I've Been Thinking…


…that I don’t what to get my PhD.

When I first decided that I wanted to major in mathematics, the goal was to get a master’s degree and teach at the junior college level. I did very well as an undergrad and received a lot of encouragement from professors to shoot for the PhD. I was never really enthusiastic about the idea since another one of my life goals is to be done having kids before I’m 30. But as my husband showed interest in grad school (in math) as well, I started to play with the idea. When it came time for grad school applications, I only applied to 4 schools and only 1 of them was for a PhD program. I decided if we both got into the PhD program, then I would give it a shot. Well, we did!

I am now nearing the end of my first year in grad school. It has been a great year and I’m enjoying it. However, I just don’t think I want to go all the way. My school specializes in analysis and algebra and I’m not particularly “excited” about either one of them. I feel as though that is a definite sign to not spend 4 years of my life researching in those areas. I honestly don’t think I’ll enjoy it.

I’ve never been too thrilled with the idea of research in the first place. It’s not what I enjoy. I just want to teach. What makes me want to get a PhD is so that I can teach the “fun” upper division courses. At the junior college level, the highest level mathematics course I’ll ever get to teach is multivariable calculus.

After some serious thinking over the past couple weeks, I think it will be worth it (for me) to end my education at the master’s degree. The only con I see is not teaching upper division classes. But there are many pros:

  1. I won’t be spending 4 years of my life researching something I’m not passionate about.
  2. We won’t being raising a family and going to grad school at the same time (only Dave will be).  Also, we wouldn’t have to try to time pregnancies so that I deliver in the summer.
  3. I won’t be 29 years old when I finish; I’ll be 25.
  4. I’ll be doing what I love in a little over a year.
  5. I won’t have to study for months and months to hopefully pass the qualifying exams.
  6. I’ll be able to afford a Mini Cooper sooner! =D (threw that one in for fun)

I haven’t made any definite decisions, but I’m pretty sure I’m gonna stop at the master’s. I won’t be disappointed in myself.

I’ve also been toying with the idea of working for the goverment. Having a job at the NSA just seems so cool. They are the number 1 employer of mathemticians. I think I would really enjoy that type of work. However, I do not want to live in D.C. NSA has a division here in Denver, so if there’s an opening when I graduate, I might just have to apply!

  • http://ichadman.wordpress.com Chad Garrett

    Being a little older and completing school later in life as well as having a child at 31 I might have some life experience to help you on your path…

    1) Having child in your 30’s is “ok” 2) It is going to be VERY hard to raise a family when one of you are in school. I went back to school the same year Sophie was born and just finished last August. It was very difficult to balance all of these things, especially for my wife, who already had her Master’s and was very, very supportive. It will be a rough ride with a newborn-5 years of age while one of you is in school. Be warned, be prepared :-) 3) It is OK not to get your doctorate, be true to yourself. I teach in my job at the hospital and it is very rewarding.

    Ok, that was Chadman’s two-cents!

  • http://llofte.wordpress.com llofte

    Hey Chad. Thanks for the comment. I’ve been thinking about all those things these past weeks, and I still think this is what I want. But like I said, no definite decisions have been made yet. We were planning to start having kids before either one of us were done with school, so me finishing earlier should make things easier than the original plan =D I prefer to think of it like that rather than it’ll be hard because he’s still in school :) Also, my husband is 5 years old than me, so if we don’t have kids til I’m 30, then he’ll be 35!! 😮 Plus, I’ve learned a lot about how there is a greater chance of complications and birth defects once I’m 30. Honestly, years ago I thought I’d already have a kid or two by now! My biological clock is ticking! lol.

    Thanks for your two-cents. By the way, your daughter is adorable.

  • Nicole

    I’m going to second some of what Chad’s said, and add a bit of my own. :)

    1) I totally support you stopping school at the level you want. You don’t have to do it all just because some professors told you to. Listen to your heart.

    2) Having kids in your 30s is WAY ok. Birth defects don’t go up until after age 35, and if it’s a big concern of yours there are many ways to test for any anomalies before proceeding with a pregnancy.

    Also, Dave’s age shouldn’t play a factor. Unlike eggs in women, men produce sperm on an “as-needed” basis, so it’s always fresh. A mans age plays very little bearing on conception. A 22 year old smoker will have poorer quality sperm than a 65 year old healthy male. That, and people are regularly living to 90 years old now, so even at 35, you’ll still be able to see your children into their fifties, and possibly sixties. :)

    3) Don’t let school/work/hobbies/etc. have any effect on your anxiety about raising a family. As someone who raised a child as a single parent, while working full-time and schooling part-time, anything your heart is for is worth it and can be made to happen. Raising children is always hard, on the heart, patience, nerves and persistence. This doesn’t change no matter how much time, money, friends, whatever you have. Heck, some days it’s even hard to be a day-mom as a job. 😛

    Que sera sera. Whatever happens, happens – usually when you least expect it. Just cherish it as it happens, so you’re not left with any regrets. Follow your heart in all of your decisions, and you’ll get the right answer. How un-math-like is that? ;D

  • http://llofte.wordpress.com llofte

    Haha, thanks Nicole. You’re awesome =D

    Honestly, the biggest reason I want to have kids before I’m 30 is because I want to be a “young” mom and still be active when I have grand kids. If we didn’t have our first kid til Dave was 35, than he’d be 55+ when the youngest graduated high school. I would also love to be able to see great grand kids in the future. I dunno, it’s just like one of those things I always wanted… be done having kids before I hit 30.

    I’m not worried about Dave’s sperm! 😉

    Thanks again for your comment; I really appreciate it. Oh, and you’re SuperMom having done what you’ve done :)

  • Leanna’s Proud Mom

    No matter what you do, Leanna, I am incredibly proud of the awesome lady you are. You and Dave just have to pray about all of this and ask the Lord to guide you. Every time you have done that, He has provided the right path. I love you and support any decision you make. ps – did you take your vitamins?! :o)

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