Career Break Collapse

posted
19-Mar-18, 17:37
Avatar for MattG242
posted about 2 years ago
So...I took a wild, mid-life career break to pursue what I thought would might a life-changing switch to pure maths. Finished an OU degree, got myself on a Masters and now...I'm falling over. Can't get my head round stuff, spending hours on the simplest problems, suffering from a constant sense of panic and fear. It's to a certain extent my own fault - I went in gung ho on a difficult topic and got stubborn with it, and I don't think I've approached it in the most effective way, but here we are.

I'm trying to figure out whether I struggle through, and potentially fail (this is a real option - everyone's saying 'stick with it' but I'm honestly nowhere and about 80% sure it's going to be a disaster), or gently back down and return to 'real life'. I've a decent CV in my original career and even a bit of freelance experience, it's not like I'm doomed I think. Just wondering what's going to look worse, ultimately...
posted
20-Mar-18, 11:19
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 years ago
Hey MattG242

There is no shame in stopping now if you really think that there is a big chance that you are going to fail and would rather not go through with it (or for ANY reason - there is no shame in changing your mind about doing something). I'm sure you already know this, but just to say it anyway. Try not to care about what others think. People will always find something to criticise! And it's not like you even need to tell people the reason behind your decision. It's your life.

Re the course itself. Have you just started it? Do you think it is perhaps just a massive learning curve, or that it is a particular module that is particularly challenging but you might get on better on others? If you know that it is none of those things but genuinely the wrong course for you then perhaps quitting now will save you time and money.

Best
Tudor
posted
20-Mar-18, 11:48
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for MattG242
posted about 2 years ago
It is a massive learning curve, I've got a rather severe supervisor and I haven't really been able to get to grips with the material - or, wierdly, convince him that I'm not getting to grips with the material.

I'm about half way in, six weeks from submitting an interim dissertation, four weeks from a presentation and even as I post I'm sitting in front of a blank document and a bunch of papers, notes and textbooks with the honest sense that despite putting in what seems like hours and hours of reading, approaching problems etc., I know no more about it than when I started. If you put me in front of a blackboard right now I'd just clam up and, quite possibly, start crying.
posted
20-Mar-18, 12:59
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From MattG242:

I'm about half way in, six weeks from submitting an interim dissertation, four weeks from a presentation and even as I post I'm sitting in front of a blank document and a bunch of papers, notes and textbooks with the honest sense that despite putting in what seems like hours and hours of reading, approaching problems etc., I know no more about it than when I started. If you put me in front of a blackboard right now I'd just clam up and, quite possibly, start crying.


Maybe just see how it goes. Say to yourself - right, I'll prepare the best I can for this presentation and do what I can for the interim dissertation. If I am not able to give the talk as I really feel I can't by X date (e.g., the day before) and / or if I do not pass the interim dissertation, then I will call it quits?
posted
20-Mar-18, 13:10
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 2 years ago
Hey MattG242,

Do you think that giving yourself a bit more time will help you? Perhaps you just need a bit more time to understand the topic better?

Another thing is, could it be an issue of incompatibility with topic/supervisor? Have you perhaps considered changing to a different topic or supervisor instead of quiting?

The last possibility is that if you feel really bad and hate doing this degree, maybe it just isn't for you? Perhaps deep down inside you know that you prefer working than further studying... I do agree with Tudor-Queen that you could choose to stop if you feel that is for the best. Ignore other people's comments. It's your life, so your decision.

Have a bit of time to think some more before deciding what is best for you. Good luck.
posted
23-Mar-18, 14:40
edited about 12 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From MattG242:
So...I took a wild, mid-life career break to pursue what I thought would might a life-changing switch to pure maths. Finished an OU degree, got myself on a Masters and now...I'm falling over. Can't get my head round stuff, spending hours on the simplest problems, suffering from a constant sense of panic and fear. It's to a certain extent my own fault - I went in gung ho on a difficult topic and got stubborn with it, and I don't think I've approached it in the most effective way, but here we are.

I'm trying to figure out whether I struggle through, and potentially fail (this is a real option - everyone's saying 'stick with it' but I'm honestly nowhere and about 80% sure it's going to be a disaster), or gently back down and return to 'real life'. I've a decent CV in my original career and even a bit of freelance experience, it's not like I'm doomed I think. Just wondering what's going to look worse, ultimately...


I took a similar path as well, selling my business and taking a year off to just read technical books. I then went back to uni at 39 for a full masters degree followed by a PhD. In my case, I wanted to figure out what my capability was. I didnt break until the end of my Phd but the story is the same. Maybe you are now seeing where the end of your potential is with regards to pure maths. You can be disappointed obviously but you will also be able to say you found out where your limit was. Most people are too scared to even try finding out. In my case it was the pressure of being in an environment of having to report my progress to someone which broke me. Using that knowledge I now run my own business and I am much happier. Maybe there is value in you taking a step back and thinking about whether your problem is similar.

Postgraduate
Forum

Copyright ©2018
All rights reserved

Postgraduate Forum

Masters Degrees

PhD Opportunities

PostgraduateForum is a trading name of FindAUniversity Ltd
FindAUniversity Ltd, 77 Sidney St, Sheffield, S1 4RG, UK. Tel +44 (0) 114 268 4940 Fax: +44 (0) 114 268 5766