Author Topic: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?  (Read 7008 times)

nyxst

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Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« on: October 31, 2016, 09:23:13 PM »
I've been going back and forth on this a lot lately. I make ok money now, because I've proven myself and gotten excellent raises, but if something happened to my company, it would be difficult to step into another job with similar pay because I don't have the bachelor's degree I'd need.
 I finished my associates degree about a year and a half ago. I qualified for almost all my classes to be covered with federal grants because my home status.  But from now on I will have to pay for it (or a whole lot more of it at least..), so I have been dragging my feet getting started.
I am 36. Oldest kid is 18 and plans to join the army after highschool, so the $$ I was designating in my budget toward helping her with some college expenses is possibly freed-up.
My next kid won't be headed to college for about 6 years.
I would end up with a BA in business management or accounting, depending on how I proceed. I think the accounting is the better degree so I could get a CPA and have the option of being independent.
I just don't know if it's gonna be worth it.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2016, 09:49:16 PM by nyxst »

Metric Mouse

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2016, 02:06:17 AM »
I've been going back and forth on this a lot lately. I make ok money now, because I've proven myself and gotten excellent raises, but if something happened to my company, it would be difficult to step into another job with similar pay because I don't have the bachelor's degree I'd need.
 I finished my associates degree about a year and a half ago. I qualified for almost all my classes to be covered with federal grants because my home status.  But from now on I will have to pay for it (or a whole lot more of it at least..), so I have been dragging my feet getting started.
I am 36. Oldest kid is 18 and plans to join the army after highschool, so the $$ I was designating in my budget toward helping her with some college expenses is possibly freed-up.
My next kid won't be headed to college for about 6 years.
I would end up with a BA in business management or accounting, depending on how I proceed. I think the accounting is the better degree so I could get a CPA and have the option of being independent.
I just don't know if it's gonna be worth it.

If you're doing it just for the money, and are happy with what you're making now, I wouldn't say it's worth it.

If you feel you'd get experience and enjoyment out of the process, then it could be worth it to allow employment flexibility. But right now there seems to be little reason to put in the effort - invest the money you would spend on a degree, and if in a few years your company suddenly goes belly up, you'll just have more free time to get that degree if it turns out you need it.

mattytee

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2016, 01:55:43 PM »
I went back at 36. Ended up making over twice the salary, unfortunately in a higher COL area. I had three interviews and two offers in April of the year I finished, receiving the degree in May.

I feel so much freer. There are job postings in my city, in my area of study, regularly. I definitely don't worry so much about something happening with the workplace.

It was the huge boost in available funds that got me interested in FIRE. I was able to pay off the (minimal) student loans within just a few years.


formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2016, 02:32:11 PM »
My husband quit work to go back to school full-time at age 37.  He'll get his bachelor's at age 40.  We did a complete financial analysis before he quit work to go back.  He's changing fields, and we estimate that with the salary bump this one will bring, we'll retire 12-18 months earlier.    It's not really a long time, but the new field is less physical, so we hope he'll be healthier in the long-run.

My dad went back to school in his mid 40s.  He never used his degree, but he was proud to have it. 

How long do you plan to continue working?  How stable is your company?  How much do you personally value the degree?

meghan88

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2016, 02:47:16 PM »
I went back at 34.  In my case it was totally worth it, but this was in the 90's in Montreal when tuition only cost about 2500 or so per year, if I recall correctly.  I worked part-time and summers and after four years I burned through about 30K in savings - I could've managed for less, but one summer I worked in Europe (first trip ever!!) so I did a lot of travelling and living in those four months.

Before I went back, people would say to me:  "In four years, you'll be 38 when you graduate!" thinking that would dissuade me.  My reply:  "In four years, I'll be 38 anyway!"

My salary before school as a techie with no credentials:  25K.  My salary upon graduating:  70K.  YMMV.

If the pros outweigh the cons, then do it.

nyxst

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2016, 04:47:55 PM »
Thanks for the feedback! I think I'm going to do it. I am really hoping that it opens some opportunities for me. I like the job I have, but we are mid-acquisition right now, so twice the work with limited staff until the dust settles.... And I don't know if the acquisition was very well thought out...
I don't really know if I will get to FIRE, with my current income, and it would be really nice to improve my situation to make it more likely I'll be able to. I get free health insurance for me and my 3 kids through my work, so I have no intention of leaving for the foreseeable future unless they change our insurance plan or start making us contribute. But if they do change that, it certainly wouldn't be such a sweet deal anymore, and having various options would be nice. Even if I stay here, and if the acquisition is a success, I could shift into the financial controller position if I have the right degree.

nyxst

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2016, 05:42:19 PM »

My dad went back to school in his mid 40s.  He never used his degree, but he was proud to have it. 


I would also be proud to have it. I like learning and taking  classes, and I think my kids learn that education is important by watching me make sacrifices to make time to study.  The only issue I have, really, is that I don't like to use my money for it ...  Deciding if an investment in my education is worth the money.... It's like an expensive hobby sort of if I don't know if I'm going to use it later...

matchewed

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2016, 05:48:24 PM »
In the middle of getting my degree later in life. I'll echo the sentiment that it depends on many factors. Is it worth the $$? This is essentially a math question. How much you will spend taken from your potential earning bump that you've researched. Just do the math and that will answer that portion.

BetsyS

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2016, 05:52:54 PM »
Agree with the considerations others have raised. One more to think about: do your research on the program you think you want to go to. How many of their students graduate? Graduate in 4 years/ the standard time for the degree and pastime/full time status you are thinking of? Are employed within 6 months of graduation? Any decent program should be able to answer these questions for you.

As a general rule of thumb, treat private, for-profit colleges like they have big 'warning' signs in flashing red lights over them. There are some good ones, but some really high profile bad ones too.

All the reasons you site for wanting to get your degree seem like smart ones. So start off right by being an educated consumer about where you go. Good luck!

TaxChick

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2016, 07:22:26 PM »
Keep in mind that if you do want to be a CPA, you have to have 150 credit hours to sit for the exam. They hope that you will have a Master's, but I don't think that is required. The bachelors will definitely open a lot of doors. Does your company reimburse for classes?

Well Respected Man

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2016, 08:03:15 PM »
See if you can get tuition reimbursement from your employer, or find an employer who offers that benefit. I used that benefit to gain the knowledge and skills that I needed to make the jump to a new higher paying job. This was in the early 90's, so prior to the proliferation of online options.

If you can't find tuition reimbursement, you can always try online courses to gain the skills if not the credential.

spicykissa

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2016, 02:38:34 AM »
I went from $18k to $60+k income yearly after getting a second bachelor's degree, but it was in a different field, and I had to borrow (and subsequently pay back) $50k to do it. Also, I'm still (barely) in my twenties, so more time for ROI.

I second looking into any kind of tuition reimbursement from your company, especially with the acquisition (I think larger companies are more likely to do this). Both my spouse's and my company offer it, but the amount they will cover per semester is low, so we are essentially limited to 1 or 2 classes at a time. It would take us 5 years to get master's degrees in our respective fields, but we could do it for free if so inclined! 

LiquidLen

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2016, 07:26:07 AM »
I've been wondering about that too. I don't think I'll have a problem finding a job in my field, and I don't feel like my pay is capped, but I'm honestly interested in the more mathematical/formal/cutting edge research part of my field and was thinking of giving it a go. I decided not to for the time being, but would probably revisit that decision.

If you think your current situation would limit you in case you need to switch jobs you should do it, but check to see if that's really true.

nyxst

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2016, 09:25:49 PM »
I made the decision and I start my first couple of classes in January. After applying the scholarships/aid I qualify for, I'll end up having to take some loans, which will all be susidized and no interest until graduating. I will be able to pay them all off for the most part before I graduate, so I think it will be a win. I will end up in a better position, and only be 30 credits away from qualifying to take my CPA exam.

Metric Mouse

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2016, 07:46:37 AM »
I made the decision and I start my first couple of classes in January. After applying the scholarships/aid I qualify for, I'll end up having to take some loans, which will all be susidized and no interest until graduating. I will be able to pay them all off for the most part before I graduate, so I think it will be a win. I will end up in a better position, and only be 30 credits away from qualifying to take my CPA exam.

Sweet plan! Looks like you've balanced the financial aspects of this decision well - low or no debt v the bigger pay off and added flexibility for the future. Good work, and good luck!

norabird

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2016, 09:30:50 AM »
Congrats to you!


Gimesalot

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2016, 12:37:10 PM »
One thing you can look into is if you can get any credits for the work you already do.  For example, there are many undergraduate research/project classes that offer 1 to 3 credit.  You may be able to find an aspect of your work that qualifies as a "project". 

nyxst

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2016, 07:31:09 PM »
I am looking into see if I can get some "experience" credits, and to see if I can test out of a couple of the classes. I know they charge for that, but it would save a lot of time at least! Great suggestions! Thank you!

nyxst

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2017, 09:51:09 PM »
Just an update... I have 9 classes to go until I have my BS degree in Accounting... Pots of progress! In the end it will cost about $12,000 out of pocket, plus more if I pursue the CPA designation. Feeling pretty good about where I am and how it is all working out!

marty998

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2017, 02:04:48 AM »
Congratulations. Well done on taking the risk and having it pay off :)

Once you get qualified and achieve an appropriate pay bump that $12,000 + change will disappear so quickly you won't even notice it.

Good to hear a nice update!

sokoloff

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2017, 07:00:20 AM »
Just an update... I have 9 classes to go until I have my BS degree in Accounting... Pots of progress! In the end it will cost about $12,000 out of pocket, plus more if I pursue the CPA designation. Feeling pretty good about where I am and how it is all working out!
I love when people come back and give updates on what they did and how things turned out, so thanks for that.

(And congrats on the progress, of course.)

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2017, 08:36:40 AM »
Congratulations!

COEE

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2017, 09:37:14 AM »
Awesome news!  Keep up the good work!

Dr.Jeckyl

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2017, 09:47:28 AM »
Just an update... I have 9 classes to go until I have my BS degree in Accounting... Pots of progress! In the end it will cost about $12,000 out of pocket, plus more if I pursue the CPA designation. Feeling pretty good about where I am and how it is all working out!

Congrats!! I went back to school in my late twenties and earned my bachelor's at 31. I'm where I am now because I did it.

I'm currently debating going back for an MBA. The issue is figuring out my ROI. I can get my current company to pay for a portion of it but I don't need an MBA for my current career path with that company. I'm mostly concerned about making myself more marketable and possibly earning more and hitting FI earlier. I'll most likely hold out a while longer just because I enjoy my family time and between classes and studying I'd be able to spend less time with family activities. Maybe when my 6 year old gets a little older and doesn't want to hang out with us as much :).

Well Respected Man

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2018, 08:36:25 PM »
Just an update... I have 9 classes to go until I have my BS degree in Accounting... Pots of progress! In the end it will cost about $12,000 out of pocket, plus more if I pursue the CPA designation. Feeling pretty good about where I am and how it is all working out!

Ooh, one other thing that I took advantage of was taking tests for college credits. If any of your remaining classes are available to test out via CLEP or other programs, definitely take advantage. The effort is significant, especially in unfamiliar areas, but the cost is quite minimal compared to the equivalent cost per credit. I used the English Literature test to qualify for 8 credits/2 courses to complete my degree.

Tom Bri

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #26 on: March 18, 2018, 07:46:34 PM »
Went back to school at age 50. I had fallen into a rut, and a rather low-paying rut at that, and had to make a change. Changed fields completely and now, 56 years old, have an entirely new career making comparatively decent money, plus I am easily employable anywhere in the country, whereas before I was very limited. Beyond the better money, the opening of opportunity was a huge factor for me.

nyxst

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #27 on: November 08, 2018, 01:03:56 PM »
Another update :) I am officially done this December (enrolled in my last class right now and should be done before Christmas)... It is a very good feeling! Such a long slow process to get to this point, but I am very proud! My kids are also very proud, so I think it was good for them to watch me go through it.  Right now, unless I tank this last class.... I will be graduating with a 3.98 GPA.  Then, I have to decide if I should study for my CPA and take the tests, or continue to get my next 30 credits before I do that... decisions, decisions... I really kind of want to take some time off and relax a bit, but I know that doesn't fit my personality well.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 10:58:34 AM by nyxst »

Beardy

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2018, 12:59:09 PM »
Congratulations!!!

I say take a semester and see how job interviews turn out. Might land A) more pay and B) tuition reimbursement for the CPA. You can always list "Working toward CPA" in Education section of resume too.

I actually just started back at school myself at 30. My BM Classical Music Performance is worth about as much as the abbreviation suggests, so starting at an AS in Software Development. It's amazing how much more interesting classes are now than in HS or my first go at College.

Really encouraging to see you fulfilling your goal!

katsiki

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #29 on: November 09, 2018, 07:38:50 PM »
Congrats, OP!!  Long & slow but hey, only 2 years.  Way to go!!

nyxst

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #30 on: December 11, 2018, 10:12:59 PM »
Congrats, OP!!  Long & slow but hey, only 2 years.  Way to go!!

Yes! Only 2 years.... for this one... but I worked on that associates degree for 4 years! I am ready for a break :) Thinking of all the "free time" I am about to have is wonderful! I wonder how I will spend it... exercising? cleaning my house? binge-watching The Twilight Zone... yeah, probably the last one!  At least in my decompression phase! haha!

Beardy

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Re: Getting a college degree later in life.... Is it worth the $$?
« Reply #31 on: December 13, 2018, 01:03:24 PM »
Congrats, OP!!  Long & slow but hey, only 2 years.  Way to go!!

Yes! Only 2 years.... for this one... but I worked on that associates degree for 4 years! I am ready for a break :) Thinking of all the "free time" I am about to have is wonderful! I wonder how I will spend it... exercising? cleaning my house? binge-watching The Twilight Zone... yeah, probably the last one!  At least in my decompression phase! haha!


'Eye of the Beholder', 'Number 12 Looks Just Like You' and 'He's Alive' are some of my favorites. I miss shows having extreme social commentary like Twilight Zone.

Black Mirror is a fun updated similar show, though skip S1E1 The National Anthem...really not the best episode to start on IMO.

Congrats again on completing the goal!