Author Topic: Case Study: Grad School?!?!?!  (Read 3166 times)

aubreykate

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Case Study: Grad School?!?!?!
« on: June 30, 2014, 09:46:01 AM »
Hello All!
I could really use some help! I'm an extremely indecisive person and I need to make a decision that is incredibly hard to make! When I originally enrolled in school I was planning on becoming a school counselor. I finished up my bachelor's degree in psychology and was going to get started on my master's degree but am now having second thoughts. I worry about job prospects in school counseling when I am done with my degree. The master's program will run me about $17,000 (not including books) so it is reasonably priced for a master's degree but my husband has a job that he loves with a lot of room for promotion. Because of this job, we live in a very rural area and there are only 3 schools in the area. Even though I have finished my bachelor's degree, I feel as though I would be "dropping out" in a sense because I wouldn't be finishing what I started out to do. I like the idea of having summer's off and a middle class income, but I want early retirement more and feel as though I should just keep working and investing and possibly teaching myself web development to obtain a job with a higher salary (I make 30K now and am interested in increasing my salary though a master's degree or some other means). My husband makes pretty good money now (around 60k). I am only 24 years only and I really don't want to saddle my future family with student loan debt if I won't be able to reap the financial rewards from the debt later.

We have no student loans
We have no credit card debt
Both of our cars are paid off
Our only debt is on a duplex that is over halfway paid off!!

We have lived a very mustachian life and enjoy saving money and we are learning more about investing.

I would really like some help from people who are little bit older than me and have more wisdom and possibly life experience about getting a master's degree and how it turned out for them.

Question: Given my circumstances, should I continue on with my master's degree or call it quits on formal education and seek alternative means for obtaining a higher salary?

frugaliknowit

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Re: Case Study: Grad School?!?!?!
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2014, 10:10:57 AM »
If I were pursuing the master's degree, i would seek out an employer who would provide assistance.   I would not spend my own funds on the degree.  If you are having difficulty finding a sponsor, that says something about the degree and the demand for it.

nereo

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Re: Case Study: Grad School?!?!?!
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2014, 10:16:12 AM »
Hello there

I recently finished my masters degree and (before that) a double-major BA/BS.  Currently I am a full-time PhD student.
My advice is this:  Unless you are extremely confident that you want do get a masters degree, and that said degree will be very useful or required for your field, then you should not do it.
I've seen too many people enter grad school not certain that they should be there, and the vast majority seem to regret it.

ONly after answering the above questions should you do a cost-benefit type analysis. 

windawake

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Re: Case Study: Grad School?!?!?!
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2014, 11:04:12 AM »
I would highly advise against paying out of pocket for a master's degree. I just got a master's of public health and had research and teaching assistantships in school that provided a salary and tuition waivers. That's definitely the way to go.

rmendpara

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Re: Case Study: Grad School?!?!?!
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2014, 11:29:47 AM »
Hello All!
I could really use some help! I'm an extremely indecisive person and I need to make a decision that is incredibly hard to make! When I originally enrolled in school I was planning on becoming a school counselor. I finished up my bachelor's degree in psychology and was going to get started on my master's degree but am now having second thoughts. I worry about job prospects in school counseling when I am done with my degree. The master's program will run me about $17,000 (not including books) so it is reasonably priced for a master's degree but my husband has a job that he loves with a lot of room for promotion. Because of this job, we live in a very rural area and there are only 3 schools in the area. Even though I have finished my bachelor's degree, I feel as though I would be "dropping out" in a sense because I wouldn't be finishing what I started out to do. I like the idea of having summer's off and a middle class income, but I want early retirement more and feel as though I should just keep working and investing and possibly teaching myself web development to obtain a job with a higher salary (I make 30K now and am interested in increasing my salary though a master's degree or some other means). My husband makes pretty good money now (around 60k). I am only 24 years only and I really don't want to saddle my future family with student loan debt if I won't be able to reap the financial rewards from the debt later.

We have no student loans
We have no credit card debt
Both of our cars are paid off
Our only debt is on a duplex that is over halfway paid off!!

We have lived a very mustachian life and enjoy saving money and we are learning more about investing.

I would really like some help from people who are little bit older than me and have more wisdom and possibly life experience about getting a master's degree and how it turned out for them.

Question: Given my circumstances, should I continue on with my master's degree or call it quits on formal education and seek alternative means for obtaining a higher salary?

Here's a middle ground to help you feel comfortable with your decision. Take a semester off! Keep working and doing whatever else it is you do with your time. If around Oct/Nov/Dec, you decide you want to return and finish the program, then go for it.

In economics, your undergrad degree, and basically everything before today, is a "sunk cost". A sunk cost is anything that was paid/incurred earlier, but you can't do anything about it now and it should be ignored for future decisions. A crazy example is if you bought a power saw for $1,000 in hopes that you would start a woodwork business, but then you got injured, and during injury you decided that you hate trees and wood. Once you get healthy, should you buy the sanding machine, paint bench, retail space, etc, just because you already paid for the power saw? Of course not!

My silly example stands to illustrate that your prior degree (let's say it was in basket weaving) really doesn't matter. It's the past, and you can't change it now.

Would it make sense to spend more time and take on more debt to get a degree in something you don't know you want to do for a while? The answer is no...

I'll say this: until you decide what you want to do, don't spend any more money on school. Education is a means to an end, not a place to "figure things out". If you don't know your desired end yet, then that's where you should start.

Good luck!

Trudie

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Re: Case Study: Grad School?!?!?!
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2014, 02:43:53 PM »
Hello All!
I could really use some help! I'm an extremely indecisive person and I need to make a decision that is incredibly hard to make! When I originally enrolled in school I was planning on becoming a school counselor. I finished up my bachelor's degree in psychology and was going to get started on my master's degree but am now having second thoughts. I worry about job prospects in school counseling when I am done with my degree. The master's program will run me about $17,000 (not including books) so it is reasonably priced for a master's degree but my husband has a job that he loves with a lot of room for promotion. Because of this job, we live in a very rural area and there are only 3 schools in the area. Even though I have finished my bachelor's degree, I feel as though I would be "dropping out" in a sense because I wouldn't be finishing what I started out to do. I like the idea of having summer's off and a middle class income, but I want early retirement more and feel as though I should just keep working and investing and possibly teaching myself web development to obtain a job with a higher salary (I make 30K now and am interested in increasing my salary though a master's degree or some other means). My husband makes pretty good money now (around 60k). I am only 24 years only and I really don't want to saddle my future family with student loan debt if I won't be able to reap the financial rewards from the debt later.

We have no student loans
We have no credit card debt
Both of our cars are paid off
Our only debt is on a duplex that is over halfway paid off!!

We have lived a very mustachian life and enjoy saving money and we are learning more about investing.

I would really like some help from people who are little bit older than me and have more wisdom and possibly life experience about getting a master's degree and how it turned out for them.

Question: Given my circumstances, should I continue on with my master's degree or call it quits on formal education and seek alternative means for obtaining a higher salary?

Here's a middle ground to help you feel comfortable with your decision. Take a semester off! Keep working and doing whatever else it is you do with your time. If around Oct/Nov/Dec, you decide you want to return and finish the program, then go for it.

In economics, your undergrad degree, and basically everything before today, is a "sunk cost". A sunk cost is anything that was paid/incurred earlier, but you can't do anything about it now and it should be ignored for future decisions. A crazy example is if you bought a power saw for $1,000 in hopes that you would start a woodwork business, but then you got injured, and during injury you decided that you hate trees and wood. Once you get healthy, should you buy the sanding machine, paint bench, retail space, etc, just because you already paid for the power saw? Of course not!

My silly example stands to illustrate that your prior degree (let's say it was in basket weaving) really doesn't matter. It's the past, and you can't change it now.

Would it make sense to spend more time and take on more debt to get a degree in something you don't know you want to do for a while? The answer is no...

I'll say this: until you decide what you want to do, don't spend any more money on school. Education is a means to an end, not a place to "figure things out". If you don't know your desired end yet, then that's where you should start.

Good luck!

I think this is very sound advice.  I went to graduate school and finished, even though I HATED my program.  (Kept telling myself I wasn't a "quitter.") On the plus side, I had an assistantship and a tuition waiver, and I met my husband (not in "the plan" while I was a full-time student), but I still had a small amount of debt $10K when I got out, which I quickly paid off.  What I've been amazed at is how many of my classmates have gone on to do other things, outside of the field.

I would add that I too struggled with feelings of "giving up" when I didn't use my degree.  It sounds like you are already having these qualms.  I wouldn't add to them by getting another iffy degree.

My SIL is a school guidance counselor and can't wait to get out.  The reality of the profession is that she ends up doing a lot of really heavy duty mental health counseling and interventions with parents.  And, when there's a "project" that doesn't easily fit into the curriculum it falls into her lap.  She also spends a lot of time dealing with discipline -- which is really the principal's area. 

studentdoc2

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Re: Case Study: Grad School?!?!?!
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2014, 03:05:23 PM »
My advice is this:  Unless you are extremely confident that you want do get a masters degree, and that said degree will be very useful or required for your field, then you should not do it.
I've seen too many people enter grad school not certain that they should be there, and the vast majority seem to regret it.

ONly after answering the above questions should you do a cost-benefit type analysis.

+1
As a graduate student myself married to another graduate student and with a social circle (almost) entirely composed of graduate students, I concur that you should NOT enter grad school unless you are 99% certain that this is what you want to do AND have calculated that it is financially beneficial.

aubreykate

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Re: Case Study: Grad School?!?!?!
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2014, 09:02:52 AM »
Thank you all. I kind of felt as I was typing this that it was the wrong decision for me. I just have to get over my own feelings of "giving up" But in reality I'm probably just giving up more debt, stress, and unemployment. I think I'll try some alternative options to secure a higher paying job.