the first time around! I wished that as well! I loved college. . .
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    Oh in terms of how i suffered for my decision to do med school:

    --sacrificed a lot of fun and socializing and pursuing other interests in my 20s (e.g. my sister who picked CS is becoming a good ballroom dancer).

    --had to work 14-16 hours days on average for about 5.5 years, including 30 hour shifts every few days for months at a time during that period. Physical BURN OUT. Lots of mental stress involved as well. I gave it my all, but i never want to put myself in a position that would have me working like that ever again (a lot of options do involve this).


    On the flip side:
    --i did enjoy what i was doing. There were so many rewarding moments with patients, i learned so much, and i loved the camaraderie with my colleagues. I loved being a leader of my team, leading in my friendly lets-get-this-done-for-the-patients-together way, teaching med students (who were willing to learn--not everyone was huge pet peeve!). I miss all of these things having been out for the last 8 months.

    So I really do think it was worth it in the end.
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    I've debated over the past couple of years whether or not to go to grad school. Was convinced for awhile that I would, but am having a change of heart.

    I don't think I'm cut out for a research role, and I would like to start applying my skills in a work-related context.
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    Quote Originally Posted by force my hand View Post
    I've debated over the past couple of years whether or not to go to grad school. Was convinced for awhile that I would, but am having a change of heart.

    I don't think I'm cut out for a research role, and I would like to start applying my skills in a work-related context.
    What's your field?
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    Quote Originally Posted by WorkaholicsAnon View Post
    What's your field?

    im def going to grad school

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryu View Post
    im def going to grad school
    lol, I guess that means you need a postgrad to become respected in your field. I don't really have that problem, I think I could technically go on for the rest of my life with only a Bachelors and not have many issues in that area.

    For me I did my Bachelors simply because it was expected of me. My home, school and social environments growing up told me that is what I was going to do. The alternative to me at the time was unimaginable and it wasn't until I spoke to some of my cousins in another country did it dawn on me that not everyone had this expectation.

    I found university to be uninspiring, slow and kind of boring. Even when I was busy I felt like I was bored, working on the other hand seems far more exciting. Despite the fact I'm doing the pretty much the same thing.

    In the future I plan to do a postgrad and I've pretty much started preparing for it already even though I plan to do it in 3 years from now. Right now I don't feel like I have a clear perspective of what I'm going to do when I get to grad school or that my skills are sharp enough to get through it with minimum stress. And since I find the academic environment to be a dull one I just want to get through it without any sort of hiccups or hardships.
    Last edited by leckysupport; 12-07-2010 at 04:56 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WorkaholicsAnon View Post
    What's your field?
    Structural geology; specifically, Archean (> 2.5 billion years) shear zone kinematics of the brittle-ductile regime.

    I would refine that further for an M.Sc. and Ph.d. - but we're looking at a minimum of seven years for that and at this point I'm really not interested in the committment.

    An M.Sc. alone would be an extra asset for private exploration work (especially anything structural which is the bane of most geologists), but I don't think even the extra two years would be worth it at this point given the work that's been available to me as a student.
    SLI/ISTp -- Te subtype

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    How does it work in the US (and Canada) when it comes to Msc and Phd? Here, Msc is pretty much necessary if you want to access any kind of qualified work, bachelor's is generally seen as a mere extension of high school. Yet, Phds are considered extremely "academic", probably because the scholarships are meager.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    How does it work in the US (and Canada) when it comes to Msc and Phd? Here, Msc is pretty much necessary if you want to access any kind of qualified work, bachelor's is generally seen as a mere extension of high school. Yet, Phds are considered extremely "academic", probably because the scholarships are meager.
    My understanding is that customs change from field to field. For example, I've run across a number of social scientists and biologists who've entered a Ph.d. program directly from a B.Sc, but in the geological sciences (at least in Canada), it's rare for that to occur. None of the potential grad schools I looked at (Victoria, Saskatchewan, Lakehead, Laurentian, Waterloo, McGill, Memorial) allowed direct entry into a Ph.d. program from a B.Sc.

    I'm not in complete understanding for why this is, but I suspect the devil is in how M.Sc. and Ph.d. projects differ, at least for some of the sub-fields. For example, in the kind of work that interests me, an M.Sc. would be an expansion of my current project to include a regional study area with additional focus on geochemistry and likely geochronology. It's essentially a supercharged B.Sc. with additional coursework in areas that undergrad program didn't cover. Conversely, a Ph.d. project would zero in on some specific aspect that would not readily be apparent or approachable without the background knowledge of a masters.

    I shudder to think of entering a Ph.d. program directly from a B.Sc.

    Edit: In terms of the B.Sc., geology is unique in that you can find gainful employment as a recent grad. Professional status is granted from a certification board after 48 months work experience.
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    Quote Originally Posted by force my hand View Post
    Structural geology; specifically, Archean (> 2.5 billion years) shear zone kinematics of the brittle-ductile regime.

    I would refine that further for an M.Sc. and Ph.d. - but we're looking at a minimum of seven years for that and at this point I'm really not interested in the committment.

    An M.Sc. alone would be an extra asset for private exploration work (especially anything structural which is the bane of most geologists), but I don't think even the extra two years would be worth it at this point given the work that's been available to me as a student.
    Quote Originally Posted by force my hand View Post
    My understanding is that customs change from field to field. For example, I've run across a number of social scientists and biologists who've entered a Ph.d. program directly from a B.Sc, but in the geological sciences (at least in Canada), it's rare for that to occur. None of the potential grad schools I looked at (Victoria, Saskatchewan, Lakehead, Laurentian, Waterloo, McGill, Memorial) allowed direct entry into a Ph.d. program from a B.Sc.

    ....

    Edit: In terms of the B.Sc., geology is unique in that you can find gainful employment as a recent grad. Professional status is granted from a certification board after 48 months work experience.

    Exactly. I think in most if not all scientific/engineering fields out there, it's valued quite a bit if you go into the job market after getting your bachelor's degree and get some hands-on experience in your field. So whether or not you ultimately decide you need graduate/post-graduate education, you shouldn't worry about that now--either way you should start working. And the work experience might even shed some more light for you on whether you will find a Ph.D or Master's useful and help with that decision-making.
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    You should all contribute 100$-10,000$USD (each) to the Ryu Gets His PhD Fund, brought to you in part by Ryu.

    I support it, you should as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryu View Post
    You should all contribute 100$-10,000$USD (each) to the Ryu Gets His PhD Fund, brought to you in part by Ryu.

    I support it, you should as well.
    I totally would if i wasn't $150k in debt and living paycheck to paycheck on my postdoc salary

    Instead i'll offer some moral support!
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    We also accept moral support, yes. Thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryu View Post
    We also accept moral support, yes. Thank you.
    LOL, here u go...

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    Quote Originally Posted by WorkaholicsAnon View Post
    Exactly. I think in most if not all scientific/engineering fields out there, it's valued quite a bit if you go into the job market after getting your bachelor's degree and get some hands-on experience in your field. So whether or not you ultimately decide you need graduate/post-graduate education, you shouldn't worry about that now--either way you should start working. And the work experience might even shed some more light for you on whether you will find a Ph.D or Master's useful and help with that decision-making.
    Definitely, though I suspect what awaits is a confirmation of my current thinking. While I'm good at teaching and enjoy the little research I've done, I doubt I'm cut out for professorial role and academia in general. I've noticed a lot of inertia there.

    ...Though the schedule would be fantastic! If I settle down and have a family I'm definitely not doing private exploration. Being gone from home for four weeks at a time is not acceptable and I'd have to try something else. For that reason I've actually applied to law school; not a grad program in the strict sense, but close enough.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryu View Post
    You should all contribute 100$-10,000$USD (each) to the Ryu Gets His PhD Fund, brought to you in part by Ryu.

    I support it, you should as well.
    What happens if I don't support you? That sounds like $100-$10,000 of my money wasted.

    As for the OP and discussion, I'm considering a PhD as well, and it does seem necessary depending on your field.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    How does it work in the US (and Canada) when it comes to Msc and Phd? Here, Msc is pretty much necessary if you want to access any kind of qualified work, bachelor's is generally seen as a mere extension of high school. Yet, Phds are considered extremely "academic", probably because the scholarships are meager.
    I'd say that a bachelor's is generally seen as an extension of highschool, but I wouldn't call a masters a necessity.

    That said, I'm definitely going for an MBA.
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