My comment on paying for Grad School

I started reading more and more on personal finance blogs, and found this “Moomin Valley: Personal Finance, Investing and Trading” really interesting. And since I had such a long, bitter experience in graduate school, I can’t help commenting. I got emotional there. But I just can’t help. And I can’t help posting here in my own blog too.


At 6:43 PM, Jacqui said…

My husband and I share similar experience with you, and I agree with you that paying for graduate school is not a very good idea.

As you can see from our blog, we started everything late (including blogging), partially due to the graduate student life. Going for PhD was a bad investment particularly for me, becuase I ended up with 3 masters:(

Even though I got full funding for all my 6 years in graduate school (in fact, I had 50K in saving by living frugally and saving every penny from the stipend and RAship), thinking of the opportunity cost, it is definitely a terrible investment.

I think that the worst thing of being in a PhD program, particularly in top school, is that I was “brain-washed”. I felt that nothing was worthwhile other than writing a paper. I will get an A in financial economics, and put all my money in savings account, because I do not really have time to study the real financial market.

Now I am back to real life, and the things I learned in graduate school are not of much use on the job market. I thought I could look for a job in finance, but found out that I am too old. Those I-bankings or hedge fund would rather have a fresh BA with good math “intuitions” than hire an old “ABD” who can only derive some “trembling hand perfection” equilibrium (what a wired name!)

I hope it will be better for my husband. At least he got his PhD. But he is in a different filed. He has to go through postdoc, which means minimum wage for another year or two 😦

Maybe I should encourage my husband to work in Industry. But then we get our visa problem. It might be easier to get green card if he stays in acadmia. He could have applied long ago, but…… he was brain-washed too…..

Yes, overall, I agree that it is not a good investment to get a PhD, unless you really feel passionate about it, or you feel that you can get Nobel Prize, or it is in Finance, law, medicine….

I do not really regret coming for the PhD program. That was the only way I could get funding. I just regret that I did not realize that I was not the academia type. I regret that I did not wake up early when I was suffering.

I guess that I get a little emotional here. Hopefully time will eat my bitterness away soon.


14 Responses to “My comment on paying for Grad School”

  1. mOOm Says:

    As posted in Moomin Valley – thanks for visiting my blog:

    “I got my PhD in 1994 in geography. I did an undergrad degree in economics and geography and now I am an Associate Prof in Economics in a rather unusual economics department. I find actually that my training is very useful in developing trading models (time series analysis) and thinking about investing and vice versa – especially when I am teaching intro economics and intermediate micro-economics (which we call managerial economics in this program). The main drawback of academia from my perspective is the very small number of jobs in any highly specialized area and the total lack of choice in location. And now after 10-12 years or so post-PhD I’ve got rather bored with the research areas I started off in. TIme for a new career which likely will be as a full time trader and maybe doing some kind of consulting with investment companies or something. We will see. But first I need to get my green card which has been a horribly frustrating process. Of course I could move back to Australia or Europe. But I am so close to getting it and my partner doesn’t want to move now I think (she is from PRC).”

  2. Jacqui Says:

    You are the first commentor to our blog. Thanks a lot!

    Actually, after I first read your blog, I guessed that you got your PhD in statistics. I did not know that geography used lots of time series. I thought it might use some spatial data and models.

    In any case, your career path is incredible to me. I can’t imagine teaching intermediate geography some day, even if I finish my PhD in economics.

    Yes, the lack of choice in location is a big problem in adcademia. The lack of leisure time in the first 6-7 years before getting the tenure is even more scary. I feel lucky that only my husband has to deal with it now:)

    Actually, what amazes my husband and I most is that you can be a professor and a day trader at the same time. We always feel that we do not have enough time to research the market. My husband believe more in fundamentals than in some random walk theory. He has to do a lot of research on the company before he can make a decision on a single stock. So he ended up buying mutual funds, letting others do the research for us.

    I do not have much faith in techinical analysis too. I think that to say that the stock price is following some geometric brownian motion is a “HUGE” assumption. Of course I might be wrong. I do not really know much about the stock market. All I learned is just text-book econometrics. However, some how, I feel that it is those “Market Events” that
    help make money in day trading, and I just do not believe that we can model market events.

    I am really curious about your trading model. I will keep reading your blogger, hopefully, I will regain my faith on econometrics models from your blog 🙂

    Thanks again for being our first commentor!

  3. Thanos Says:


  4. Lartaffenda Says:

    You don’t really need or want that lifestyle, it might hurt y’all slowly more…….Just tell him you
    don’t wanna repeat something your not too proud of z7uas.

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