I am debating returning to school.
I have a job, and I hate it. I never wanted to work where I do, but I also never knew precisely what I wanted to do with my life. I knew this wasn't it, but I had student loans to pay, and this is what was available.
Now that I've worked nearly a decade and gotten my student loans down to manageable levels (my family kind of screwed me with them, I had to pay for college myself despite my parents having money to spend on themselves), I feel more ready to pursue my dreams. Which of course means defining them more precisely...
I think I know more or less what I want to study. I am quite fascinated by the concept of swarm intelligence, particularly as it applies to such things as the human immune system.
I would have gone on to graduate school sooner, if I could have afforded to. At this point, it would in many ways need to be considered a "career change" even though I have never regarded my current job as part of my career -- it only pays the bills. But leaving it means starting over, and even if I land a fellowship somewhere, that could be expensive. And I don't really have any money saved up -- what extra I've made I threw at my loans.
And at this stage of my life I am far less tolerant to BS than I used to be. For example, I did earn a Master's degree, in Mathematics, and it involved an oral exam. One of the three professors conducting the exam spent a good portion of it harassing me about my penmanship (e.g., "That is not how you write the letter U! The letter U has a tail on it! Write it again!"). I would not have the patience to deal with similar antics gracefully anymore, but I am gathering that they are about par for the course. Earning advanced degrees seems to require a thick skin. There's some hazing involved before you can join the club. I'm not sure I still have the patience to endure it, yet on the other hand, it seems to be a prerequisite for a more meaningful career.
I apologize for the somewhat disjointed post -- I just needed to bounce my thoughts off someone.