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Go to grad school next fall or wait a year?

Old 04-20-11, 04:08 PM
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Go to grad school next fall or wait a year?

I'm hellbent on getting my phd in economics. However I decided really late and the deadline for most schools has passed. UNH is in my home state and continues to accept people, however, so I'm tempted to go ahead and apply to their program; I'll probably get in.

Several of my economics professors are telling me that I should be able to get into a top 30 or at least top 40 program, and that completing a masters degree here can segway into a phd program at a more illustrious school if I want.

So here's the question: do I jump on UNH and go in the fall, or do I hold out another year, with a good probability that I'll make it into a more "name brand" program?

My game plan is to get into a masters program first, partly because I think it's easier to get into, and partly because I want to be 100% sure that a phd is what I want.
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Old 04-20-11, 04:50 PM
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Personally I would wait a year study my ass of for what ever tests are needed for your grad school program, then try to get in to the best program I can for PhD. Here is the thing you get your Masters on the way to PhD. You are under no obligation to stick around after you get your masters. Funding is easier to come by if you are in the PhD program. Either through advisor, fellowship, or teach poor undergrads. Some universities offer on campus residence, but only for people in PhD program. So really there is no reason not to apply straight for PhD. Actually in some regards it is easier to get in. At least in the CS field, and in certain research universities.
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Old 04-20-11, 06:18 PM
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Only one option left in your case kid.You lack direction in your current state of mind.
Marine Corp enlistment+college deferment program.This will give you time to collect your own thoughts and earn some grad school money while exploring the world.
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Old 04-20-11, 06:22 PM
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Get the best sheepskin money can buy. If that means waiting a year, then wait. But, you'd better have an EXCELLENT reason to support that decision other than "I waited too long to apply."
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Old 04-20-11, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by spry View Post
Only one option left in your case kid.You lack direction in your current state of mind.
Marine Corp enlistment+college deferment program.This will give you time to collect your own thoughts and earn some grad school money while exploring the world.
I'm sorry but you don't know me and are in no position to judge my state of mind.
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Old 04-20-11, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Rob P. View Post
Get the best sheepskin money can buy. If that means waiting a year, then wait. But, you'd better have an EXCELLENT reason to support that decision other than "I waited too long to apply."
Excellent reason for what? For me or for someone else who might ask? I wasn't sure if I wanted to work and wait for business school or get my masters in economics. I'm hoping to convince my professors here to let me assist them in research, which ought to boost my application.
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Old 04-20-11, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
I'm sorry but you don't know me and are in no position to judge my state of mind.
Please excuse me for over stepping my bounds.
The current state of your mind is a private matter between you and your doctor.
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Old 04-20-11, 09:49 PM
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I waited a year between undergrad and my Ph.D program. No big deal at the time. But, as time went on, and the Ph.D took longer than it should (and, yes, it always does), I regretted losing that year.

Its hard to be 30 years old and still a student. The romance of nights in the library and meals of Ramen noodles grows pretty thin pretty fast.

This does not add up to a recommendation that you not sit out a year, only that you consult your future self and try to make a good judgment about how valuable that year will seem to you then.

On the other hand, since no masters program meshes up perfectly with any doctoral program, you will probably end up adding a year of overlap coursework in any case. Seems like most of my friends who came in with a masters ending up taking the same length of time to complete coursework (to say nothing of completing the whole degree) as those who came directly from undergrad.

So, I have no useful advice for you.

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Old 04-21-11, 07:38 AM
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That noodle thing may help him.
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Old 04-21-11, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by spry View Post
Only one option left in your case kid.You lack direction in your current state of mind.
Marine Corp enlistment+college deferment program.This will give you time to collect your own thoughts and earn some grad school money while exploring the world.
Hahaha!

Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
I'm sorry but you don't know me and are in no position to judge my state of mind.
I think he was being facetious.

Originally Posted by spry View Post
Please excuse me for over stepping my bounds.
The current state of your mind is a private matter between you and your doctor.
Yep.
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Old 04-21-11, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post
I waited a year between undergrad and my Ph.D program. No big deal at the time. But, as time went on, and the Ph.D took longer than it should (and, yes, it always does), I regretted losing that year.

Its hard to be 30 years old and still a student. The romance of nights in the library and meals of Ramen noodles grows pretty thin pretty fast.
Not that I need to post anything, but my wife is in academia, and every single current PhD-student friend of hers is in their mid-30s. A lot of her PhD-completed friends were at least 30 when they finished. I had a professor in college with a PhD and he was teaching full-time (associate prof) when he was only 24, but we don't need to bring those types into the conversation.
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Old 04-21-11, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by SonataInFSharp View Post
Not that I need to post anything, but my wife is in academia, and every single current PhD-student friend of hers is in their mid-30s. A lot of her PhD-completed friends were at least 30 when they finished. I had a professor in college with a PhD and he was teaching full-time (associate prof) when he was only 24, but we don't need to bring those types into the conversation.
Associate Prof at 24? Most places give you that title when you get tenure, and most places make you swim in the tenure-track waters for 5 or 6 years before you can even go up for tenure. So, that means that we are looking at a Doogie Howser here.

Most Ph.D. programs say they take 4 or 5 years. I think in the hard sciences, the average time to completion is 7 or 8 years. In the humanities, the average time is about 10 years. So, considering that people are generally 21 or 22 when they get their undergrad degree, that would mean that the typical newly minted PH.D who went straight into a Ph.D program would almost always be around 30. Or more. And in some cases, a lot more. Life is not all about efficiency; but the squandering opportunities of time is also worth avoiding.

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Old 04-21-11, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by x136 View Post
I think you'll give the wrong impression if you ride into your Ph.D. program on a Segway.
This.

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Old 04-21-11, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by x136 View Post
I think you'll give the wrong impression if you ride into your Ph.D. program on a Segway.
maybe he is getting his degree in Jousting?
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Old 04-21-11, 10:32 AM
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If the school is paying me and I'm enjoying my work, I'll take however long I need to finish a PHD. I'm leaning towards waiting a year to start though. I'll spend the time constructively, taking any opportunity to bolster my application some more. I'll be speaking to my professors asking if they would like some help with research, taking complex and real analysis, and working on getting my senior project published. That should leave me in an even better position to get into a rigorous program.
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Old 04-21-11, 10:45 AM
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As a two time grad school dropout (once Poli Sci once History) I say don't wait a year. Get in see if it's what you really want to do and if it is get it done.
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Old 04-21-11, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
If the school is paying me and I'm enjoying my work, I'll take however long I need to finish a PHD.
Getting the school to pay you involves taking the time to find a research program you want to participate in and that wants you to participate in it. i.e. you should be getting names from your current faculty advisors of other faculty members who they think would be good grad sponsors for you (or you could pull names yourselves out of interesting journal papers). Then run down that list of names, see what they have in the way of funding for someone like you.

Top 30-40 is meaningless in grad school. I'd be surprised if there are 30-40 institutions even giving reputable PhDs in economics. If you do the work to find a program to work with that will also fund your own school program, the list of contenders will be a lot smaller than 30.
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Old 04-21-11, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
If the school is paying me and I'm enjoying my work, I'll take however long I need to finish a PHD. .
Except they usually only pay for a few years (I can think of three of my wife's friends right now who only get paid for three years, even though it is accepted to take five years to finish; for those last two years, people fight over other types of funding like mad). And I think after seven years, they usually drop you (one of my wife's friends is in their 7th year as we speak and freaking out about finishing in time).
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Old 04-21-11, 01:03 PM
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Go now.
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Old 04-21-11, 08:13 PM
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Segway,jousting,Ramen noodles,under professors desk for funding
I think we covered all the bases for his PHD.
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Old 04-21-11, 08:37 PM
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My daughter will receive her PhD in Biology next month, and the good news is, it didn't come out of my pocket as it was 100% paid for. This was a combined Masters/Phd program and covered all years. She turned down UC Davis with California's budget crisis, they were the only school that would not pay her. She did skip one year between Undergrad before starting, and just turned 30.

My son works at Yale. They have so many endowments (before the Bernie Maddoff fiasco) that all PhD were paid for, but masters expected to pull their load.

My brother is a professor and Dean of Admissions at a medical school (D.O.) and when interviewing applicants, one of their first questions is, "How much are you goung to pay me?"
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Old 04-26-11, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Rob P. View Post
Get the best sheepskin money can buy. If that means waiting a year, then wait. But, you'd better have an EXCELLENT reason to support that decision other than "I waited too long to apply."
+1, but use that year to get in real world experience (some programs and many non-academia jobs will want that anyway). Well that's if economics is like I think it is. As a biologist it was more like UmneyDarak said and I just went where was open when I applied (was also a late applicant) because what mattered was the publications I produced and the letters I could get from my advisors not the name on my university (I am at a big name university for my postdoc though).
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