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Reconsidering my Options

Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 1:54 am
by Admiralrewd
First off, I have already read dilemn's post "do over?" and I hope I am not being somewhat repetitive.
Also, lemme say, I do not mean to imply I am in dire straights, I was accepted at least one very good astronomy school.

That being said, I am suddenly becoming concerned. Had you asked me even a few months ago, what I wanted to do with my life, I would have gladly said research, maybe professorship one day. I knew that there are far more astronomy phds graduating than professor jobs available, meaning the odds of me getting a good faculty position would mean waiting many years, doing many post-docs, and being very good.

It didn't bother me then, but now, it's concerning me greatly, largely because I'm not even sure that's what I want to do anymore. I'm now considering abandoning my current offers, and pursuing a job in industry. I'm also thinking I made a major mistake heading into astronomy. I love astronomy, but in reality, I love physics too, and I feel like with a MS or PHD in physics, I could always go into astronomy, industry, or stay in physics. Whereas with astronomy, I have narrowed my field to a point where I am unable to change my mind without spending another chunk of my life as a grad student.

I guess my options are to go to astro school, and xfer to physics or leave academia completely if I end up hating it. Or just to forget my offers and try it all over again in a year. Odds are the schools that take me now will take me then, maybe.

I'm very conflicted over the whole thing, I wanted to know about how other people feel in similar or related situations, or if anyone had some advice.


Re: Reconsidering my Options

Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 2:54 am
by 03D3bb
Here's my advice: If you're afraid of job marketability after getting a Ph.D. in astronomy, you have nothing to worry about. If you decide to head out into what we call "industry" then having a Ph.D in any technical field is going to help you immensely no matter what. Next, you really should ask yourself that if you went to physics grad school, what would you be doing your thesis on? If your answer still involves astro in some manner, then I don't suggest you wait a year. Note* some astro programs place a heavier emphasis on taking core physics classes than others so that if you really do want to transfer, then it's easier at such places.*Lastly, don't feel that you're doomed if you don't get a professorship. I've met many researchers who have tenure at their institution (yes that can happen in case you were wondering) whether it be a national lab, a NASA affiliated center, or an observatory who are doing hard science instead of some engineering work like you'd expect. The point is that there is no dead end wherever you go and every grad school you go to will ask you to specialize in one field or another. If I were you, I would at least go and visit these schools first and speak to the grad students before deciding. Good luck!

Re: Reconsidering my Options

Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:34 pm
by Admiralrewd
the thing is, I actually applied to schools I considered to have both strong departments in physics and astronomy (or at least had closely connected departments). It can be hard to tell even after e-mailing professors, and I wasn't aware at the time of applying how I'd feel now. Regardless, I only got into schools with heavier astronomy departments,or so I think, I haven't visited 2 yet, so I might be pleasantly surprised.