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Academic/Career Crossroads: Teacher to ME to Naval Flight officer....

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Hello. I am a teacher about to wrap up his fifth year in May. I started at the very bottom, teaching at risk and worked my way up with the help of my former teachers. I now teach AP Physics 1 and IB Mathematics SL. The whole experience has left me jaded. I gave it my all: my personality, my knowledge, everything. I feel like I'm a purist at heart (i'll explain in a bit).
I succeeded in teaching the at risk students by bringing them to the state standard and thensome but I felt that I never really really cemented the fundamentals, merely covered the gaps.
In the upper level courses that I teach now, I've taught brilliant students but due to the hyper competitive nature of the GPA game, it seems the majority of the students just want to see an A on their transcript.

Don't get me wrong, overall, I have a positive experience with the students and I really enjoy teaching and deriving and explaining concepts to students and also the history behind the great discoveries in science and math, but I knew I wasn't going to teach forever. I may burn out in the classroom (if I already haven't) and I have no interest in becoming a school administrator/principal/etc.

Anyway, since my school is Title 1, I qualify for loan forgiveness after my fifth year of teaching. To take advantage of that, I enrolled in a school that allowed me to get a BS and an MS (currently) in mechanical engineering while I worked as a teacher (thankfully some physics credits counted). I feel very fortunate for this opportunity, since what I teach my students has allowed me to stay sharp on the theory for the ME degrees.
My situation is this: I am 27 years old and I feel like I'm having a quarter-life crisis. I'm not sure if I should teach one more year (2018-19) while I complete the MS degree or go find a job in the industry after May while completing the MS.

Ultimately I know industry is where I should be headed. From there I had a pipe dream of working as a contractor for a defense company or becoming a Naval Flight officer.
Furthermore, I was looking over some lecture notes from my first undergrad and found a flyer for a PhD program in the pockets of my binder for molecular biophysics. My physics undergrad professor taught a course on biophysics and used the book he authored. We studied protein folding among other things. Perhaps a knee jerk reaction and some nostalgia took over me but it genuinely got me excited. I looked at some programs that offer this degree and it looks very appealing.
As always, money is an issue in pursuing these ideas but I am not sure if my sights are over the horizon so I come to the forum for advice.
Perhaps the ambitions of my students has rubbed off on me. Is it possible to do any of this at my age? Perhaps all of it?
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
scottdave
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Yes at 27 you are not really limited - If you have no dependents to consider.
 
  • #3
Vanadium 50
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becoming a Naval Flight officer.
I believe the maximum age to start flight school is 26, with up to a 24 month waiver. So if you want to act on this, you need to do so now.
 
  • #4
scottdave
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I believe the maximum age to start flight school is 26, with up to a 24 month waiver. So if you want to act on this, you need to do so now.
Yes, good point.
 
  • #5
Dr. Courtney
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After I was married, I tended to rely heavily on advice from my wife and father-in-law on the bigger decisions. Internet strangers may have expertise in some of the career choices and consequences, but people who know you well and are stake-holders in your future may have more value to add to the discussion.

About 1/2 the jobs I've had (and my wife also) have asked me to lie or otherwise compromise my integrity. My advice for most scientists, engineers, and teachers is that if you've had a job for a few years, and they have not asked you to compromise your integrity, you should seriously consider keeping it, because that next job is a 50/50 proposition unless you are willing to sell your integrity for a paycheck. In teaching, this most often means gifting grades.
 
  • #6
After I was married, I tended to rely heavily on advice from my wife and father-in-law on the bigger decisions. Internet strangers may have expertise in some of the career choices and consequences, but people who know you well and are stake-holders in your future may have more value to add to the discussion.

About 1/2 the jobs I've had (and my wife also) have asked me to lie or otherwise compromise my integrity. My advice for most scientists, engineers, and teachers is that if you've had a job for a few years, and they have not asked you to compromise your integrity, you should seriously consider keeping it, because that next job is a 50/50 proposition unless you are willing to sell your integrity for a paycheck. In teaching, this most often means gifting grades.
Thank you for the advice. I am curious to find if people had similar crossroads and how they dealt with them. Your insight about people who know me is something I lost sight of, as I feel alone in my path at times. And I have gifted grades at various points in my career but that is a whole other topic about the state of public education
 

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