Author Topic: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision  (Read 824 times)

Toughmat

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MMM,

My financial situation is not great and I owe student loan of $17k with $6000 to my name. No other debts and own my piece of shit car. I'm 35 single. And straight.

 I have the chance to go to New Zealand and do a phd on youth athlete development at AUT which has a great sports science center. I love reading the research but not sure about spending 3 years on one study myself while I pay the school another $5k a year with low potential of earning on the side.  I was wondering your thoughts on the value of a PhD and what you think of this. An important thing to consider is that for years I have had a voice in my head telling me I have to live outside of Los Angeles. Perhaps this is my chance for an adventure and investment in my future but I cannot determine the total life cost of not earning those years and if it is worth it. What would MMM do!  Any opinions on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers

Toughmat


gooki

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2017, 02:09:46 AM »
Get a scholarship, or talk to AUT about how you can work for them to fund your tuition.
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MayDay

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2017, 04:56:38 AM »
No.

You get a PhD if either :

1. If the school pays you to get it (typical stipend is 20-30k a year plus tuition)

Or

2. You are independently wealthy and can fund 5 years of studying poetry with a 0.05% chance at a job in the end, for your own academic fulfillment.

If you want a PhD, research programs and apply for funding. If you want to move out of CA, apply for jobs other places.
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Raenia

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2017, 05:46:41 AM »
It's also important to consider what jobs the PhD would qualify you for that you are not able to get now.  Do those jobs pay significantly higher?  Are they more in line with what you want to do?  If the answer to both of those is no, I wouldn't do it even if you can get funding.

If the answers are yes, though, then as the previous posters said, look for scholarships, see if you can get an on-campus job (i.e. teaching undergrads) to cover your tuition.  Talk to the school about the options, they should have a good idea what's available.  But if they're not helpful, don't give up - just means you'll have to do your own searching for available scholarships.

QueenAlice

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2017, 05:53:40 AM »
No.

You get a PhD if either :

1. If the school pays you to get it (typical stipend is 20-30k a year plus tuition)

Or

2. You are independently wealthy and can fund 5 years of studying poetry with a 0.05% chance at a job in the end, for your own academic fulfillment.

If you want a PhD, research programs and apply for funding. If you want to move out of CA, apply for jobs other places.

+10000
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Toughmat

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2017, 09:09:07 AM »
Thank you so much for replies. It's actually $22k Total  for he schoolmate I have a scholarship covering most of that but have to pay the remaining $5k. They said work shouldn't be hard to find on the side but it's just not guaranteed. It's also 2 years a  with a 30 year being flexible where I could finish the writing remotely.  Not a typical US PhD program .  I don't want to be a professor but I think I want to work in coaching so I am unclear as to how much the PhD will help. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt but short term financially it will.  Does that info change anything?

Toughmat

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2017, 09:10:35 AM »
*school not schoolmate
*third year not 30 year

wonkette

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2017, 10:35:45 AM »
I think you should try it for one year but be prepared to walk away.

Living outside the country is a great experience and studying abroad is a very mustachian way to do it! Living like a student and getting someone else to pay most of your own way is much cheaper than visiting NZ as a tourist. And it sounds like you're interested in the subject. Especially if you've been getting the itch to leave your current location. BUT everything else that has been mentioned is also valid - will you be able to work on the side? will you qualify for higher paying jobs?

If after one year it is either more expensive than you thought or you have lost interest in the program you should withdraw and chalk it up to a life experience. You will still be able to put some graduate level study on your resume (though I don't know if credits will transfer from abroad) and have a better sense of how much you value living in LA.

affordablehousing

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2017, 11:29:40 AM »
Interesting situation. I have a sister going the traditional PhD route in the US, and friends who just moved to NZ for an adventure and to seek political asylum from the US. I think it is worth considering this like paying $5K for a two year international adventure. Yes on the upside it might catapult you to new coaching heights, but on the downside, you spend $5K for two years of trying something out living abroad. What would be the alternative if you continue to live in LA? Are you forgoing significant income? What if you discover a community you really like abroad, some industries qualify you for fast-tracked citizenship in NZ. If you want to try something new, and your opportunity cost is low (you don't have a lot of ties to your current state) which it sounds like you hint at, you just need to think if this program is the best and most economical structured adventure you can have. It may be, and if not, try to move with a job in hand and try something for a year.

Raenia

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2017, 12:08:42 PM »
I would do some careful research into what the degree will do for you.  Talk to the people who have positions like the coaching you want to do, and if possible talk to the people who make hiring decisions for those positions.  It sounds like you're not sure that the PhD will actually help you further any of your goals, besides being interesting for you.  I would not do it unless and until you are sure it will actually help you.  Don't go for a PhD just because the program is there, regardless of what it costs.

If you are only considering it because you want to live in NZ, that is a different question, but either way, you should be very clear with yourself about what you expect to get out of the program/experience.

Toughmat

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2017, 01:09:39 PM »
Thanks for the great replies. It's $5k a year for school but I would also have to pay for room and food and living expenses. I could go try for a year that is always an idea. The idea of starting something and quitting doesn't sit well with me, but life experience is another way of looking at it.

gldms

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2017, 12:15:49 PM »
An emphatic NO! In general, you should never pay for a PhD; they should pay you.  Unless you hope to go into an academic career in sports science (good luck with that, pal..), a PhD will not only be worthless, it will probably make you "overqualified" and would seriously compromise your employability (e.g., if you wanted to work at a community college or High School).  A good Masters degree is always worthwhile, however.  Also, a PhD in NZ would follow, more-or-less, the British system.  You would do nothing but research your project; you won't be taking a bunch of interesting graduate-level courses because they don't offer them (unlike, say, UCLA). You could finish the whole PhD without having learned much of anything besides what you did your project on!  I speak as a Professor.

KungfuRabbit

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2017, 07:38:49 AM »
The job market for gym teachers isn't good man....

Toughmat

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2017, 11:12:39 PM »
Sorry for the rehashing of this, but a few things have changed and I would like to get the MMM opinion on it. I had a misunderstanding before and in fact I will pay $5k up front but then make $16k back over monthly stipend during the year. So Ill be getting $11k to make it work. It is much better than before, but again at 36-39 which I will be for the duration of the PhD it feels like such an advanced age to not further myself financially. Especially when Ive never had money my entire life. Right now I have $5k saved up. $14k student loans I have to pay. Another $2k for a car which I would sell and hardly make back before I go to NZ. If I stay in LA from September to early December I will earn $18k with super cheap rent and save a bit doing what I love (coaching and teaching). Then I could leave somewhere for awhile if I dont wuss out.

Could the PhD give me a boost in pay down the line? Possibly yes, but I dont want to be a professor at a university. Im literally going crazy about this decision. One minute im like "fuck my age and fuck money ill be fine I need to live life!" and then Im like "I need to save, screw this phd bs I can always travel to NZ and all over if I save well". I am aware im lucky to have this as a problem, but I am just not handling it well. Like it will define everything about who I am as a person and Im afraid if I dont take it ill just be an average person my entire life. Thanks for any more opinions and guidance. Even though I dont know you it is greatly appreciated.

Smokystache

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2017, 04:40:45 AM »
What are their alums doing? Would you like to do those things too. Look back over 10+ years. Would you ever consider living in NZ long-term?

I understand that it would really limit your income for a few years, but my Phd has opened doors into areas that I never expected (tangential areas/topics that I never expected). For example, if you ever wanted to make Side money with writing, speaking, consulting, the Phd can give a baseline or more of credibility. You would have plenty of time to make use of the degree.... but it would help to know what others have done with it..... but then also extrapolate to ways you could leverage it. Good luck. I know it is frustrating, but it is nice to have options.

Toughmat

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2017, 05:50:06 AM »
A lot of the alumni work in New Zealand at the school and at various athletic programs in the country such as with national teams. One guy works with the Canadian woman's soccer team which is cool. So it does open doors for sure. To be able to write and consult would be really cool and I know a Phd help but lots of people do it without. Thanks for writing. What did you do yours in and was it a tough process?

Smokystache

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2017, 07:49:25 AM »
I've got a PhD in a specific subfield of psychology (social, clinical, developmental, etc.). I happen to be a professor at a small college, but am building a side business into to a full-time business. Over the last 5 years I've made money from consulting with businesses who need my expertise (staff training, Continuing Education Presentations, product development, writing content for newsletters/trade journals, program development (stress reduction program for a specific profession), speaking (state and national conventions), product development (printed materials; some sold to individuals, some sold in bulk to businesses that want to provide it to their clients), website and social media content.

What I've learned is that in any business/field, there is a huge amount of trade journals (I'm not talking about academic/research journals), newsletters (professional organizations, large businesses, etc.) that constantly need content. Sometimes you can get paid to write this content; at minimum you get name/brand recognition. I don't know your field, but here are my guesses for some possible ideas for income streams:

- become a consultant/advisor to a national team, professional team, high-end sports training facility, private school, etc.
- write books, booklets, training manuals/protocols, blog content, website/newsletter content, etc.
   - become known for your area (make it big enough for some side projects/topics, but small enough that you are known as one of the top 5 people in the topic)
-

This has been my formula for making a living with a PhD outside of academia (it ain't perfect and I'm still learning):
- find a niche (something smaller than your subfield - expert at a specific sport, expert at re-entering sports after a specific injury, etc.); know your shit
- brainstorm individuals would use your information/expertise
- brainstorm businesses/organizations who also work with those people
   - sometimes it can be much easier to look for companies who want to work with those individuals and then help the company provide better service to those individuals. The company sees it as a way to differentiate themselves from their competition ("Use us, we have a Phd on staff/ consultant who will REALLY help you!")
- develop some products/services on your own. 1 hour presentation, 2 hour workshop, training protocol, booklet (8-40 pages), book (although the time investment and potential return are iffy), etc. Find someone who needs this information. Start small and cheap - get feedback on your product/service. Refine it. Expect that a completely different product or service is what they really need and be willing to jump to that. For example, I started with printed materials (booklets) that I thought would be really helpful. But what businesses really want is someone to have a column/feature in a monthly/quarterly newsletter/magazine - ok, guess I'm an article writer instead.
- go to places where these businesses/individuals interact: conferences, conventions, training sessions, etc. Listen for problems people and businesses are having - propose solutions. Get to know the people in the field - having a degree will help get people to listen to you, but having a degree + a relationship is how you get people to buy from you. Get to know them and learn from them. Listen. listen. listen.

One significant problem many PhDs have when starting is undervaluing their expertise and degree. I'll be the first to say that many people give PhDs too much credit- in some ways. I have a company right now that wants me to create a program for their employees on stress reduction. I think they assume that I've had several classes that focus entirely on stress reduction. As a psychologist, I know about stress-reduction, but it isn't something I specialize in. But I do have the background to learn and create a program and recognize good research from crappy stuff. In the academic world, we often specialize so narrowly that you won't dare speak up against someone who has been studying the concept longer or written a lot about it. In the non-academic world, they are much less concerned with the perfect research-based answer and simply a reasonable answer that provides value. In short, you'll likely feel like an imposter ("I don't have the specific expertise and years of research to do that!"), but the real answer is that you have learned skills (general knowledge on the topic, ability to find, evaluate, & integrate information, etc.) to create things that haven't been developed or haven't been adapted for a specific situation.


....and now reading back through your question, I realize that you may be asking if getting my PhD was a tough process. It was a lot of work and I don't want to discount how much time I put into studying, writing, etc. But the reality is that getting accepted to a PhD process is the tough part (at least in my field which has acceptance rates at or below med school acceptance rates). After they admit you, they want you to succeed. It makes them look bad if they have to report to their accrediting agency or university that they are accepting a bunch of students and only 50% finish - this makes the professors look bad. So they will push you to do good work, but they would hate to see you drop out. That's my experience. YMMV.

threefive

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Re: PhD in New Zealand and take out more loans? Urgent decision
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2017, 11:10:14 AM »
I have a PhD. I work with and advise graduate students.

You never, ever, ever, never, absolutely never pay for a PhD program unless you are independently wealthy. Even then, it's dumb. I'm a university professor. I won the academic lottery and have a fantastic job with a pretty big-shot sounding title, getting paid well above average for a university professor with a PhD. That said, my friends that got M.S. degrees earn more, and they started earning more sooner. I also consult. I consult in a field were my competition mostly have master's degrees. The PhD sorta helps, but it's much more impressive to people in my family than it is to those actually hiring consultants.

Now, it seems you would be getting some sort of stipend and tuition. That changes the calculus. Now, all you have to consider are opportunity costs, and there is something to be said about getting paid to study a field of interest to you in a neat foreign country. If it were me, I had no one depending on me, I wasn't too happy in my current job, and I wasn't making mega-bank dollars at that job, then I'd probably go on the adventure.