Author Topic: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!  (Read 4862 times)

mmmagpie

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Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« on: June 30, 2013, 04:46:05 PM »
Hello everyone!

So, I have to make a decision in the next two weeks and I am seriously stumped.

The facts are: I have no debt at all right now. I am 26, graduated undergrad with no debt, currently making 47k with benefits working for Parks & Rec. I really like my job. I've been at this job since 2010 and have consistently been in danger of being laid off with each budget cycle.

Last year I applied to graduate school for an M.Ed in school counseling. It is something I have been wanting to do for the last four years but never followed through. I am set to start this fall. However, it would mean leaving my current position since the schedules are incompatible.

Now the tricky part. I've been approached at work by a former supervisor about a position working at a school. This is a job I have applied for 4 times in the past and never got. I would be making the same amount, keeping my benefits, AND working at a school which is what I want to do long term. However, I would not get summers off (like I would as a counselor) and the long term salary is much less than the potential salary of a school counselor even though I would take a pay cut in my first year as a counselor. Plus, student loan debt! I would be in debt about 45k to get this degree and unable to work full time while getting it.

Should I give up on the degree and take this new position? Is there some other way to make the degree work without tons of debt? I need the advice of some seasoned Mustachians.

Thanks!

Rural

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Re: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2013, 06:00:02 PM »
I think I'd give the job a try in your shoes. If you find it's not for you, grad school will be there later; the job probably won't.

footenote

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Re: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2013, 06:01:19 PM »
I think I'd give the job a try in your shoes. If you find it's not for you, grad school will be there later; the job probably won't.
+1

fiveoclockshadow

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Re: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2013, 06:08:44 PM »
+1 to what Rural said, grad school will always be there.  If you have a job you like, and another job prospect you might like even better I think those are your best options for now (economically).  And if you go to grad school later you'd have more savings and could do it with less debt.

Student debt is some of the worst debt to have (short of credit card).  I'm concerned by your comment "tons of debt".  I am not familiar with the M.Ed degree, but in general I don't think of anything that includes the words "education", "school", or "counseling" as raking in the bucks - but that may just be my ignorance.  How much is this degree going to cost?  How much more would you make compared to the 47k you are making now?  What really is the economic utility of this degree?

That's one half (the economic one), the other is that you say you've really wanted this degree and the jobs available once you have them.  It sounds like at least some of those reasons aren't about earnings (e.g. summers off) and are more about lifestyle and life quality.  So by no means should you assume if it costs something in the long term you shouldn't do it, but I think you really need to crunch the numbers on the cost (don't forget lost wages in that cost) and how that would affect your FI timeline.  You might find FI is pushed off quite a bit and you'd rather just be FI sooner in something other than the "perfect job".  Or perhaps it only pushes it back a little and it is a trade you would find worth doing.

Best of luck!

Frugal_in_DC

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Re: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2013, 06:19:04 PM »
+1 to what Rural said, grad school will always be there.  If you have a job you like, and another job prospect you might like even better I think those are your best options for now (economically).  And if you go to grad school later you'd have more savings and could do it with less debt.

Student debt is some of the worst debt to have (short of credit card).  I'm concerned by your comment "tons of debt".  I am not familiar with the M.Ed degree, but in general I don't think of anything that includes the words "education", "school", or "counseling" as raking in the bucks - but that may just be my ignorance.  How much is this degree going to cost?  How much more would you make compared to the 47k you are making now?  What really is the economic utility of this degree?

That's one half (the economic one), the other is that you say you've really wanted this degree and the jobs available once you have them.  It sounds like at least some of those reasons aren't about earnings (e.g. summers off) and are more about lifestyle and life quality.  So by no means should you assume if it costs something in the long term you shouldn't do it, but I think you really need to crunch the numbers on the cost (don't forget lost wages in that cost) and how that would affect your FI timeline.  You might find FI is pushed off quite a bit and you'd rather just be FI sooner in something other than the "perfect job".  Or perhaps it only pushes it back a little and it is a trade you would find worth doing.

Best of luck!

All great points. Try the job and who knows, the school may even offer tuition reimbursement as a benefit.

I would really try to find other ways to finance your degree. The $45k loan will be more like $60k+ with interest. Once you have the job at the school, if they don't offer tuition reimbursement try looking for a job at a school or school district that does. Look for a school that offers the degree part-time so you can keep earning an income.

SunshineGirl

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Re: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2013, 09:27:13 AM »
I agree that taking the job is a good next step. Look at it this way: If you had the job offer on the table AND $45K in the bank, would you use that $45K to get your master's and not take the job? Since you haven't worked for a school yet, this could be seen as a way to see whether it's really for you. 

Taking the job will allow you to save money to pay cash for school and give you time to see whether you like the environment or burn out in it.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2013, 09:30:24 AM »
I think I'd give the job a try in your shoes. If you find it's not for you, grad school will be there later; the job probably won't.
+1
+ 1 more.

Can you defer your start date at school for a year? That way you won't have to go through the application process again. You can take a year to figure out if this job is what you're hoping it would be, and also use the year to sock away a serious stache so you don't need as many loans if you decide to go back to school.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2013, 11:45:38 AM »
+1 to all the posts about taking the job.

speaking as a holder of (massive) student debt, if you can take this job and live a Mustachian life (save 50% or more of your income) then you can pay cash for school in just a few years.   Plus, there might be tuition reimbursement.

Final point, you might discover that you love this job and don't want to go back to school at all.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2013, 11:53:12 AM »
Finaid.org has a loan payment calculator that will help you project how much interest you'll pay and how much your payment will be. 

I plugged $45k into the calculator with 1% fees and it gives you a total cost of $62,700 +/- with a monthly payment of $523 for 10 years.

http://www.finaid.org/calculators/scripts/loanpayments.cgi

Keep in mind that the "solution" to the fiscal/ debt ceiling crisis of 2011 was, in part, to eliminate subsidized student loans for grad students so interest begins accruing on your loans the minute you take them no mater how long you're in school.  The costs are far higher now thanks to that.

Final note, I was a teacher and knew many colleagues who earned MEd's going part time while working.  Two former teachers are now administrators of public schools. They took their time and let the school system reimburse them for almost the whole cost. 

Loans suck.  Avoid if you possibly can.

Emg03063

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Re: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2013, 06:46:29 PM »
Take the job, look for online programs that will allow you to make progress towards your degree in a way that's compatible with your work schedule.

mmmagpie

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Re: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2013, 11:52:17 PM »
Thanks for all of the input! To answer some questions, I already did defer my enrollment. I was supposed to begin last year but was not willing to take the loans. I've been stashin' the cash and have about $10k saved up since then. (I can do better! I know. But I decided to get LASIK this year which made a sizable dent in the stache).

I am seriously leaning towards the job at this point but having discussions with my supervisor about part time opportunities. Otherwise, I think I'm willing to wait another few years until the stache is bigger and the loan burden smaller.

Thanks again - this is very helpful advice!


Daleth

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Re: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2013, 08:52:55 PM »
I agree about taking the job, and also want to second the thought that your new employer may be willing to subsidize the cost of the degree, or at least to tweak your schedule so you can do both at the same time. And it does make sense to work in a school first and see how you like it, before doing the degree, though you should keep in mind that one school is not all schools; the people and the culture matter a lot.

Having summers off every year for the rest of your life is HUGE, and in my opinion worth a lot of money. That being said, have you looked at the market for the job that degree would qualify you for? Being in this new job may give you access to a lot of information you can't easily get--inside tips on what the market is like, for instance--but I would start trawling the boards that advertise that kind of job and do what you can to figure out, for instance, how big the applicant pool is, whether you realistically would have to consider moving in order to get the job, etc.

MakingSenseofCents

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Re: Graduate School vs. New Job Opportunity...help!
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2013, 01:47:00 PM »
I think I'd give the job a try in your shoes. If you find it's not for you, grad school will be there later; the job probably won't.
+1
+ 1 more.

Can you defer your start date at school for a year? That way you won't have to go through the application process again. You can take a year to figure out if this job is what you're hoping it would be, and also use the year to sock away a serious stache so you don't need as many loans if you decide to go back to school.

This is exactly what I was going to say. This way you can figure out what's truly right for you.