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ex-academic, going back to MA in new subject - mad?

(8 Posts)
Doraemon Thu 11-Feb-16 19:46:28

I don't want to out myself so this may be a little sketchy..... I have a PhD and pre-children lectured at a fairly prestigious college. After children for various personal reasons I resigned and we moved to the other end of the country. I was a SAHM for quite a while, then have worked in various roles related to parenting/early years/education and taken an undergrad foundation degree. I am now in a school based role which I enjoy but with limited opportunity to progress. I miss using my brain in an academic way. As a family I don't think we could cope with me as a full time school teacher. DC are 10, 8, 3 and eldest has ASD, DH works long hours and has to travel.
I keep looking at a part-time taught MA course, related to my current work but only tangentially to my previous academic discipline (which I would never get back into, student numbers are in decline, jobs like hen's teeth and my publications record has a decade long gap). Would I be crazy to go back to study and try this MA with a view to eventually moving on to (another) PhD and possibly lecturing again? I am 40 - I don't want to be just doing what I'm doing now for another twenty years, whereas I think I could quite happily do it alongside academic research/teaching. Money is not a huge issue as although I am currently earning a pittance the mortgage is nearly paid off, and we could afford the part-time MA fees.
Any thoughts please?

googlepoodle Fri 12-Feb-16 06:54:54

I wouldn't. Academia is not family friendly at all and while you might be ok with a part time degree, there is then a big difference when you move to employment. You will need to work way more than your contracted hours and this looks like it would be difficult in your situation.

ScottishProf Fri 12-Feb-16 07:06:26

Unless you have reason to believe you'd immediately be a world class research superstar (in which case I wonder if your original field is really closed) or you really don't care if you ever earn money doing this, or the totality of your work so far is hugely advantageous for the new field... I would think it'd be a miracle if you ever got a standard academic position in the new field, I'm afraid. Presumably you'd be limited to a particular geographic area, on top of the other disadvantages you'd have. Funding for a PhD, even, might be difficult.

If money is fairly easy, which seems likely if you can even think this far out, can you think about part-time work that would satisfy you, maybe scratching the research itch in your own time? Maybe see if the OU needs people in your area for example?

SomeonesRealName Fri 12-Feb-16 07:12:58

If money isn't really an issue could you just do the MA anyway regardless of where it might lead, just to give you some fulfilment? It sounds like you've made a lot of sacrifices and this could be something for you, to reclaim your identity a bit?
You say it's related to your current work - might it give you the edge in progression as a bonus if you needed to justify it to yourself?

Doraemon Fri 12-Feb-16 19:08:30

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.
Googlepoodle I'm not really looking for family friendly at the end of the process - if I could hack through a 3 year part-time MA then a part-time PhD DS1 would have (hopefully....) left home by the time I finished, Ds2 would be doing his A levels and DD would be well into secondary school (and DH might have finally got hacked off with his job and reduced his hours.....). The hours (and a ridiculous commute) were one of the reasons I quit when DS1 was small, although having said that it was a lot more flexible and family friendly in some ways than DH's corporate job.

ScottishProf I was not, and very much doubt I ever would be, a world class research superstar, although I was good at my job. You're probably right though about jobs - a bit of hourly paid lecturing might be more realistic perhaps? My subject knowledge in my previous discipline is pretty rusty and out of date right now and departments are closing or merging everywhere so I would at least need a bit of a sideways move into a related discipline, and to be honest I don't think I would have the confidence to go straight back in - which is partly why the Masters appeals as a way of getting my brain back up to speed.

Someones - part of me is very very tempted to just say 'sod it, I want to do this MA just because I want to'. It's justifying the impact on everyone else that I feel uncomfortable about if it's not going to go anywhere. It's hard to gauge just how much time it would take up, even spread over three years.

Parietal Wed 17-Feb-16 21:14:29

30 something years ago, my uncle got a PhD in physics and worked in industry for 25 years. but he got bored and took early retirement to do an MA in History and then write books, which he really enjoyed. He probably could have done part-time lecturing too if he wanted.

So I think, if money is not a major issue and you want to, then do just do it and see where it will lead. you don't need to be a superstar to enjoy being in an academic environment.

If you are in science, you could also look at Daphne Jackson fellowships which are precisely designed for re-entering a science career after a break.

kalidasa Fri 19-Feb-16 22:01:45

If you can afford it why not? In my experience mature MA students are often very good, and you have an academic background which will also help. I have an excellent PhD student at the moment in her 40s. I don't think you'll find the MA work itself too demanding, unless there's a big shift in core skills (e.g. a lot of stats or programming or something like that when you were originally in the humanities). Could you still work a bit as well or would the MA completely replace paid work? And as others have said even if you don't end up in academia it sounds as if this might eventually open other sorts of doors related to your current school role (or at least in that world).

JennyJuno Wed 24-Feb-16 13:06:15

I got my MA at the age of 49, holding down a full-time job, 100 km commute, mother of a preteen and, honestly, it kept me sane.

I'm now, at the age of 53, embarking on an MRes/PhD programme and I honestly think that it is going to throw open the doors of life for me. Maybe not financially, but certainly in terms of fulfillment.

I don't know how my experience can be extrapolated to your own, but know that you are not the only one smile

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