How to decide what to do after college
May 22, 2012 6:22 PM Subscribe
I will be a senior in college next year. Up until recently, I was absolutely positive I wanted to go to grad school and become an archaeologist. Now, I'm second doubting myself (teal deer information inside)
posted by raeka to education (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Until recently, I was really sure I wanted to get my PhD in archaeology and shoot for a tenure track job. I loved my archaeology classes and went on two short digs that were amazing. I’ve been working in an archaeology lab for two years and loved every minute of it. I got two grants for research projects. I read tons of stuff about the difficulty of grad school and finding tenure track jobs and decided that I still wanted to pursue it. I had discussed the issues about academia with my friends and a professor I worked with.
I spent last semester on an excavation. I really enjoyed it, loved living outside and living minimalistically. But I came back a few weeks ago and I’m suddenly not sure what I want to do anymore.
Part of it was that there was a lot of politics and infighting going on between the people running the camp (an unusual amount, from people from previous years). There wasn’t much of a group feel, which was different from the previous digs I’d been on.
Also, maybe because it was so much longer, it felt like it was so much work for such little results, even though we were digging up some really amazing, important stuff. I really enjoy trying to figure all the architecture out and hypothesizing, but part of me is thinking that we spent months on a tiny fraction of the site and there’s so much stuff we don’t know at all. It also wasn't focused on what I wanted to be my specialty, archaeological science and geoarchaeology. Instead, it was more about iconography which isn't really my thing.
This is kind of the big thing right now. I'm really stressed because the samples I took for a research project this summer won't be able to be shipped back here. It's partly my fault and partly a result of the infighting between the two directors. There are possible alternatives for my project but it's all really up in the air and I am frustrated with myself for not figuring this out ahead of time. I got a grant for it and planned my summer around doing it and I'm freaked out about failing. Part of me thinks that I am just preemptively trying to avoid getting excited about this project and make it feel less important to me by deciding that I don’t want to do archaeology.
For the first time in my life, I feel like my decisions are going to hugely impact the rest of my life. Since I need to start contacting school and professors about getting a PhD by the end of this summer and apply in the fall, I want to be really sure this is what I want to do.
Part of me thinks that it’s just this feeling combined with stress about my project that’s making me think this way to avoid the entire issue.
What I want to do right now is travel and hike and read lots and lots of books. I am considering taking a few years off from school to figure stuff out, everything I read about the economy makes me feel like it’s ridiculously hard to get a job and a degree in archaeology is not exactly useful. Not (at the least) applying for jobs and just ‘finding myself’ isn’t an option. I want a balance between taking advantage of being young with few strings (no mortgage, no spouse, probably no school loans) without being stupid and ending up in my thirties broke and with nothing to show for it.
One thing I’ve been thinking about is either the Peace Corp or teaching English overseas. On one hand, I feel like it’s just finding another way to be irresponsible and putting off being an adult for another year or too and I’m going to end up poor/unemployable in my mid twenties with no real skills if I do it. On the other hand, I would get to travel and live somewhere else and experience something that’s not being a student.
tl;dr Actual questions:
I know that feeling like there’s no other options is a terrible reason to go to grad school. How sure/confident/happy about it should I feel?
What are good overseas English teacher programs? Any examples of personal experiences or blogs about it? Same with the Peace Corp? (I speak enough Spanish to get around and have basic conversations, if that matters. Not fluent, by any means, though)
What are jobs or fields that I could apply in with an archaeology degree?
How much of this is just normal growing up and leaving college stress and melodrama?