Author Topic: another Grad school question  (Read 11277 times)

uppy

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another Grad school question
« on: May 22, 2014, 02:11:36 PM »
I know many of you have gone to graduate school or considered it. I've searched around and found some helpful info, but figured I'd throw this out there and see what people had to say.

I've spent the last couple of months kicking around different career ideas and coming up pretty empty-handed and actually a little depressed about life. Sort of at a dead-end career-wise, not finding any work that gives me a sense of satisfaction and self worth, not really feeling challenged and therefore valuable... etc. etc. I started visiting MMM and thinking -- WOW, the solution is just to RETIRE!! However, for a variety of reasons not relevant here, that is not exactly a real solution, since the question is not how long but what I would be doing for the next 10, 20, or 30 years.

Anyway -- after long reflection and several false starts and a lot of meditation on the subject, I think I finally realized what it is I'd most like to do, and it involves going back to school for a MA degree in Archaeology. I studied this in college but ended up changing my major and getting a BA in liberal arts. Why? Who knows. I concentrated heavily in Mandarin Chinese but never found a good way to use it, job-wise. However going into Chinese Archaeology, two things I'm deeply interested in, would allow me to use both skills at once. Score.

So then the real questions begin. My GF is just now starting her second year of her MSW. We are in NYC. It is ridiculously expensive and actually, I hate it here (she doesn't mind it too much, but largely because she's doing what she's passionate about. I am here mostly to support her). We will be here at least until May 2015, but then I have to figure out a) where I want to go to school, and b) how the heck to pay for it. This is all assuming I can get accepted to a program...

She is totally on board thankfully and willing to go wherever I need to. Finding an Archaeology Master's program where I can focus on China is tough. Some of the best are in London, which, apparently, is up to 16% MORE EXPENSIVE THAN NYC! which I find extremely hard to believe, but stats everywhere support this claim. Unfortunate, since I really like the looks of University College London and tuition is actually much cheaper. And it's only 1 year instead of 2 for the MA. Otherwise it's L.A., or Hawaii (also really expensive), or somewhere else I haven't found. (Suggestions welcome if any of you out there are Archaeologists!)

I spent almost 8 years doing my undergrad, on and off, from the time I was 19 to 26. As to be expected my earlier transcripts are a little pathetic -- I was floundering and having personal issues, yadda yadda. However I ended up with a 3.6+ average GPA at the end. Supposedly this is good enough for most schools with the exception of Ivy League-type reputation schools.

As should be obvious I know next to nothing about this process so bear with me.

My questions are as follows:

Question 1: How should I go about trying to secure funding? At the master's level, this seems tough since I can't just sign on for research and get paid for that. Because my BA is unrelated, people tell me it will be hard or impossible to be accepted to a PhD program even if I wanted to. I would LOVE to avoid as many loans as possible, but I am prepared to take out some. GF and I will already have a good chunk of SL debt by the time she's done. Facts of life.

Notes on this: we have negative net worth and puny savings. Not a lot of wiggle room here, but alas, I'm trying to stay positive.

Question 2: How to compensate for cost of living? We got lucky in NYC by finding a relatively cheap apartment that the two of us can afford on our own (barely). This has paid off in her ability to study/not be distracted/have space for decompression etc. etc. Assuming we don't have the same luck again, any ideas from former grads on living cheaply and sanely while trying to do grad school?

Any other advice is great -- I know some people will try to dissuade me from going back to school since in truth we can't afford it, however, I have thought long and hard about this and it is the only solution I've been able to come up with. I have no illusions about extreme early retirement or even early retirement necessarily. I think the best I can do is to live frugally while doing something I actually CARE about. To me, that's more important than retiring early. Up to now I have been working entry level job after entry level job and never keep on with it because it's always something I really couldn't care less about. I am one of those people who MUST give a shit if I'm going to do a good job.

Thanks in advance.


beltim

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2014, 02:19:23 PM »
There's a lot here so I'm only to going to respond to a few points to start.  And, actually, they're questions:

1) Where is there employment that you can study Chinese Archaeology and your GF can do social work?  Especially without a PhD?

2) Is there any chance of taking classes where you are now in archaeology in preparation to apply for a PhD program?  This is typically the path I've seen where someone wants to pursue graduate work in a field unrelated to their undergraduate studies.

Threshkin

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2014, 02:39:26 PM »
Have you considered education in China?  Lower cost of living and you could make a good income teaching English on the side.

uppy

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2014, 02:45:31 PM »
There's a lot here so I'm only to going to respond to a few points to start.  And, actually, they're questions:

1) Where is there employment that you can study Chinese Archaeology and your GF can do social work?  Especially without a PhD?

2) Is there any chance of taking classes where you are now in archaeology in preparation to apply for a PhD program?  This is typically the path I've seen where someone wants to pursue graduate work in a field unrelated to their undergraduate studies.

Thanks for your questions. #1 is a good question. Presumably with the MA I would be a working archaeologist. I wouldn't necessarily have to work IN China however, at least not all the time. (In fact the likelihood that I even would be allowed to work there *that* much by the Chinese gov't is slim.) So "where" to me is just an unknown factor. Archaeologists in private sector are often away from home, unfortunately. (Government jobs are more stable location and time-wise.)

#2 -- answer is yes, but grants and funding are not available to non-matriculating/post-bacc students in most schools I've seen. (Please correct me if you know different.) That would mean spending several $K out of pocket that I don't really have, or taking private loans.

One interesting point you raise though is that if I do the PhD, I would probably go into teaching (eventually), which means anywhere I might work is likely to have a population that employs social workers.

Have you considered education in China?  Lower cost of living and you could make a good income teaching English on the side.


Good one. Haven't really looked into it but my Chinese is not really good enough right now for college level courses in science. Also there is the unfortunate but important question of a degree from an unknown Chinese university vs. a US or EU institution. Chinese students kill to come over here and study.

beltim

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2014, 02:59:13 PM »
There's a lot here so I'm only to going to respond to a few points to start.  And, actually, they're questions:

1) Where is there employment that you can study Chinese Archaeology and your GF can do social work?  Especially without a PhD?

2) Is there any chance of taking classes where you are now in archaeology in preparation to apply for a PhD program?  This is typically the path I've seen where someone wants to pursue graduate work in a field unrelated to their undergraduate studies.

Thanks for your questions. #1 is a good question. Presumably with the MA I would be a working archaeologist. I wouldn't necessarily have to work IN China however, at least not all the time. (In fact the likelihood that I even would be allowed to work there *that* much by the Chinese gov't is slim.) So "where" to me is just an unknown factor. Archaeologists in private sector are often away from home, unfortunately. (Government jobs are more stable location and time-wise.)

#2 -- answer is yes, but grants and funding are not available to non-matriculating/post-bacc students in most schools I've seen. (Please correct me if you know different.) That would mean spending several $K out of pocket that I don't really have, or taking private loans.

One interesting point you raise though is that if I do the PhD, I would probably go into teaching (eventually), which means anywhere I might work is likely to have a population that employs social workers.

On #1: Is there a significant difference in employment opportunities between having an MA versus a PhD?  Particularly doing what you want to do

On #2: I think you're right about funding being unavailable (or at least scarcer) for post-bacc programs, but my thought was that tuition for a few classes at a local school would be a worthwhile expense if it got you into a funded PhD program instead of an expensive masters program.

ShortInSeattle

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2014, 03:44:33 PM »
Have you researched job opportunities related to your new degree? Are there a healthy number of openings? Will the pay be enough to cover your debt-service? Is this path congruent with your goals for FIRE? If not, is that OK with you?

You don't need to answer to me of course, but before diving too deeply into programs I'd think through those questions.

I did go to grad school but only when I could keep working full time and pay off the tuition with savings instead of loans. In some situations, grad school could work strongly against your financial & life goals. Faculty positions are hard to get, so whenever people say "I'll just get a PHD and teach" I wonder how realistic that is.

Good luck!

uppy

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2014, 04:34:36 PM »
On #1: Is there a significant difference in employment opportunities between having an MA versus a PhD?  Particularly doing what you want to do

This information is really hard to find. Your question is the reason I originally just wanted to do the MA first, see how that went, and if it seemed like a PhD was the way to go, I could always do more. As far as what it would allow me to do, a PhD (in Archaeology) always means more control and choice than the MA. It's just a question of "knowing" I want to spend 5+ years in school for it....which I don't.

On #2: I think you're right about funding being unavailable (or at least scarcer) for post-bacc programs, but my thought was that tuition for a few classes at a local school would be a worthwhile expense if it got you into a funded PhD program instead of an expensive masters program.

This is a really good point, however I wouldn't know for sure if I could get the PhD fully funded, either. I will try to ask around and see the likelihood of that happening, were I to do a post-bacc.

Have you researched job opportunities related to your new degree? Are there a healthy number of openings? Will the pay be enough to cover your debt-service? Is this path congruent with your goals for FIRE? If not, is that OK with you?

whenever people say "I'll just get a PHD and teach" I wonder how realistic that is.

A Master's definitely opens up a lot of jobs. I will at least be qualified to be hired for long-term jobs, vs. right now I am not, so regardless of competition that is improvement from a 0% chance. To me there are not a healthy number of opportunities for me right now, part of what's inspiring me to do this.

Teaching is not my first choice, but I could be happy doing it. I would rather work in the field.

CNM

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2014, 04:45:28 PM »
Have you spoken to other working archaeologists?  What about students currently getting an MA in archaeology?  What do they have to say about the job market and the value of grad school?

Daleth

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2014, 07:52:10 PM »
On #1: Is there a significant difference in employment opportunities between having an MA versus a PhD?  Particularly doing what you want to do

This information is really hard to find. Your question is the reason I originally just wanted to do the MA first, see how that went, and if it seemed like a PhD was the way to go, I could always do more. As far as what it would allow me to do, a PhD (in Archaeology) always means more control and choice than the MA. It's just a question of "knowing" I want to spend 5+ years in school for it....which I don't.

I'm getting the impression that your knowledge about the actual job you would have is very hazy. It's really, really a bad idea to go to grad school when you don't actually know what your job would be. So:
1 - Who would your employer be? That is, who hires archaeologists specializing in China?
2 - What is required to get those jobs? That is, what degrees, what language skills, what experience?
3 - Where in the country or world are those jobs based?
4 - How much do those jobs pay?
5 - What other job conditions are there (how much travel, where to, how much physical labor/outside work vs. research, writing/indoor work vs. teaching...)?

You will need to find the answers to those questions in order to figure out how well this idea fits into your plan and how worthwhile a master's degree is. One way to find some of the answers is to use the internet to find a few people who are doing the job you want, and then find out who they work for, what degrees/language skills etc. they have, and so forth.


William

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2014, 08:18:33 PM »
"I am one of those people who MUST give a shit if I'm going to do a good job."

Good!  That will keep you out of those soul-sucking boring-as-heck office jobs!  Honestly, you're geared for success already.

I pay $275 for housing, $18 for car insurance, $70 for food, etc. etc.  I wrote a blog post not long ago about how I got such cheap housing.  Now in NYC, it won't be that cheap but you'll get ideas at least.

I personally would say to skip grad school but if it will make you happy, then who am I to dissuade you from that outcome.

Good luck, man.  Sounds like you're not far from where you want to be in life.

Argyle

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2014, 08:37:59 PM »
I am in a related field.  I hope you'll take what I have to say seriously.

It strikes me that the way you've gone about this is to ask "What credential can I get that might lead to something I would like to work at?"

The question you really want to be asking is "What job would I like to work at where they will pay me to learn on the job?"

The academic job market is very, very tight.  It's about as promising a job market as being a movie star, except that if you're a movie star (not just a lowly actor), you get paid big bucks, whereas this is extremely unlikely even if you get an academic job.

The graduate schools get floods of applicants, because everyone thinks a credential will land them a job doing something cool.  The statistics are that around 40%-50% of those who earn PhDs get tenure-track (read: living wage) jobs.  That's in the desirable fields, like Composition.

Chinese is a very small, very tight field; archeology likewise.  Archeology is one of the tightest fields there is, especially for Americans, because there are very few archeology jobs in the States.  It's faintly conceivable that you could land an academic job in Chinese archeology, though not overwhelmingly likely.  Other that that, no one in the States will pay you to be a Chinese archeologist.  You should look for Chinese archeologists in American jobs -- are there any?  Five?  Ten?  There's a reason that the place to do a degree in it is in London -- because no one in the States trains people in it, because no one wants to do it, because there are no jobs in it, because no one trains people in it ... etc.

If you were to do it, London would indeed be the place to train.  The  British system is not like the American system, and they do not provide funding for graduate students.  You'd have to get a Marshall or one of the other big international scholarships.  For that you'd probably need a minimum GPA of 3.9, as well as stellar recommendations, a flawless command of Chinese, etc.  Some applicants will already have published academic articles in their fields.  Archeology applicants will have gone on multiple digs in their area of interest.  The same requirements will go for the university admission.  I teach at a third-tier American public university and we didn't accept any applicants with a gpa under 3.8 this year.  And we never provide funding for our MA applicants.

But to my mind, you're not that invested in this path.  You're thinking (wisely), "What would be fun?"  But not thinking strategically is why it took so long to do your undergrad degree.  Now it's time to up the level of strategy.

Are you sure your Chinese doesn't get you started in anything else you could make could money from? 

I think it's time to do some more brainstorming.  What field would be interesting that doesn't require more debt and credentials?

uppy

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2014, 06:52:01 AM »
Argyle,

Thank you for your help and suggestions, but much of what you have to say disagrees with what professors (past archaeology professors, as well as prospective ones) and friends of mine who have gone into the field of archaeology (as well as admissions offices, in terms of GPA requirements etc.) tell me. You have a very safe, pragmatic, and pessimistic view of things -- and it takes one to know one, believe me -- however I have been thinking that way for years and it has only kept me from taking positive steps.

In the end, this is not a decision based primarily on money. It's about doing something I can be happy doing, which does in fact require credentials I don't have. I've done the soul-searching and made a plan. Now it's a question of how to put that plan into action.

I'm getting the impression that your knowledge about the actual job you would have is very hazy. It's really, really a bad idea to go to grad school when you don't actually know what your job would be. So:
1 - Who would your employer be? That is, who hires archaeologists specializing in China?
2 - What is required to get those jobs? That is, what degrees, what language skills, what experience?
3 - Where in the country or world are those jobs based?
4 - How much do those jobs pay?
5 - What other job conditions are there (how much travel, where to, how much physical labor/outside work vs. research, writing/indoor work vs. teaching...)?

You will need to find the answers to those questions in order to figure out how well this idea fits into your plan and how worthwhile a master's degree is. One way to find some of the answers is to use the internet to find a few people who are doing the job you want, and then find out who they work for, what degrees/language skills etc. they have, and so forth.

1. Like most people, I don't have a job lined up for after I graduate. Companies don't necessarily hire archaeologists for their specialties, they hire them for their experience and expertise in general. As you get more experience you get to choose more. (And it takes a degree to have a significant amount of expertise.) I see that as an acceptable degree of risk.

2. The jobs I see posted on industry-specific job boards require different things based on the type of job. For basic grunt-work type digging, anyone can do it after having done a field school (which I have done). This maxes out at about $30K/year if you're lucky and you never get to run a project. The next level up requires years of experience (at ~$30K) and you basically work for construction companies helping them meet regulations etc. This can pay pretty well but the work is not that interesting and often bureaucratic/rushed. Then there's the Masters/PhD level work, where you have more control, more income, and more interesting work. Most Masters require 1 foreign language, which I have. PhD's typically require 2. There are structures in place for learning languages in the course of the programs.

3. There are jobs all over the continental US, Hawaii, Alaska, and globally. Contrary to what Argyle says, many of the best jobs are based in the US (from what working archaeologists tell me), working for the government or for universities. It's true that some of the VERY best are in the EU. Relocating to the UK is a viable option since my S.O. is a UK citizen and has family there, etc.

4. The median annual wage for anthropologists and archeologists was $57,420 in May 2012. Employment of anthropologists and archeologists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/anthropologists-and-archeologists.htm This assumes at least a Masters degree. While it's true there aren't a TON of jobs, there are relatively few professional working archaeologists who go on to do higher education work. (Relatively, remember. Many remain "shovel bums" doing the grunt-work type stuff seasonally or only getting certificates.)

5. Depends on who you work for, but generally, private sector pays more but you travel a good deal, government and universities (not teaching) you have a more "normal" schedule and location expectation. The amount of hard physical labor goes down in inverse proportion to your level of education, like anything. Teaching jobs are apparently hard to land but that's not my main interest, anyway. I will teach if it becomes an option but I'm not dead-set on it.

The vast majority of people I speak to who are doing jobs I'm interested in have at LEAST a Masters. Many have PhDs. In the UK, I'm looking at about $30K TOTAL for a Masters if I got absolutely no funding. And it only takes a year. I would likely have to do a little bit of work before that, but the difference in cost is minimal. That would bring my personal total SL debt up to about $50K. A lot, but, it's not ever going away unless I get a job I can live with long-term.

Guys, I appreciate that you're trying to keep me from making a big mistake, but really, my questions are about HOW to do this, not whether or not I should be doing it. Reminder of questions:

1. How to get funding?
2. How to survive living expenses while in grad school?

William provided a couple of tips. Any others out there?


Argyle

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2014, 09:22:06 AM »
The U.S. government employs people to do Chinese archeology?  Really?  You're not just talking about archeology, but Chinese archeology?

It's a standard among academics that asking people in academic jobs whether it's useful to do a PhD is like asking lottery winners whether it's useful to play the lottery.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 09:26:56 AM by Argyle »

skunkfunk

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2014, 09:27:39 AM »
You may have come to the wrong place. You are in the "Ask a Mustachian" section and what you are trying to do is basically ask us how to spend 2 years of your life losing money. Your plan is extremely inefficient for purposes of FIRE, even if it works.

Do you like anything else? Teaching, architecture, drafting, anything? There are good jobs out there that you can get with any college degree.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 09:37:47 AM by skunkfunk »

DoubleDown

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2014, 09:36:28 AM »
The U.S. government employs people to do Chinese archeology?  Really?  You're not just talking about archeology, but Chinese archeology?

It's a standard among academics that asking people in academic jobs whether it's useful to do a PhD is like asking lottery winners whether it's useful to play the lottery.

@Argyle, I like you more and more with every post :-)

Cressida

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2014, 10:46:22 AM »
Yeah, I have to agree with Argyle. Just because there's something you want to do, and just because someone else somewhere gets paid to do it, does NOT mean that someone will pay YOU to do that thing. There's just no connection.

My sister and her husband are both actuaries. They make a mint, but there are only so many cities they can live in because there are only so many cities where insurance companies are headquartered, and even then, actuary openings are rare past entry level. It's a good job, but totally inflexible.

I would never sign up for a career where there are more people who want to do it than there are jobs. Everyone makes the mistake of thinking that they're the exception, that they're the one who will make it. It's flat illogical.

rebel100

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2014, 11:26:48 AM »
what you are trying to do is basically ask us how to spend 2 years of your life losing money.

Actually, he is asking how to spend two years of his life to set himself up for a lifetime of disappointment and crippling debt....this is the sort of poor decision that will resonate for years and affect everyone he's ever close to.

As to useful advice, how about this....
Pick up a degree in something related but affordable.  Maybe a distance education based MA in History or some other liberal art (i cringe to suggest it, but at least you would emerge very qualified to teach at the High School level and maybe you could even parlay that into instructional work at the College level).  A History MA done cheaply should qualify you for the PhD process (you need to make sure of the path before embarking).  It is possible that with the right networking you could self fund a cheap MA, then find some school to pay you a stipend while earning that PhD.  I suspect in the right place with your language skills, you could be competitive for such a position.

Here are two schools that come to mind:
The Masters of Individualized Studies (MAIS) at Western New Mexico University.  http://wnmu.edu/VirtualCampus/programs/InterdisciplinaryMasters.shtml If taken 2 classes at a time the total cost for out of state still falls well below $10,000, pay as you go, finish with enough graduate hours in History and Political Science (or any combo) to teach at the college level....this at least gives you serviceable skills and is affordable....the online nature means YOU can move wherever the girlfriend finds employment...so your not double punishing the both of you while you sit for classes in archeology that will likey lead to a degree valuable only for sprucing up a wall in your shabby apartment (cause on the road your headed down you can expect a lifetime of shabby apartments in low rent districts).

The second idea is one I think you should really consider (if I can't outright dissuade you from your path).  Harvard University offers a mostly distance MA (called the ALM at Harvard) through their Extension Studies Dept.  Living in NYC you could simply take the train down for the handful of classes you would need in person.  At around $24,000 the program is exceedingly affordable when you factor in the benefit of adding Harvard to the resume....your gonna need it, cause I suspect jobs in  archeology are a lot harder to come by than you think.   The degree should be right up your ally though....Museum Studies  http://www.extension.harvard.edu/degrees-certificates/museum-studies/degree-requirements  Best part is that this school of Harvard is 100% meritocratic.  You pay for and complete the first three courses with a B+ average and your in....you only compete against yourself.  You may have some added expense traveling to and from, but there is a jam up hostel in Boston that just opened up a year or so ago http://bostonhostel.org/ , and you can pick up a train from NYC every day of the week.  You could finish in a couple of years, but they give you 5.  I am not sure, but I think that once you are admitted you would possibly see a reduction in cost based on need and merit....I KNOW this is true for their undergrad ALB, but have no first hand experience with the ALM.  This is also a very mustachian way to build the sort of network that would lead you to gainful employment and a future PhD.

Either of these options would keep your costs lower and lead to potentially better job prospects (teaching at high school level at least). 

Brother, for your own sake and the sake of those around you....do not burden yourself with a lifetime supply of debt for a degree in archeology.  It is a recipe for "do you want fries with that".

rebel100

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2014, 11:37:10 AM »
Taken from Harvard Extensions own website (on the Museum Studies concentration) Take note of the next to the last one:

"Career outlook

Our alumni hold a variety of high-level positions in museums around the world. The following are just a few examples.

    Curator, Milford Historical Society, Milford, Massachusetts
    Marketing Manager, Oakland Museum of California
    Assistant Curator, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Conservator and Administrative Head of Conservation Department, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University
    Director of Operations, Metropolitan Waterworks Museum, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts"

http://www.extension.harvard.edu/degrees-certificates/museum-studies

rebel100

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2014, 11:47:30 AM »
You should watch this video (again on the Harvard Museum Studies degree):

http://www.extension.harvard.edu/hub/blog/extension-blog/museum-intern-pieces-together-history

BFGirl

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2014, 11:48:40 AM »
Ok.  I haven't read through all the responses in this thread, but I do have a comment on a skill you already possess:  Mandarin Chinese.  My daugher is very interested in languages and is studying them in college.  I have talked to a couple of people who say that businesses are very interested in people who speak Chinese.  I don't know if you have explored this possiblity, but it might be a way to earn some money with your current skills.  Another person I know (a different language) works with companies to translate marketing materials into another language.  I know this isn't archaeology, but it might be a way to earn some money with your Mandarin skills, even if it was something you needed to brush up on.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 12:16:01 PM by BFGirl »

uppy

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2014, 11:49:03 AM »
You may have come to the wrong place. You are in the "Ask a Mustachian" section and what you are trying to do is basically ask us how to spend 2 years of your life losing money. Your plan is extremely inefficient for purposes of FIRE, even if it works.

I think you are absolutely right, skunkfunk, that this was a funny place to ask. As I said in my OP, FIRE is not really my goal. I guess I just thought mustachians would know best how to secure funding and live cheaply while in grad school. It seems the general advice instead has been "Don't Go!" Which is a little like asking for a beer and being given a pamphlet on alcoholism. "Oh, thanks!" :)

Look, I won't respond to all the weird comments attributing things to me that I didn't say and then proving them wrong. That's called a "straw man" argument. Great entertainment, but not that helpful.

If you guys want to have your own discussion about the idiocy of my plan, that's cool, I just wish I could start another thread where my questions were at least attempted to be answered and not have the same thing happen again.

edit: thank you rebel100 for at least humoring my interests.

BFGirl

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2014, 11:51:25 AM »
You may have come to the wrong place. You are in the "Ask a Mustachian" section and what you are trying to do is basically ask us how to spend 2 years of your life losing money. Your plan is extremely inefficient for purposes of FIRE, even if it works.

I think you are absolutely right, skunkfunk, that this was a funny place to ask. As I said in my OP, FIRE is not really my goal. I guess I just thought mustachians would know best how to secure funding and live cheaply while in grad school. It seems the general advice instead has been "Don't Go!" Which is a little like asking for a beer and being given a pamphlet on alcoholism. "Oh, thanks!" :)

Look, I won't respond to all the weird comments attributing things to me that I didn't say and then proving them wrong. That's called a "straw man" argument. Great entertainment, but not that helpful.

If you guys want to have your own discussion about the idiocy of my plan, that's cool, I just wish I could start another thread where my questions were at least attempted to be answered and not have the same thing happen again.

edit: thank you rebel100 for at least humoring my interests.

I posted above about your Chinese language skills.  Perhaps you could use this for a work from home job or a part time job to help finance your education.

rebel100

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2014, 11:54:39 AM »
edit: thank you rebel100 for at least humoring my interests.

Brother, I get it, I really do.  But as a 40+ year old man I will tell you that there are wishes and realities in life.  Don't set yourself up to struggle through life.  If you want this, great, go get it.  But do it with a solid fall back plan.  Do it with as little debt as possible.   The more I think about it the more convinced I am that the Harvard Extension degree would be just about perfect for you...and I also think it would be a great next step in a quest for an actual PhD in an archeology related field (a PhD you can possibly see funded with the right contacts, education, and experience).

skunkfunk

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2014, 11:58:36 AM »
experience

I did a year of grad school before I found a job in engineering. The #1 thing that is holding back a lot of those people with masters and doctorates is a lack of experience. You are much less employable without any experience. Yeah it's hard to get the experience, but if you can't find a gig before getting the doctorate, you're the guy who won't find a gig with one either.

rebel100

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2014, 12:06:14 PM »
I would further urge you to scoure the internet for other viable options:

Potential funding option University of Texas:
http://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/anthropology/Graduate-Program/Financial-Aid.php

Columbia (you get the masters en route to the PhD and they seem to offer a stipend for the full ride): http://www.columbia.edu/cu/arthistory/graduate/phd.html

Harvard GSAS (full tuition plus stipend): http://www.gsas.harvard.edu/programs_of_study/anthropology.php

University of Cincinnati offers financial support: http://classics.uc.edu/index.php/graduate/gradarchaeology

Brown: https://www.brown.edu/Departments/Joukowsky_Institute/graduate/financialsupport.html

And the list can go on and on....


Argyle

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2014, 12:10:14 PM »
The shrieking about this plan is nothing as to what you would get if you asked a group of actual archeologists and academics over at the Chronicle of Higher Education Forums: http://chronicle.com/forums/

The reason we're getting on your case instead of giving advice on how to live cheaply in grad school is because you'll be acquiring massive debt in a field it's unlikely you'll be able to use, so living cheaply while doing it is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  We're looking at the bigger picture of mimizing debt and maximizing savings, while you're looking at the nickels and dimes.

On this topic, do you know the Academic Jobs Wiki?  http://academicjobs.wikia.com/wiki/Archaeology_Jobs_2013-2014.  No jobs in Chinese archeology advertised, though some jobs are "open specialty."  Worth looking through.

But okay.  Let's say you want to do this degree as a hobby.  Because some people do, and other people have boats or RVs or collect pricy cars, and we're all entitled to do what we want in life.  (It's just when we hear the equivalent of "I'm going to invest all my money in Cabbage Patch Kids dolls because then I can make money selling them to collectors in ten years" that we start talking about hair-on-fire unprofitable decisions.)

Say you're determined to spend a few years on your hobby.  Okay, we'll go from there.  Getting a degree in London is not going to be doable very cheaply.  You'll see that at SOAS, around 30% of the students are from outside the UK.  This is partly because the degree is world-class, and partly because foreign students pay through the nose and subsidize home students.  British MAs are notorious for this.  I've taught in that system and it's legendary for it.  If you get funding, you'll have to get it from your home country.  This would mean a Marshall Scholarship, a Gates, one of those, even a Rotary.  Your undergrad institution will have all the details, even if it's been a while since you graduated.  They love it when their graduates get one of these so they can brag about it, so they'll be eager to help.  You'll need stellar materials; for instance, Harvard has an office solely dedicated to helping student get these scholarships, so you'll be competing against Harvard applicants whose applications have been honed to a high sheen.

If that doesn't work out, you'll want an American degree.  I'm afraid the advice to look for a History MA isn't very profitable either.  Even community colleges are phasing out their jobs that require only MAs, and most of those are flooded with PhD applicants anyway.  Very, very few online degrees are well regarded.  The standard advice is never to enter a graduate academic program unless you're fully funded by the university.  This is a problem as many MA programs do not offer funding.  So you'll want to look for one that does.  If it's in a low cost of living area, that's excellent.  Then you just live frugally and try to take out as few loans as possible.

(Previewing others' posts, note that many of the suggestions do not apply -- for instance the Cincinnati degree is in Classical [Greek and Roman], not Chinese archeology. However, it does give a good idea of the kind of requirements:

The Department receives many applications each year from students interested in studying for a graduate degree in archaeology. We are unfortunately only able to admit a handful of these applicants. In making our decision we consider the following factors among others:

    prior field experience in archaeology
    extent of classroom training in ancient art and archaeology
    facility in ancient Greek and Latin and in modern foreign languages, particularly French and German
    samples of written work that you send to us
    your undergraduate GPA
    letters of recommendations from teachers and from archaeologists with whom you may have worked in the field]

rebel100

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #26 on: May 23, 2014, 12:23:30 PM »
I'm afraid the advice to look for a History MA isn't very profitable either.  Even community colleges are phasing out their jobs that require only MAs, and most of those are flooded with PhD applicants anyway.  Very, very few online degrees are well regarded.  The standard advice is never to enter a graduate academic program unless you're fully funded by the university. 

ALL TRUE!!!  I agree with you completely.

What I suggested was actually that he would emerge with little debt and well qualified to teach HIGH SCHOOL, and with enough grad credit to potentially teach at the college level.

I skipped looking for a "Chinese" specific program because there are likely only a couple in the country, and they would no doubt be uber competitive.  The hope with my suggestions is that if he insists on this destructive path at least make it as less destructive as possible.  I hope he can emerge able to service the debt and still put food in his mouth....my suggestions would help insure this (I think).

Argyle

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #27 on: May 23, 2014, 12:51:57 PM »
Sorry, I misread.  I suppose in comparison with Chinese archeology, high school history teaching looks like a field with a lot of jobs.  Only in comparison with Chinese archeology, though! :)

rebel100

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #28 on: May 23, 2014, 01:04:29 PM »
Sorry, I misread.  I suppose in comparison with Chinese archeology, high school history teaching looks like a field with a lot of jobs.  Only in comparison with Chinese archeology, though! :)

Right!!!

I figured he could teach history at the HS, his wife/girlfriend could work down the hall in the guidance office, have summers off....not a bad life really.  Combined income of around $80K/year, if they got serious you could lead a frugal life, pay off the modest school debt and still FIRE by 50.

BZB

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #29 on: May 24, 2014, 07:02:24 AM »
Here is some advice from Mr. BZB:
Jrez,
 My wife is the MMM member, but she read this and thought of me. She asked me to read your post and respond if I thought it would help. Here's why she thought of me.
A) it took me about the same time as it took you to get me BA and my GPA was similar.

B) I too wanted to go into archeology in another country. In my case I wanted to do Roman archeology.

C) I actually spent two summers in London getting experience, though not going to school as you plan.
D) I have managed to stick with archeology for 20+ years now (all in CRM or government compliance work) and I know a lot of the nuts and bolts. I make a decent living at it though I won't be retiring very soon.

and lastly,
 E) I did go back for a MA and it was worth it.

So as you can see there are a lot of similarities between us.

First I'll say that all the naysayers about archeology in general are wrong. If you do it right and have some luck then it is perfectly possible to make a career and a living in archeology. The detractors sound all too much like my family who talked me out of archeology when I first started college. Also a masters in archeology or a related field is bare minimum if you want to do more than shovel bum around (which for most people is no way to live long term). So that's the good news. The bad news is that managing to have a career in archeology is really about two things. One is experience. It sounds like yours is minimal and without more you're basically a paper tiger. The second is that a lot depends on luck. That is god-awfully true in "general" archeology, but is even worse in specialties. I can't give you much advice on luck as you've either got it or not. But on the topic of experience... if you're really serious about this then you must (and I can't express this in strong enough terms) get some field experience. And since China is a long, long way from NYC I would advise you to get some experience on local projects. This may be a step down from your broader plan, but it is more realistic and will, if you persist in pursuing Chinese archeology, help you even there just by virtue of making sure you know enough about how archeology itself is really done. But better if you're serious about archeology is to give up the notion of entering an even more rarified sub-subfield of an already rarified field. Get the masters somewhere local and get experience while you're doing it. Then once you've got your masters if you're still interested in using your Chinese then go do work on the West Coast of the US looking at defunct work camps and Chinese-American community sites there.
As for your specific questions #1 and #2? I've no idea. If you are determined to go to London I can assure you from personal experience that it is an incredibly expensive city. You'll have a great time (in the rare moments when you're not studying or writing) but you'll leave in serious debt. And yes, I've got several friends who have gone this route so I can speak for the costs. I am all for you pursuing archeology as "doing something I actually CARE about" because that's how I ended up where I am, but make sure not to back yourself into so tight a corner that there's no way out but down.
That's all I've got right now. But if you're interested in talking more directly feel free to contact my wife via her MMM account and ask for my e-mail address. I've mentored a few times and would be willing to help where/how I can with you if you're interested.

lhamo

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #30 on: May 24, 2014, 07:53:01 AM »
I'm going to dig a little deeper here and see if you might be able to think a bit more broadly.  What EXACTLY was it that you loved about Chinese Archaeology?  Why SPECIFICALLY are you attracted to that field?  What work do you see yourself enjoying/thriving in long-term?  There are tons of opportunities in China/related to China right now, but Chinese Archaeology is not a burgeoning field.  I have a very good friend who got a double Ph.D. in archaeology/social anthropology at Harvard.  Brilliant person.  Worked with Professor Chang.  Had the best possible career trajectory you could imagine.  Great post-doc, great book.  She burned out on academia and is now a corporate lawyer in HK.  I know current grad students who have had prestigious fellowships to study archaeology in China, again brilliant people totally fluent in the language and skilled socially/culturally -- and it has not been a cakewalk.  The Chinese academic system is a very challenging one to operate in and there is no such thing as an independent foreign-run dig in China.  Doesn't exist and won't unless there is a major major political change. 

If you are still intent on pursuing this and still interested in the UK, I would look at what you might be able to do to get UK citizenship through your partner.  That way if you do decide to go to a UK school, you will be eligible for local tuition and some of the grants they offer.  Look at EU programs, too -- UK citizens are eligible for grants to many EU institutions through things like the Erasmus program. 

And if you want to build your language skills, consider applying for scholarships offered by the Chinese and Taiwanese gvts.  They are not that competitive, also not that lucrative, but you can build your language skills and use the opportunity to investigate possibilities for study at the MA level there.  Both Taiwan and the PRC are offering more and more English-language programs, as well, and while you might not be able to find one specializing in Archaeology, even a more general subject combined with language training would put you above where you are now at much lower cost. 


Daleth

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #31 on: May 24, 2014, 01:46:33 PM »
The vast majority of people I speak to who are doing jobs I'm interested in have at LEAST a Masters. Many have PhDs. In the UK, I'm looking at about $30K TOTAL for a Masters if I got absolutely no funding. And it only takes a year. I would likely have to do a little bit of work before that, but the difference in cost is minimal. That would bring my personal total SL debt up to about $50K. A lot, but, it's not ever going away unless I get a job I can live with long-term.

Your student loan debt will go away eventually even if you got a job flipping burgers, because your options are not (a) job you can live with long-term vs. (b) no job at all. You obviously will have to work at some sort of job to keep a roof over your head and food on the table, and that same job will also pay down your student loans--more or less quickly depending on how well the job pays (google "income-based repayment").

So really your options are, (a) a job you really like; (b) a job you can live with; or (c) a job you don't like.

Have you made lists of jobs that fit in categories (a) or (b)? There is more than one such job; there is more than one path to a job you really like or a job you can live with. So just briefly, try brainstorming and seeing what you come up with. Nothing you come up with is binding or requires you to make a decision about anything; the point is just to see what you come up with. I realize you've "done some soul searching," but if that soul-searching was limited to "should I get a degree in Chinese archaeology" or "should I become an archeologist" or anything along those lines, it was not deep or broad enough. You can do better than that. I'm very eager and interested to see what you come up with.

Employment of anthropologists and archeologists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/anthropologists-and-archeologists.htm This assumes at least a Masters degree. While it's true there aren't a TON of jobs, there are relatively few professional working archaeologists who go on to do higher education work. (Relatively, remember. Many remain "shovel bums" doing the grunt-work type stuff seasonally or only getting certificates.)

I really do hear and understand your enthusiasm for this, and I would share your enthusiasm IF it had a clear basis in reality--in other words if you could reasonably expect an MA to get you a job in this field that pays, say, at least $10k/yr more than you could earn right now. But your approach to this really suggests that you don't want to hear ANYTHING negative about it--for instance, you included the quote about how employment is projected to grow 19%, but you left out this, the very next sentence at that web page: "However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 1,400 new jobs over the 10-year period. Jobseekers will likely face very strong competition."

That's only 140 new jobs per year in the entire United States, in the ENTIRE field of archaeology AND anthropology. How many of those jobs do you think are looking for (or would even consider) a person with an MA in Chinese archaeology?

And by the way, while I'll take your word for it that "relatively few professional working archaeologists... go on to do higher education work," there are 192 colleges in the US that grant MA's in archaeology (http://www.gradschools.com/search-programs/archaeology). There are also 323 colleges that grant MA's in anthropology (http://www.gradschools.com/search-programs/anthropology). They graduate new students every year. Even if they only graduated one student each (which of course isn't the case--grad school cohorts are bare minimum 5-10 students), that would still be more arch and anthro MA graduates each year (515) than there are arch and anthro jobs (140, and that number also includes the jobs only available to people with PhD's).

And now let's go question by question...

I'm getting the impression that your knowledge about the actual job you would have is very hazy. It's really, really a bad idea to go to grad school when you don't actually know what your job would be. So:
1 - Who would your employer be? That is, who hires archaeologists specializing in China?

1. Like most people, I don't have a job lined up for after I graduate. Companies don't necessarily hire archaeologists for their specialties, they hire them for their experience and expertise in general. As you get more experience you get to choose more. (And it takes a degree to have a significant amount of expertise.) I see that as an acceptable degree of risk.

I may have misspoken--I wasn't asking about employment you may have had lined up. I was asking what employers hire people with MA's in Chinese archaeology. You mention "companies," for instance. What companies (as opposed to universities, museums etc.) hire people with MA's in Chinese archaeology? Or even, what companies hire people with MA's in archaeology, period?

Just as an example of the type of information that could be part of the answer to my question, these are the academic jobs available in 2012-13 for people with PhD's in archeology:
http://academicjobs.wikia.com/wiki/Archaeology_Jobs_2012-2013
Those, BTW, are the jobs in every speciality, not just Chinese archaeology. A lot of them are actually in anthropology so the folks with archaeology PhD's would be competing with the anthro PhD's for those jobs. This is not a pertinent example, since you are only talking about getting an MA and thus wouldn't be in the running for any of these jobs, but I'm just posting that as an example of the kind of information that you would need to have in order to start getting a clear idea of what the job market is like.

Another example, more pertinent: the jobs and grants page of the Society for East Asian Archeology.
http://www.seaa-web.org/not-job.htm
Again, all the university jobs require PhD's and thus aren't something you could get with an MA, but there are some non-university jobs on that list. I think an important thing to notice about that list is that it is:
(1) WORLDWIDE (the jobs aren't just in North America),
(2) not limited to a single year (this is the jobs from about 2008-12) and...
(3) not very long.
In other words, there are not many jobs in this field available, many of them would require you to make your life outside the US, and most of them require a degree you're not talking about getting, namely the PhD.

2 - What is required to get those jobs? That is, what degrees, what language skills, what experience?

2. The jobs I see posted on industry-specific job boards require different things based on the type of job. For basic grunt-work type digging, anyone can do it after having done a field school (which I have done). This maxes out at about $30K/year if you're lucky and you never get to run a project. The next level up requires years of experience (at ~$30K) and you basically work for construction companies helping them meet regulations etc. This can pay pretty well but the work is not that interesting and often bureaucratic/rushed. Then there's the Masters/PhD level work, where you have more control, more income, and more interesting work.

Do construction companies hire people with degrees in CHINESE archaeology to help them comply with regulations? More to the point, do construction companies in the US or UK hire such people? I ask that second question because my impression is you'd rather make your life in the US or UK than in China, and also because there's not much in the way of construction regulations in China that actually get enforced, so I would be surprised if such jobs even existed in China (much less if they hired foreigners for those jobs, much less if they paid anything a westerner would consider a living wage).

Also, you haven't answered the question of specifically what jobs are available to people with an MA in archaeology. While I understand that in theory people with Masters/PhD level expertise may tend to have "more control and more interesting work" than those with only a BA or similar qualification, what I'm urging you to home in on is this: IN PRACTICE, i.e. in everyday reality, what specific jobs could you get with an MA (or for that matter PhD) in Chinese archaeology? And are those jobs plentiful enough that you can reasonably expect to get one of them if you have the degree in hand? (It doesn't sound like it, since you pointed to a link that said there are projected to be only 1400 new jobs over a ten-year period, which is a far smaller number than the number of people who will be graduating with MA's in archeology over that same period.) And are the jobs that in reality exist actually more interesting and better paid than what you could get now (in any field for which you're qualified or could become qualified)?

3 - Where in the country or world are those jobs based?

3. There are jobs all over the continental US, Hawaii, Alaska, and globally. Contrary to what Argyle says, many of the best jobs are based in the US (from what working archaeologists tell me), working for the government or for universities. It's true that some of the VERY best are in the EU. Relocating to the UK is a viable option since my S.O. is a UK citizen and has family there, etc.

There are jobs for people with MA's in Chinese archeology--or for people with MA's in archeology with a geographic specialization that is unrelated to the place where the job is located (e.g. an Asian arch person doing digs in England)--in all those places? Can you point to any job postings, or to the web pages of people doing those jobs? Do you know how plentiful such jobs are? For instance, do you know how many applicants each job posting tends to have? Even if you had a PhD, for instance, you would likely be competing against hundreds of people for every open position--and there are very few open positions.

My concern with your approach to this is the contrast between your generalized optimism ("there are jobs all over the world, so working archaeologists tell me") and the absence of specific facts (job postings, job boards, web pages of people who have such jobs and whose qualifications are along the lines of what you're talking about--i.e. a masters in either Chinese archaeology or in any other geographic/cultural area that isn't related to where the job is located--e.g. someone with a master's in Native American archaeology who's working on European dig sites).

Basically it sounds, from where I'm sitting (and of course I could be wrong), like you want X to be true and so you are banking (literally--tens of thousands of bucks) on statements from various people that X is true, instead of actually doing the research to learn whether X is true. College professors who've been professors for a decade or more are notorious for giving terrible advice about the job market in their field, because it's been a long time since they were on the market. There are still plenty of English literature professors encouraging students to get PhD's in English literature, which is one of the degrees least likely to lead to a college prof job on the face of the earth.


4 - How much do those jobs pay?

4. The median annual wage for anthropologists and archeologists was $57,420 in May 2012.

Uh... sure, and the median wage for lawyers is $113,530 (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm). However, "median" means that fully HALF the people in that job earn less than that figure, and there is nothing in a "median" figure that can possibly tell you how wide the spread is or where in that spread the particular TYPE of lawyer job you might be considering going into falls. I know plenty of lawyers who are earning $35k-$45k/year, full time, a decade or more out of law school. And then I also know lawyers who are earning millions.

So if I were giving advice to someone thinking about a law degree, I would ask what specific type of law job they wanted to do, and then I would suggest they look up salaries for that specific job. For instance, do they want to be a prosecutor? Ok then--go look up job postings for prosecutors; google salaries for state and federal prosecutors... NOW you have some real information. And that information, BTW, will tell the aspiring lawyer that they won't be earning anywhere near $113k a year.

That's what I'm suggesting you do. You already know there are people with your current qualifications earning $30k a year. A bit of research will tell you that entry-level salaries for people with PhD's in archaeology who get academic jobs are on the order of maybe $50k a year... call it $40k-$60k to cover the range (and then remember that hundreds of people are competing for each of those jobs). With a bit more research, you should also be able to find out what salaries are available for people doing the specific kind of job you want. What is that salary?


« Last Edit: May 24, 2014, 01:59:24 PM by Daleth »

uppy

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #32 on: May 24, 2014, 04:51:44 PM »
Wow. Guys. This is getting out of hand. Let me save you a lot more work and research and wasted time spent picking apart my statements. Iím abandoning this thread because I donít really have time to sit here and spell out every detail about what precisely it is I plan to do. I didn't come here for your opinions on that. But apparently you guys are only interested in giving the kind of advice you LIKE to hear yourselves give. Thanks anyway.

All I can say is take heart knowing that you tried to dissuade me from this deadly path. You did everything a decent human being would be expected to do. I bequeath this thread unto you, oh lords of MMM.

Daleth

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #33 on: May 24, 2014, 07:50:08 PM »
None so blind as those who will not see.... Wish I hadn't wasted my time trying to help a stranger avoid a mistake.

mozar

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #34 on: May 24, 2014, 09:41:52 PM »
Take heart Daleth. I read your every word and I will use your advice for other people I know.

livetogive

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #35 on: May 25, 2014, 12:40:44 AM »
My wife and I both paid for our masters with different kinds of debt.  She owed money, I owed time to Uncle Sam.   Neither one of us love our new jobs but they will allow us to reach fire, same as the old ones would have.

I think education is always great so won't deter you, but however you borrow be sure  to do it modestly. 

ysette9

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #36 on: May 25, 2014, 07:50:00 AM »
I'm sure this is too late since I think the group collectively scared off the poor original poster. I get where he is coming from in terms of looking for specific advice while what he was getting was different from where is heart is telling him to go. I also understand where everyone else is coming from since I, too read the original post with a bit of dread in my stomach, concerned about the riskiness of pursuing that degree and field. Maybe this is just for the choir at this point, but I'll jump on the thread anyway.

I applaud the poster for doing some soul searching on what he believes will be fulfilling now for studies and (hopefully) work. As I approach the 10-year mark on my career now (though in my early 30s, we may be at a similar age, me and the original poster) I find it interesting to see how my priorities regarding life and my job in particular have changed with time. I have spent most of my career working hard and getting ahead and generally being very satisfied. While that is important, I think it is equally important to imagine the other things that may play into decisions.

1) If that girlfriend is as great as I am sure she is, what happens if/when you get married? How sustainable is a dual-career path with the two areas you are pursuing between the two of you? If it is not, have you discussed who could make sacrifices for the other? Could either of you sustain a household on a single salary?
2) What happens when in 5-10 years from now you decide you want to start a family (if that happens)? Will the job you hope to get allow you the flexibility to take time off, work reduced hours for a time period, or even be in the same country as your future family?
3) What if a major life event causes you to drastically change your priorities? Obviously you can't predict that right now; I doubt few people can. I have seen it happen to many of my friends though, especially when they reach the starting-family stage where suddenly their old and formerly very satisfying job suddenly no longer makes them want to get out of bed in the morning. I have friends who are trying to switch industries, start side businesses, or talk about quitting their professional careers to become yoga instructors. All of these ideas might have sounded a little harebrained 5 years ago, but people evolve. It is much, much easier to follow these changing passions if you don't have debt, have savings built up from a decent job, and have taken purposeful steps to keep yourself broadly marketable. 

I type this here as we are about to (knock on wood) start our family. Last year I was working 50-60 hours a week in a stressful but high-visibility and satisfying assignment and got rewarded nicely for my effort. Today I am working a 50% schedule for medical reasons and dreaming about the day we can reach FI so I can have that huge backyard garden I have always wanted. Things can change dramatically in a short period of time and I am so fortunate that we have set ourselves up financially so that we have options.

Best of luck.

Daleth

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #37 on: May 25, 2014, 07:57:10 AM »
Take heart Daleth. I read your every word and I will use your advice for other people I know.

:)
Thanks.

BZB

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #38 on: May 25, 2014, 10:47:54 AM »
This from Mr. BZB,
My thanks to Daleth and the rest. As an active professional archeologist who regularly talks to wannabe and budding archeologists it is good to have this sort of discussion on paper. I intend to copy this whole string down and show it to younglings in future, so none of this is wasted despite jrez's departure from the conversation and unwillingness to listen to sensible, sane cautions. I wish more of the kids I end up talking to had career advisors in college who would give them the same sort of talk we've had here.
Regards,
Mr. BZB

uppy

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #39 on: May 25, 2014, 01:55:42 PM »
Mr. BZB: please check your PM inbox.

Sincere thanks to those few of you who were/are actually giving me the benefit of the doubt.

Everyone else: I listened to what you had to say. I HEARD you. We simply disagree on what's important, and I'm not interested in applying your priorities to my life. For some reason you find that very hard to accept.

Daleth

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Re: another Grad school question
« Reply #40 on: May 25, 2014, 03:43:42 PM »
Mr. BZB: please check your PM inbox.

Sincere thanks to those few of you who were/are actually giving me the benefit of the doubt.

Everyone else: I listened to what you had to say. I HEARD you. We simply disagree on what's important, and I'm not interested in applying your priorities to my life. For some reason you find that very hard to accept.

My working assumption was not that your priority was early retirement--in other words not the usual MMM goal--but that your priority was making a career in a field you enjoy. My point was that based on everything you said, links you posted to, links I found on my own and my knowledge of the academic and humanities job markets, an MA in Chinese archaeology seems unlikely to get you there.