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I dont know what to do with my life.

TheGreenSteamTheGreenSteam Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
edited September 20 in Graduate School
I graduated with a BS in Biology from Johns Hopkins in 2014, and I'm currently getting a second bachelors in Anthropology at another institution. I did very good in undergrad at JHU, but I didn't realize that med school wasnt for me until near graduation. I then found interest in Biological Anthropology and cultural ethnography, and thought I wanted to eventually go to graduate school at the University of Chicago to do Population Genomics. My parents keep telling me I won't make money doing that, and a lot of people are discouraging me from it. They want me to go to medical school instead. I dont know which path to choose anymore. Apparently medical school will be financially better and more respectable, but I want to research human population genetics. Is Medical school worth it, or is making less money and in a job I would like better more worth it in the long run?
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Replies to: I dont know what to do with my life.

  • TheGreenSteamTheGreenSteam Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    Also I feel like a failure because I'm 26 and everyone else my age has their crap together, but I still can't even decide what I want to do.
  • chestie69chestie69 Registered User Posts: 29 Junior Member
    For what it’s worth, I do believe enjoying your job is important. I quit my decently paying job to go back to school for veterinary medicine. While my job paid the bills, it was just that — a job. I always have wanted to be a veterinarian and knew that’s what I should pursue. My dad thought I was nuts to give up a job that paid well and had benefits and for some aspects he was probably right. (Not only did I give up the job but vet school is crazy expensive) However, he has spent the last 35 years at a job he hates. I don’t want to be him.

    I don’t know anything about your field but why not try. The worst thing that can happen is you can pursue something else at a latter date.
  • yucca10yucca10 Registered User Posts: 731 Member
    I don't know why medical school would be more respectable than a PhD, and academia pays not as well as medical profession, but reasonably well, although positions may be hard to find. However, with genetics a hot topics right now, you may even end up in some hot startup. It's time for you to decide for yourself. Tell "a lot of people" that it's not like you're deciding between medical school and flipping burgers.
  • chercheurchercheur Registered User Posts: 1,141 Senior Member
    @TheGreenSteam

    I took a Biological Anthropology class in college and absolutely loved it!

    You are still young, and while it may seem like everyone else has things figured out, believe me when I say there are plenty of folks still searching. Your parents know you can make money as a doctor, but they really don't know anything about the field you're interested in. Maybe you need to educate them on what you'd be doing.

    You need to chose your own path; folks who don't often end up changing careers in their 30s and 40s. It seems to me you have already made your decision but are getting resistance from your family. You will have to be firm in your resolve and not let anyone else tell you what's best for your career. Good luck!
  • hgrad2010hgrad2010 Registered User Posts: 121 Junior Member
    I think it would be an abject mistake to try to pursue a medical degree if you're not all that interested. It takes extreme dedication to succeed.

    If you're not sure academia is for you, I would encourage you to explore adjacent fields in the private sector to see if there's a possible fit. 23andMe comes to mind, naively, just based on your mentioning of your interest in genomics, but that's just an example to get you thinking.
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 4,558 Senior Member
    edited September 20
    Medical school is a tough path to take. I don't think that anyone should strive for medical school unless they are sure that they want to do it.

    A lot of very successful people didn't find their path right away. It often takes a bit of trying one thing and then another.
  • CALSmomCALSmom Registered User Posts: 729 Member
    edited September 21
    I think that's great you found an area of study you're passionate about. Population genomics is a respectable field and you'll find very intelligent people in this field who are passionate about using this science to impact society. You mentioned you're interested in going to grad school at U Chicago. Have you looked into Cornell for grad school? The school has a Center for Comparative and Population Genomics and some of their grad and post doc students have gone on to do interesting research
    http://3cpg.cornell.edu/index.cfm/page/ProfilesGradPdoc.htm

    Anyway, going to med school and becoming a doctor isn't what it's all cracked up to be. You really have to have a calling to do it because medicine in this day and age isn't easy even for the physician that isn't a hospitalist. There is so much pressure to have the productivity numbers, finish your charts and have the correct diagnosis codes within a short timeframe plus provide the level of care within a 15 or 30 minute visit. Sometimes doing meaningful research that can have life altering results is just as important as a physician's role in society. I say go with your heart and do what you're passionate about and what you'll enjoy on a day to day basis.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,550 Super Moderator
    Your friends do not all have it all together. It might look like that from the outside, on social media or wherever. But they don't. There may be some that are more settled than others, or who have finished graduate programs and are making money and stuff, but in their mid-20s pretty much everyone is still figuring it out.

    Your parents love you and want you to be stable and successful, but one thing I've noticed is that parents often focus overly much on money as a metric of success and stability - possibly because they realize how unhappy and shaky life can feel when you don't have enough, or because they are blessed to have a lot and want their kids to live to the same standard. Also, parents (much like pretty much everyone else) are only familiar with a pretty narrow range of careers. Medical school -> doctor seems like the ultimate "safe" career for lots of parents: you get paid a lot, are well-respected, and get to "help" people (whatever that means).

    Many parents haven't been keeping up with a lot of the reports that physicians are unhappier than they've ever been; or don't realize that significant portions of their income are eaten up by exorbitant student loans; or that doctors are spending less time caring for patients and more time wrangling with insurance companies and hospitals. Not that people who are really passionate about medicine shouldn't go to med school! But if you are not passionate, that is a whole lot of expense and time to do something you don't really want to do. (Imagine how financially unstable it'd be if you left med school halfway through, or finished and decided not to become a doctor!)

    On the other hand, most parents don't understand research careers and social sciences, so many are pretty skeptical. Your parents are simply wrong about you not making money doing research in biological anthropology. You won't make as much money as a doctor would, but that's not something that everyone values (few people make as much as doctors; however, somehow we all manage to get on with life). Getting an academic research position in anthro is difficult, but if you are very passionate about it it may be worth a shot for you. And you sound like you are quite interested - you went back to earn a second bachelor's and you're turning away from the 'lure' of lots of money to do what you want.

    My parents had similar reservations. I majored in psychology and got a PhD in it. My dad wanted me to be an engineer, and he kept trying to get me to quit my PhD program. I ended up doing research for a technology company, and I make an excellent salary and have a great standard of living.

    I think doing what you want is more worth it.
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 4,543 Senior Member
    edited September 26
    I know two anthropology majors. One was a very angry barber with a masters degree in anthropology, and the other made my coffee at Starbucks.

    P.S. I think that you need to learn to evaluate the difference between an interest as a hobby & as a career.
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 36,581 Super Moderator
    You're not old. My husband dropped out of college as a senior and wandered around the country for several years. He went back to school at the age of 28 and pretty much started over since he switched to engineering. He went on to get a master's degree (that's where we met, grad school). If he had stayed in teaching, he would have been miserable, so I'm glad he didn't bow to his parents' pressure to finish in education the first time around.
  • rickle1rickle1 Registered User Posts: 1,269 Senior Member
    Re lucrative jobs - getting your PhD, doing research, maybe teaching at university, and consulting as a industry leader would be very lucrative (once you add the consulting piece). If you love it, you'll do well at it. With experience you can be a thought leader. I would pursue that. You can probably get well down the road prior to when you would have finished your MD residency.
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 4,543 Senior Member
    OP: I reread your original post in this thread. My impression is that you want to be a professional student as you are now getting a second bachelor's degree, planning on graduate school & want to do research in an area with almost no job prospects.

    Maybe it would help to speak with your anthropology instructors/professors about the reality of employment in this field.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,550 Super Moderator
    The old canard that social sciences majors end up making coffee at Starbucks or working retail is just that...an old canard. A recent study of unemployment across a variety of majors found that anthropology majors have about a 16% chance of working in a low-skilled service or retail job. Sure, that's higher than engineering or business, but it's not so high as to believe that a person with a BA in anthropology will have "almost no job prospects."

    The truth is there are lots of jobs out there that actually don't care about your major very much and where your understanding of human culture and social behavior will actually benefit your work (like marketing, management, nonprofit or NGO work, social or human services, hospitality, etc.) There are also careers that may actually prefer an anthropology major or someone with a social sciences background (like HR, organizational development/behavior, user experience research, political campaigns or polling, etc.)

    Source: https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/staff_reports/sr749.pdf?la=en
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 4,543 Senior Member
    edited October 1
    Nevertheless. my angry barber had a masters in anthropology (he was fired after complaining that he had to cut hair because he couldn't find another job & he had a masters in anthropology) & my coffee at Starbucks was handed to me by one with a bachelors in anthropology. (Maybe both were doing field studies ?)
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,550 Super Moderator
    Sure, there are some people with degrees in anthropology and the social sciences who work in low-income retail or services jobs. There are some people with all majors who do that - sometimes short term while they figure things out and sometimes longer-term because of other reasons. My question is - what is your point in mentioning it? Are you trying to use them to illustrate some higher "truth" about major in anthropology?
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