grad school

L. Lintott llintott at
Thu Nov 14 05:45:16 EST 2002

Hi all,
I am looking for a bit of advice from you all.
To make a long story short, I am thinking about returning to grad school
to get my Ph.D. (I have a MSc.).  Complications include, I am a single
mother of two kids, 7 and 10 and  I am 37 years old.  

I finished my MSc 10 years ago (wow time flies) and decided to work as a
technician for awhile before deciding on the next step to take with my
career.  My oldest was 1 then and I was very unhappy with the whole
experience I had as  a  Masters student, so I decided to take a break
from school.  
When I became pregnant with my second child I suddenly found myself a
single parent.  With two little ones and little support (no family
nearby) going back to school was not feasible.  So, I continued on as a
technician.  Not that there is anything wrong with being a tech, it has
fed and clothed my family and allowed me to try several different
avenues in Science, I have gone from molecular Cancer research, to
Agriculture research, and worked on a variety of molecular projects
including finding markers for both disease resistance and plant pathogen
diagnostics, and looking at plant-pathogen interactions.

But now I find the dream of running my own lab has come back to haunt
me, I beat it down for awhile and then back up it comes.  I can't decide
if its some kind of mid-life crisis or if its just that now that the
kids are older I am finally starting to think more about myself and what
I want.

Enough background:
Here are my questions
1. As I have a MSc already and 10 years lab experience, is it realistic
to think I could get the Ph.D. in 3 - 4 years (keep in mind I am in
Canada where 5 to 6 years to obtain a Ph.D. is relatively normal). 
2. I am counting on the 10 years of tech experience (I do have some
publications) to allow me to avoid the endless years of post-docs, is
that realistic?
3. Assuming points 1 and 2 work, I would be looking for a job in 5 to 6
years, which would make me 43/44.  What I want is an academic position,
preferably at a smaller university.  I want to teach and have a research
program, I'd be happy with a small lab, a tech and a couple of
students.  What are the odds?

Other more personal issues include:
Guilt about making my kids live below the poverty line for 5+ years.
Guilt about moving my kids around (I would defiantly have to move to go
to grad school, and then probably to get a job).
Worries about the risks, i.e.. Giving up a decent paying job, and
possibly ending up with no job.

I have discussed it with some friends in Science, so far most of the
woman say 'no', and the men (including some who know me from my 1st grad
school stint) say 'do it'.  That in itself is interesting, don't you

Well, once again, this is to long, so I will stop now and wait for


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