change of plans

Feb 25, 2022

In previous posts, I have focussed on writing about my experience thinking about working in finance versus getting a Ph.D. in math. As of today, it seems like the math Ph.D. door is not yet ready to open.

Was I just unlucky? After all, I only applied to 8 schools. My mentors told me I had a very strong application too - I don’t think I was naive to trust them. I mean, I’m pretty confident that my application is actually quite good. Why didn’t I get in anywhere though? I informed my mentors and friends about these results, and so far every response has been genuine surprise - now, I’m not the best at reading emotions, but I think surprise is quite obvious when it’s real.

Anyway, I was planning on working for a year or two first with an admissions deferral, so it’s not terrible, but I really am struggling to shake the negative feelings that come with rejection. I’ve received a lot of rejections before, but this set feels much worse. Mathematics and research, I think, has been my priority for the past 3.5 years. I don’t think I have put more effort into anything else. I wonder, did I choose to learn all of this math because I wanted to get into Ph.D. programs, or because I wanted to learn math? Would I feel like I wasted my time if I never end up using these mathematical tools again? It’s quite scary for me, not being able to answer these questions. No big deal, though. The fact that I am thinking about this reassures me.

9 weeks ago, one of my good friends asked me what I was excited about, and I couldn’t provide an adequate answer. I’ve been thinking about it daily since then.