If grad school is not for you…

By Diana Davis
I absolutely love being a math graduate student. I can’t imagine a better job — they pay me to take math courses, teach calculus to motivated college students, and think about interesting cutting-edge research problems! What could be better than that?

As it turns out, though, not every math grad student is as happy as I am. As a recent Harvard Crimson article discussed, it’s possible to be extremely unhappy in even the most renowned of educational institutions. If you don’t want to be a math grad student, that’s okay. Plenty of people leave math grad school and go on to do great things. In my program and others, people have:

– left a math PhD program to enter an economics PhD program
– moved across the country to join the circus
– left academia to simply get a job

When I was an undergrad at Williams, 10% of each class graduated as math majors (often as double majors) — a huge percentage. Only a handful of the math majors went on to pursue a math PhD each year; the rest did other things. That’s perfect, because once you have a math education, the analytical and creative skills you’ve acquired will help you in whatever field you pursue — teaching, business, government, science, art. All of these fields will benefit from your skills, and you’ll benefit from really enjoying your job.

So if you love math grad school like I do — great! And if you don’t, that’s okay! There are plenty of other opportunities out there in the world where your skills are sorely needed.

What other examples do you know of, where students have left a math PhD program and gone on to do other things?

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