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View Full Version : Am I crazy? Do I have a chance? This is a Long Story an Intro



FoolishAmbition
02-07-2008, 12:19 AM
Unbeknown to me until reading through these threads here, GMU is one of the only part-time programs around. Maybe that is luck, maybe that is fate. GMU is literally my only option. And from what I read on their website it seems more geared to the working individual as classes are 1 night a week after normal work hours. I can do that, if I can figure out how to meet additional requirements.

I contacted the program to inquire if all students must do RA or TA. If I fund this myself, which is the plan, no. That's a good thing for me as you will find out if you keep reading.

I'm in this to be a Professor. I taught high school for a short bit. I'm not in it for fame or fortune. I know most Univ Professors are published, so I would be published by that fact alone. I enjoy seeing things "click" in average students. I'd be perfectly happy teaching in our local community college, but eventually I will need a professor position at a university that my kids can attend for a reduced cost or free! Ideally, I'd really like to be in the classroom sooner rather than later.

I have expessed my interest in getting my Masters to teach college a number of times to my dh. This past Sept he told me we could fund 1 class per semester. He's thinking about paying for college for 4 kids and might be finally listening to my wisdom on the matter - it's cheaper to have me degreed up than pay for 4 separate degree sets!

What have I done since Sept? Not enough.

I researched the possibilites of a Masters in Econ to get me in the door at a local Community College, but I stubbled across GMUs PhD program. I had always assumed that you got your Masters first and taught while working on your PhD. I had no idea you could just enter a PhD program w a bachelor's. There are pros and cons to the situation for me, the PhD program is Fairfax and the Masters is Alexandria, from where I will be driving from, Fairfax is closer by an hour. The PhD has 2 more undergrad course requirements though.

Other than GMU, there are not any other viable options. I've also looked into the GMU Public Policy programs. My Bachelor's is a double major Finance & Banking and Accounting.

I also gathered some information on taking the GRE, I know they will not accept PRAXIS (that's the teacher's exam needed for the M Ed). I flunked the online verbal -- analogies. Sanguine was the word, in my logic I based it to Sangre which is blood. Nope -- Cheefully Optimist! Never would have guessed it. I was not exactly wrong, the defition does include the term blood further on down the list in the dictionary. It didn't spark much hope in my ability to pass! I'm a bilingual, but not a skilled linguist.

I am going to have to take a GRE prep course to pass and the problem begins -- where? And committing to the time to drive there and back for however long those course are. This will also mean securing evening daycare since my dh works late hours in Northern VA. And quite possibly getting a newer car for better gas milage - nothing like driving a 15 passenger van w just me in it to get to a class!

Since my bachelor's is in Accounting and Finance/ Banking, I have a few undergrad requirements to do specific to GMU's requirements for the PhD or Masters. The problem I'm faced with is the where and HOW. I don't live near GMU to commute more than 1X per week. Our semi-local CC is advanced HS, it will not be of any help. There are smaller univerisities near by "ish", but they do not have Intermediate level Micro and Macro, Matrix Algebra,or Econometrics.

I started looking today online at the possibility of doing these classes online. I have yet to find anything that I feel would be acceptable to admissions. I might get into Intermediate Micro and Macro and go UGH! So I'd like to know now before I get much further. I love the finance side of Economics, monetary policies, how the US grades it's economy (which I think is a joke and needs to be re-written - this is my doctoral thesis by the way, I have wanted to rewrite the way "economist" do it since I was in high school. The current equation system is flawed and I know how to fix it. Ambitious? or Crazy...)

So maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I don't have a chance. I don't know. I'm 33 yrs old, mom of 4 kids (my youngest just turned 1), my calc classes were in 1994! I barely passed Intro to Micro and Macro, honestly, they did not "click" until I took Money and Banking 3 yrs later, then it all made sense. My last Stats class was over 8 years ago the one before it was in 96. I went back to school to finish my bachelor's after being out of college for about 3 yrs w 1 child. I graduated Cum Laude and I did it in 2 semesters, 18 hours each all upper division accounting, stats, and finance course work. If I did that, why not this?

I wrote a piece on the economy on a mommy forum. The replies I got were encouraging, but these were not economic scholars, these were real people living real life economics and that is what I wrote about the nations current situation. I've not been brave enough to ever submit my thoughts to our local newspaper and I should have, I wrote about where our town was headed some time ago and guess what? It has happened.

I have no fear of not being accepted. I would only apply after knowing I actually met the min score on the GRE and have the undergrad Micro and Macro completed. I also did learn I do not want to be accept into the grad program if I still need undergrad b/c they will charge the grad credit hour rate for any undergrad courses I still need!:eek:

Now that I've spelled out my Ambition, is it foolish? And if you know of any online fully accredited by real accreditation standards colleges that would offer the Interm Econ, please pass that on to me.

asquare
02-07-2008, 12:31 AM
Welcome, FoolishAmbition. I'm not clear on what your goal is. Are you hoping to get an MA in economics, or a PhD? Professors at four year colleges are virtually required to have PhDs, though some lecturers and adjuncts do not. Tenure-track positions are exclusively for those with PhDs and can be hard to obtain if your PhD is from a low-ranked school.

I'd be surprised if you could get hired to teach at a four year college with an online degree. There were some recent posts about a new(ish) online MA economics program; it was the first I'd ever heard of and you could probably find it by using the "search" function on this forum.

There are other part-time MA economics programs. For example, Johns Hopkins has one, run from it's DC location. Those programs might be good stepping stones to a full PhD program, since you have been out of school for a while and don't have many of the common prerequites for PhD admissions. In general, though, a master's degree is not required to begin a PhD in economics. You will receive an "incidental" masters on the way to completing your PhD, but most American students and some international students come to PhDs directly from their BA programs.

FoolishAmbition
02-07-2008, 02:06 AM
Ultimate Goal - PhD Tentured Professor, maybe at my undergrad Alma Mata, maybe somewhere else

Midway Goal - In 7 years, a Full-Time staff position at local CC which equals benefits for my first child who will be fully capable of handling freshman courses concurrently in his Senior year of highschool.
Or my Alma Mata would pick me up as an Associate Professor which would not pay well, but it would aid in child #1's tuition.

I'm not looking to be a professor of an elite university. Elite universities have elite students who are a PITA to work with generally speaking. Those AP kids are the absolute worse b/c they think they know it all. I had Honors kids doing their history homework in my classes and then their parents want to know why they don't have an A in my class -- UGH! Frankly, some here who are doing the MIT, Ivy League conquest are probably those AP and Honors kids.:whistle:

I believe GMU has a very good reputation; most VA schools do. I think the total person's life experience and that person's acedemic reputation via publications, other work done during the time one is working on the PhD are much more important than the school that issued the degree. If I earned a PhD 10 yrs ago from MIT and I've done nothing since to show myself worthy, WVU isn't even going to hire me. Most real world employers are not hiring the school, they are hiring the individual. From reading threads here, the general poplus don't seem to get this, unless you have a full ride scholarship w stipend to go to MIT, Ivy Leaguers, it will be a waste of money in the long run. Statistical data have been gathered to this end.

Albeit, online degrees are NOT anything I think hold merit. And as an employer I would not hire someone with just an online degree without some sort of justification such as military service. Online degrees might give you more income w a current employer, but I'd think twice about hiring anyone with only that under their belt.

I don't think online courses to meet a prerequisite would be frowned upon when the applicant already holds a bachelor's degree in a semi-related field, especially when they look at the total package of a future PhD candidate.

buckykatt
02-07-2008, 02:30 AM
A Ph.D. is a much larger commitment than an MA--you can finish an MA in 1-2 years, full-time, whereas a Ph.D. typically takes 5-6 years full-time. (Yes, it's possible to finish while working full-time after your coursework is complete, but don't expect it to be easy. And finishing later as a result doesn't send a good job market signal.) The math requirements are also more hefty for most Ph.D. programs. So, if your goal is to get into the classroom ASAP and you are happy teaching at a community college, I suspect that a master's program may be your best option. If you shop around carefully, you may find a master's program within commuting distance that funds its students (i.e. waives tuition and pays a small stipend in exchange for TA work), which might make it feasible to pursue your master's degree full-time and finish quickly.

As for how to take the undergrad-level courses you need, do you still live close to the school where you earned your bachelor's degree? I'm in a situation to yours--in the midst of taking some math classes to brush up and improve my background before re-entering school full-time--and I discovered that my alma mater made it very easy to return and study toward a second BA. (They simply require that I complete the requirements for the new major, with a minimum of 30 credits beyond those I earned for my first degree. Matriculating as a returning student was simple--a short application that was, I gather, a mere formality. I'm paying the undergrad rate for my classes.)

If you do need to take math classes online, there are a couple of reputable schools other posters to this forum have mentioned:

Distance Calculus at Suffolk University (http://www.distancecalculus.com/)

NetMath - Online Math Course - University of Illiniois (http://www.netmath.uiuc.edu/)

IMHO, taking classes online with either of these schools would probably be as good as taking classes at an unknown state college in the eyes of an adcom.

Whichever way you decide to go, good luck! And, as you probably already know, your family's support of your goals is key in your situation, so make sure you have their commitment to your plan before putting it in action!

buckykatt
02-07-2008, 02:35 AM
I'm not looking to be a professor of an elite university. Elite universities have elite students who are a PITA to work with generally speaking. Those AP kids are the absolute worse b/c they think they know it all. I had Honors kids doing their history homework in my classes and then their parents want to know why they don't have an A in my class -- UGH! Frankly, some here who are doing the MIT, Ivy League conquest are probably those AP and Honors kids.:whistle:


Oh, and judging by the stories my friends at various kinds of schools tell, helicopter parents infest every level of education, not just the ivy league. Two friends who teach at a state university, in particular, have told me in very blunt terms that things have changed for the worse in the decade or so that I've been out of circulation. I'm happy to say that I haven't met many kids like that since I've been back in school, but maybe math majors are exceptional?

tangsiuje
02-07-2008, 02:37 AM
I'm not looking to be a professor of an elite university. Elite universities have elite students who are a PITA to work with generally speaking. Those AP kids are the absolute worse b/c they think they know it all.
I can't say that I have much experience teaching high school kids in the US, but I think that seems to be quite an awkward generalization. My experience is that if clever kids don't behave in class, it's because they're not sufficiently challenged.



I believe GMU has a very good reputation; most VA schools do. I think the total person's life experience and that person's acedemic reputation via publications, other work done during the time one is working on the PhD are much more important than the school that issued the degree.

Now, I'm not quite an expert on this matter either, but on average, you're usually hired by a school ranked lower than the one from which you graduated (there are exceptions of course). Why? Well, if you're running an economics department and you're trying to hire fresh PhD graduates, you'd probably expect a graduate from the top10 to be more qualified than a graduate from a school ranked like 50ish or so. This means that graduates from better schools start off in a far better position than those from worse schools. Now, it is of course the case that if you produce top-notch research at your lower-ranked school, you can get hired by a better school. This is quite unlikely, however, since lower ranked universities would not have very much to spend on research, and teaching load would tend to be high. In addition, you wouldn't quite have the same opportunity to interact and get ideas from accomplished researchers as those hired by a better university.

Now, if you're just looking at teaching at a community college, then you'd probably be fine going to a lower-ranked school, but you should be aware that once in such a job, you probably wouldn't have much time or resources to dedicate to the research that would be able to grant you entry to a better university. This might be even more true if you're also looking at having some life outside of your job.

asquare
02-07-2008, 02:49 AM
I believe GMU has a very good reputation; most VA schools do. I think the total person's life experience and that person's acedemic reputation via publications, other work done during the time one is working on the PhD are much more important than the school that issued the degree. If I earned a PhD 10 yrs ago from MIT and I've done nothing since to show myself worthy, WVU isn't even going to hire me. Most real world employers are not hiring the school, they are hiring the individual. From reading threads here, the general poplus don't seem to get this, unless you have a full ride scholarship w stipend to go to MIT, Ivy Leaguers, it will be a waste of money in the long run. Statistical data have been gathered to this end.

FoolishAmbition, you may believe that the life experience matters, but frankly, schools hiring new PhDs don't. Academia is not the "real world" and different criteria are valued.

The main factor in the hiring decision is the job market paper. The PhD-granting institution matters a lot, and research does support that. (See Stock, Alston, and Milkman 2000; they find that the average PhD graduate takes a job at a school ranked more than 50 places below the school from which he/she received a PhD. See also List 2000, who finds that candidates from top-19 schools get more interviews than candidates from lower ranked programs. Finally, Cawley 2002 shows that over the most recent years for which he had data, students from top-25 programs all got at least one academic interview, while that was not true at lower ranked programs.) Most PhD graduates who are seeking academic jobs do get some offers, but very few (less than 20 percent) of the offers are tenure-track for PhDs coming out of low-ranked schools.

It's very hard to return to academia after an absence (including making a transition from a community college to a four-year school), so you are right that if you have a 10 year old PhD from MIT, it would be hard to get an academic job. Most people who successfully return to academia had strong publications before leaving, and took a sabatical to work in government or rarely, industry. For new PhDs, having a strong publication record helps, but is not in itself sufficient for getting a good job. It's also extremely rare for a student at a low-ranked program to have a very strong publication record before completing the PhD.

Unfortunately, GMU does not list its placement results online, or that would give you an idea of where graduates wind up. The only mention I found was a blog post by someone at GMU (http://austrianeconomists.typepad.com/weblog/2007/07/ranking-phd-pro.html), who says, of a paper that computes rankings based on placements, "GMU doesn't fare at all because of the limited placement of our students in other PhD programs."

I'm NOT saying that GMU is a bad school or that you shouldn't go there. I'm just saying that your assumption that "the total person's life experience and that person's acedemic reputation via publications, other work done during the time one is working on the PhD are much more important than the school that issued the degree" is unrealistic. You can get a perfectly good teaching job with a PhD from GMU or another similarly-ranked school, but getting a tenured faculty position will be harder coming from a lower ranked school. You should know that going into the whole thing.

Karina 07
02-07-2008, 04:10 AM
What you might consider are Finance programs. You can probably get a teaching job in a community college with a Finance master's, and I think programs like that might be more likely to be geared towards people who've been out of school for a while. Those who've been out of school for a while do suffer the most, so it's good to be among others and where profs are used to teaching to that.

At any rate, you can probably teach with a master's, and while people with a master's getting tenure at a PhD-granting institution is rare, you can frequently teach at the less prestigious places with relative job security if you do your job well (e.g. a friend of mine who's doing that has been informally told she can basically stay as long as she wants though she'll never progress beyond Lecturer).

FoolishAmbition
02-07-2008, 03:25 PM
This has been most informative.
My idea of what academia was, is what you all describe. My view took a turn when reading GMU's website b/c is not your classical graduate program set up. It really is already geared toward those working in DC and NoVA. This is especially true in their Public Policy grad program. It gave me hope that I could do this.
I don't see myself ever wanting to teach at "top ranked" schools. I've never attended a top school. I did attend a very large state U for a few semesters and it was torture for me. I was drowning acedemically. I'd always gone to smaller schools with professors who cared, professors who knew if you were absent, etc. I had some really great professors, even if they were never world reknown. I'm not in this for the money either, I'm a SAHM (stay at home mom) and money is not an issue. We will be paying for any additional degrees for me in cash.

My options are limited by where we live. My dh has a secure job market in NoVA, we have a house outside of NoVA and will not be moving any time soon -- good schools for our kids, good community, good church, etc.

If there were a Finance Masters or Econ Masters away from the MBA anywhere nearby enough to drive within an hour or so, I would be looking. I could do an MBA, but I already have a BBA and frankly I don't think an MBA would be the right degree to go into college level teaching.

I have also thought about a PhD in Education. My father is a Masters in Ed. I started my Masters in Ed. I like education. I believe in education being the key to empowerment of an individual and of a nation. The US is a pretty stupid nation and I blame our education system.

Quick OT note to the poster who remarked about clever kids not being sufficiently challenged. It isn't a teacher's short comings. The School Boards of each county or city in the US determine the curriculum and Standard of Learning. The Public School emphasis is to teach to the bottom of the class so "all students can and shall succeed" - it's the stupid "No Child Left Behind Act". When I taught I was given a textbook and a workbook, any outside materials I used had to be approved by the school board. The textbook curriculum had additional materials, but since the county did not purchase them, I was unable to used them due to copyright laws. The US Public Schools in general have a term attached to them "dumped down". As a teacher, my hands are tied to give more challenging work. But my experience was they were not succeeding with the work I was giving b/c they were not engaging in my class. It's a two way street, they get out of it, what they put into it.

Within 35min, I have Teletechnet through ODU -- MBA, Masters Ed, M Nursing, etc. nothing in a core subject area. I can't teach anything other than high school w a Masters in Ed. Sure I could go back the HS, but I'd never even be able to pick up adjuct positions at the CC. VA is very strict about education levels and teaching.

And math is not a problem, despite taking Calc through differientals in around 94. I also took Calc in a foreign university for 'fun', it's a universal language. But I do not know what Econometrics is, so maybe I will spend some time pulling my hair out. I'm not really worried. If I get 'stumped' I have my dh or a df who is a mathematical genius whom I could rely on for assistance if need be.

Maybe Econ is not the way to go for me. I'm still in my "discovery" mode. I have many interest and talents. Bottom line, I love teaching and I don't need to be teaching at the top to be happy. I'd be happy teaching Consumer Math at a CC or just as happy teaching Corporate Finance at a small university or maybe having influence over future educators teaching core education classes.

This has been really good for me b/c I'm working this all out in my mind. I have some ideas I need to go reseach a little bit on. A challenging journey makes the reward more sweet.

econphilomath
02-07-2008, 04:14 PM
Maybe a PhD in Education would be better geared toward your interests and relative skills/experience. You can also get a job that pays pretty good outside of strict academia.
BTW my mother holds a PhD in Education and we talk about a lot of topics where economics crosses over into education and I think its really interesting although the research they do is to sociological to convince most of the time. Nowadays, we basically fight about vouchers...:p

Overthehill
02-07-2008, 06:43 PM
FoolishAmbition,

I'm writing you adult to adult. I have a masters in math from GMU and was ABD in engineering before my personal life interrupted my academic one. I read these forums to help advise my DD who is currently a math/econ major and wants to go to get a PhD in econ (Note: I'm not sure that's a good career choice but if that's what she wants to do I want to make sure she's well prepared.)

IMHO, GMU is geared towards working professionals who want to advance in their careers. It does an excellent job at this and is well worth the time and money. However, I doubt that many of its econ PhDs are being placed in tenure track academic positions.

I was doing quite well in graduate school (again IMHO) and could easily have complete my dissertation by putting in my time. Then my DD was born and I realized that the best use of my time was in parenting rather than writing a paper that would only be read by my adviser and doctoral committee. I quit because I went from 0 to 1 kids. You have four!

GMU is a serious academic place and becomes tougher every year. Even though the classes meet only one night a week, you'll be studying most of the others. It's hard to imagine that exchanging years of your children's childhoods for a hoped for college tuition break will benefit you or your children.

You'll also need to do a lot of prep work before GMU would admit you for the PhD (Note: Getting into the masters program seems to be pretty easy but it doesn't lead to their PhD program.) From your notes, you're skilled in derivation based mathematics such as calculus. However, the PhD track in econ seems to be strongly proof based. When I took real analysis in graduate school, I knew several students who had excellent calculus skills who found theorem proving to be difficult. (On the other hand, I have been required to solve math problems nearly daily for 30 years and NO ONE has ever asked me to write a proof).

Reading between the lines, it seems to me that you want to enhance your career, study something, and help pay your kids tuition. If I were you, I would do one of two things: (1) get a MS in applied math or stats at GMU with their certificate in actuarial science; or (2) get a Doctor of Arts at GMU with a specialization in community college teaching. While the former does not lead to a teaching position, being an actuary (IMHO) is a better career choice than being an economist (I'm trying to convince my DD of this.) If you must teach, the DA will get you in somewhere.

econphilomath
02-07-2008, 06:55 PM
FoolishAmbition,

I'm writing you adult to adult.




You better listen to this guys advice, he's an adult. :whistle:
(It does sound like sensible, down-to-earth advice, even though IMHO-he wants to keep his DD from seeing the light.)

asquare
02-07-2008, 07:07 PM
While the former does not lead to a teaching position, being an actuary (IMHO) is a better career choice than being an economist (I'm trying to convince my DD of this.)
As you said, the above is your opinion. But the comparison depends heavily on why one wants to be an economist. For me and for a lot of other people posting here, I want to be an economist because I want to use the tools of economics to answer questions I find interesting. I'm curious about questions that economists are well equip to study, I want to be in a position to frame my own, open-ended research agenda, I enjoy the process of research, and I thrive in an academic environment. I care more about what I will be doing than my marginal wage return to education. Being an actuary isn't a good substitute for being an economist in my case, and I suspect the same is true for a lot of other people who are posting here.

FoolishAmbition
02-07-2008, 07:26 PM
Who knew...
GMU offers a MAIS in CC Teaching
But does not yet offer study areas in the Business area and I do not hold enough undergrad hours in the subjects offered to be sucessful at the grad level. Plus it isn't anything I want to teach.
So close...:(

The also offer a few different PhDs regarding CC teaching, admin, and I think I did see a classical D Ed. Master's D required, so that is a future thing to keep in mind.

Teletechnet via ODU has some masters in Eds, none of them seem to "fit" me and my goals.

I'm not ready to bite the 82 mile commute to GMU's Masters in Econ program, it is not on it's main campus.

I know what I want to do, it's just a matter of getting there.

Overthehill
02-07-2008, 07:47 PM
Asquare,

I limited my comparison to that of being a "career choice." My metrics are nature of the work, ease of entry into the career, salary and benefits, and chances for advancement. Again, IMHO, economics seems like an interesting but overcrowded field (I use the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook for making career comparisons). While a few do very well, most seem to fight to get into graduate school, fight to stay there, fight to get an academic job, and then struggle to get tenure. The attrition rate seems high and the salaries, even for the winners, aren't astronomical. The opposite seems to be true for actuaries.

On the other hand, my objective function for judging a career isn't -and shouldn't - be everyone's. The world would be a poorer place if everyone made choices using my metrics. However, I think that people, like the OPs (and me), whose lives constrain their choices are often better off mixing realism with their passion. In my particular case, I don't want my DD to make such a large investment in an education that, most likely, will not lead to a successful career. However, she's the DD and I'm the parent. If she wants to be an economist I want her to be as prepared as she can be for success. That's why I read this forum.

asquare
02-07-2008, 07:58 PM
Fair enough. However, there are limitations specific to the BLS data (having to do with relatively recent changes in coding and arcane ways that high-level jobs are classified, as well as the small numbers of PhD holders.)

The actual employment prospects for those who graduate from PhD programs are quite strong. Virtually everyone gets a job (See Cawley 2002 (http://www.aeaweb.org/joe/articles/2002/2002-09-cawley.pdf), or Deck et al. 2008 (http://cber.uark.edu/data/aea/aea08-09.pdf) -- the latter finds that last year, 94 percent of PhD graduates were successful in obtaining employment; previous years' surveys (http://cber.uark.edu/default.asp?show=pubs) find similarly high employment rates across the last decade.)

I agree that getting in to a PhD program is difficult and doing well in one is daunting, but I don't share your negative view of the employment outlook conditional upon graduation. Also, as you've noted, we clearly have different objective functions :)

FoolishAmbition
02-07-2008, 08:05 PM
IMHO, GMU is geared towards working professionals who want to advance in their careers. It does an excellent job at this and is well worth the time and money. However, I doubt that many of its econ PhDs are being placed in tenure track academic positions.

Yes, I see it this way too. I figured if I 'wanted' it to work, I could 'make' it work.



Then my DD was born and I realized that the best use of my time was in parenting rather than writing a paper that would only be read by my adviser and doctoral committee. I quit because I went from 0 to 1 kids. You have four!

My original idea was not to work on my doctoral thesis until my kids were a bit older than they are now. It would take me several years to get the core course requirements completed on a part-time basis. Once they are all in school, I have at least 6 hours during the day and at a min 3 hours at night. If a research paper can't be written using 9 hours a day, 5 days a week, over 4 to 6 years then I guess I never will finish one until I'm into my late 50s or early 60s. And I don't suppose there is anything wrong w that, my grandfather lived to be 99yrs old, I figure I've got time genetically on my side.:p

I'm a firm believer in balancing roles. I've put them first. I've been home with them. I've been blessed to have worked from home. And it's nearing the time that they will all be in school and I will be itching for mind engagement. My time to rediscover who I am is fast approaching.



...From your notes, you're skilled in derivation based mathematics such as calculus. However, the PhD track in econ seems to be strongly proof based. When I took real analysis in graduate school, I knew several students who had excellent calculus skills who found theorem proving to be difficult. (On the other hand, I have been required to solve math problems nearly daily for 30 years and NO ONE has ever asked me to write a proof).


That settles that! I NEVER did well with proofs, I might have excelled in algebra, Calc, and stats, but geometry is my only recollection of proofs and I nearly failed. The teacher was my mom's best friend, otherwise I probably would have failed! I caught on when I was tutoring hs students after I'd taken Calc, trig and stats, but I have no love lost for it.

It's no wonder my sister said she barely passed similar math courses in her Physics degree. She was ROTFLHAO when I told her what math courses were on the curriculum.



Reading between the lines, it seems to me that you want to enhance your career, study something, and help pay your kids tuition. If I were you, I would do one of two things: (1) get a MS in applied math or stats at GMU with their certificate in actuarial science; or (2) get a Doctor of Arts at GMU with a specialization in community college teaching. While the former does not lead to a teaching position, being an actuary (IMHO) is a better career choice than being an economist (I'm trying to convince my DD of this.) If you must teach, the DA will get you in somewhere.

Some career advisor at my alma-mata mentioned actuary. I had and still have no idea what that sort of person actually does and what sort of job title you look under when applying for jobs. I enjoy breaking appart financial statements, looking for keys to their stability etc. But I seriously have never seen myself in a cubical at a desk 9-5.

Option 2, I'm looking at. I got thrown off when I learned subject field Masters was the only way to teach college. I went back and re-researched that to find no - any masters, at least 18 s.h. in teaching field. It's looking more promising.

Thank you for sharing your experience, it was most valuable. Especially the math bit. I'm certainly not prepared to re-learn a new math basis, my brain is already wired in one direction and it never did like the other direction!:D

To All --
I've really been able to learn alot about my general goal to make it more specific. And I think while I will find myself teaching intro econ classes someday & maybe a money and banking, I do not need a PhD in Econ to fulfill my life's goal. So, I'll be moving over to a more appropriate forum.

Thank you all for your thougths. It has help me emensely. The real kicker back to finding a way to be that college professor were the positive comments from mamas about what I wrote on the economy, funny, I'm sure I tied Education right back into it! LOL It would be foolish of me to limit my education to just Econ. No offense, we need economist who are free thinkers and will develop public policies to measure the "real life" economy instead of the current system which IMO leaves a lot to be desired.

I'm sure you all know we need educators to teach these young kids how to think for themselves, instead of being the regurgitation machines the schools are putting out these days. Even my own kid has learned the "easy" way, he's already 1 year ahead in school and the teachers know it's too easy for him. It makes his straight As mean nothing to me, I want to be proud, but I have a hard time showing it when I know he's done nothing to "earn" that A.

econphilomath
02-07-2008, 08:23 PM
Asquare,

I limited my comparison to that of being a "career choice."

US News Best Careers 2008 (http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/best-careers/2007/12/19/professor-executive-summary.html) puts the career choice of "Professor" as in the top 30 best options!



Most seem to fight to get into graduate school, fight to stay there, fight to get an academic job, and then struggle to get tenure.
The attrition rate seems high and the salaries, even for the winners, aren't astronomical. The opposite seems to be true for actuaries.

First, fighting and struggling for ones dreams is the spice of life! I mean look at my avartar!

Second, here is one useful economic concept regarding labor markets: compensating wage differential.


A compensating wage differential or an equalizing difference, is defined as the additional amount of income that a given worker must be offered in order to motivate them to accept a given undesirable job, relative to other jobs that worker could perform. One can also speak of the compensating differential for an especially desirable job, or one that provides special benefits, but in this case the differential would be negative: that is, a given worker would be willing to accept a lower wage for an especially desirable job, relative to other jobsIn other words if being an accountant requires the same skills as being an economist but makes a ton of money.... THE JOB MUST SUCK!

So even if being an economist is bad measured by your bloodless metric, then it might signal that something else might be wrong with that "other " career.



If she wants to be an economist I want her to be as prepared as she can be for success. That's why I read this forum.

IMHO it seems you have done a great job as a parent by preparing and giving your DD a large election set. But it's not like shes deciding between being a hippy street artist or a lawyer here. Don't sweet it so much and send your DD to TM. We'll take care of her!

AstralTraveller
02-07-2008, 09:11 PM
Don't sweet it so much and send your DD to TM. We'll take care of her!

Econphilomath! You pervert! :devil: If I had a DD, I wouldn't let her anywhere near us at TM. I'm sure many of us TMers are not able to look after ourselves, much less a fellow intelligent girl!! :p

(of course everything was written with my tongue held firmly in cheek :D)

Now, seriously, I admire the attitude of our favorite mom of the day, Mrs. FoolishAmbition. And, please change your nickname, as your ambition is anything but foolish...maybe it just needed some guidance, that's all! I just won't say I would like you as my mom because I wouldn't trade mine for anything in the world ;). Anyway, you rock!

Fingers still crossed for us all applicants for Fall '08....

AT

PS: I can't find the signature feature on MyTestMagic. I know it has to be somewhere in the control panel, but I cannot find it!!!

Overthehill
02-07-2008, 09:17 PM
econphilomath,

I've posted mainly because the OP seems like a nice person planning to run into a brick wall.

However, I think your wrong about compensation. I'm near the end of my career and I've found that as my salary increased so did my perks and my ability to choose interesting work. Essentially, in my case (and the cases of others I've known) the more desirable my job has become, the more I've been paid to do it.

Even though the people in this forum seem very bright, I think a very large percentage of them will not become tenured academic economists. That won't be the end of the world for them. In many cases, it be the better outcome even though it won't seem that way at the time.

asquare
02-07-2008, 09:30 PM
However, I think your wrong about compensation. I'm near the end of my career and I've found that as my salary increased so did my perks and my ability to choose interesting work. Essentially, in my case (and the cases of others I've known) the more desirable my job has become, the more I've been paid to do it.
Ah, but the increasing wage profile is a different issue ;) Broadly, wages go up with tenure for one of two reasons. The first possibility is that people become more productive as they become more experienced, and they are paid their marginal product of labor. The second possibility has to do with general training and imperfect monitoring by employers. Since employers can't or don't choose to monitor each worker all the time, and since employers often invest in the "general" human capital of their employees, employers pay an increasing wage profile as a way of "bonding" the worker to the firm and discouraging shirking by increasing the opportunity cost of quitting. Under this model, you earn more at your current job than you would if you took a new job, so you don't want to quit or get fired from your current job.

econphilomath is right about the general principle of compensating differentials, but I don't agree that that idea explains all of the salary differences between economists and actuaries. Rather, I think that the fact that actuaries have higher marginal products of labor -- they work for firms that earn money, rather than universities ;) -- also contributes to the difference.

econphilomath
02-07-2008, 09:53 PM
econphilomath,

However, I think your wrong about compensation. I'm near the end of my career and I've found that as my salary increased so did my perks and my ability to choose interesting work. Essentially, in my case (and the cases of others I've known) the more desirable my job has become, the more I've been paid to do it.



Just to set the record straight, the economic concept refers to identical workers, which obviously you are not as time goes by since you gain experience, contacts, etc.
So while maybe the desirability of your job goes up with the pay, that in itself is not a counter example.

BTW, I love what I do and I can only wish everyone else could have a chance at working at something in which they would feel the same and at the same time not constrain the options of their family due to low income.

And if we don't make it into a tenure position, I'll just go to my second best option working at IMF, WB, IDB, FED or if none of that works out just go to the worst case scenario which is make a ton of cash consulting in NY.
We have it real bad...:whistle:

econphilomath
02-07-2008, 10:01 PM
Ok since we totally derailed this thread I'll go ahead...


Rather, I think that the fact that actuaries have higher marginal products of labor -- they work for firms that earn money, rather than universities ;) -- also contributes to the difference.

Not saying your wrong but wanted to know your opinion on the following "why"...

Why don't the marginal products equate, i.e. the profitable business hires the DD of everyone and drives down the marginal product...

As I see it the only explanation, absent market failures, discontinuities, etc etc, is people would rather not work there and require a higher compensation.

asquare
02-07-2008, 10:07 PM
econphilomath, that's a good question and I'm hard pressed to find an answer that doesn't come down to "those who stay in academia do so because they care more about non-monetary rewards of the job -- they don't want to be actuaries at any price." And that, of course, would be a form of compensating differential ;) There may be complications related to imperfect competition, but you are absolutely right that it's hard to make the story consistent without some form of compensating differential story!!
(going now to deliver duly earned rep points ;) )