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Does it matter how long it takes to finish your degree?

  1. Aug 1, 2008 #1
    My major is physics. I started college awhile ago, and have finished my associate's. Now I am working on my upper level classes. I am a part- time stay at home mom to my 17 month daughter, I work part time in retail (:frown:) and I'm a part time student. With my schedule, I can pretty much only take 2 (maybe 3) classes a semester that fit into my degree. My concern is this: when I'm looking for a professional job, will they reject my application for having spent too long in college?

    I do plan on doing research/ internships before I graduate for experience. I know experience plays a major factor in getting a job.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2008 #2


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    I think it really depends on the circumstances, but in your specific case I would say no. Most employers would be impressed by someone who could complete a part-time degree while being a parent and holding down a part-time job.

    Length of time may raise an eyebrow in cases where the applicant took seven years for a four year degree and didn't do anything else concurrently. Students who take a year off to travel abroad, work, volunteer, or serve in the armed forces for example are generally just as competative as their faster-finishing colleagues.
  4. Aug 1, 2008 #3
    No, you have a damn good reason for taking as long as you have.

    It's basically when you take 2 classes at time, but don't have a job or anybody to care for that will hurt you.
  5. Aug 1, 2008 #4


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    Hi flame-

    I agree with Choppy and War - it won't look bad to the majority of employers.

    I went part-time, too. Took me 9-1/2 years to get my physics BS!!! And I held a lot of odd jobs, but I tried to work in science-related positions, even if that meant menial lab jobs. I signed up with a temp agency that specialized in science and engineering placements. If you have such an agency where you live, I would advise giving them a call.
  6. Aug 1, 2008 #5
    your replies come as a relief. thanks!
  7. Aug 1, 2008 #6
    Only insofar as the time is only available once to be used one way.

    The 12-credit financial aid threshold might be more of a concern. If you're a little lucky and a little persistent, you might be able to get enough aid to more than compensate for dropping the retail job. You might also be able to partially replace it with a Work Study job which could be more understanding of the other demands on your time (and possibly pay more, and possibly be relevant to your academic interests if you're very lucky). This will vary a rather large amount by individual and institution...but look into it if you haven't yet.
  8. Aug 2, 2008 #7
    Yes it matters for certain jobs. If you just want A job, then it does not matter. Do you want a prestigious highpowered job, then you should be going out on time, or less than on time.
  9. Aug 2, 2008 #8
    I don't really think that's true.

    Especially for physics. If you rush through and graduate in three years, for example, you will miss out on a lot of the research opportunities and upper-division labs that everyone that isn't rushing through as fast as they can will have. No one is going to care that you hurried to get out of college as soon as possible, they're going to care about what you know and what you can do.

    Also, you will never get to be an undergrad again. Enjoy it while you can.
  10. Aug 2, 2008 #9
    Asphodel: I think that people should get their degrees in time. It means they are assertive, starts something, finishes it at the designated time etc. It shows conviction and passion.

    If you are really into it, then you will always find a way to get those research opportunities while you still are in college. And besides, you can always do a taught MSc and get your research experience under that year/-s.

    And besides, some companies care a great deal if you did your degree on time with honours or not. High-end private research divisions and institutes. Managemant consultant firms. Certain prestigious graduate recruitment programs in industrial companies.

    So, maybe it don't matter to a lot of companies, or people. But having options is great, having a lot of options, and only good options to choose from is better.
  11. Aug 2, 2008 #10

    Dr Transport

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    10 years to get my PhD, but I changed professors twice during the process. being a long time student is not out of the ordinary these days because of the multitude of options we have.
  12. Aug 2, 2008 #11
    no one cares about character traits, they care about results. so your 3 year dissertation that doesn't do anything against my 10 year dissertation that is fundamental won't stand a chance.
  13. Aug 2, 2008 #12


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    To the OP: Does it cost a lot more if you take a longer time to finish the degree?
  14. Aug 2, 2008 #13
    ice109: As you will learn when you get older, you will notice that character traits are transferable skills. Motivation outplays class in the ballpark every day.

    Besides, a BSc dissertation that is fundamental will probably not take 10 years. And for getting a job afterwards, you should do your degree in the time that is assigned to it. If you don't got any extrenuating circumstances like OP does.
  15. Aug 2, 2008 #14
    10 years from after you got your bachelors or after you got your high school diploma?
  16. Aug 2, 2008 #15
    there's a good question. i have just enrolled in a university that locks my tuition rate for 4 years, so i'm good on that. since i schedule work around classes, i can pay my way out of my loans faster..... i guess if you factor in the cost of transportation to school, that costs a lot more than going a couple days a week for a full day of classes. i wish i could say money doesn't matter to me, but it certainly helps, especially with a child. i feel that if i'm a little broke right now, it will pay off in the end. hopefully.
  17. Aug 3, 2008 #16
    IF you see this thing through, there is a very high certainty that it will pay off. Having an education in science raises the nominal wage quite a bit.

    EDIT: in my former post; class = high quality, sounds a bit better in english then I think. :)
  18. Aug 4, 2008 #17
    Were you on crack when you thought of saying this? Seriously, do you know how old ice109 is?

    Besides that, I will personally tell the OP that it does not matter...period. Who the heck is this Fearless guy anyways? Don't listen to him. He lost all his credibility with me with the garbage he's been posting.
  19. Aug 4, 2008 #18
    All I know is, basic arithmetic implies N > 30.
  20. Aug 5, 2008 #19
    Ok, so ice109 is old. I thought he was "young" based on his answers, I was maybe wrong?

    I find this thread rather good in enlightening people on the difference between physicists and engineers. Physicist don't give a rat's a*s about how long it took. As long as they are smart and can apply themselves to their given problems.

    Engineers that can manage to get their degree in the given timeframe are very very few. So to have a degree like that is a huge selling point and asset to go into an industrial career.

    Then we can move over to the idea of character traits and them being transferable skills. I would rather hire someone that is hardworking and applying himself to his limit, than some bum that is very very smart but got the work ethic of a chimpanzee. It's both more costeffective and probably more productive.

    Of course you apparantly don't agree with me on a lot of things. It's ok that you find my posts not so informative or useful. Debate with me, and people can choose for themselves what view they like. I stand up for what I believe in and what applies to the reality I am facing in europe.
  21. Aug 5, 2008 #20
    Fearless, did you even read the OP's first post? She is raising a child while working and attending school. Do you understand how difficult of a situation that is? Are you currently raising a small child while working and attending school? Because if you aren't I don't see where you get off telling someone facing those type of circumstances that they should push to graduate in four years.
  22. Aug 5, 2008 #21
    Yeah. I am under the impression that he/she as not read the OP too.

    To the OP: I highly doubt that anyone will call into question the amount of time taken to finish your degree under the circumstances. And if they do, just kick'em in the stones :smile:
  23. Aug 5, 2008 #22


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    This isn't the first time Fearless has posted nonsensical "advice" as academic and career guidance. He has done so in other threads if you care to do a search. My only concern is that forum first-timers might mistake garbage for genuine academic and career advice. I don't claim to be more experienced than he/she is both in academia and the working world, but at least I know when to shut up and learn from others who are clearly more experienced than I.
  24. Aug 6, 2008 #23
    I actually did give my opinion that she would be fine. Of course no one did notice that. Although, I did voice my opinion on 20-yearold-something bums that should do their degree on time. They don't have an excuse.

    And remember good folks, I only voice my opinions. You have a problem with that, PM me instead and we can talk more in depth about it. The opinions come from my work experience and what I've learned from others. Do with them what you wish.
  25. Aug 6, 2008 #24
    Opposing opinions are good. Although if you want to communicate that you think it's bad to be a sixth-year senior in their early twenties that still hasn't graduated because they can't plan ahead to save their lives - you might want to be sure you specify that earlier in the thread, so we understand what you mean.

    You might also want to avoid saying you're right and someone else is wrong because they must be too young to know better, it messes up the thread and gives people a bad opinion of you.
  26. Aug 7, 2008 #25
    Asphodel: Yeah I should be communicating more clearly what I mean and to whom it's addressed, duly noted. And thanks for the tip.
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