18 September 2006

If anyone is an authority on the advantages and disadvantages of putting your early academic life on pause, then that person is me. I did it at the beginning and end of my undergraduate education. Look at me: I turned out fine.

Taking time off school is an excellent litmus test to see whether it is worth continuing on in the academic world. If the blue litmus paper turns red after one year, then you really ought to be looking elsewhere. If that test finds you perfectly happy tending a coffee shop in Belize, then stay. You will not be unhappy. But if that litmus paper stays blue, then you really know where you should be. You should be doing what you were doing before. You should be studying philosophy.

When you stay in the academic world, this test does not get administered. Yes, you might come to realise that you dislike philosophy, and be prompted to leave. But you will never get positive confirmation that you should stay in your department over all other places. This is the confirmation you want. It is the confirmation you need. And if you never get it, you will never know how happy you might have been in Belmopan.

No option is bad, but one gets you a certainty that the other cannot.

No one is pushing you pursue an MA in mathematics. But nor does anyone doubt that you would be a success. The choice, then, is truly up to you. I hope you can make it with these thoughts in mind.