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It's been a year since I applied to grad school; what now?

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Last year I finished undergrad and got accepted into all the MS programs I applied to (they were all Stats & Biostats programs, if it makes a difference). But I also got a job offer at the same time, and I ultimately decided on taking the job. I was burned out from undergrad, and I wanted to earn some money for financial stability before taking on even more debt.

It's been a year, and I'm thinking of going back and re-applying, but I'm not sure how to do it best. I need a graduate degree in order to get my desired career and move up, but my job isn't at all related to Statistics or Biostatistics. Would I be at a disadvantage for taking a year or two off to work at an unrelated job?

Furthermore, for one of the schools I got into, I knew all the professors and they interviewed me. When I ultimately declined their offer, it was the absolute last day to tell them, and they weren't able to fill my empty spot, so I may have burned a bridge. If I were to reapply to that school, will they hold my past actions against me?

On a different note, I'm also debating about whether I should apply for PhD programs as well. The only problem is I have no formal research experience (it was hard to find Stats/Biostats research for undergrads at my school; they existed primarily for grad students). I have research projects from grad-level classes I took as an undergrad, I've shadowed a Biostatistician, and my professors can speak to my potential to conduct research (since I got into all 6 MS programs last year without formal research experience, I'm assuming my profs wrote strong LORs). But no formal research. Is the PhD route even worth considering at this point? Many stats/biostats programs I've searched include research rotations to help narrow down your focus after your 2nd year. I've been thinking about applying to PhD programs ever since last year, and I've definitely considered the non-academic effects of being a PhD student (living modestly off a stipend and focusing on a single, specific topic for 3 or so years until you defend your dissertation).

Am I okay leaving the money I'm making behind to live as a student again? At this point, I'm saying yes, because I currently feel stuck with no path forward if I don't continue to grad school. It was never a matter of "if" I'm going to grad school; it was a matter of "when."

Edited by Sintarator

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