Monday, August 6, 2012

Comparing Paths to Grad School

I got to go to dinner last night with a friend from high school/ undergrad. He's also doing the grad school shtick, but for very different reasons, so it's very interesting to compare our experiences. He couldn't find a job after graduation, so applied to a master's program. He's already TA'ed for more time than I likely will in my entire program, and is on a much smaller stipend in a more expensive city. He's got one eye on the door, and would be willing to leave for a job if it came along.

I knew in middle school that I wanted my PhD, and have planned a lot of things accordingly. Because I'm planning to stick it out, I'm much more concerned about my relationship with my advisor, and much more willing to work long hours. He's currently on a three week road trip, something I couldn't imagine doing at this point in my PhD program (mostly because there's rarely a window long enough). On the other hand, even as much as I struggle with my advisor, I seem to enjoy the day-to-day aspects of my work more than he does. While changing advisors has crossed my mind, leaving altogether almost never has.

Right now, he's getting paid very little for something he's not really enjoying, and probably will be doing for another year until he can get a degree out of it. I've probably got another 3ish years, and even on days where I get frustrated with my work, I'm frustrated because I care a lot about what I'm doing and want it to work.

Maybe grad school was the right choice after all?

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