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Am I an idiot for even considering this??

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  • Am I an idiot for even considering this??

    Sorry if this gets long, but I need some insight.

    I'll be graduating next Spring (2012) with a bachelor's in Statistics. My ultimate goal is to pursue a PhD in Statistics or a related field.

    However, at this time, I'm slightly... burnt out on school. College was not the ideal experience. The first 3 years, my dad was very ill, so I spent every other weekend driving 350 miles to give my mom a break. Middle of the 2nd year to the end of the third year, I, myself, wasn't well which ended in my own surgery, resulting in an 8 month recovery. During that recovery, my dad passed away.

    Because of what I deem "The summer from hell" (my surgery and my dad's death), we decided that I should extend my graduation by a year. I'm glad I did but it's only made my want to get out of college worse.

    Throughout all of this, I had to quit riding due to health reasons, found carriage driving, got my mare trained, and bought my own carriage and harness. I haven't been able to do much more than that for obvious reasons.

    I love the carriage driving and was recently at a driven dressage show speaking about how there are very few youths interested in driving. They brought up that I should do a working student position with a four-in-hand driver for a year or two. That suggestion didn't catch me off guard. In fact, it's an idea I've been mulling over in my head for a while now.

    Would I be a complete idiot to do something like this?? I figure, the time to do it is now. I'm young (will be 23 at graduation) and healthy at this moment. I'm burnt out with school, but know that more school is my terminal goal. I feel a couple years of something else would rejuvenate me, especially for graduate school. If anything, I could do an online master's program (I do enjoy online classes, and would do well in that environment). I will have my bachelor's, so if I find I don't like/can't stand the working student environment, I will have something to fall back onto.

    I have been a working student before, once with a Grand Prix jumper rider and once with an upper level eventing trainer. I should also be starting a more mellow situation with a show-jumping trainer in August. So I do have experience in these kind of trainer/client relationships.

    Any ideas? Or similar experiences?

  • #2
    Sorry about your Dad and having health issues. When it rains it pours, ya know.

    The only Statistics majors I know have their Masters or PHD. Can you get a statistics job with just a Bachelor's degree?

    I think it would be fun to do a working student position. I know that school sucks, everyone gets burned out. I was more than ready to get out of college so I took summer classes and graduated early.

    Who is going to pay for your masters? If its your mom, asking her opinion would be a good idea. She might not pay for school if you wait.

    It sounds like you've got a good opportunity for a working student position, but what are your plans if it doesnt work out. What if you are still burned out on school? Ive heard so many people say "Ill take a year off before I finish school" and few people go back to school. If going back to school is the plan you'll stick to when the position is up and you are able to afford life as a working student, I say go for it. It wont hurt to take a year off if the plan is to finish school.


    • #3
      So sorry about your Dad and your other issues.

      Yes, school sucks. I almost quit the semester before I finished my masters. I had gone right from high school, BS in 4 years and MS in 2 years. I was tired, I was burnt out. I discussed this with my advisor who kicked me out of his office and told me he'd talk to me when I came to my senses.

      PiaffePlease is right, many many people who think they will just take time off from school never finish.

      My degrees are in Math so somewhat similar to your field. Two years after I graduated, I considered going back for a PhD as my company had, at the time, a very generous fellowship program. I took one graduate level math class as a "warm up" and was astonished to find out how much I'd gotten out of the rhythm of school.

      I got a C on the mid-term. A C!!! I had a 4.0 GPA in grad school and close to that as an undergrad. After I received my mid-term back, I pulled out my old notes/papers and found that I had gotten a 100% on a test "back in the day" in the same class (numerical analysis) and that 3 of the 5 problems were IDENTICAL to ones that I had missed on this mid-term. I decided then I could get very depressed or very motivated. I choose the latter.

      Long story relatively short, I pulled an A+ on the final and ended up with an A in the class. "All" it took was for me to study and only study in my spare time. The big difference between graduate school and this time was that I now had a husband and a full time job. I decided that I wanted to do something else in my spare time, like ride, so did not pursue the PhD.

      The moral of the story is that it is really hard to go back to school. I suggest you stay while you have the momentum.

      Of course, YMMV


      • #4
        Originally posted by DancingAppy View Post
        I'm burnt out with school, but know that more school is my terminal goal. I feel a couple years of something else would rejuvenate me, especially for graduate school.
        Do not ignore this!!!

        Yes - you must take a break or grad school will crush you. PhD programs are not for the faint of heart. You want to enter school refreshed and ready for work. Take one year at a time. Taking time off is usually seen as a positive and life expanding by admissions. A few years out in the real world usually makes returning students more focused and motivated. And often more flexible!

        When you find yourself obsessing about schools and are composing application essays in your head - apply and get on with that part of your life. Having spent your time doing something interesting will spice up your essays.

        What to do now:
        As you prepare to graduate - visit your professors and talk with them about grad school. Ask them to be references NOW so that when (and if) you contact them later, they will be better prepared. If you don't know already, talk to your professors about schools to consider. Let these conversations stew as you take a much needed break.

        (Experience: previously worked in grad admissions and have been a grad student). Grad school can be awesome - but never when you are burned out!

        Congrats on graduating under such difficult circumstances. Best wishes and enjoy yourself! You deserve it.


        • #5
          PS - Grad school funding is often available for math and science majors. You are valuable as a research and teaching assistants. Grad schools want the best students and compete for them with offers of scholarships, assistantships, etc. Also, if you have applied for and received any type of grad scholarship - it speaks very well of your motivation and aptitude. Coming in with even a small amount of funding will impress schools.

          Grad programs vary widely. You often can get a M.S. on the way to a PhD. Your statistics professors can give you the skinny.


          • Original Poster

            Knowing myself, I know I will go back to school. So I'm not worried about that aspect. Especially since I will be going into the horse industry (read: more broke than a college student) so I won't be lured away from graduate school by earning money.

            I'm also not worried about recommendation letters. I currently work with 4 professors for one research project, 4 for another, and have been grading for another for 4 years. I also know 4 people in industry (from statistical computing companies) who would write letters of recommendations for me. All of these people, I am confident would give strong recommendations.

            By the time I graduate from my BS, I'll have 2-3 published papers, plus 2-3 presented posters from my research. So I feel very confident in my ability to get into graduate school and receive funding.

            I have researched graduate school, talked to professors, the whole she-bang. All feel I am especially strong for a PhD program. They also understand the issues I have gone through.

            With all the more personal issues, the last 4 years have felt like all I did was give of myself.

            It isn't the fact that school sucks, I love school. School isn't why I'm burnt out. I'm just physically and mentally exhausted from every thing that's happened.


            • #7
              If you can afford to take a year or so off doing something that you like but doesn't pay squat and won't help you professionally, then do it. But seriously, the best way to have horses all your life is to get a good paying career.

              I agree that you have been through a great deal of stress in recent years. Have you sought therapy for it? My guess is that you might be depressed.

              Since you have a horse, carriage and harness, why not mix in competing at ADS shows and CDEs while working on some on-line classes. That way you get to drive and continue on with your education.
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              • #8
                I echo that PhDs are not for the faint of heart (ask me how I know). I do not think taking a break before grad school means you won't go back. I do think if you take a break before you graduate with your bachelor's you won't go back though. So do finish the bachelor's.

                I find online classes exceedingly convenient and the learning environment quite addictive. Next big thing with regards to grad school as far as I'm concerned.

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                • #9
                  I have a PhD in Statistics and Economics. I took a year off after college (riding horses, and hanging out on a beautiful island), several more after my first master's degree (to start a company), a couple more after my second master's degree (to work at a hospital), and then finished my PhD (in a record for that program 3.5 years). I am now 14 years out of grad school and have a great job that supports the pony habit nicely. I had great and interesting jobs throughout the process of stopping and starting with the education. I also rode through pretty much all of it (though did not get back to eventing until I had my PhD in hand and my first faculty job).

                  I say go for it! And if you need a job at some point, PM me. I'd hire you if I had an opening.
                  OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


                  • #10
                    Do it -- I took two years off to work between my bachelor's and my master's degrees. It makes a difference. There is a HUGE difference in maturity level and reality-grasping abilities when you do that, as opposed to people who stay in school straight through.
                    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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                    • #11
                      I say listen to your inner voice and let it guide you. I took 6 years off between my BS and MS, and, uh, 15(?) between my MS and PhD. Not a big deal.

                      However, please do not give up on your love of statistics. Us scientist types NEED you! As in right now, as I get ready to face 'R' again...

                      Oh, and congrats on publishing the papers - that IS a big deal


                      • #12
                        First, I am so thoroughly impressed with anyone who can get a degree in Statistics. I struggled and struggled with statistics and my grad. statistics classes almost did me in. And I'll second whoever said that the world needs more PhD Statisticians ... especially all the scientists out there who need people to help them with the statistics for their research.

                        Taking a year off if you can afford it isn't a bad idea. I did.... I graduated with a BS, moved to Texas to live near my boyfriend at the time (husband of nearly 14 years now!). I took a year off partially to gain residency, partially to let Spencer finish up school. I worked a couple of jobs I hated (secretary jobs for professors - ugh). I ended up talking to people in the Animal Science Department and switched fields for my MS and PhD.

                        I think I would have had a hard time if I hadn't taken a year off. I most certainly would not have found my way to the Animal Science Dept., and that's really where I belonged. And I wouldn't have had that little break.

                        Go for it. I wish I had done something more interesting, like a working student position, with my year off.
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                        • #13
                          As the saying goes "No one on their death bed ever said, I wish I'd spent more time at the office...or in your case, grad school".

                          I'm pretty old and at the age where I seem to be looking back a lot more. I can't say I have major regrets, I have a great life, but....there are some things I wish I'd pursued when I had the chance.

                          If you can find the right postition, with the right people...go for it. The job market's gonna suck for a while longer now anyway.

                          It may send your life in a whole new direction. When in doubt, pray about it.
                          Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"


                          • #14
                            You mentioned people at a driving dressage show said you should take a year or two off working with a 4-in-hand driver because there aren't many young people in driving.

                            Is there a position open or are they "just suggesting". There really aren't all that many 4-in-hand drivers out there and positions aren't that easy to come by, especially for new drivers.

                            If it's a real offer and you really will get back to work on your degree and it's OK with your funding source, than it could make sense as a working break from one kind of stress.

                            If it's a "you should do this... it would be sooo cool" then maybe not.

                            I'd also think you will need to look into the particulars of the job to see if it will advance your driving or just make you a better groom.

                            Then find out if it includes bringing the driving horse & equipment along or if you will have to maintain it or sell it away from your potential job.

                            Best luck, whatever you decide to do


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by cowgirljenn View Post
                              First, I am so thoroughly impressed with anyone who can get a degree in Statistics. I struggled and struggled with statistics and my grad. statistics classes almost did me in. And I'll second whoever said that the world needs more PhD Statisticians ... especially all the scientists out there who need people to help them with the statistics for their research.

                              Taking a year off if you can afford it isn't a bad idea. I did.... I graduated with a BS, moved to Texas to live near my boyfriend at the time (husband of nearly 14 years now!). I took a year off partially to gain residency, partially to let Spencer finish up school. I worked a couple of jobs I hated (secretary jobs for professors - ugh). I ended up talking to people in the Animal Science Department and switched fields for my MS and PhD.

                              I think I would have had a hard time if I hadn't taken a year off. I most certainly would not have found my way to the Animal Science Dept., and that's really where I belonged. And I wouldn't have had that little break.

                              Go for it. I wish I had done something more interesting, like a working student position, with my year off.
                              I would not go by other's stories, because just as for some time off worked, others didn't go back.
                              You will have to decide on your own merits, FOR YOU.

                              I left the university and went into a working student position as you are thinking and never went back.
                              I had a chance to go back twice, with full scholarships, but declined and never looked back.
                              I had a wonderful life as a horse professional and that fit me better than any other would have, I think.
                              Of course we never know, but in hindsight, I made the right decisions, to quit and not to go back.

                              Now, we live in a different world today that I had to make those decisions in and your own situation is different, but I would say, could you work as a working student only part of the time, while keeping your studies up all along, not take time completely away from them?

                              Remember, what you do in your professional life will be competitive with people with a passion for it, that is all they live for and do.
                              Can you compete with that if you are not 100% into it and leave the horses as a hobby?

                              Only you can answer those questions.


                              • #16
                                This thread is really timely for me, because I am considering the same thing. I will be graduating with a B.Sc in Physics next spring, and would like to take a year off between my BSc and M.S. to pursue riding a bit. It's been my passion and my true love for so long that I really feel I want to take this last chance to give it as good a shot as possible.

                                I've always been a dedicated student and I can't see myself not going back after. The only thing I worry about is my math skills getting rusty, as one of you mentioned.

                                Perhaps there are online courses or books you could take along on your year off to keep up to snuff?
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                                • #17
                                  JustaBob is right, take time off if at all possible. If you think you're sick and burnt out now, grad school will kill you. And with a miserable major like Stats it's not going to get any easier or less stressful. You don't want to START already feeling burnt out. That's without having 101 reasons most people don't to feel tired, depressed, and physically off.
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                                  • #18
                                    You are young at 23. Take a summer break (or fall break) and get back in school to get your stats phd, or whatever phd you choose. I did double business degrees not all together but one after another one, and I totally understand about burning out. But if you like stats enough to phd in it, you know you like stats, and can make $ at it. I totally loved ALL my stats classes btw. It is so logical, makes sense to me. Ok, I am weird. I am very business, math, problem solving brained. Sorry can't help it. Oh wow I wonder if the parelli wheel has that type brain on it. Oh my.

                                    You have the $, drive, and time now to do it. You do not want to divert from your goal. Life happen (well you know that) and the rest of schooling may not happen.

                                    If you do other things and go to school part time it may take you 10 years or never to complete.

                                    Take summer off then get back in the program. You are tough young lady, you can do it. Do horses as you did going to school. Doing horses after you have your schooling, and a job you will like much better.

                                    School first. Finish then party like it is 1999. Well, ok we have surpassed that date, but you know what I mean. You are tough and resilient and can do it. Go!


                                    • #19
                                      I went back for a Master's degree and it was really quite easy and casual. I have no idea what statistics is like, but it seems like most masters programs allow for people who work, have a life etc. The PhD's seemed consuming.

                                      I think you mainly need to look at your finances- a year off to go play with horses is a year not making money- paying back loans, rent, car, horse feed, saving for your PhD program. I know a lot of people who went from undergrad straight through PhD who have crushing amounts of loans and even with well paying jobs, struggle. As a masters student, I had a job with the university- but it paid about $12,000 a year, so I worked 2 more part time jobs.

                                      I'd just make sure you think about the financials before you make a decision.


                                      • #20
                                        I am normally a "Get thee to school!" type but in your situation, a very driven and successful person with a difficult couple of years behind her who is just plain mentally and emotionally tired, I think it sounds like a year off would do you a lot of good. Take the time to finish the grief process, refresh yourself and allow time to kindle your old enthusiasm for your studies. Do NOT take online classes -- you will not feel as if you are getting a true break from it all. Do your barnwork, enjoy the horses and read romance novels or something in your spare time until you start to want to think about academics again. I'd bet you will.