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Going to grad school after a few years of working?

  1. Sep 12, 2013 #1
    I was just wondering if this is a common thing that people do. I am a junior in college and I had a software engineering internship and enjoyed it very much and I think it'd a career i'd enjoy. However I've always wanted to get a phd in computer science and do research in computer graphics. At the internship, a lot of the people there said that many people who make the decision to work then go to school for their phd never end up going for the phd and just stick with their career, so they suggested just going for the masters/phd straight out of school if i really wanted to get one. Is this good advice? Also, do phd students in computer science in general get the same financial help that hard science majors do, or would I have to pay out of pocket for my education?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2013 #2

    Choppy

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    It's not uncommon. People work for a year or two for many reasons before going to graduate school. Sometimes they just want to earn some money. Sometimes they need to figure out the graduate school is what they really want. I don't know any actual numbers, but it certainly seems more common to go straight through based on my own personal experience. But you won't be the only one if you decide to work for a few years first.

    One thing the keep in mind is that you'll need a way to keep from getting too rusty. As the years go by, you may be less competitive for graduate positions if you have no way of demonstrating that you've been keeping your skills up. I don't think this factors in at all for anything under two years. By five years, it may be significant.

    I think your colleagues are correct in that a lot of people who enter the working world have a tough time leaving it. Once that regular pay cheque comes in, it's really easy to pile up the credit card bills, lock into a mortgage, or even hook up with a sweetheart, which will all complicate the choice to return to a student lifestyle.

    As far as the support thing goes, I highly recommend investigating this on a case-by-case basis. Most programs will openly post the level of financial support their incoming students can expect.
     
  4. Sep 13, 2013 #3

    analogdesign

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    The big issue is like Choppy said, returning to the student lifestyle.

    I went to grad school right after undergrad so I was used to the poverty lifestyle. In my program the dropout rate was about 50%. Of my peers who came after working for a few years, only two stuck with it. The people who came right after undergrad were more likely to stick with it. A Ph.D. is a long, tough battle, and if you're giving up a nice paycheck to do it, well it doesn't take much to convince yourself you made the wrong choice.

    This is just my experience. There might be statistics about this somewhere.
     
  5. Sep 13, 2013 #4
    It is my opinion that you should go for the PHD while you are at it. Once you got out, it's hard to get back in. When you are young and particular when you are single, life is a lot simpler, your mind is fresh and have good memory. Once you get older, you get marry, have kids, life is going to be very different. You'll be thinking about buying a house, carry on more debt..........AND on top of it all, you start to loose memory when you get older!!!

    It is so easy to get good in your job and move up the career ladder. Then before you know it, you'll find you don't need the degree. I was once like this, I never even have a degree in EE. I started as a hobby, study on my own and moved up in the career ladder fast. I never felt like I need to go back. But as time goes by, I did feel there is a hole there that I want to fulfill. I ended up starting to study back all the stuffs AFTER I retired.

    Now a days is very different from my days, people looking for candidates with advanced degree. With an advanced degree, you have better opportunities to get in the door.

    I strongly suggested you continue on to the advanced degree.
     
  6. Sep 13, 2013 #5

    HallsofIvy

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    When I graduated it was either go directly to grad school or take a government paid vacation in beautiful South Vietnam!
     
  7. Sep 13, 2013 #6
    On top of the life style, in my case, I found the job I love, it's like.........why do I even want to rock the boat to go back to school? It's so easy to just keep working. Like you said, you have a much better chance to get the foot in the door with an advanced degree.

    When I was young, a few years seems like eternity, going back to school to get a degree seemed to take so long. Thinking back now, a few years is only a blink of an eye. I love to study, I don't even care to get a degree, just want to study. I DON'T HAVE THE MIND TO STUDY ANYMORE!!! I study, then I forget it!!!! Old brain just don't work that well anymore!!! Studying has been painfully slow. I just turned 60, I swear, I feel the different even lately.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2013
  8. Sep 13, 2013 #7
    :rofl: :rofl:
     
  9. Sep 13, 2013 #8

    jk

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    If you want to do research, go to grad school. It is very hard to get into a research position with a BS. Like others have pointed out, it is harder to go back to school once you have been working for a few years. You get used to the money, you will typically have more family responsibilities, bills that must be paid ,etc.
    Look at it this way: grad school will last 4 - 5 years. You WILL have to go to work after that. But if you go to work first, you can easily do that for far longer than 5 years. Your options for grad school will have narrowed down significantly by then.
    Another way to look at it is this: if you go to grad school now, you forgo an entry level salary for a few years so you can have a degree and potentially larger salary (at least if you go to industry after PhD). If you, on the other hand, decide to go back to grad school in the middle of a career, you will have to forgo a mid-career level of salary for five years. Your opportunity cost will be higher.
     
  10. Sep 13, 2013 #9

    jk

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    If you want to do research, go to grad school. It is very hard to get into a research position with a BS. Like others have pointed out, it is harder to go back to school once you have been working for a few years. You get used to the money, you will typically have more family responsibilities, bills that must be paid ,etc.
    Look at it this way: grad school will last 4 - 5 years. You WILL have to go to work after that. But if you go to work first, you can easily do that for far longer than 5 years. Your options for grad school will have narrowed down significantly by then.
    Another way to look at it is this: if you go to grad school now, you forgo an entry level salary for a few years so you can have a degree and potentially larger salary (at least if you go to industry after PhD). If you, on the other hand, decide to go back to grad school in the middle of a career, you will have to forgo a mid-career level of salary for five years. Your opportunity cost will be higher.
     
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