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Don't Go to Grad School

amathew

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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.
What is your end goal? PhD in statistics? Work as a "data scientist"?
What does your coursework look like? Typical stats MS stuff (linear model, glm's, categorical data analysis, etc) or is it more applied. Have any of your classes really dug into endogeneity or omitted variable bias? I've always found it odd have stats has downplayed endogeneity is coursework. Maybe it's assumed that people would pursue jobs in the realm of experiments and clinical trials.

I recently interviewed for a Sr Data Scientist position and the interviewee was this really smart PhD from MIT. He had the same specialty and intellectual interests that I had, and it seems a PhD is the only way to go unless you can get one of those "causal inference" jobs at Google, Facebook, Netflix, etc, which is very difficult as those teams tend to be pretty small and require skills that only PhD's have. Made me want to pursue a PhD even more.
 

conceptionist

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What is your end goal? PhD in statistics? Work as a "data scientist"?
What does your coursework look like? Typical stats MS stuff (linear model, glm's, categorical data analysis, etc) or is it more applied. Have any of your classes really dug into endogeneity or omitted variable bias? I've always found it odd have stats has downplayed endogeneity is coursework. Maybe it's assumed that people would pursue jobs in the realm of experiments and clinical trials.

I recently interviewed for a Sr Data Scientist position and the interviewee was this really smart PhD from MIT. He had the same specialty and intellectual interests that I had, and it seems a PhD is the only way to go unless you can get one of those "causal inference" jobs at Google, Facebook, Netflix, etc, which is very difficult as those teams tend to be pretty small and require skills that only PhD's have. Made me want to pursue a PhD even more.
My uni has separate departments for statistics and mathematical statistics. My degree will be from the former but I can take classes from math stats if I have the pre-reqs. The departments mostly differ in applications (stats: business, econ, social science and applications, math stats: engineering, natural sciences, and theory).

I have taken inference, probability, econometrics, and time series. Planning to take bayesian, experimental design, glm, machine learning, data mining, multivariate analysis, statistical computing, and perhaps survey sampling, modern non-parametrics, and MCMC-methods. There's also spatial statistics, markov chains, stochastic processes, etc... Almost all classes are in R. There's many options and I'm pretty free to take what I want. The econ department has some interesting grad level courses such as microeconometrics and game theory, but I'm not sure whether their value warrant not taking a statistics class instead.

My goal is to work as some kind of researcher or analyst within digital, market research, a strategy firm, or perhaps academia. I'm mostly interested in consumer behavior, quantitative marketing and some aspects of microeconomics/IO. I currently work with one of the stats professors at a large market research company and he has advised me to go for a phd, but it is quite competitive here.

At my former work place (digital ad agency) there were a few data scientist with backgrounds in computer engineering, physics, ML, but their work seemed to focus more on the CS side (eg. building products) than typical statistics. While a lot of opportunities seems to be within digital and that kind of work, I'm not that interested in it and I'm not sure it would go well with my background.
 

amathew

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My uni has separate departments for statistics and mathematical statistics. My degree will be from the former but I can take classes from math stats if I have the pre-reqs. The departments mostly differ in applications (stats: business, econ, social science and applications, math stats: engineering, natural sciences, and theory).

I have taken inference, probability, econometrics, and time series. Planning to take bayesian, experimental design, glm, machine learning, data mining, multivariate analysis, statistical computing, and perhaps survey sampling, modern non-parametrics, and MCMC-methods. There's also spatial statistics, markov chains, stochastic processes, etc... Almost all classes are in R. There's many options and I'm pretty free to take what I want. The econ department has some interesting grad level courses such as microeconometrics and game theory, but I'm not sure whether their value warrant not taking a statistics class instead.

My goal is to work as some kind of researcher or analyst within digital, market research, a strategy firm, or perhaps academia. I'm mostly interested in consumer behavior, quantitative marketing and some aspects of microeconomics/IO. I currently work with one of the stats professors at a large market research company and he has advised me to go for a phd, but it is quite competitive here.

At my former work place (digital ad agency) there were a few data scientist with backgrounds in computer engineering, physics, ML, but their work seemed to focus more on the CS side (eg. building products) than typical statistics. While a lot of opportunities seems to be within digital and that kind of work, I'm not that interested in it and I'm not sure it would go well with my background.

Thanks...sounds like a fun course load.

I was an econometrician at an advertising for a couple years. It was fun and I got to work on interesting time series regression problems. Stuff like marketing response and media mix.

Yeah, a lot of data science jobs are product oriented and technically demanding. They do pay REALLY well though, which is kinda why I ended up as a data scientist
 
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troika

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My uni has separate departments for statistics and mathematical statistics. My degree will be from the former but I can take classes from math stats if I have the pre-reqs. The departments mostly differ in applications (stats: business, econ, social science and applications, math stats: engineering, natural sciences, and theory).

I have taken inference, probability, econometrics, and time series. Planning to take bayesian, experimental design, glm, machine learning, data mining, multivariate analysis, statistical computing, and perhaps survey sampling, modern non-parametrics, and MCMC-methods. There's also spatial statistics, markov chains, stochastic processes, etc... Almost all classes are in R. There's many options and I'm pretty free to take what I want. The econ department has some interesting grad level courses such as microeconometrics and game theory, but I'm not sure whether their value warrant not taking a statistics class instead.

My goal is to work as some kind of researcher or analyst within digital, market research, a strategy firm, or perhaps academia. I'm mostly interested in consumer behavior, quantitative marketing and some aspects of microeconomics/IO. I currently work with one of the stats professors at a large market research company and he has advised me to go for a phd, but it is quite competitive here.

At my former work place (digital ad agency) there were a few data scientist with backgrounds in computer engineering, physics, ML, but their work seemed to focus more on the CS side (eg. building products) than typical statistics. While a lot of opportunities seems to be within digital and that kind of work, I'm not that interested in it and I'm not sure it would go well with my background.
Lot's of research work in UX research too (my future industry)
 

TheBatman

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No one seriously thinks we should replicate they Chinese system. What they want is for the US to produce HS and college grads as competent in science and math as China does, and attract such students to science and engineering careers in numbers closer to the % that China does. The real way to do that is not to replicate the Chinese system but to replicate the Chinese population.
I work in education and this is absolutely true. We want to believe it's "the system's" fault because it is easier to stomach that idea than confronting what the data has been screaming for many decades now: populations are different. Innate characteristics cannot be changed.

This does not mean that environment plays no role in development, but it is far less than we ever imagined.

No reputable academic will refute this, though they will also certainly not openly acknowledge the fact either.

Too much money is made pretending we can raise iq's and that anyone can be a nuclear physicist if they only have the right preschool teacher.
 

edinatlanta

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Graduate School Can Have Terrible Effects on People's Mental Health
Ph.D. candidates suffer from anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation at astonishingly high rates.
 

seattlefromson

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I went to graduate school, have two Master's degrees, and almost pursued a doctorate degree. I don't have any regrets about having gone to graduate school because I was very young and didn't pay for my education. I received a stipend and all of my tuition was paid through a combination of graduate teaching/research assistantships. So it was okay because I learned a lot, did a lot of cool things, and, to this day, I don't have any student debt.

I do love teaching and I did consider becoming a Professor. I received a fellowship, but then politely declined it upon learning that finding a tenured-track position as a lecturer would be extremely difficult. I have colleagues who stayed in academia and they all seem to regret their choices.

To summarize, I have no doubt that the articles highlighted are very accurate.

I also think that studying disciplines like philosophy, history, foreign languages, literature are for a small, privileged elite: wealthy people can get into the best schools, study whatever they want, and not have to worry about finding a job upon graduating.
 
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Piobaire

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I do love teaching and I did consider becoming a Professor. I received a fellowship, but then politely declined it upon learning that finding a tenured-track position as a lecturer would be extremely difficult.
You made it to that point before realizing tenure would be very hard to obtain?
 

seattlefromson

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You made it to that point before realizing tenure would be very hard to obtain?
Yes. It was a difficult decision. I prepared myself my whole life to become a Professor. I knew that obtaining tenure would be difficult beforehand, though, and I thought: "Okay, while you are not going to pay a dime for your doctorate degree, think about the time you'll invest and the return you are going to get it." It wasn't an easy decision.

I don't regret getting my Master's degrees, though, because they make my resumé look good. Besides, I acquired so many skills while pursuing my Master's degrees (technical writing, for example) and my Master's degrees are helpful: for example, I was offered a contract to teach at a very good university. If I choose to transition to the K-12 environment, which is what I am doing because I sincerely love to teach, my salary will be a bit higher because... I have a Master's degree.
 

Journeyman

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You made it to that point before realizing tenure would be very hard to obtain?
I agree that this does sound a bit naive on Anderson's part, as it's well known that tenure is very difficult to obtain, particularly over the past two or three decades.

However, in his defence, I think that most people have a sort of irrational blind spot when it comes to anything bad/negative happening to them - hence all of the people spending vast amounts of money to obtain law degrees when the market is already crowded, because pretty much everyone tends to think "Well, all of those people are going to find it hard getting a good job, but that won't happen to me because I'm good!".

Of course, this extends to other areas as well, such as car accidents, relationships/divorce and so on. It's probably more common amongst males (at the risk of stereotyping) as women tend to be less self-confident and to fret more about things (at least, the women I've met certainly do!).
 

seattlefromson

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Back then I really thought I could do it.

Some people, former Professors, still believe I can do it. And I have faith in me. I believe in myself. I believe I can do it. But do I want to move from city to city until settling and finding a university that offers me a tenured-track position? No.

Do I want to worry about managing a heavy teaching load while doing research and writing grants to bring money to my university's department? No. It is just too much. There is no life/work balance.

What prompted me to apply for a fellowship and a Ph.D. program was my dissatisfaction with a job I had back then. A customer service/tech job. I was unjustly fired from that job. I had never been fired from a job before. The experience brought me a lot of pain.

Between the types of jobs I had available (similar tech jobs) and fighting to become a Professor, I would much rather fight to become a Professor.

But I reflected and what made most sense, professionally, was to politely decline the fellowship and obtain a license to teach middle and high school in my State. I obtained my license this year. I could start teaching right now, but there are other events happening in my life and I will start looking for a job next year.

I don't live a luxurious life, but money, thank God, has not been a problem for me since 2012 (ironically, the year after my graduation from graduate school).

Also, in my city and other bigger cities, from what I have noticed, having only an undergraduate degree doesn't help you to open many doors.

I believe that --eventually-- I may still get a Ph.D. later in life. Educational leadership. But only after 20 years of working as a teacher.
 

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