Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

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Cmnilz87
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Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Cmnilz87 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:56 am

My GF and I are very different when it comes to money. I’m very fickle while she’s relaxed. Now my GF has a masters in theoretical mathematics and teaches high school for the last 7 years and absolutely dreads it. Her thinking is if she gets her doctorate she can teach at the college level since it’s more relaxed. Problem is she has 135k from her bachelors and masters combined. Her PhD would be another 50k over 4 years plus accruing interests she’d be tight around 210k in student loans.

She’s got 7 years high school, 3 years associate at a tech school, and another 3 years presenting AP course testing.

There’s gottabe other stuff out there besides having to go back for a PHD? Her base salary would be mid 70’s as a professor and that’s rediculous with her experience. I told her if she’s not gonna get 6 figures starting, there’s no point taking on another 80k in debt if it take 5-7 years for tenure.

What’s out there if anyone else is into super mathematics ?

livesoft
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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by livesoft » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:01 am

No one should have to pay to get a PhD in a STEM field. The university should pay the grad student a living wage and tuition. Anybody who pays for a PhD in a STEM field is getting ripped off.

If she hates teaching math now, teaching in college will be worse because the students don't have to show up.

Full disclosure: I have a very close relative who is a math teacher in a college and got paid to get a PhD in Mathematics I don't think the base salary is above $50K. Also, a former intern of mine is now a high school mathematics teacher enjoying life doing that.
Last edited by livesoft on Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:07 am, edited 2 times in total.
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PrettyCoolWorkshop
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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by PrettyCoolWorkshop » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:04 am

Financially, the PhD path is unlikely to be a good decision.

FWIW, the only mathematics grad student I know (a good friend) is deep in debt. He is unsure of what path in life he should follow after graduation, as it is unclear whether he has any desireable options after graduation that use his specialized knowledge.

As an outsider looking in, choosing to pursue mathematics farther and farther into a PhD is a sunk cost fallacy. The only opportunities it unlocks are ones that require sacrifice in other areas (finance, family, moving halfway across the country), and the tradeoff is not worth it unless you enjoy the work very much.

The master's degree in math should be evidence enough to employers that she is a technically minded person, and she could pursue a new career in programming, etc, if she wants to put it to work.
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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by DragonJoey3 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:06 am

135K in debt for a teaching degree is lunacy! *insert sound of Dave Ramsey screaming* Master's degree is good enough to teach at a community college, I would look into pursuing that route first.

She's a mathematician, she needs to start leaning to apply that mathematical knowledge to the ROI on her education.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by ellink » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:07 am

My suggestion is that she start a tutoring practice. I don't know where you live but in many cities, families hire tutors to prepare their kids for high school and college entrance exams (in addition to AP tutoring). The math tutor that my son worked with (in LA) charged $100/hr and she was booked solid for months prior to the standardized test. I also have a STEM degree, but not in math. If I could teach math, this is definitely what I would be doing.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by leeks » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:34 am

livesoft wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:01 am
No one should have to pay to get a PhD in a STEM field. The university should pay the grad student a living wage and tuition. Anybody who pays for a PhD in a STEM field is getting ripped off.
+1

She should go ahead and apply to PhD programs and compare the funding packages. But certainly do not attend if it does not come with funding (tuition covered AND a stipend with health insurance) that usually will require work as a research assistant or teaching assistant.

Perhaps she is expecting a tuition cost if she is trying to do the PhD while still working as a teacher full-time (and therefore cannot get an RA or TA position?). I would not do that. Going part-time is fine, but only if it is funded somehow. Do not borrow money for a PhD.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:45 am

livesoft wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:01 am
No one should have to pay to get a PhD in a STEM field. The university should pay the grad student a living wage and tuition. Anybody who pays for a PhD in a STEM field is getting ripped off.
What he said. Or, more precisely, any STEM program that takes your money for Ph.D. doesn't really think you belong in the program.

A couple more thoughts:

- there is probably more money and more opportunities in applied math. Much more.

- even at the BS/MS level finance companies hire in applied math with very nice salaries. Maybe not where you live.

- faculty positions at real universities are up or out afte ~6 years. Not a guarantee even if you get hired.

- faculty positions at community colleges are REALLY undesirable.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by barnaclebob » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:51 am

That sounds like a bad plan, only slightly better than accruing 135k in student debt to be a teacher. Can she teach at a community college? The poster above me said community college teaching positions are really undesirable but I have no experience in the area so, I'm not sure why that is.

What part of the high school teaching job isn't "relaxed"?
Last edited by barnaclebob on Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:56 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Horton » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:52 am

Cmnilz87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:56 am
My GF and I are very different when it comes to money. I’m very fickle while she’s relaxed. Now my GF has a masters in theoretical mathematics and teaches high school for the last 7 years and absolutely dreads it. Her thinking is if she gets her doctorate she can teach at the college level since it’s more relaxed. Problem is she has 135k from her bachelors and masters combined. Her PhD would be another 50k over 4 years plus accruing interests she’d be tight around 210k in student loans.

She’s got 7 years high school, 3 years associate at a tech school, and another 3 years presenting AP course testing.

There’s gottabe other stuff out there besides having to go back for a PHD? Her base salary would be mid 70’s as a professor and that’s rediculous with her experience. I told her if she’s not gonna get 6 figures starting, there’s no point taking on another 80k in debt if it take 5-7 years for tenure.

What’s out there if anyone else is into super mathematics ?
She might consider taking actuarial exams. I know several former high school math teachers who were able to pass a couple actuarial exams and get intern or full-time actuarial offers. It's not teaching, but if she dreads what she does now then this might be a good route to change careers and make better money. There's no guarantee though - she would need to commit to this path because the exams are very challenging.
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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by pqwerty » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:57 am

Where I work I believe a math degree is accepted when applying for an engineering position. Also, I work with at least 1 person who has an undergraduate in math.

It just isn't super common, and our systems are doing moderately complex math. The the lack of programming experience is probably the culprit.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Stormbringer » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:03 am

Cmnilz87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:56 am
Her thinking is if she gets her doctorate she can teach at the college level since it’s more relaxed.
A Glut Of Ph.D.s Means Long Odds Of Getting Jobs

The challenge is that the trend with colleges is to staff as many teaching positions as possible with adjuncts, not tenure-track professors. With a master's degree, she may already be qualified to teach undergrad courses, but shouldn't expect to make much money at it.
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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Phronesis » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:10 am

leeks wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:34 am
livesoft wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:01 am
No one should have to pay to get a PhD in a STEM field. The university should pay the grad student a living wage and tuition. Anybody who pays for a PhD in a STEM field is getting ripped off.
+1

She should go ahead and apply to PhD programs and compare the funding packages. But certainly do not attend if it does not come with funding (tuition covered AND a stipend with health insurance) that usually will require work as a research assistant or teaching assistant.

Perhaps she is expecting a tuition cost if she is trying to do the PhD while still working as a teacher full-time (and therefore cannot get an RA or TA position?). I would not do that. Going part-time is fine, but only if it is funded somehow. Do not borrow money for a PhD.
+1. As a PhD holder, I was appalled by people who took on debt to get one. Jobs are already scarce. Besides, the lack of "fellowship" or what not on a CV is sometimes used by hiring committees to weed out job candidates when they're sorting through hundreds of applicants.

If she gets funding, go for it. University teaching is a plush gig. I'm inclined to disagree with Livesoft that its likely to be disappointing were she to land a full-time university gig, but we don't know why she dreads teaching high schoolers. The job is so chill that all my professor friends are quite aware that its worth the crappy students. A university job is also likely to pay just fine.

But all of that is predicated on (1) getting fully funded and (2) getting a full-time job. Both are tough in the current market. Explore how she might use her training outside of academia. She's likely to be more successful doing that. The PhD shouldnt be treated as a solution to a job problem because it's a bad solution.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by DoTheMath » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:18 am

Cmnilz87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:56 am
My GF and I are very different when it comes to money. I’m very fickle while she’s relaxed. Now my GF has a masters in theoretical mathematics and teaches high school for the last 7 years and absolutely dreads it. Her thinking is if she gets her doctorate she can teach at the college level since it’s more relaxed. Problem is she has 135k from her bachelors and masters combined. Her PhD would be another 50k over 4 years plus accruing interests she’d be tight around 210k in student loans.

She’s got 7 years high school, 3 years associate at a tech school, and another 3 years presenting AP course testing.

There’s gottabe other stuff out there besides having to go back for a PHD? Her base salary would be mid 70’s as a professor and that’s rediculous with her experience. I told her if she’s not gonna get 6 figures starting, there’s no point taking on another 80k in debt if it take 5-7 years for tenure.

What’s out there if anyone else is into super mathematics ?
There's a lot to potentially discuss here.

First off, Livesoft (as usual!) is right. A PhD program in math should come with a tuition waiver and modest stipend. There are exceptions, of course, but a program which admits someone without funding is either 1) not worth attending or 2) you are a marginal admit for them and while they're willing to have you in the program on your dime, they aren't confident you'll be successful.

A starting salary as a math professor is mid 70's for someone at a research oriented position, at a teaching oriented position it's likely to be in the mid 40's to mid 50's. The American Mathematical Society publishes data on this every year which I can point you to if you want details, but in broad strokes this is what you should have in mind.

Getting a faculty position is difficult and if there are constraints on where you are willing to relocate, the type of school, the type of position, the salary, etc. it quickly becomes extremely difficult. It is the sort of career which you have to want for the right reasons or it won't be workable.

Doing a PhD is a big deal and requires a person complete a substantial amount of new research. It requires grit as well as an interest in and willingness to do research. Like running a marathon, it has to have it's own intrinsic worth to you or you'll never finish. It's not not based on classes like undergrad or most masters programs and is definitely not a box ticking exercise. Depending on your GF's masters experience, she may or may not have an accurate idea of what grad school would be like at the PhD level. This is not to dissuade her, but I wanted to add a realty check that going for a PhD is already a big decision.

If her goal is teaching math, but in a different environment, I'll suggest some alternatives: If it is not the level but the students which is the issue, she could look into teaching at a private high school. Alternatively, with a masters she could potentially teach at a community college. If there is one nearby where she could adjunct some evening classes to build up a track record, she could make herself competitive for a CC position. Third, it is more and more common for Universities to have full time, benefits eligible, non-tenure track adjunct positions for teaching pre-calc level courses. Depending on the University, these may or may not require a PhD.

If she wants to have a tenure-track faculty position, then a PhD is a must. But one option would be a PhD in Math Education or RUME (Research in Undergraduate Math Education). The research (obviously) is focused on the teaching of math instead of the creation of new math. This might be closer to her interests.

Obviously I have experience and opinions in this area. Feel free to PM me if that'd be helpful.

Edited to add: A person with a masters in math is highly marketable in industry. Our grad students do quite well on the job market and in lots of fields you wouldn't think of as "math" jobs. There are way more options than just teaching, actuaries, etc. Especially with her student loans, I would seriously look at non-teaching careers. There is a lot of interesting jobs out there and they'll almost universally pay quite a bit better than teaching.
Last edited by DoTheMath on Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Ben Mathew
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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Ben Mathew » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:20 am

Agree with above comments that getting a tenured position in math will be very hard. That would concern me a lot more than the low salary.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by greg24 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:31 am

Huge climb to become a tenured professor.

A better ROI would be to leverage the Math masters into a different career in a better paying field. Computers, finance, etc.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by djpeteski » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:33 am

Cmnilz87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:56 am
My GF and I are very different when it comes to money. I’m very fickle while she’s relaxed.
For the record this is normal. This is a typical dynamic in most relationships. Even with depression survivors, one tends to be less thrifty although both might be more thrifty compared to you. So if you find yourself with a different GF, in the future, it is very likely she will also be relaxed. It is important to note that neither one of you are weird for having those views, just different.

Now my GF has a masters in theoretical mathematics and teaches high school for the last 7 years and absolutely dreads it. Her thinking is if she gets her doctorate she can teach at the college level since it’s more relaxed.
I think that is a very unrealistic outlook. Either you are teaching at a community college (she can do that with a master's degree), or she is at a university managing grad students and a vigorous publishing schedule. Until she is tenured, university professorships is anything but relaxed.

Problem is she has 135k from her bachelors and masters combined. Her PhD would be another 50k over 4 years plus accruing interests she’d be tight around 210k in student loans.
Yea, that would be a problem. But frankly it is her problem not yours, you two are not married. Unless you two own joint property. If it was me, I would advise her to pay cash for the PhD, or as another poster said, have someone else pay for it. As an interim to see if she really likes it she could attempt to teach at a community college. An adjunct position could help her earn more and pay down that 135k some, and get her to try out college teaching.

The bottom line is that she may not be a teacher at heart. She might be better off in some other kind of industry which an master's degree is more than enough to get her started.
What’s out there if anyone else is into super mathematics ?
There is quite a bit including data engineering and actuarial work just to name two. However, in the end it is not really your problem.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by quantAndHold » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:40 am

If she wants to teach in a different environment, she should look at community college. Most only require a MS, and she could start as an adjunct at night.

She might also look at applied math careers. There’s a lot she could do that would pay better and have better working conditions, without having to go back to school, at least not for a full PhD. Data science is hot right now, and likely to remain that way in the future.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by dbr » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:42 am

If she dreads teaching HS after a few years maybe teaching is not her thing. Teaching young people is a more about how one interacts with those creatures than it is about the content.

I am with those who would suggest looking at industrial/commercial/government employment with a masters in math.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by MarkRoulo » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:43 am

Cmnilz87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:56 am
My GF and I are very different when it comes to money. I’m very fickle while she’s relaxed. Now my GF has a masters in theoretical mathematics and teaches high school for the last 7 years and absolutely dreads it. Her thinking is if she gets her doctorate she can teach at the college level since it’s more relaxed. Problem is she has 135k from her bachelors and masters combined. Her PhD would be another 50k over 4 years plus accruing interests she’d be tight around 210k in student loans.

She’s got 7 years high school, 3 years associate at a tech school, and another 3 years presenting AP course testing.

There’s gottabe other stuff out there besides having to go back for a PHD? Her base salary would be mid 70’s as a professor and that’s rediculous with her experience. I told her if she’s not gonna get 6 figures starting, there’s no point taking on another 80k in debt if it take 5-7 years for tenure.

What’s out there if anyone else is into super mathematics ?
A few comments:

A) Her base salary might be mid-70s as a full professor, but full professor it not only tenure track, but TENURED! Tenure is *far* from guaranteed (and my guess it that teaching high school for seven years is actually a huge MINUS for getting tenure). This plan is a bit like trying to decide if becoming a major league baseball player is worth taking on some debt. If you make it (and stick), sure! But you really can't assume that you'll make it.

One of you wants to spend some time googling for "adjunct crisis" (and then getting depressed). The short version is that there are a number of professors who are (a) not tenure track, but (b) do teach at universities. They often make between $3K and $5K per class, so four classes a semester *might* work out to $20K. Two semesters and you are at $40K. Or maybe you are at $32K instead. With no benefits. It is a common for the comments sections of these articles to point out that the folks adjuncting can always go teach high school if they want more pay and better job security ...

B) Paying for your PhD in a STEM field is the universities way of signalling that they don't really care if you are there or not. These folks are even more unlikely to get tenure. If she needs to spend $50K to get the PhD then things are already heading in the wrong direction.

C) Getting a PhD is *research*. She will be doing minimal teaching for five years. Then, if she wants to teach, she'll wind up (a) at a Junior College (which is fine, but she needs to realize this is an option), (b) as a poorly paid adjunct, or (c) at a Small Liberal Arts College (SLAC) where the emphasis is teaching rather than research. Full professor at an R1 college is a *research* position with a bit of teaching. With a masters, she can probably do (a) and (b) now and maybe even (c).

Good luck, but spending another $50K and 4-5 years is a VERY BAD IDEA.

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Cmnilz87
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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Cmnilz87 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:47 am

Update
She dropped out of a math PHD 3 years ago because she was broke as hell.

She’s now pursuing a PhD in Ed Psych. I’m guessing she really doesn’t have a clue what she wants to do. But she loves math and loves doing Calc 2/3/4.

There’s a lot of drama at her high school and nobody will fix the issues. She wants to write education plans and curriculums apparently.

I’ll be totally debt free in 6 months here from school and such and she’s blabbing on about kids in 2-3 years while she’s finishing up a thesis and that’s truly a horrific idea to me.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:53 am

Colleges are in somewhat of an Adjunct crisis (I made up that term). What's that mean? They hire highly qualified PhD's on a non-guaranteed basis, pay them peanuts for one semester of teaching and make them beg for the next semester. My son, early on was very, very interested in doing his PhD in physics and becoming a professor until he discussed this with his professor (tenured Physics prof with PhD from MIT) who told him that 20 years ago, this was a good path and today, it's just a path to poverty and debt.

On the subject of getting the PhD.....if she's teaching in a public school, can't she take classes at a State University for free? I know that in my state, that's the case and many teachers do this....mainly for a Masters as their salary automatically ratchets up with a higher degree.

I would also agree to look into engineering. My son's friends who have graduated have let him know what they're making as starting engineers (with only a bachelors) and all are in the high 60's with some starting at 70k and over.
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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by livesoft » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:12 am

Ah, this is a relationship thread and really has nothing to do with STEM nor PhDs. To that end: My niece dropped out of a top STEM grad school program and became the domestic partner of a successful internet startup mogul. She doesn't work at all and will never need to work at all for the rest of her life if she doesn't want to. That's my positive advice to your friend.
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Cmnilz87
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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Cmnilz87 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:15 am

livesoft wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:12 am
Ah, this is a relationship thread and really has nothing to do with STEM nor PhDs. To that end: My niece dropped out of a top STEM grad school program and became the domestic partner of a successful internet startup mogul. She doesn't work at all and will never need to work at all for the rest of her life if she doesn't want to. That's my positive advice to your friend.
I wouldnt say relationship. She’s focused on curriculum writing, but I’d put feelers out to see if there’s any other options. I don’t want anyone to go into massive debt for a “maybe” pay off if there’s other options out there.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Nate79 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:19 am

Sounds like she needs to read some Dave Ramsey books/Financial Peace University/podcasts.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Ragnoth » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:41 am

In STEM fields, most legitimate Ph.D programs in the US are fully funded (e.g., tuition is covered + $30-40k stipend per year). Actually paying for a Ph.D. is a huge red flag—and smacks of either diploma mills or uncompetitive students.

There are more career options in applied mathematics than theoretical mathematics (e.g., finance or engineering firms), but it’s still slim pickings, and there is usually some programming required. If she still has contacts as the university, it’s worth reaching out to professors or old classmates to see what their thoughts are for job opportunities—either at a masters or Ph.D level. Unless there is something here we are missing, the chance of landing a nice tenure position is basically 0.

If the goal was to teach math—you are better off just taking the Masters and picking up adjunct positions at community colleges. It’s not a great “career”, but it gives experience, pads the resume, and can be used as a side-gig on top of your normal job. I have no thoughts on the educational psychology degree.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by btenny » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:55 am

I suggest your GF look for another job in a different field from teaching that uses her math skills and forget the PhD. See the writing below of Phil Greenspan from MIT. He is a professor there who never got tenure and has watched how PhD careers go over the decades. He talks about all the negative things that happen to people who spend years getting a STEM PhD and then get put out to pasture by their schools at age 35 or 40 with no tenure and a limited future. In his case he made $$ in outside ways so no big deal. But not so for many of his peers.

https://philip.greenspun.com/

https://philip.greenspun.com/careers/

Good Luck.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by CatWrangler » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:02 pm

Many community colleges with let her teach with a master's. Some colleges may require an eventual PhD but then they would have some sort of tuition reimbursement program.

Given her insane amount of debt I don't think she should take on more, especially since her proposed career path after getting the degree will not be highly compensated. She would be paying off that debt until late middle age.

There are plenty of well paying careers for people with graduate math degrees. Statisticians (the government is always hiring), quants, data scientist, actuaries (although she will have to take exams for this), or even jumping into IT, to name a few.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by 28fe6 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:12 pm

STEM jobs aren't highly remunerative like a doctor or lawyer. The people making big money in STEM fields are managers; you might get ROI from an MBA but it's not worth going deep in debt for an actual STEM degree.

I paid $0 for my physics Bachelor's. I got paid $22k/year to get my materials science Master's. At those rates it's a good deal.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:29 pm

Cmnilz87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:56 am
My GF and I are very different when it comes to money. I’m very fickle while she’s relaxed. Now my GF has a masters in theoretical mathematics and teaches high school for the last 7 years and absolutely dreads it. Her thinking is if she gets her doctorate she can teach at the college level since it’s more relaxed. Problem is she has 135k from her bachelors and masters combined. Her PhD would be another 50k over 4 years plus accruing interests she’d be tight around 210k in student loans.

She’s got 7 years high school, 3 years associate at a tech school, and another 3 years presenting AP course testing.

There’s gottabe other stuff out there besides having to go back for a PHD? Her base salary would be mid 70’s as a professor and that’s rediculous with her experience. I told her if she’s not gonna get 6 figures starting, there’s no point taking on another 80k in debt if it take 5-7 years for tenure.

What’s out there if anyone else is into super mathematics ?
I do not work in us academia so this is second hand information.

A friends wife taught at MIT in math and eventually left academia.

There are very few tenure track academic jobs in pure mathematics.

The vast majority of roles now are adjunct term limited faculty. In effect colleges use them as a low paid overworked labour force. There may be roles w better teaching environments at 4 year colleges.

Those jobs pay worse than a high school teacher in a good school district. I believe an American math teacher in a top district can make over 100k a year plus pension benefits, summer holidays etc.

Grad students are basically the slave labour force of universities. And if you are unlucky w your thesis supervisor you can be scrawed. Or if someone on your committee has it in for your supervisor. I have seen lives ruined by this stuff.

If HS teaching is too much then it's better to use those skills in another field. Such as software or data science or even machine learning.

Courses can be taken online to get a flavour for a field before committing 100 per cent to it. Georgia Tech for example does a whole MSC in software engineering by distance learning. I am pretty sure either John's Hopkins or CMU does something similar possibly in AI or data science.

But Coursera et al have offerings.

Also have her read Working identity by Herminia Ibarra and work through What Color is Your Parachute. Career change is not a simple one step process. It involves sampling experimentation and steps sideways.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:30 pm

btenny wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:55 am
I suggest your GF look for another job in a different field from teaching that uses her math skills and forget the PhD. See the writing below of Phil Greenspan from MIT. He is a professor there who never got tenure and has watched how PhD careers go over the decades. He talks about all the negative things that happen to people who spend years getting a STEM PhD and then get put out to pasture by their schools at age 35 or 40 with no tenure and a limited future. In his case he made $$ in outside ways so no big deal. But not so for many of his peers.

https://philip.greenspun.com/

https://philip.greenspun.com/careers/

Good Luck.
I think this is very good advice.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:35 pm

Ben Mathew wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:20 am
Agree with above comments that getting a tenured position in math will be very hard. That would concern me a lot more than the low salary.
Also you do your best work in theoretical math or physics at a young age.

The woman who discovered Pulsars at Cambridge did that work for her PhD and her supervisor got the Nobel Prize.

The departments know this and so they want newly minted 20 somethings who will have the most productive and innovative research.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:41 pm

Stormbringer wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:03 am
Cmnilz87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:56 am
Her thinking is if she gets her doctorate she can teach at the college level since it’s more relaxed.
A Glut Of Ph.D.s Means Long Odds Of Getting Jobs

The challenge is that the trend with colleges is to staff as many teaching positions as possible with adjuncts, not tenure-track professors. With a master's degree, she may already be qualified to teach undergrad courses, but shouldn't expect to make much money at it.
My kid’s best friend and her boyfriend are getting a PhD in humanities, while borrowing lots of money. Neither was super academy in high school. I don’t know if they realize this.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by celia » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:59 pm

I bought 101 Careers in Mathematics for a relative who didn't know what to do with her Math degree after college, since she didn't want to teach. This gave her good ideas and she liked it.

There are also two other similar books suggested at the bottom of the page. But one is probably outdated while the other is for children.
Last edited by celia on Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by TheOscarGuy » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:02 pm

Cmnilz87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:56 am
My GF and I are very different when it comes to money. I’m very fickle while she’s relaxed. Now my GF has a masters in theoretical mathematics and teaches high school for the last 7 years and absolutely dreads it. Her thinking is if she gets her doctorate she can teach at the college level since it’s more relaxed. Problem is she has 135k from her bachelors and masters combined. Her PhD would be another 50k over 4 years plus accruing interests she’d be tight around 210k in student loans.

She’s got 7 years high school, 3 years associate at a tech school, and another 3 years presenting AP course testing.

There’s gottabe other stuff out there besides having to go back for a PHD? Her base salary would be mid 70’s as a professor and that’s rediculous with her experience. I told her if she’s not gonna get 6 figures starting, there’s no point taking on another 80k in debt if it take 5-7 years for tenure.

What’s out there if anyone else is into super mathematics ?
I am in STEM field, but not Math. I also have a PhD.
I would not go in debt for a PhD.
She can be in finance with that background. Or she can teach herself programming, and she could translate into software development. Some of the better tech companies interview for theoretical traits in their developers, and believe once hired they can be taught how to code.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by livesoft » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:22 pm

Another anecdote: I know someone with a masters degree in Math. They quit programming and decided to design and install fancy floor tiles in the foyers of new buildings and upscale homes. Geometry is math.
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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by InvisibleAerobar » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:24 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:29 pm
The vast majority of roles now are adjunct term limited faculty. In effect colleges use them as a low paid overworked labour force. There may be roles w better teaching environments at 4 year colleges.

Those jobs pay worse than a high school teacher in a good school district. I believe an American math teacher in a top district can make over 100k a year plus pension benefits, summer holidays etc.

Grad students are basically the slave labour force of universities. And if you are unlucky w your thesis supervisor you can be scrawed. Or if someone on your committee has it in for your supervisor. I have seen lives ruined by this stuff.
Community college positions actually pay decently well, at least better than what many four-year colleges (esp. the non-distinguished private ones) would pay. Though community colleges carry (an undeserved) stigma, the lack of up-and-out culture means a lot less stress. The students are hit-or-miss though

Agreed on teaching in better districts. The public high school from which I graduated is well regarded, and pay for senior teachers were ~95k (highest in the metro region) back in 2000. Despite that, we had issues with hiring truly talented math and hard science teachers. The teachers the new-hires replaced were excellent, but it was hit-and-miss for the new hires, some of whom I doubt had a grasp of the material themselves...

Valuethinker wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:30 pm
btenny wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:55 am
I suggest your GF look for another job in a different field from teaching that uses her math skills and forget the PhD. See the writing below of Phil Greenspan from MIT. He is a professor there who never got tenure and has watched how PhD careers go over the decades. He talks about all the negative things that happen to people who spend years getting a STEM PhD and then get put out to pasture by their schools at age 35 or 40 with no tenure and a limited future. In his case he made $$ in outside ways so no big deal. But not so for many of his peers.

https://philip.greenspun.com/

https://philip.greenspun.com/careers/

Good Luck.
I think this is very good advice.
though it definitely should be read (e.g. the job prospect discussions for traditional STEM disciplines, specifically career prospects of STEM professors), it's overly cynical (when it delves into the part re: why it'd be more remunerative to marry, divorce, and repeat in certain states)

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Cmnilz87 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:40 pm

What does an actuary start at these days? It’s gotta be more than 50k as a teacher? I know there are tests, but after each one your salary cap keeps going up and up

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by triceratop » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:48 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:35 pm
Ben Mathew wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:20 am
Agree with above comments that getting a tenured position in math will be very hard. That would concern me a lot more than the low salary.
Also you do your best work in theoretical math or physics at a young age.

The woman who discovered Pulsars at Cambridge did that work for her PhD and her supervisor got the Nobel Prize.

The departments know this and so they want newly minted 20 somethings who will have the most productive and innovative research.
The first statement has not been shown in any rigorous way to my knowledge.

OP, I am an applied math PhD student and your girlfriend's thinking about what grad school and academia is like in mathematics fields and STEM fields more generally is very flawed. It is so flawed it appears to be leading her to making incorrect judgements about career viability. Let me put it this way: I have done literally everything "right" career wise (fancy school, fancy awards, decent field though not machine learning) and I still think academia is close to a pipe dream.
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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Watty » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:59 pm

It has been attributed to different people but there is a quote;
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Maybe she should get out of education at any level and move into the private sector.

I don't know a lot of the details but I know someone that took a short course in the statistical software package call SAS and seems to be doing well now.

In addition to actually working with things like that there is also a lot of training involved and with her education background she could become a trainer of something like that.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by calmaniac » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:00 pm

Nate79 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:19 am
Sounds like she needs to read some Dave Ramsey books/Financial Peace University/podcasts.
+1

She is 7 years working full time and still $135k in debt?? She needs to learn about budgeting.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by 22twain » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:01 pm

DoTheMath wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:18 am
[A starting salary as a math professor is mid 70's for someone at a research oriented position, at a teaching oriented position it's likely to be in the mid 40's to mid 50's.
The latter sounds about right to me. I was in a different STEM field. When I started teaching at a small liberal-arts college in the mid 1980s, my salary in today's dollars was in the $45K-$50K ballpark. I expect the current entry level at the college that I retired from a couple of years ago, is similar. Maybe even lower because we got hit hard by the dot-com bust and the Great Recession. We went for about ten years with no raises, and even a 2% cut once, in 2010 or thereabouts.
Getting a faculty position is difficult and if there are constraints on where you are willing to relocate, the type of school, the type of position, the salary, etc. it quickly becomes extremely difficult.
In the early/mid 1980s, I searched twice for full-time faculty positions at 4-year colleges. Each time, I was invited to two on-campus interviews and received one job offer. The first time, I got a two-year sabbatical-replacement position. The second time, I got a tenure-track position where I did get tenure in due course. Both times I had to make long-distance moves: first from the Midwest to the Northeast, then to the Southeast.

Most colleges and universities have math requirements for all their students, so they need to teach more classes in math than in most other STEM fields (mine included). However, as has already been noted, the trend almost everywhere has been to use (for introductory courses) more adjuncts (paid by the course, often without health and/or retirement benefits) and short-term full-time faculty who can be let go when financial pressures require it.

Also, even at teaching-oriented colleges, tenure-track faculty are usually expected to do some research. During the past few decades, there has been an increase in the expectation that undergraduates participate in research. It helps prepare them better for graduate school, and gives them a better shot of actually getting into grad school.
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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by bltn » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:09 pm

livesoft wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:12 am
Ah, this is a relationship thread and really has nothing to do with STEM nor PhDs. To that end: My niece dropped out of a top STEM grad school program and became the domestic partner of a successful internet startup mogul. She doesn't work at all and will never need to work at all for the rest of her life if she doesn't want to. That's my positive advice to your friend.
I also think there is a relationship issue as well as a lack of productivity with the gf.
Livesoft,
Your niece will never need to work until she breaks up with her domestic partner. Unless domestic partner is a modern way of saying spouse.
Don t half or marriages end in divorce. I doubt domestic partnerships fare any better.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by greg24 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:16 pm

Cmnilz87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:47 am
There’s a lot of drama at her high school and nobody will fix the issues. She wants to write education plans and curriculums apparently.
This reveals a lot to me. She seems to dislike the inherent BS in her teaching job, and would prefer to focus on her core tasks.

Well, every job has inherent BS. Every job has BS tasks that really aren't your job, but you have to do them anyways.

If she overcomes the odds and manages to snag a university professorship, she'll have lots of drama and political infighting within her department.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by greg24 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:17 pm

bltn wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:09 pm
Don t half or marriages end in divorce. I doubt domestic partnerships fare any better.
Once you control for income, education and age, the divorce rate is much lower. She has some grad school and apparently a very high income.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by stoptothink » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:22 pm

Cmnilz87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:40 pm
What does an actuary start at these days? It’s gotta be more than 50k as a teacher? I know there are tests, but after each one your salary cap keeps going up and up
https://www1.salary.com/Actuary-I-Salaries.html

Another STEM PhD, though not in math; OP's GF needs to give up the pipe dream of academia and use her skills in private industry. She could make 6-figures in a few years easily in data science or being an actuary, that's without learning to code. Academia and private industry are literally different planets and that divide is getting larger at an astonishing pace.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by NotTooDeepLearning » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:27 pm

I got my bachelors in pure mathematics and was heavily advised to go the PhD route. I didn't want my only career prospect to be teaching though, so I joined a statistics PhD program, got paid 20k/year and all tuition waived, then dropped out with a masters and zero debt. I was considering a stats PhD at the time, but the program was brutally difficult and many of my classmates took 6-7 years to get their PhDs... which I think is absurd. She could almost certainly get admitted to a fully funded PhD statistics program that offers a masters-on-the-way.

To get a good job she would almost certainly need to take several programming classes and enjoy writing code. Statistics would be the free way to get an advanced degree in data science.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by Cmnilz87 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:59 pm

greg24 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:16 pm
Cmnilz87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:47 am
There’s a lot of drama at her high school and nobody will fix the issues. She wants to write education plans and curriculums apparently.
This reveals a lot to me. She seems to dislike the inherent BS in her teaching job, and would prefer to focus on her core tasks

Well, every job has inherent BS. Every job has BS tasks that really aren't your job, but you have to do them anyways.



If she overcomes the odds and manages to snag a university professorship, she'll have lots of drama and political infighting within her department.
That’s what I told her, I just finished school again with a major job incoming in construction management and the “skinny” on why 2 of our professors left was due to dept drama.
Last edited by Cmnilz87 on Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by sschoe2 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:02 pm

If she doesn't like teaching then she should do something besides teaching. There are a lot of positions where high level math is highly compensated for calculating risk, odds/statistics, and money. Actuary comes to mind.

Also agree that a PhD program should provide tuition waivers and a stipend either from research or teaching assistants. I don't think she needs a PhD at all and if she has to pay for one absolutely not. Again she needs to apply her mathematics skills to the private sector. I don't doubt she could get a high paying job that will allow her to get rid of those loans very quickly.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by sschoe2 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:05 pm

Cmnilz87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:47 am
There’s a lot of drama at her high school and nobody will fix the issues. She wants to write education plans and curriculums apparently.
Teachers don't have a lot of freedom to write the curriculum. That is written by educational departments which dictate what and how things are taught to try to impose uniformity and encourage students to do well on the tests.

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Re: Need a little insight from STEM Bogleheads

Post by sschoe2 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:08 pm

calmaniac wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:00 pm
She is 7 years working full time and still $135k in debt?? She needs to learn about budgeting.
She needs to get away from teaching and academia. WIth her math credentials she can be earning big money. Academia and teaching will keep her poor and crush her soul.

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