Hello all, I've gotten myself in quite a mess and how I might hope to resolve it is...questionable. I'm wondering about your input. Last Fall, I applied to PhD programs in (Applied) Math under the impression that I wanted to strive to become a professor in mathematics. Since accepting one offer, I have had an avalanche of realities (sick/aging family, lost girlfriend largely because I prioritized school, my $60,000 in debt and my age), provoked a realization: I am absolutely insane to try to do this, given my circumstances. I have the choice between an MS that would allow for some engineering courses, or a PhD program; both funded. (Or, not going anywhere this Fall, which I'm sure that the writers of my LORs--all of whom I value as great advisers and, in fact, friends--would love to hear) Option 1: Computational Science MS with courses in electrical engineering, subsequent application to electrical engineering programs Option 2: Math PhD in creating computational methods...maybe I can pick up statistics Option 3: Apply for next year, in the meanwhile, increase my programming skills and try to file a patent (I have a few ideas floating around, but, alas (?), I have let school distract me). Option 4: Flee society and build a glorious woodland civilization. To everyone: how do I make the most of my background while making a decent salary (something where I could earn, say, 70,000 (present value) by the time I'm 30, or do I really have my head in the clouds...) To the Electrical Engineers: have I ruined my chances of having a good job by not having an industrial internship (besides one back in...2008, and in a different field, to boot)? To the Quants (that's including you, twofish-quant!): For the greatest probability of getting a non-housekeeping quant job, I probably need a PhD right? I know that no man can predict the future, but is it possible that, with the growing discontent with college educations, EVEN fewer academic positions will result in Wall Street being SWARMED by math/phys/chem/CS PhDs, hence making this objective career ALSO highly risky? In any case, I should investigate Mark Joshe's book, yes? To the Actuaries: How many passed exams are sufficient to gain an internship, given that I have no background in financial math? To the Software Engineers: Are there examples of math PhDs who get a $60k-70k/year or more upon entering the field? To the Software Engineers OR 'Big Data'/Machine Learning people: Is the pay in this field lucrative, given the rise of social media? To everyone: I target you esteemed professionals of the fields above because I am horribly confused as to what I actually like. I'm starting to think I like everything, and that's why salary and job prospects are my primary concern. I should be leaping for joy at the fact I've had such good fortune. And leap I did, but the realities of life, salary, and future wife/family--especially in what seems to be a continually dying economy--have made me consider more practical options. Although I've made a very foolish mistake that I very much regret, I believe I have great potential, and hope that my aims are not totally unreasonable for an intelligent person who feels (prior to being a program, very thankfully) that he has deceived himself by an imaginary salary-academic performance correlation. PS: Is there a way to neurologically program myself (without going insane) to like something financially lucrative and life-wise balanced? PPS (or, for variety, NB): I've been told to find my 'passion'. Does this exist? I know well the quote from Confucius, but if that were the case I'd probably be a writer. The lack of job security here, too, makes this more of a consideration for the side. Thank you all for taking the time to consider my quandary.