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LittleShakespeare90

Wanting to go back to school, but unsure of what career path to take.

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Greetings, all. 

I've been doing some career and soul searching for the past few months, and I think I wanted to discuss my prospects with fellow graduate students. I'd appreciate any feedback. 

I was a high school English teacher for a number of years, but I despised the job. I did recently work for a bad district, but even when I worked at a top-notch district, I was still unhappy. I'm normally an introvert, so being around students all day and needing to be "on" all the time was very exhausting. I had frequent panic attacks, and my school days were spent waiting for summer. In turn, my summer vacations were agonized by the mere thought of going back to school. 

I do have an MA in English, and for a long time, I was thinking of going back to school for a PhD. It was always my dream to become a professor, but after teaching high school and hating it, I'm not sure if teaching college students would be any different. Is there anything else I can do with a PhD in English, or is it geared more towards pedagogy? I know this sounds ignorant, but I'm genuinely curious.

As for other career prospects, I've thought about library science, but there's such a stigma around it. My career center mentioned that library science is a dying industry. At the same time, I'm not sure if I want to be a librarian. What are the pros and cons of the profession? 

Lastly, I have this strong inclination to go towards publishing. The idea of sitting in a quiet office, revising books, marketing books, and just indulging in my love for the written word, sounds like the perfect job for me. I did find a wonderful program at Pace University in New York that offers an MS in Publishing. NYU also has another one. I just feel bad about getting a second master's, only because that would mean sacrificing the PhD. 

Forgive me, I know I'm a bit all over the place, but I would really love some feedback about new avenues. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance! 

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There’s a debate going on about whether a PhD in English will prepare you for anything in particular. I guess the question for you is what you want to spend your life doing, and if teaching at university (assuming you manage to, it’s a tough profession to get into) and doing research don’t appeal to you, maybe a PhD isn’t the best way to spend your time. As for publishing, I dunno enough about the field so i dunno if an MS will help you beyond what your MA will.

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44 minutes ago, WildeThing said:

There’s a debate going on about whether a PhD in English will prepare you for anything in particular. I guess the question for you is what you want to spend your life doing, and if teaching at university (assuming you manage to, it’s a tough profession to get into) and doing research don’t appeal to you, maybe a PhD isn’t the best way to spend your time. As for publishing, I dunno enough about the field so i dunno if an MS will help you beyond what your MA will.

Thank you so much for your reply. I'm a bit nervous about teaching college. I had such a miserable time teaching high school, so I wonder if this will be similar. I would absolutely and wholeheartedly love to do research though. I'm curious about literature, and I want to spend the rest of my life just immersing myself in books. 

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18 hours ago, LittleShakespeare90 said:

Thank you so much for your reply. I'm a bit nervous about teaching college. I had such a miserable time teaching high school, so I wonder if this will be similar. I would absolutely and wholeheartedly love to do research though. I'm curious about literature, and I want to spend the rest of my life just immersing myself in books. 

I’ve done L2 teaching at the university, high school and after school levels and I found that the degree to which they’re different or the same depends on your teaching style. It’s all quite relative but generally I’d say that adults require a different approach than teens, though I dunno what exactly made you miserable so it’s hard to gauge. 

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7 hours ago, WildeThing said:

I’ve done L2 teaching at the university, high school and after school levels and I found that the degree to which they’re different or the same depends on your teaching style. It’s all quite relative but generally I’d say that adults require a different approach than teens, though I dunno what exactly made you miserable so it’s hard to gauge. 

I guess with teaching high school, it’s more exhausting. I taught in the inner city, which kind of drained my spirit. Physical and emotional abuse at every turn, and not a very supportive admin. :( But even at my good school, I was unhappy. I’m not sure, but I know that I don’t want to teach. I’d love to research, but not so much teach. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/29/2019 at 7:12 PM, LittleShakespeare90 said:

Lastly, I have this strong inclination to go towards publishing. The idea of sitting in a quiet office, revising books, marketing books, and just indulging in my love for the written word, sounds like the perfect job for me. I did find a wonderful program at Pace University in New York that offers an MS in Publishing. NYU also has another one. I just feel bad about getting a second master's, only because that would mean sacrificing the PhD. 

Just a bit of background since I'm coming at this from a few different angles: I am returning for a PhD in the Fall after taking time off to work in college administration and teach part-time after my MA. I finished all but student teaching of a k-12 program and now advise people coming to my university for a second bachelor's degree or for graduate school. Many, many of these people are coming for education degrees or for degrees at the same level of a degree they already have. In fact, my current job is basically to help answer questions like yours, so I hope this is helpful.

I will say that I personally enjoy post-secondary teaching much more than k-12, though teaching as a contingent while working full-time isn't working for me. That's why I'm getting my PhD. A PhD could also land you in academic administration, though the hiring process and experience for these kinds of position varies by institution. 

It sounds to me like you're drawn to pursue something you're passionate about in publishing (edited typo), concerned about employable credentials, but also worried about "wasting time" or "going backwards," as may people I work with will say. There are careers in publishing for people with the experience, so that takes care of that. And clearly you're passionate about it. I would discourage you from perceiving this as a lateral move, as if it is going to make you more employable and offer you more skills I don't think it matters that you already have a degree at this level. I have seen many students do a career change or shift, or simply just add credentials, by pursuing another path at a degree level they've already obtained.

You might look for PhD programs in publishing or technical writing, or graduate-level certificate programs to bolster the MA you already have! You could explore grant writing and other related careers. Not to mention, your education experience makes you pretty employable, too.

Edited by Maylee

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