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#59699 - 04/26/05 10:24 AM Re: Graduate School
Icequeen
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/29/04
Posts: 48
Loc: Canada

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mashenka, I took a three year hiatus from academia between my BA and my MA, partly to chill and partly to decide where I wanted to go next. I am glad that I took time off, but I also felt that I had a longer adjustment period to grad school because I had to reorient my brain. It took me a good two or three months to get back into an effective analytical brain mode and they were a tough two or three months. As a result of that, I have decided not to take time off between my MA and my PhD. It would be nice to clear my head a bit, but I don't want to remove myself too much from the academic environment.

So I am of two minds really. I benefitted from the time off in that it ensured that grad school was what I REALLY wanted. It was also nice to get a grip on the "real world" before I went back into the sheltered community of school. But at the same time I felt out of practice when I went back. If you decide to take the year off, I would recommend taking one course (for fun) or keeping up with some academic reading or something. Just to keep your brain exercised in that particular way.

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#59700 - 04/26/05 11:39 AM Re: Graduate School
blithe spirit
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/12/01
Posts: 513
Loc: Toronto, Ontario

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I took (GULP) ten years between my BA and MA. This was mostly because I didn't want to get into debt and once I entered the work force, I was having a lot of fun. But I recently went back to do my MA part-time and am now starting a PhD part-time too. I really like the combination of working (and not fretting about rent) and then using a different part of my brain with school. I find too, that I'm a lot less stressed and really appreciate my classes/research in a way that I would probably not have in my early twenties.
It sounds like you know what you want to pursue in grad school - I'd say apply and check it out. You can mostly always (but check with your school) drop to part-time studies which may allow you to do something else interesting at the same time.

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#59701 - 04/28/05 12:08 PM Re: Graduate School
cygnet
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/20/02
Posts: 127
Loc: Annapolis, MD

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I took five years between, and I'm heading back to start my PhD this fall. And I'm nervous as all hell. I've always been a very good student, and I have gobs of hands-on experience in the field, but things like submitting proposals for funding, and designing experiments, and analysis, and conferences, and publishing, scare me pee-less.

I guess it's that I've gotten to do the fun things (fieldwork and learning) up until now, and the prospect of having to do the paperworky writing researchy things makes my mouth dry and my hands clammy. Plus, I know so very many people whose self-esteem is shot by grad school (and asshatted profs), as well as many people who had just terrible experiences, like some of the ones told above.

Ack! Plus, I'm stressing over whether I'm making a mistake and making my poor boyo move across the country and get a new job (and pass a new legal bar) for nothing.

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#59702 - 05/16/05 05:54 PM Re: Graduate School
Molly Malone
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 25
Loc: Easten USA

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Hi guys,

Hope you don't mind if I jump into the discussion and ask a "little" advice. Having never applied for a PhD I don't really get if my experience is the norm, or whatever? I work overseas, so I'm home on a break and thinking about PhD after my next assignment, so I call some schools and find a good match, and now the professor who I would be working under has called me three times to discuss my thesis- and invited me up to meet him and some of the students in June. I have not even put in an application yet, (I meet all the baseline requirements.) I'm assuming this is a good sign yes? No? Nutty Professor?
Secondly,
I really want to do this and start working in Academia (I've had enough of being expatriated, thanks!) but I'm 35 and I feel a little old to be starting an academic career. I will earn about the same as I do now, but the working conditions will be dramatically improved, if anyone will hire a 40 yr old PhD!!! What do you think?
Thanks Heaps!!!!

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#59703 - 05/18/05 01:12 PM Re: Graduate School
CheshireCat
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/17/02
Posts: 158
Loc: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL USA

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Molly, it sounds like he was really interested in what you are doing your thesis on & wants you to be a student there so he can work with you. My understanding is that grad students are not only getting a degree but they are also very important to faculty as research partners.
When you go visit, I think you will have a better idea of whether the school will be a good fit for you.
Also, I don't think you are old to begin an academic career, especially to begin work on a Ph. D, no small undertaking. Something like that takes a serious level of maturity, and I think your experience outside academia will give you a healthy perspective once you are inside it.

Best of luck! Let us know how it turns out.

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#59704 - 05/18/05 02:09 PM Re: Graduate School
dazey
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 941
Loc: Edinburgh, Scotland

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Molly, as a postgrad student myself and the partner of someone who supervises postgrads, I think that sounds really positive. My partner absolutely loves having interesting-sounding potential students get in touch, both because it's important to her professionally to have students and their publications, and simply because she enjoys having them. And being a PhDer is way, way different to being an undergrad - you are an individual, and your relationship with your supervisor(s) is very, very important. So if this one is enthusiastic, that's a good start.
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#59705 - 05/21/05 12:02 AM Re: Graduate School
Molly Malone
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 25
Loc: Easten USA

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Thanks Guys!!!
Especially about my age, because I was starting to feel well, a bit, "old"
I'm really nervous about this!!! Partly because I have a few academic blips that I need to explain away in my statement of Purpose. Anyone feel like looking at a statement of Purpose?? I've got to get the application in!!!

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#59706 - 05/21/05 02:13 PM Re: Graduate School
Icequeen
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/29/04
Posts: 48
Loc: Canada

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Hey Molly Malone! I thought I'd add my two cents about your "blips" that you want to justify. I have a few blips of my own, which don't seem to have held me back at any point. If you are able to explain them without going into great detail, that's a good idea. A selection committee wants to see that you've moved on from the blip-inducing circumstances.

More importantly, one of my favourite profs consistently reassures me that the blip-free students are the most boring ones. He says he would far rather take on a student who has slightly lower marks and evidence of a life (hence the blips) than one who has stellar marks and no worldly experience to speak of. When it comes down to it, the prof has to spend large amounts of time with a student and students with blips tend to be more interesting as people. Furthermore, students with blips often have a better perspective on life (and therefore learning). This is not to say that you should refrain from justifying your blips, just that they might not be quite as detrimental as you think.

Embrace the blips! Be one with the blips! And enjoy grad school!

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#59707 - 05/22/05 08:23 AM Re: Graduate School
blithe spirit
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/12/01
Posts: 513
Loc: Toronto, Ontario

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I second everything, everyone else has said. Molly Malone, I'm your age and have just started my PhD part-time. Yes, it will take me years. Yes, I have "blips" and Icequeen is absolutely right when she says profs are more interested in students who have had some life experience. I'm not sure what field you are studying, but if it's English, you may find, like myself, that you are hopeless when it comes to all the latest academic theory/jargon, but hey, you've had all that extra time to read more books, you probably studied more books both in high school/undergrad than your fellow students who are 10 years younger, and you actually remember things like the cold war because you lived through it! And that's all great preparation. I think one needs a certain maturity level to tackle grad school (and the discipline) which comes with age, so frankly, I think it's the perfect time to tackle a PhD. And having a prof who is already interested in your thesis is a HUGE step forward. I've heard of students well into their third or fourth year who still haven't found a supervisor. So yes, do it for yourself, get obsessed with your subject and have a blast!
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#59708 - 05/23/05 12:56 AM Re: Graduate School
pinga
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/21/02
Posts: 146
Loc: UK

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Molly,

just in answer to your question about 40 being too old to do a PhD: being honest, I think in some subjects, in some areas of the world, you might have trouble to find a job and it might be even harder for you than for other PhD graduates because of your age. I work in chemistry and my experience is that at the moment, when they're not hiring many people, they tend to take people who they see as uncomplicated: young single men basically.

That's not to put you off: what I would say is that if it's very important to you to get paying work relevant to your PhD immediately after you graduate, try and get in touch with some people who've just finished PhDs in the area you want to work in, and see how they're finding it. During the PhD is also a good time to get relevant work experience and stuff.

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