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Subject: Break from schooling? rss

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I've been going to college for 6 years, straight, with being in the military full time for 4 of those years and another year schooling full time as an electrician, and just finished all the classes for my masters program. The thing is though... I'm worn out. I go to school strictly online so there's no real breaks or vacations either and haven't had more then a week off of school in those 6 years. Just finishing these last 2 classes was like an epic struggle. I was registered this month to do my thesis class (~50 page paper on something, not sure what I wanna do yet) over the next 4 months, but dropped, because I needed a break. Now I'm thinking, well crap, my class would go right through Thanksgiving, my wife's birthday, Halloween, and Christmas. I love winter holidays and (the semi) relaxation that goes with them. I'm thinking of just holding off on my thesis program until January, which would equate to a 4 month break from all academia after 6 years of nonstop school. During the last year of unemployment (and doing strictly grad school) I was getting paid by the VA for schooling, though with my thesis class I don't get paid, which isn't a huge issue, but it's just worth nothing I won't get paid either way anymore for schooling since I'm technically done with classes.

Good idea? Bad idea?
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Should I take a 4 month break?
Yes
No
      46 answers
Poll created by 79strat
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maf man
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that is a hard choice with no real good answer so I'll try to cheat and tell you to make friends with the teacher/student/whoever so you take your break but use it to get a head start on what will be asked of you when you do take it.

edit add: a huge +1 to to the reply below me, kinda why I suggest my idea so it becomes easier but not giving you a full break away
 
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David Jones
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Since I don't know you, I can't judge your character, but I've heard more stories of people who stopped school and didn't go back than I've heard stories of people who took a one term break and then came back. If your degree is important to you, finish it. Even more so if you don't have any priorities getting in your way. Sooner or later, one will find you.
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mafman6 wrote:
that is a hard choice with no real good answer so I'll try to cheat and tell you to make friends with the teacher/student/whoever so you take your break but use it to get a head start on what will be asked of you when you do take it.


Well the funny thing is I could do all the work and not even be enrolled as I have the syllabus and everything. It's literally just a 4 month "class" where we just write the one thesis paper as a final grad requirement.

davypi wrote:
Since I don't know you, I can't judge your character, but I've heard more stories of people who stopped school and didn't go back than I've heard stories of people who took a one term break and then came back. If your degree is important to you, finish it. Even more so if you don't have any priorities getting in your way. Sooner or later, one will find you.


I've heard it as well and it would be pretty foolish to never finish with the one class left. Thankfully I don't have many other priorities going on which puts me in a sort of nice position. Was just wondering if maybe 4 months is too long a break from writing, since I've basically been doing 15 pages a week for years.
 
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Michael Carter
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4 months isn't much longer than a summer break. It's not like you are taking a full year off.
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mlcarter815 wrote:
4 months isn't much longer than a summer break. It's not like you are taking a full year off.


I like your reasoning.
 
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Koldfoot wrote:
On one hand, I'm irritated that you feel the need to ask "permission" from a bunch of Internet losers (self included) you don't really know. It feels to me that you know what you need to do, but are reluctant to do it, and seeking justification from people whose opinions don't matter in order to justify your poor decision.

On the other hand I'm a little perplexed that a 4 month break would matter in the least.

If you got laid up with two broken legs or a Geosomething-like bike crash would those few months be unrecoverable?


Having a bad day? I think you might need a break too! I'm a bit surprised the poll is nearly a flat 50%.
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Matt
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I voted no. As others have said, once you stop it is extremely hard to start back up again. Not because you are lazy or bored; quite the opposite. As soon as you stop going to school full-tilt, life has a nasty way of taking over, and you find it almost impossible to get school back into your routine. Especially working on a thesis. Having a graduate degree completed looks a lot better in your rearview mirror.

I have seen this situation literally dozens of times, and I've only seen 3-5 people ever successfully come back from a "break" and finish.

Qualifications: I am a professor. I have advised over 60 masters theses and taught several hundreds of graduate students in the last 20 years. Almost all of those students wrote (or tried to write) a thesis with someone in my department.

If you really need the break (even though you could probably get the thesis written and signed off in less than four months with a halfway decent advisor) then make sure you make an appointment four months from now that motivates you to return. Maybe sign up for an elective that gets you back online and engaged with the routine. Even if you drop the elective to avoid paying the fees, at least do something to get a hard deadline on your calendar.

Regardless of what you decide, I wish you the best of luck.

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Michael Carter
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Verdigris97 wrote:
I voted no. As others have said, once you stop it is extremely hard to start back up again. Not because you are lazy or bored; quite the opposite. As soon as you stop going to school full-tilt, life has a nasty way of taking over, and you find it almost impossible to get school back into your routine. Especially working on a thesis. Having a graduate degree completed looks a lot better in your rearview mirror.

I have seen this situation literally dozens of times, and I've only seen 3-5 people ever successfully come back from a "break" and finish.

Qualifications: I am a professor. I have advised over 60 masters theses and taught several hundreds of graduate students in the last 20 years. Almost all of those students wrote (or tried to write) a thesis with someone in my department.

If you really need the break (even though you could probably get the thesis written and signed off in less than four months with a halfway decent advisor) then make sure you make an appointment four months from now that motivates you to return. Maybe sign up for an elective that gets you back online and engaged with the routine. Even if you drop the elective to avoid paying the fees, at least do something to get a hard deadline on your calendar.

Regardless of what you decide, I wish you the best of luck.



Even if the break is about a month longer than summer break?
 
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Matt
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mlcarter815 wrote:
Verdigris97 wrote:
I voted no. As others have said, once you stop it is extremely hard to start back up again.


Even if the break is about a month longer than summer break?


In graduate school? Yes. Absolutely. Especially when the thesis is the only thing left.
 
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Andrew W.
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79strat wrote:
mafman6 wrote:
that is a hard choice with no real good answer so I'll try to cheat and tell you to make friends with the teacher/student/whoever so you take your break but use it to get a head start on what will be asked of you when you do take it.


Well the funny thing is I could do all the work and not even be enrolled as I have the syllabus and everything. It's literally just a 4 month "class" where we just write the one thesis paper as a final grad requirement.


Because you are so informed as to have a syllabus, if after checking with the Department it is pretty certain the requirements will be same when you come back to it ostensibly soon, I think your best work will be achieved after some rest. Especially since between now and January enrollment you may have a workable epiphany for a suitable thesis and can begin to grind out some draftable ideas in the interim.

Overworked is too often mediocre work, and rather uninspired work.

79strat wrote:
davypi wrote:
Since I don't know you, I can't judge your character, but I've heard more stories of people who stopped school and didn't go back than I've heard stories of people who took a one term break and then came back. If your degree is important to you, finish it. Even more so if you don't have any priorities getting in your way. Sooner or later, one will find you.


I've heard it as well and it would be pretty foolish to never finish with the one class left. Thankfully I don't have many other priorities going on which puts me in a sort of nice position. Was just wondering if maybe 4 months is too long a break from writing, since I've basically been doing 15 pages a week for years.


So if you need to keep the muscles of writing limber, find things to write about. Just to knock out a 5 pager or so on something you want to know or explain. Not every word one writes must be for academia.

Good luck on everything you decide to do.

 
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Thanks Matt and Andrew.
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Michael Berg
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If this was a break before entering another two year program, absolutely, take it. I was burned out, but was encouraged to continue on because "Once I stopped it would be hard to pick it back up." I jumped into a new program and it went horribly. After that I took a break, went back and everything was so much easier.

But in your case? Knock that thesis out. You got this, the light is right there.
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Matt
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Koldfoot wrote:
I've encountered this same thing.

People enter the real world and discover their professors are full of shit.


They give you a bachelor's degree when you think you know everything.
They give you a master's degree when you realize you don't know anything.
They give you a Ph.D. when you understand that nobody else does, either.

(And I guess they make you a professor when you stop giving a crap about it. )
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Matt Brown
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I read the OP and instantly voted for the break. I have taken a class where after Spring break I had a headache every day of the class. Took a break and came back to 4.0 the next classes I took.
 
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FWIW, I took a year off between undergrad and grad school. I worked and traveled and worked and traveled. The work was all over the place: bartender, Manpower (light construction), phlebotomist.

I had already been accepted in my graduate program and they (only a bit grudgingly) were OK with the break.

After I got my doctorate, I backpacked for four months with my future wife before I did my postdoc work. My postdoc advisor point blank encouraged me to take the break.

There was never any question that I would go back to school after my travels...it was just the nature of the discipline (biochemistry). This despite the fact that once during my hitchhiking in Ireland I got picked up by a VERY convincing old man who was adamant that grad school would ruin my life.

Looking back, I'm certainly glad I took the breaks. The main reason may not be relevant to you: it was having kids that made many of the things I did (including the freedom to do a bunch of different funnish low-paying jobs) impossible.

Edit: Oh, and I had writer's block writing my thesis. A terrible experience. Can't give much help there because I've buried it deep in my subconscious and have no wish to dredge it out. Maybe that old man was right.
 
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