I managed to rack up a pretty large debt in college. The lower range of the numbers thrown around by Obama on the issue. It’s now time to go to grad school, and having 4 years of lab experience, honors and a publication under my belt, chances are pretty good that I could go. But my lifestyle could suffer. Hard work, already in debt, potentially racking up more debt (although I would get a PhD stipend), can’t afford decent food let alone a girlfriend and a life. On top of it all I’m a bit older, having served 4 years in the Navy as well. There is obviously a huge upside to having a PhD, but is it worth it right now? I could use some advice.
What field are you in/looking to go into? If a terminal degree is required for the good jobs, I’d say just go ahead and do it now. You’re not going to have *more *free time later in your life when you’re saddled with a job/spouse/family/mortgage.
If a terminal degree isn’t required for what you want to do, then it’s a tougher decision. A Ph.D. consumed my husband’s life for over 15 years before he finally finished this summer (Thank OG!) and has been a source of incredible stress on him personally and on our marriage. (I met him when he had been ABD for 3 years, I think.)
Do you love school? Do you love the environment, the people, the learning? Then it might be worth it. If not, and if you can make a good living without it, then it might not be worth the stress.
I am looking into cognitive neuroscience. I majored in psychology/cognitive science. I’d say my current qualifications are not what I need to land the job I want…no way.
So what’s the plan if you don’t go for the Ph.D.?
Do it now. There’s just no good reason to wait.
I don’t have one! I have a “professional research assistant” job but I’ve been doing it for too long to continue after this year. I would probably end up working for a web company or become a PRA at some other university.
Maybe the question I should be asking is how to deal with my debt.
I’m a big fan of deferments.
It does sound like more grad school is the way to go for you. Like most things, it will only get worse if you put it off, and it sounds like you really do need it in the field of your choice.
Or you could practice foaming milk for overpriced coffee drinks. I hear that’s a great field for M.S.es these days.