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Career and Graduate School

  1. May 31, 2007 #1

    JasonRox

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    Well, my senior year is fast approaching and I'm not putting aside the decisions I need to make at the last minute.

    I have a year left for my Bachelor's of Science in Mathematics. I would like to go to Graduate School, but part-time. Here's why I think it would be good for me and you make a notion on whatever you like. I'm here to listen to opinions hopefully more constructive advice.

    So, before going to university I went to a community college. I went for 2 years in an Accounting program, but did not get a diploma because I transferred before completing my third year. I went into Mathematics at the local university.

    Anyways, so technically, I'm really close to obtaining a Level 4 CGA (Certified General Accountant). I never knew this, but I looked into it because as graduate school kept getting closer and closer, I just felt uncomfortable knowing how I will most likely be living under the poverty line for quite a while, and might even have a relative debt load. Another thing is that, after work with professors and seeing how money is raised, I personally dislike it. Writing proposals for grants and all that crap, like seriously.

    So, how will I continue my Mathematics career? I was thinking of going part-time so that way I will have access to materials, professors, and other graduate students to learn with. Sure getting my Master's might take an extra few years, but atleast I won't be dead broke. Because if I go this route, I can get my CGA, CFP (Certified Financial Planner), Accounting Diploma (3 courses left for the 2-year diplomae and 6 left for the 3 year diploma), and after my CGA I'll be like 2 or so courses away from my Bachelor's of Commerce at another university. (I would need to do courses there to complete my CGA in turn they applie for the degree too). With all these credentials that I can obtain in just 3 years from now and fully completed in like say 4 years or less, my opportunities for employment will explode in the finance/banking/accounting/business industry. I could be making atleast $45k right after I'm done school to $60k and higher after just 6-12 months of school. Those are more conservative estimates too since it's better to underestimate than to overestimate future income.

    Or, I can opt out for $20k a year or maybe a bit less as a graduate student. That just doesn't seem practical at all. And, my college courses may not transfer for a CGA designation in the future leaving me more screwed to getting quick employment. Employment in the business industry is everywhere, or atleast it is in Canada.

    Plus, once my Master's is done and if I managed my money properly (which is a must in the finance industry), I will have money saved up to go for my Ph.D if I wanted too.

    So, realistically I would say in 5 years (4 years after school) route 1 will give me...

    1 Graduate Degree (maybe just not sure how long a part-time Master's takes)
    2 Undergraduate Degrees
    1 Diploma
    Atleast 2 professional designations
    And money in the bank

    Route 2

    Ph.D
    1 Graduate Degree
    1 Undergraduate Degree
    ?Money?

    Of course, assuming all goes well.

    Anyways, what do you think?

    PS. I hate debt. Most people do, but most drive themselves deeper into debt to buy toys. I don't do that.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2007 #2
    Why not just skip math graduate school entirely and concentrate on your other fields? Even going part time, I really feel you need a very good reason to be in grad school. I don't see one in your post.
     
  4. May 31, 2007 #3

    JasonRox

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    Hmmm... I love mathematics. Done.
     
  5. May 31, 2007 #4
    At any half-decent university you get paid a living wage to go to graduate school in math and science. It won't make you wealthy, but it's enough to live on and you certainly won't be "below the poverty line".

    As a grad student, you don't have to write grant proposals. So you can wash your hands of that.

    If you are admitted to a graduate program you would probably have to present a very compelling argument for why you should attend part time. However, I knew a guy who was enrolled full time as a graduate student who was given free reign to take finance and business courses while he was an astrophysics PhD. He has since completed an MBA.

    I would personally do the grad school route - once you've been in the workforce ($$) it's harder to go back to school. But see if you can take some of those accredition courses in the evenings.
     
  6. May 31, 2007 #5

    JasonRox

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    I do have compelling reasons to go part-time. If I delay my financial route, I risk not being able to transfer my accounting courses for an accreditated accounting designation. I will also call the schools for more information on it. So, no point worrying about whether or not it's possible or not when we know nothing about. Plus, you're telling me to take finance courses in the evening of graduate school? So, I make enough to pay tuition fees for these courses? I doubt that... putting me even further into debt. Personally, my mind is boggled at how some students are totally comfortable accumulating big loads of debt. The bigger the debt is then the more it controls future decisions of yours. It will determine if you finish school or not, if you can move away to get that dream job (you need money to move away) and all sorts of things. I here all sorts of stories of student debts biting people in the ass when they find out when have to pay back that $30k plus in debt.

    And, personally, $20k a year is more so the average in Canada for graduate school. Atleast, that's what it is for math majors. You can get $30k, which is the highest I've heard, but that requires a hell of a lot work. My goal isn't just to live, but to save money and invest. Not just sit still and more than likely accumulate debt which is terrible considering interest rates are suppose to be going up.

    I am going to talk to my professor about this. Quite personally, I would need very compelling reasons not to make $55k or more per year (start and probably 70k after two years) while getting my Master's in which might only take me an extra year or two to get.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2007
  7. May 31, 2007 #6
    I'm sorry, I have no idea how much CGA coursework costs....

    A part time M.Sc sounds ideal. Go for it!
     
  8. May 31, 2007 #7

    JasonRox

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    I already put over $6000 into it. It has atleast another $10000. :bugeye:
     
  9. May 31, 2007 #8
    Finish the CGA and then at some point get them to pay you to go study finanicial mathematics/finanicial engineering...its great when the companies will pay u to finish a degree(almost like being on reserves...wish i knew about reserves back in teh day).

    My sister is getting paid to finish her CGA or CA...can't remmeber which.
     
  10. May 31, 2007 #9

    JasonRox

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    Exactly. That's another option to working right away. I totally forgot about that option though. I won't rely on it though, but it's definitely a plus! :biggrin:
     
  11. Jun 1, 2007 #10

    AlephZero

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    The old saying "no man can serve two masters" has a lot of truth in it. I have spent some time effectively doing two independent (and equally challenging) part time jobs, and it wasn't a stable equilibrium situation.

    if the rest of the group is together full time, being a part time member brings problems. After a while the rest of the group may get bored with the fact that every time you turn up, you need to catch up on what's been going on while you were away. The "interesting" things that happen don't conveniently schedule themselves to fit with when you are around. As time goes by you gradually lose touch with all the trivial shared experiences that makes the group of people into "a group".
     
  12. Jun 1, 2007 #11

    JasonRox

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    Yeah, the part-time jobs don't work. I did that before.

    I'm looking for a 9-5pm job from Monday to Friday. You can't ask for better than that. Which is really steady.

    As in being left out, I'm not worried about that.
     
  13. Jun 1, 2007 #12
    That's actually a pretty poor reason to go to graduate school for something. You're capable of learning the material on your own!
     
  14. Jun 1, 2007 #13

    JasonRox

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    Oh please!

    How much have you done on your own so far? Before suggesting that, you should have atleast obtained Master's level.
     
  15. Jun 1, 2007 #14
    Heh, well, more than I think I should have had to.

    In my opinion, that's the biggest difference between grad and undergrad schoolwork - graduate classes really test your ability to learn it on your own. Sometimes this is on purpose. . . more often its been because the lecturers are nearly useless. This idea that the only way to learn things is through a school is one thats beaten into our heads since first grade. It just isn't true.

    In any case, graduate degrees are often horrible financial investments. You gave some excellent reasons for not getting one in your OP. The only real reason to get one is because it allows you to do something you want to do, not because you love the material. There might be some statistics and data mining courses that open a few doors for you. . . but those can be picked up in most business departments (I know our bus dept offers many of them in combination with an MBA) and getting them that way would offer a lot more synergy with the rest of your studies.

    In the OP post you ask "So, how will I continue my Mathematics career?" The answer is that you don't currently have a career in mathematics, and I didn't see any realistic plan to get one. If you don't like university, there really is no career in math; there are just careers in other fields, where you happen to use a few mathematical tools.

    One thing worth mentioning is that in the private sector more schooling is not always seen as a good thing. Sometimes it is seen as being wishy washy or direction less. When you apply for a job, you're selling a product, and you'll have to distill everything you've worked for into a few catch phrases that market you. A half dozen degrees and certifications could actually make this harder if they aren't all driving towards the same focused goal.
     
  16. Jun 1, 2007 #15

    JasonRox

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    I'd like to pursue mathematics in a amateur fashion. If I learn on my own, where am I going to get the material?

    Hmmm... it's much cheaper to pay for courses than it is to buy all the materials and plus in the end you get a Master's.

    I don't see how Pure Mathematics and Finance are driving me towards the same goal or CGA or CFP. They aren't related.
     
  17. Jun 1, 2007 #16

    JasonRox

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    Oh and you can only get so far on your own I believe. I see mathematics as a subject that needs communication between people. Where am I going to get that sitting at home? Online doesn't count. Anyone would argue that sitting in a room with other people is much much much more efficient, effective and practical when it comes to actual enhancing you're knowledge.
     
  18. Jun 2, 2007 #17

    AlephZero

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    This isn't meant as personal criticism, just a comment on what I'm reading in this thread. Think about it, or ignore it, as you wish.

    I've interviewed quite a lot of graduates looking for first jobs in engineering (though not in finance) and I'm hearing some warning bells going off here. For example

    * Risk averse (as shown by attitude to debt)
    * Looking for "a 9-5 Mon-Fri job" (not a career)
    * Signs of wanting to be a "perpetual student"

    One might expect a finance student would balance the emotional response to debt against the economic arguments.

    The first two points above would be entirely expected in a 50 year old with a family who has just been made redundant through no fault of his/her own, but in a new graduate ... ???

    Since I'm NOT interviewing you, of course you don't have to reply to the specific points here - but I was on the other side of the interview table I would certainly want to explore those issues before I ticked the "acccept" box. Employers are also risk-averse, when it comes to hiring staff!
     
  19. Jun 2, 2007 #18

    mjsd

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    The answer to this issue is not black/white. Everyone is different. Different ppl learn in different ways. But, you'll need to think hard about what is your ultimate goal. what do you want to do as a career? Mind you, your attitude towards your career will most likely change with time because of obstacles or successes along the way. So, you have to fairly open-minded about what is going on. If you enjoy mathematics and wish to go into research, then you must do graduate studies. On the other hand, if you are interested in maths but not necessarily wanting to become an academic-type person, then your have a lot more options available. eg. get a few books and start reading yourself as other posters suggested; enrol in some diploma or MSc (that has minimal research component) to enhance your knowledge in your spare time.

    However, one thing is clear: you will have to spend a lot of time doing self-study/homework no matter what if you wanna become competent in the subject. Science subjects are in general "not easy" as you probably know. In grad school, especially, things are very tough going.
     
  20. Jun 2, 2007 #19

    JasonRox

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    Well, I'll be debt free when I graduate and I don't think I'll come off as risk averse since I will be taking a huge risk by flying at the other end of the country for a job. So, that should be fine.

    Well, I've never heard of a bank job going past like 8pm which is totally fine because sometimes you have to stay later because clients are only available after 5. That's cool with me. If you work past 8pm, you're technically not working at the bank for finance. It will be like cleaning and stuff, which is NOT what I'm going to apply for in the first place. So, whoever applies at the bank, it is implied that you want 9-5pm.

    Signs of being a perpetual student? Well, technically a newly financed student has no choice to go that route because more often than not the schooling is not done yet. But the same time, I have to honest with my academic goals which is do graduate studies. I don't say it in a way to try to impress them that I want to keep going to school and learn. In fact, I might not even mention in an interview based on the fact you never know how well graduate studies will go while working full-time, so it's best to keep to yourself until you're going nicely.
     
  21. Jun 2, 2007 #20

    JasonRox

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    Definitely, but by taking one course at a time, managing that wouldn't be as bad as say 2-3 courses or so.

    I do plan on being academic-type person. I wouldn't be surprised if I even flew around the country to big conferences in such and make contacts. The only difference is that when I will eventually do research with let's say a small group of people (2-4), that I will be only one actually not working in the academic world. I can become a night professor after like teach one course a term.

    The best part about it is that I don't have to tell anyone about my research unless I have a small group. I don't have to tell anyone because I won't need grant proposals. I won't need to justify my time at a university.

    When I talk to my professor, he will inform me more of what it's like in the academic life. We have to wait and see for that.
     
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