The shu box asked a really interesting question to her MD peeps– if they had to do it all over again, would they? We thought we’d extend that to higher education more generally, not just MDs but other post-bachelor credentials.
Do you wish you’d gotten higher education (earlier, given that you could always get some now)? Would you choose to get higher education again? Would you have done things differently?
#2: I’m very happy with my education. My PhD program treated me a lot better than #1’s program treated her, and I still talk to my dissertation advisor. I still collaborate with fellow students in my program and we have published together frequently. I am facebook friends with some of my former professors (and one or two, with whom I’m not friends, I’m glad I never have to encounter them again). I probably should have published more in grad school, but I did some, and that was fine.
I am reasonably happy with my career choices, even though I’m now a career-changer. I did what I set out to do: got a tenure-track job and then got tenure. I’m glad I did that; if I hadn’t, I would always have wondered if I could. I wish the job had been somewhere less soul-sucking. But it’s turned out ok, and I can’t say I have regrets.
#1: Man, if I could go back and redo the phd program now I would be so badass. They would think I’m a genius. I kind of wish I’d taken a year off and gotten some maturity and knowledge before starting, but if I’d done that I probably wouldn’t have gotten into the program that I did. And, realistically, I probably wouldn’t have ended up getting a PhD at all if I hadn’t stayed directly on the academic path because as ambitious and amazing as I am, I tend to get interested in things the more I know about them so whatever path I started on was most likely going to be one I took to the end. But who knows!
I do seem to have gotten over most, if not all, of the PhD trauma and I like my current job and current socioeconomic status a lot. So I think I’m happy with the path life has taken me on. DH is pretty happy with his current job now too, so I (mostly) no longer feel guilty about the years he spent in a job he didn’t like so much (and by extension, the PhD program he went to so I could go to my #1 choice program). (He, btw, has no regrets, so it’s irrational for me to feel the least bit guilty.)
There’s an alternate world me out there that is probably deliriously happy moving to SF right after college with DH and the two of us making bank during the dot com boom (DH moreso than me– I probably ended up without stock options). We’ve bought a house when the market was at a low and are happily living the good life.
But I suspect there are many alternate world mes out there in various states of happiness. Even though it might not have seemed like it from middle school (where I was bullied) and graduate school (where I suspect birth control pills and poor eating habits added to my anxiety), I’m essentially a happy person who tends to bloom where planted.
What about you?