Author Topic: Graduate School: making decisions the mustachian way  (Read 4337 times)

meagain

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Graduate School: making decisions the mustachian way
« on: April 15, 2013, 02:14:51 PM »
I decided to apply to graduate school for an MFA in art. From the start, I decided that I wouldn't go unless I got at least full-tuition somewhere (while hoping for even better than that, but not counting on it). I know that going to graduate school for art does not guarantee any future employment prospects and thought it would be foolish to do so if it meant taking on debt.

At first came a string of rejections, which I expected. Then I eventually got accepted into 3 programs. One offered full-tuition, one offered free tuition and a stipend only in the second year (first year would be all loans), and one gave me a full-ride (tuition plus a stipend that is more than I make now!).

The reason I'm writing here is because I was baffled by the reactions of certain family members. Some were concerned that I was letting "money win out" and asked,  "are you picking the best school in your favor?" Even after reassuring them that I didn't apply to any schools I wouldn't consider attending (duh), they seemed so concerned that money was clouding my judgment! While I would have preferred to live in the cities where the two schools that offered less are located, I didn't see the hypothetical opportunities there as an overriding factor over debt.

Can anyone else relate? Was I a "fool" to choose a school based on financials? Would you take on debt to go to an Ivy League school when you could go to a different, well-regarded university for free? Do tell.


Reepekg

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Re: Graduate School: making decisions the mustachian way
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2013, 03:08:56 PM »
I was accepted to an elite (read expensive) private college for undergrad and was lucky to escape without crushing debt through scholarships and graduating a year early. Was my education that much better than my wife's at a solid state school? Doubtful.

Fast forward and I'm currently waitlisted at a top 5 business school for an MBA. I applied with the same stipulations about needing scholarships as you. Even if I am accepted now, I likely won't attend because taking on 100K+ in debt is a poor life choice. I'm bracing for the inevitable shock/outrage from friends and family if this plays out and I do decline.

If you are paying for an education, there absolutely has to be a cost/benefit analysis. Will your earning power increase from your degree enough to justify the cost? In my case, I probably won't earn much more as a business person than an engineer, so there's no way I'd make back the investment in an additional degree. I'd love to become more educated, make some connections, and learn more about business... but not at this price point. People get caught up on the "school brand" and "opportunity" that education offers, but think like an engineer (or Mustachian) and quantify the benefits and sacrifices when making a decision if you truly want to come out ahead. The fact that people don't is why we have a student debt problem in the first place. 
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 03:12:39 PM by Reepekg »

Zaga

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Re: Graduate School: making decisions the mustachian way
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2013, 04:35:48 PM »
I'm finishing up my MBA now, and I picked a school based on financials, so I say ignore the naysayers!  They don't have to live with your debt, you do.  So their opinion doesn't matter.

Interestingly no one I know has criticized my choice once i said I picked it because I got free tuition.

badassprof

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Re: Graduate School: making decisions the mustachian way
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2013, 09:10:56 PM »
I think that you're very wise to weigh carefully where you should go and funding should not be a small consideration, particuarly when you are earning a degree that may not be readily translated into a high paying salary.
I think part of the issue with your family is that for many people (particularly if, like me, you come from a family where few have gone to college) there exists the belief that an Ivy League education will lead to great job opportunities.  It may (it did for me) but it also may not. I personally would not have gone to school for my PhD where I did if it wasn't paid for by the institution,  especially given my field (I'm an English professor).  I tell my students to weigh the choice carefully if they don't receive full funding.  Another thing to consider: you can go to a very good school and receive a poor education or a so so school and receive a very good one. So much of education is about what you do while you're there.

Good luck with your choices and congratulations on receiving funding for your MFA. As you know, that does not happen for everyone, so it is clear that your talent was recognized.

expatartist

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Re: Graduate School: making decisions the mustachian way
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2013, 09:53:10 PM »
You're absolutely doing the right thing, particularly for your field. Unless one of your choices is Yale, most other MFAs in art don't offer a huge advantage, aside from geographic proximity to museums/artworld resources.

Congrats - I'd be very interested to see your work!

meagain

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Re: Graduate School: making decisions the mustachian way
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2013, 10:59:43 PM »
Thanks everyone for the reinforcement. I don't know many people in real life who think about money the way I do, so it's nice to have this community.


AccidentalMiser

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Re: Graduate School: making decisions the mustachian way
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2013, 04:15:58 AM »
Would you take on debt to go to an Ivy League school when you could go to a different, well-regarded university for free?

Hell, no!

I would smile at the "certain family members" and ask sweetly "Are you offering to pick up the difference?"  That'll shut 'em up.

Congratulations, Meagain, go get your free MFA and make your mustachian art!