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Going back to school

  1. Jul 6, 2011 #1
    Hi all,

    I searched around for a place to ask this, and this forum seemed especially appropriate. It's my first time posting though, so my apologies if this is out of place.

    I'm about to turn 27, and five years ago, I earned a BS in math. I was a very good student, both generally and in math, although I did not do much research outside my coursework.

    My question is how easy is it to go back to school? I'm feeling an ever-growing itch to get back into mathematics. The problem is I have a comfortably-paying job (related to math education) and my own apartment now. I'm worried about going back to a college lifestyle. However, I truly have no interest in working full-time and just taking classes in the evenings. My itch is to do research and actively pursue a PhD.

    Can anyone provide insight here; how easy is it to go back? Will the material come back to me easily? Am I starting to become too old to pursue a degree full-time? Is it okay if my letters of recommendation come from employers, not professors? Is the transition back to a cramped apartment with a roommate manageable, or put simply, will I feel old?

    Sorry for all the questions! Any help is appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2011 #2


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    You're pretty young. The only other complicating factor is if you have a family to support. It can become more and more difficult if you have children. If not, go for it.
  4. Jul 6, 2011 #3
    Well, I started my Engineering degree when I was 28, and I had similar concerns to you. I was worried about being around young, smart things and being discounted because I was a "non-traditional" student.

    None of that matters. I am doing very well in my degree, get a lot of business cards from employers and told to call them when I graduate, and I genuinely get on well with my classmates.

    I didn't move into a student house (I instead shared with my gf) but I you accept that you're a student, christ, embrace it. Teenagers are a bit like dogs; they're more scared of you than you are of them.

    Knowledge-wise, just do some of your old past papers. Best way to brush up.

    Maths is typically an exception, though. I know people who were advised not to take a year off before their PhD because they might get "out of the zone". But, that's up to the university to decide. Contact a post-grad admissions tutor and they'll tell you quickly yes or no.
  5. Jul 6, 2011 #4
    Fortunately, no children.

    Thank you for your response. This is precisely whom I was hoping to hear from--people who went through exactly that. Were your letters of recommendation from employers or former professors?

    Part of my worry, if I'm being honest, is that I'm still single, although perhaps being around grad students again might fix that? Thanks for the advice; I can start reworking old papers this summer.

    I wouldn't expect to live in a student house. Although, is it reasonable to hope that a stipend would afford me a room nearby?
  6. Jul 6, 2011 #5
    I used a former employer. Mind you, I went into my undergrad, not post-grad, so it may be an entirely different kettle of fish. Again, I think it is up to the university to decide here.

    Oh god, if you can avoid student houses by all means do so. Gross. ergh. argh.
    Stipend is usuallt $25k in the US I think (I may be corrected here). In the UK it's about 14k pounds but tax free.
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