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Why did you leave graduate school?

  • Thread starter bluechic92
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

This question is geared towards anyone who started off graduate school, but decided not to continue. I especially want to hear from physics people, but anyone!

After reading some threads and stumbling on an article that had short anecdotes of people who decided to leave graduate, I sort of wanted to hear from more people.

This is the article: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/445-in-hindsight-former-ph-d-students-reflect-on-why-they-jumped-ship

This , in particular, from the article echoes often:

"Though I had dreams of going into academia, I noticed that the instructors never discussed any other type of career path for us. At the same time, they would talk about how bleak the academic job market was. Then I began to question whether I would be able to land a job when I started applying for faculty positions. If they didn’t have hope, I thought, why should I?"

Also this very recent thread requirements for career in academia: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/did-academic-career-requirements-change-in-recent-years.788165/

For the record, I am still applying to graduate school: PhD Physics and Master's in Engineering. I have not completely decided which career path to take so I am just giving myself options.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Astronuc
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Money, a job/career, and a daughter on the way.

Update/Edit: I should add that my first job out of grad school was a unique opportunity (including frequent travel to Europe and Asia, as well as throughout the US), which lead to other unique opportunities through some invaluable experience.
 
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  • #3
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I left because it wasn't justifiable to continue. The years of additional work didn't appear to result in much improvement in either my job prospects or my personal well-being. I decided a masters was the sweet spot and headed out.
 
  • #4
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Thank you for the responses! I'm glad I am taking more time to figure out my career this time around. Didn't spend too much time on this when I was in undergrad.
 
  • #5
Quantum Defect
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Thank you for the responses! I'm glad I am taking more time to figure out my career this time around. Didn't spend too much time on this when I was in undergrad.
I know/knew several people who have gone on to interesting careers after leaving graduate school sans PhD. I think in most cases, the people who don't finish are the ones who see that for what they really want to do, the PhD does not matter. The people I know/knew went to work for tech companies [Amazon and Wofram in their early days...] In the private sector, I believe that you are judged much more for what you can do, not the beauty of your credentials.

The PhD matters most for jobs where the "credentialism" is important -- higher ed; some government jobs, some private sector jobs, etc. Having a PhD is also no longer a guarantee of employment into the positions where it is required.

Bottom line: People should do the PhD because they want to do the PhD. It is no guarantee of a particular job.
 

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