What should I do with my life?

The school experience. School related queries, discussions, and stories that aren't specific to a subject.

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nealh
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What should I do with my life?

Postby nealh » Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:04 am UTC

I majored in math and minored in cognitive science at a liberal arts college. I spent a year teaching at a high school, but I'm not that committed to young-uns. Now I've spent a year in the business world as a good little Dilbert, yuck. I didn't go to grad school initially because everyone said it's like undergrad but more stressful and unlike undergrad you should actually know what you want to do before going. Well I fail on the second count and undergrad was hyper-stressful for me, but now I'm reconsidering since everything else pretty much sucks.

So this is me:
-I'm not "good at math". I work my ass off, but I don't "just see the answer". I know some people who do. I am so jealous.
-Lately I've been trying to write a browser based game. Emergence and A-Life are themes.
-Genetic Algorithms are a huge turn-on of mine.
-I also love to write (fiction, non-fiction, whatever). I've even considered creative writing grad school, but I like food and shelter and wonder how I might afford these things.
-I'm not opposed to teaching. Maybe I would like it at the college level. Do professors have any time outside of work? I get the impression they work like dogs. I'm kind of sick of that sort of thing.
-I want to know what happens when the parameters of genetic algorithms or hill climbers or simulated annealing get optimized by other such algorithms. Have people studied that sort of thing?
-I'd like my work to be applicable to something. Yeah that'd be nice too.
-And can I get that all on a silver platter, preferably to go? That'd be great, thanks.

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Pirate.Bondage
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Re: What should I do with my life?

Postby Pirate.Bondage » Wed Nov 19, 2008 2:42 pm UTC

It's hard to say since I don't know you very well....my best advice would be to do what makes you happiest and what you KNOW you're good at.
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Jorpho
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Re: What should I do with my life?

Postby Jorpho » Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:14 am UTC

You should do something that people will be likely to pay you to do.

Or rather, you should do something that you can demonstrably do sufficiently well that you will be able to convince someone else to pay you to do it.

And if you don't really like it, well, you won't be working all day, and then you can spend your spare time writing your browser-based game.

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PhatPhungus
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Re: What should I do with my life?

Postby PhatPhungus » Mon Nov 24, 2008 6:36 am UTC

My dad is a math professor at SDSU, so I know a little about what it's like to be a college professor. He has a fair amount of time off, he teaches 2 to 3 classes a semester and does research, goes to work around 8 or 9 and gets home at 5. He occasionally works on weekends. I suppose that is kind of a lot of work, now that I think about it, but I think it really depends on where you teach. If you teach at a private college, you're probably going to be doing just teaching and not a lot of research, and depending on where you are, that could mean that you're being treated very well. Other colleges are a lot more research focused, so you kind of have to make a choice of how much teaching and how much research you'd like to do. I know the California State University system (not UC) is designed to be mostly teaching, but many try to do a bunch of research which ends up not being a very good system because teaching suffers for the sake of research, and people end up doing a ton of work.

So I guess my point is, if you want to be a college professor, you need to decide what ratio of teaching to research you want, and if you're lucky or exceptionally good, you could end up in a really really nice situation, and if you're unlucky, you could end up really overworked. As far as money goes, I think it's generally decent, and if you're in it for long enough you can get yourself two pensions (by working at different colleges for long enough).

This is based off of what I've heard from my dad and other college teachers that he knows, not personal experience.
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GBog
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Re: What should I do with my life?

Postby GBog » Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:45 pm UTC

You say you like genetic algorithms and writing in-browser games. How do you feel about programming in general? One possibility is going to a CS grad school. With some luck, you'll be able to do some research on genetic algorithms, and maybe work on more advanced games than in-browser. If you get into the gaming industry, you might also be able to do some fiction writing. (Some games are just telling a story in an interactive way.) You'll surely be able to use your math knowledge as well. And, if you don't feel like writing computer games all life, you can aim for a teacher job within computer science. Or something like that.

*Disclaimer*
The above is merely a suggestion or idea for consideration. The poster is not a certified advice giver, and is not responsible for any depression or other unfortunate events resulting from taking the above as advice. The poster's knowledge of being a CS grad student is like is not based on personal experiences.

nealh
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Re: What should I do with my life?

Postby nealh » Tue Dec 02, 2008 7:21 pm UTC

Thanks for all the input. I'm glad to hear that not all college profs aren't working their asses off. 8-5 doesn't sound bad. That's what I do now. It wouldn't be bad if I liked what I was doing. It's the 8-7 hours plus some weekends that made me nervous.

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PhatPhungus
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Re: What should I do with my life?

Postby PhatPhungus » Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:27 am UTC

Glad (and somewhat surprised) I could be of some help. Also, you might want to check my information with other sources-
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ecshafer
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Re: What should I do with my life?

Postby ecshafer » Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:47 pm UTC

Computational cognitive science? or bio if thats where your getting the genetic algorithms from. Go to grad school for genetic algorithms. And since you like coding from what I gather, go and do computational genetic algorithms. multiple things you like in one.


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