Some Last Thoughts on Leaving Grad School

So, a few weeks ago, I posted about why I’m leaving grad school.  Since then, I’ve just been waiting for the semester to end, and now we’re there.  I had a few more thoughts about leaving grad school, and I thought I’d share them here.

Things I Will Miss:

  1. The flexible schedule.  It’s been nice to be able to run errands in the middle of the week, when everybody else is at work.  You get things done faster and with less stress.  But, soon, I’ll be working on the same schedule as everybody else.  I’ve also been able to sleep in several mornings a week.  Not looking forward to waking up at 5:30am.
  2. My own office.  I doubt I’ll get my own office at my new job; I’m starting near the bottom of the corporate ladder.  Never worked in a cubicle before, but it’s been nice to be able to shut the door and have a bit of a barrier between me and the rest of the building.
  3. Easy wardrobe.  I’m going to have to dress professionally, and as I’ve tried to explore my own style in regards to that, a lot of questions have come up.  Can I wear my ear cuff?  How open-toed is too open-toed for shoes?  Do I really need to wear pantyhose?  How do you define a “chunky” heel?  These are all things that are a non-issue in academia, as I could previously wear most things as long as they weren’t exposing too much.  Heck, I’m giving a final today, and I’m dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.
  4. My friends.  My department was actually quite social, and I actively participated in several of the events.  At the last department tea of the semester, I actually got a bit sad that I was going.  I like the people here.  I like the atmosphere.  I’m scared to meet new people, and I’m scared that the environment won’t be as fun.  I’m going to try to keep in touch with my closest friends, but it won’t be quite the same as all the casual encounters you would get just walking down the hall.
Things I won’t be missing:
  1. Grading.  Grading is the bane of my academic existence.  This is probably because I’m too nice.  I spend a lot of time musing over how much each mistake is worth and writing comments.  I make sure that the work supports the answer.  This is more time-consuming than writing lesson plans, or answering questions in office hours. 
  2. The students.  This semester I got lucky and got assigned to a nice class full of bright students that wasn’t too big.  That’s a rarity around here.  I believe that most people can learn mathematics, they just need it explained in a way that makes sense.  But they also have to apply themselves, and the past couple semesters, I haven’t been seeing that from most students.  I love teaching, but it’s very frustrating when a student gives me a bad evaluation as a teacher when they are the ones that haven’t been doing the homework or reading my comments (see above grading).  
  3. Research.  I’ve said before that research isn’t for me.  The uncertainty of trying to do something that hasn’t ever been done is frightening.  I like knowing that the question has an answer somewhere, but that’s the whole point of math research.  I’m glad I know enough now to read other people’s research and be impressed, but the stress of the research process is something that I’m glad I won’t do again.
Overall, I still think that leaving grad school is the right choice for me, and I don’t regret it one bit.  It’s time for me to move on to whatever the next big thing for me is.