Re-apply to grad schools?

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phy789
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Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:34 pm

Re-apply to grad schools?

Postby phy789 » Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:46 pm

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Last edited by phy789 on Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

TomServo
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Re: Re-apply to grad schools?

Postby TomServo » Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:21 pm

I don't know. Maybe you should just look for a job?

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midwestphysics
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Re: Re-apply to grad schools?

Postby midwestphysics » Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:15 am

phy789 wrote:I was in a Physics PhD program and completed the first year before taking a leave of absence to go work abroad for a year. I really had personal issues and lost motivation for the subject in my 1st year and as a result, my grades were terrible (undergrad gpa was 3.8, but grad school gpa was less than 3.4, including a C+ in an undergrad Solid-State class). I no longer want to get the PhD since academia no longer interests me, but am thinking about whether it's worth continuing to get the Master's or not. If I stick with the program, I have to re-apply and am worried my poor 1st-year grades would really hurt my application (I emailed the admissions officer at my program and she said they will accept a late application from me). If I continue, I want to do research that involves computational physics. Since I want to get my MS ASAP and focus on my career, I'm thinking its best to focus on condensed matter, despite my horrific grade in Intro Solid-State.
So what do you guys think? Do I have any chance of being re-admitted? Should I ask the director if my poor 1st-year grades would severely hurt my chances of being re-admitted? In my statement of purpose, just mention that I overcame those personal problems since I learned alot by living/working abroad?


So here's a little perspective given my own experiences and that of other people I know with PhD, MS, and BS degrees in physics, more importantly recently. I also played around with ideas of what level I should go to in physics, what I wanted, and what were the wise investments.

In terms of more traditional areas of physics you're going to need a PhD minimum to have a chance not only at academic jobs but also quality industry jobs. In industry your research needs to be heavily focused on the field in which you plan to work in as well, and I mean very specific for great positions. For the general industry job though the old adage that industry doesn't really want PhD grads is dead. The reason is simple, back in the day it was assumed that PhD's would cost more and that most of the time their research didn't directly translate so why pay more for what you can get from a masters grad. Now a days however, with the economy, there is a surplus of PhD's that will work for very little. Why not take the PhD over the master student when you can get them both at the same price. It's not like there is a market out there for them to come in and then leave when they find a better job, the longer they're in the market the more competition they come up against. It is most definitely an employers market and it will be regardless of the upturn for a while. You have too many people with advanced degrees, a lot with experience, a lot underemployed, and even more who are unsatisfied with their current work. Just look at any industry job posting today, the vast majority with pay of 80k+ are for PhD's with multiple years of experience and very specific skills. So if you plan on flying mostly on your physics background it's PhD or nothing, and even then nothing is easy. If you want to branch out into other areas, stick with the bachelors and network your way into a job. The one area where this isn't always the case is medical physics, a masters can get you jobs. However, for the best jobs you still need board certs. The problem is that the new certification rules have made it very hard from masters students to get certificates. You'll have to compete with med phy PhD's for residency positions if you want to get into the main and stable areas of med phy. My suggestion, if you're sure that the PhD is not for you, but you still want to get an advanced degree to help you in the market, which will help. Then I would go back and get it in something more practical and applied, go get into engineering, programming, finance, etc. The best thing this can do for you however is not the degree itself, the classes you take won't mean jack and the paper stating the degree will mean little more. What it will do is it will allow you to get into internships and more. Those connections and experiences will make or break the return of investment on any grad school opportunity you take on if you're not getting the PhD. Skills to develop that I would recommend, if you don't already have them, are programming (Perl, Python, C++, etc) and stats/scientific computing software (Matlab, R, SPSS) for technical roles and business (finance, marketing, supply chain management, etc) for non-technical roles. If you get some good experience in some of those, some internships under your belt, and build a network then you'll be in great position to land a good and interesting job in a lot of industries.

You have to decide if physics is for you or not, so you can decide whether to continue in it all the way or not at all. It's just not worth it to continue in this field if you're not going to go all in.

phy789
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Re: Re-apply to grad schools?

Postby phy789 » Sun Mar 02, 2014 1:59 pm

My suggestion, if you're sure that the PhD is not for you, but you still want to get an advanced degree to help you in the market, which will help. Then I would go back and get it in something more practical and applied, go get into engineering, programming, finance, etc. The best thing this can do for you however is not the degree itself, the classes you take won't mean jack and the paper stating the degree will mean little more. What it will do is it will allow you to get into internships and more. Those connections and experiences will make or break the return of investment on any grad school opportunity you take on if you're not getting the PhD. ..If you get some good experience in some of those, some internships under your belt, and build a network then you'll be in great position to land a good and interesting job in a lot of industries.

You have to decide if physics is for you or not, so you can decide whether to continue in it all the way or not at all. It's just not worth it to continue in this field if you're not going to go all in.


While I have to do a thesis in my program but I do not have to do a thesis in an MS engineering/CS program, I think it still might be better to continue in my program and leave with the MS because my program is funded, whereas getting an MS in engineering or CS would not be funded. Plus, its too late to apply to many engineering MS programs, whereas my program will still accept my application.

I'm just concerned about whether my program would re-admit me and how I can write my SOP. I don't really have a good excuse for my poor 1st-year grades and leave of absence. I just lost interest and motivation and had some personal problems

ol
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Re: Re-apply to grad schools?

Postby ol » Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:00 pm

phy789 wrote:While I have to do a thesis in my program but I do not have to do a thesis in an MS engineering/CS program, I think it still might be better to continue in my program and leave with the MS because my program is funded, whereas getting an MS in engineering or CS would not be funded. Plus, its too late to apply to many engineering MS programs, whereas my program will still accept my application.

I'm just concerned about whether my program would re-admit me and how I can write my SOP. I don't really have a good excuse for my poor 1st-year grades and leave of absence. I just lost interest and motivation and had some personal problems
Are you absolutely certain that the MS in physics will be funded? They may only fund you if you come back and say you want a phd. That said, I would absolutely do internships while there, and I suspect that a degree in engineering would look better than a degree in physics if you are stopping with a master's. You will certainly get paid more if the degree is in engineering.

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midwestphysics
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Re: Re-apply to grad schools?

Postby midwestphysics » Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:48 pm

phy789 wrote:While I have to do a thesis in my program but I do not have to do a thesis in an MS engineering/CS program, I think it still might be better to continue in my program and leave with the MS because my program is funded, whereas getting an MS in engineering or CS would not be funded. Plus, its too late to apply to many engineering MS programs, whereas my program will still accept my application.

I'm just concerned about whether my program would re-admit me and how I can write my SOP. I don't really have a good excuse for my poor 1st-year grades and leave of absence. I just lost interest and motivation and had some personal problems


If this were a terminal masters degree I would say it's probably not a huge issue and what you're planning is fine. However, this not a terminal masters program. You're doing two things that may nip you in butt badly. One, you're leaving a very bad taste in the mouths of people you may need as references in the future. References in science are the gold standard and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Two, you can pretty much kiss a lot of programs goodbye if you ever decide to go back in the future to get any grad degree in really any field. The reason is this, you come off as either having failed twice at the same program which means you're not a good investment from the school's point of view. Or, and even worse, you come off as having taken advantage of the system to get a funded masters when the funding existed for the purpose of supporting PhD's. And given how incredibly thin funding has become this really bothers people now-a-days. I'm just saying even if you get back in, there are going to be consequences to it, and probably not enough return of investment to be worth it.

I know your question is will they readmit you, and how to write your SOP to get back in. But, if it were me I wouldn't readmit anyone who bailed on the program. A leave of absence okay, but readmission no, unless under really unique circumstances that are no where along the lines of lost interest and motivation. And given what you plan to do, I personally see it as unethical, so I won't give advice on how to do it. It's nothing personal, it's just you're basically going to be taking funding from someone who plans to use it as it's supposed to be used, to get their PhD. Let me just put it this way, you're probably going piss a lot of people off if you go back this way.

bfollinprm
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Re: Re-apply to grad schools?

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Mar 03, 2014 5:34 pm

A masters degree in Physics does not materially affect your marketability in the United States. In my opinion, going back to a PhD program you know you aren't interested in is mostly a lazy decision; you can get much more out of your time by simply entering the job market. If you can't find a job with your bachelors, you are better served to build up a technical resume--github projects, a quality personal website, contributions to open-source software. Going back to get a Masters will just get in the way of you doing these things, and puts you a year or more behind in building up marketable experience.




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