Gut Reactions for Life Decisions

So, you’re trying to pick between going straight to grad school v. getting a job?

Flip a coin: heads = graduate school; tails = workforce.

Photo from www.codingthewheel.com

Photo from www.codingthewheel.com

What were your results?

I can be really indecisive, and so this exercise was very helpful for me. When I was trying to decide whether I wanted to go to graduate school or not, I considered applying to consulting jobs instead. The ultimate deciding factor was thinking about other people who would go to graduate school and pursue the research questions I was interested in. I was sick with jealousy. The idea that someone else would do the work that I wanted to do made me so angry that I knew graduate school was the only option. It is this passion that gets me through the difficult days. Every day in graduate school is a test, and you have to be certain that the end result (for you) is worth it. You have to be your own cheerleader when a manuscript gets rejected or you get tough critique on a study idea, and at the end of the day, if you’re passionate you will be able to push through those moments.

So, how do you feel about the results of your coin toss? Do you feel the way I did about graduate school, or maybe the workforce? If you’re equally hesitant about both options, gather some more information, and then flip a coin again. Talk to people in the career field you’re interested in, and spend some time with graduate students in the types of programs you would apply to. Really get a sense of what the day-to-day responsibilities of those people are, and imagine yourself doing what they do. What do you feel? Excitement? Dread? Don’t ignore those feelings–use them to make an informed decision. Good luck!