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Don't Go to Grad School

Flambeur

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As someone currently applying to grad schools, this thread is thoroughly disheartening

Not all grad programs are the same, but ask me again in a year and a half.
 

amathew

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I've always wanted to go back and pursue my PhD in statistics or biostatistics so that I can do research on causal discovery algorithms and semi parametric estimation of time series data. The two things holding me back is that I'm 31 years old (too old?) and already have a pretty good job in the private sector as a data scientist (huge opportunity cost)

Anyone who's gone back in their "later stages" of life, what's been your experience? Do you regret the decision?
 
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troika

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As someone who is applying to grad school, you should stop using dangling modifiers.
Irrelevant to my area of study


Not all grad programs are the same, but ask me again in a year and a half.
Apps are done, gotta make a decision now - how did you decide which one is worth it for you?
 

Concordia

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I've always wanted to go back and pursue my PhD in statistics or biostatistics so that I can do research on causal discovery algorithms and semi parametric estimation of time series data. The two things holding me back is that I'm 31 years old (too old?) and already have a pretty good job in the private sector as a data scientist (huge opportunity cost)

Anyone who's gone back in their "later stages" of life, what's been your experience? Do you regret the decision?
I'm 20 years older than you. Check back in 4 years.
 

Gibonius

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I've always wanted to go back and pursue my PhD in statistics or biostatistics so that I can do research on causal discovery algorithms and semi parametric estimation of time series data. The two things holding me back is that I'm 31 years old (too old?) and already have a pretty good job in the private sector as a data scientist (huge opportunity cost)

Anyone who's gone back in their "later stages" of life, what's been your experience? Do you regret the decision?

Unless you really dislike your current career or just have an overwhelming passion for research, I'd strongly consider just reading books and taking some classes on the side. It's a lot easier to navigate into a new career while you're working than to blow it up and try again.


Getting into research is pretty rough, and a bit of a crapshoot. I can't speak for the field you're looking at, but most fields have 20% or lower rates of PhD graduates getting tenured positions. And that's for people who graduate. You're talking 5-10 years of 70-80 hour weeks to get there, at shit pay for most of it. As you say, the opportunity costs are quite high and for a low probability of payoff. Even there, the research lifestyle is weird and many people don't enjoy it as much as they think they would.


There's also the non-trivial fact that most top tier programs are suspicious of people coming back to school. They want young idealistic strivers who will work long hours for shit pay and not complain or be too pushy about asserting themselves and their ideas. You can find groups that are interested in well-seasoned professionals coming back, but it's harder.
 
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erictheobscure

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Unless you really dislike your current career or just have an overwhelming passion for research, I'd strongly consider just reading books and taking some classes on the side. It's a lot easier to navigate into a new career while you're working than to blow it up and try again.


Getting into research is pretty rough, and a bit of a crapshoot. I can't speak for the field you're looking at, but most fields have 20% or lower rates of PhD graduates getting tenured positions. And that's for people who graduate. You're talking 5-10 years of 70-80 hour weeks to get there, at shit pay for most of it. As you say, the opportunity costs are quite high and for a low probability of payoff. Even there, the research lifestyle is weird and many people don't enjoy it as much as they think they would.


There's also the non-trivial fact that most top tier programs are suspicious of people coming back to school. They want young idealistic strivers who will work long hours for shit pay and not complain or be too pushy about asserting themselves and their ideas. You can find groups that are interested in well-seasoned professionals coming back, but it's harder.

These are all lies. Graduate school is fucking amazing. But then we're sworn to lie to discourage people from getting in on the action.
 

Flambeur

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Apps are done, gotta make a decision now - how did you decide which one is worth it for you?

It's like any other important decision. Many angles, difficult to find balance, etc.

I just found something that fit me really well, from academic opportunities to people and support/perks. No regrets. Best decision no matter what happens.


I've always wanted to go back and pursue my PhD in statistics or biostatistics so that I can do research on causal discovery algorithms and semi parametric estimation of time series data. The two things holding me back is that I'm 31 years old (too old?) and already have a pretty good job in the private sector as a data scientist (huge opportunity cost)

Anyone who's gone back in their "later stages" of life, what's been your experience? Do you regret the decision?

I've done this around the same age as you. Almost done. No regrets

But again, ask me in a bit over a year.

Unless you really dislike your current career or just have an overwhelming passion for research, I'd strongly consider just reading books and taking some classes on the side. It's a lot easier to navigate into a new career while you're working than to blow it up and try again.

Getting into research is pretty rough, and a bit of a crapshoot. I can't speak for the field you're looking at, but most fields have 20% or lower rates of PhD graduates getting tenured positions. And that's for people who graduate. You're talking 5-10 years of 70-80 hour weeks to get there, at shit pay for most of it. As you say, the opportunity costs are quite high and for a low probability of payoff. Even there, the research lifestyle is weird and many people don't enjoy it as much as they think they would.

There's also the non-trivial fact that most top tier programs are suspicious of people coming back to school. They want young idealistic strivers who will work long hours for shit pay and not complain or be too pushy about asserting themselves and their ideas. You can find groups that are interested in well-seasoned professionals coming back, but it's harder.

Again, as you've mentioned, not all programs/fields are the same. There are still areas out there where things work differently.
 
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Kevin24

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I’ve been strongly considering going back to grad school for a master’s degree in International Relations. And I applied to some programs a few months ago.
One of the programs that I got into was the LSE’s IR program. However, I am very conflicted about whether to go or not.

From my own opinions reasons to go include, include the fact that it’s a prestigious program and only a year long, I feel ready to go back and I have a clear idea of how I would use an IR grad degree, tuition wise it’s cheaper than a lot of the programs I got into based stateside. Return on investment seems high in the long-run Plus, I am approaching my late 20’s and might not have the flexibility education wise say 4-5 years from now. I also feel like my career has stalled on my end.

I’ve talked to a couple of financial advisors and they think what I’m proposing is modest At least when it comes to any student debt.

However, I do have my doubts. Namely the costs, central London in an incredibly expensive place be on a day to day basis. Plus, getting to and from the United States adds up as well. Many I have talked to in academia have talked about the “opportunity cost” of being in grad school (even if one is planning on going back into the workforce after obtaining a degree). Also, would I be better off skill wise by obtaining a master’s degree in IR? (even if it is from the LSE) and whether it would be just be better to try to find a new job in the long run.

I’d def like to hear some opinions in this thread on this.

Thank you in Advance!
 

erictheobscure

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I have a clear idea of how I would use an IR grad degree, tuition wise it’s cheaper than a lot of the programs I got into based stateside. Return on investment seems high in the long-run

If you're fairly confident about these points, I don't see why you wouldn't go. But then again, I fucking love London.

(I should add that, although I know nothing specific about LSE, M.A. programs are very often disappointing and coursework can in the UK can also be disappointing for those not used to their way of doing things. Which is to say, if I thought I knew what I'd do with that particular degree, I'd go for the prestige of the school and for a year in London. If the program actually turns out to be great, that would just be a big bonus.)
 
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Contango

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I’ve been strongly considering going back to grad school for a master’s degree in International Relations.
Considering the original poster in this thread, you shouldn't do it if you want to work in the White House apparently.
 

conceptionist

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I've always wanted to go back and pursue my PhD in statistics or biostatistics so that I can do research on causal discovery algorithms and semi parametric estimation of time series data. The two things holding me back is that I'm 31 years old (too old?) and already have a pretty good job in the private sector as a data scientist (huge opportunity cost)

Anyone who's gone back in their "later stages" of life, what's been your experience? Do you regret the decision?
What I did was not exactly the same but might have been more unusual. Undergrad in business & economics, then MBA in marketing and strategy, then worked a year and a half at an agency specializing in SEM and data science. Went back to school this year to get a MSc in statistics. It will take me about 2.5 years with the pre-reqs. I'm in mid-20s but still a couple years older than most classmates. No regrets so far.
 

Concordia

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Looks like I'm off to Oxford next year-- DPhil in history, at St Antony's.
 

Concordia

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"Era of Good Feelings," 19c US.
 

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