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Taking a few years off

  1. Mar 16, 2014 #1
    Hi, I'm currently a junior majoring in physics/math, and I'm on an accelerated masters track so I can get my masters in physics after 4 years plus a summer or extra semester. My plan after graduating is to go travel around for a few years (possibly between 2-3), and then return to finish my PhD or begin working. Would this time off hurt me in any way? If so, what could I do during that time off to keep myself competitive (e.g., I would consider teaching math abroad).
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2014 #2


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    Taking time off could hurt you very much. There is a severe prejudice in the working world against people who don't already have a job (or are in school). Not sure why but it is there.

    If you want to travel I highly recommend trying to find a field engineering job or the like so you can travel while employed. I know of two people who took time off between jobs and then couldn't find a new one. It's not fair but it is reality.

    It may be easier to get into grad school after 2 or 3 years off than it would be to get into a job.

    Not sure teaching math will help much for an engineering or physics-related job.
  4. Mar 16, 2014 #3
    Just musing ideas. I figured this is something that would keep me relevant and sharp.
  5. Mar 16, 2014 #4
    First, I think 2 - 3 years is too long, and would be a problem.

    6 to 18 months may not be a negative at all. Part of the question is what you did with that time. If you were volunteering for interesting organizations, getting interesting (even if totally unrelated) experience, and creating an interesting background for yourself, I can even see it being a positive.
  6. Mar 16, 2014 #5


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    Be prepared to take extensive academic refresher courses after your hiatus from the academy. No one is as sharp academically after such an extended break, and a lot of skill and knowledge is easily lost over even short amounts of time without constant use.
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