Author Topic: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it  (Read 8805 times)

MsGrimalkin

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Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« on: November 04, 2014, 02:13:02 PM »
Hello wise people,

There was a post similar to this a few weeks ago and I realize that this is a very personal decision but I was hoping some of you kind people could help me out.  My situation is that I am 34, single, home-owner, and live in HCOL area in Southern California.  I'm not intent on staying in SoCal, although my family does live here, and am exploring the possibility of a LCOL move after I get some more equity in my home (bought in late 2008, could probably sell at a profit but would be in a much better place in 5 years as the neighborhood is slowly gentrifying).  I don't want kids and I can't imagine getting married so on the plus side I only have to take care of myself but on the negative side I only have my income to contribute.  For the past 3 years I've been hovering around $100k income but could probably earn more and I am exploring different ways to make that happen (primarily: job search).  I am not by nature frugal and need a lot of improvement in that area but I've taken some positive steps to mustachianism (sold gas-guzzling SUV, started cooking meals, etc...).

Pre-MMM I thought I had to go get an MBA or equivalent Master's (I'm considering Finance or Business Analytics) because at a certain point, employers expect these credentials.  Depending on which school and which program I pick, this could set me back $50k - $100k.  My monthly mortgage plus taxes plus insurance is about 25% of my gross pay but I owe my parents $250k for the downpayment on the house.  I owe about $280k on the mortgage at 3.625% and will not be in a hurry to pay that down.  On my 3rd refinance, I had hoped to repay a portion of what I owed my parents by rolling it into the loan but due to several foreclosures in the neighborhood I did not have a LTV high enough and even had to put a few thousand dollars to bring it up!  Stupid banks.  Anyhow, my parents are fine with not being repaid in a timely fashion but I feel that I owe it and I don't want issues with my younger siblings over this when my parents die.  My parents are worth a lot of money and I will inherit a fair amount but I expect them to be around for at least another 20 years.  I also owe about $30k in assorted debts so regardless of whether or not I decide to go to school I know that I need to clean that up and save enough to cash flow grad school as I do not want to take out student loans (and I will have to work full time as well).

My quandary is this: it never even occurred to me that retiring early was an option.  My parents still work, everybody I know under the age of 70 still works, and so it honestly never occurred to me that I could reduce my consumption and have a different outcome.  I have a huge debt load and nothing in savings so I know that I need to take care of this before I consider grad school.  I'll probably still study for the GMAT (god I hate that test) and try to take it this year with the intent of attending grad school in 2016.  But should I even do this?  I have no great love of business- it mildly interests me, I'm good at it, and I by default love anything that will increase my earning capacity but it's not like I had this burning desire to get an MBA.  And it's not like I love doing P&Ls and sitting on manager's calls either- this would not be improved with an advanced degree, I'd just be paid more to tolerate it.  My passions are more creative and I shake my head at the CEOs of the world and vow that if I were able to get 1/10 of their assets, I surely would not continue to work.  I'd rather go to art school, which is also heinously expensive. 

But I digress.  On the one hand I could see getting the right degree could propel me down the consulting path and I could earn easily over $200k+ per year thus accelerating FIRE.  Or I could plug along, reduce expenses, and not be on the hook for $50k-$100k which could rather go into investments or paying the parents off.  At my current rate, I cannot fire for another 15 years anyhow at which point I will be 50.

I just want to move to a small town and be a sheriff's deputy. 

PS  My apologies for this incoherent and rambling post.

Future Lazy

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2014, 05:06:48 PM »
Hmm. Well, I saw that no one had really answered you here, and I didn't want you to be left hanging. Not sure how valid some of my input will be - I mean, I've never even been to college or made more than a quarter of what you make in a year, but I think I can offer some suggestions.

Even if you're not planning on cutting back that much, it's still a good idea to keep a solid budget. Leaning towards mustachianism is positive, but I would still recommend using a tracker like Personal Capital or YNAB to track what you're using and not using. Likewise, even if you're not planning on cutting back that much, using a budget to focus extra money on your debts would do you a world of good. Remember to look at the cost of interest over time, too:
http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/credit-cards/balance-debt-payoff-calculator.aspx


To address your actual issue more directly:
Option A: If you want to return to school to learn more, you should - and you should pick something that you actually like, instead of an MBA. Try to pick a major that compliments the degree you already have, while opening up more creative avenues that you're more interested in?
Option B: If you want to go to school to earn more and FIRE faster, then you should go for an MBA, but also make a serious, serious effort to be a lot more frugal.

Try using a flow chart to map your possible routes. I like coggle.it:
https://coggle.it/

Here's an example I did with a friend recently - she has a BS in Bio, but doesn't want to proceed in that field very much.
https://coggle.it/diagram/54584d891d98d11007076810/9ecd9b2af832c18694f65c3b637f94bc98a3e995f5f7b37ec518dc6f42928655

I think one of your concerns should also be boredom after FIRE. If you persue a degree in something you like instead of an MBA, you might be more likely to avoid that boredom.
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/03/23/reader-story-the-man-who-thought-early-retirement-sucked/


All that suggested, I think that you wouldn't even need to get an MBA or a different degree to FIRE, if that is your goal. Since it's just you, it would be extremely easy to dump the house and frugalize your life until you're living on just 7-10k a year, and then save 90k a year for 3-5 years. Then, poof, fire. Early Retirement Extreme style.
http://earlyretirementextreme.com/how-i-live-on-7000-per-year.html
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/09/06/does-peak-happiness-really-come-at-75000year/
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/04/14/how-to-make-money-buy-happiness/


Hope this stuff helps!

brian313313

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2014, 05:35:32 PM »
I'm not giving advice because this is a personal choice. My life situation and goals were different than yours but I'll share my experience with a similar situation.

I was burnt out in 2002 so I went back to school. First I finished the Bachelor's then went into a PhD program. My goal was to change careers and go into research or be a professor. In the end, I did not finish the PhD for quite a few reasons and ended up going back to work in my previous field.

The pros of this experience were that it was fun. I was 35 and as a naturally frugal person, I had good savings. Because of this I didn't need to work and could just enjoy school. I didn't have unlimited funds so I was pushing with a hard course-load but that was fine as an adult. The change from working to studying was very refreshing and put a new enjoyment back into life. It also helped me to get over my burn-out.

The cons are that by now I would be FIRE if I had not done this. First was the cost, but that wasn't so bad. It was the 4 years without income and digging into my savings instead of accumulating.

In the end, I found a few books on job-burnout and got all the education I needed to continue with what I do. I am a consultant and make good money. Not $200k but still pretty good and I take 2-3 months off every year by choice. By focusing on the positive of my current situation I have learned to deal with it. I do not like my job, but I do like the benefits the high salary provides: time off and early retirement coming soon.

At times I have regretted going back and other times I haven't. Currently I'm a little more in the regret mode because I'd be retired if I hadn't. It was still a great experience at the time and I may go back again after I retire. Good luck with your decision and I'm sure that either way you decide will be fine.

peabody58

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2014, 06:09:38 PM »
I got my MS - Industrial Technology/Thesis for 3 reasons: 1) My brother got an MBA so I needed to keep the sibling rivalry going (he was Air Force, a was Navy Subs), my wife had never slept with a Grad student before, and 3) for enhanced job security/pay potential.  20 years later, brother and I are still polar opposites, wife is still with me (32 years!!), and I survived 3 rounds of layoffs and am at my peak earning potential.   I use a lot of my MS education at work, but the company doesn't seem to care one way or another that I have bettered myself.  FIRE in 11 months!! 

I enjoyed the mental stimulation and challenge of achieving the MS/Thesis goal.  With my rotating shift work, it took me 6 years to achieve, but was a great experience.  Financially it wasn't an issue as I used my GI Bill, Illinois Scholarship program and work education benefits.  I do not believe it is necessary for most career paths, and I am amazed at the number of MBA grads who can't manage their way out of a paper bag.  Education is a business first and foremost.  I was at the time making more than my PHd professors, and personnel knew that many of them were financial wreaks. 

Determine what you want to achieve from the education, and do what fits into your long range plans.

horsepoor

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2014, 06:28:23 PM »
I can't tell you about grad school - I got an MS directly after finishing my BS, and it was well worth the time and expense because it propelled me up the earnings curve pretty quickly.  Totally different field and situation though.

However, I am confused on the house situation. You owe $250K to your parents, and $280 to the mortgage company, but the house didn't have an 80% LTV when you refinanced?  So is it worth $350ish, or is it worth $660ish?  If it's worth $660ish, and you could make a high salary in a lower COL area, it might be well worth considering selling the place and relocating to a place where you can rent a nice house for $1K per month, or buy something for around $150.  That would propel your FI with more certainty than staying in that house and waiting and hoping for gentrification and appreciation to happen.  $530 plus the other debts is a really staggering figure when you think of it in terms of being like 5X your gross wages. 

frugal_c

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2014, 06:52:29 PM »
Could you do consulting without grad school?   Do you want to do consulting or is just about the money?

I am just going to throw my personal opinion out there, what I would do knowing myself.  Personally, given your high salary and being single I would hunker down for 6 or 7 years, save like mad, work hard and then move to a lost COL area and FIRE.  Get a side-hustle if you are not quite close enough.  As a single person you really shouldn't need that much to live on and you do have a substantial salary.  You are also in a very unique situation that you have a massive safety net in your parents.   Normally I don't really like the 4% rule for people in their early 40's but in your case it is less of an issue, you could probably go even a little higher so the saving goal is just that much closer.  That is just me though based on what I read, there are so many unknonws here that it's tough to give solid advice.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2014, 06:54:26 PM by frugal_canuck »

hodedofome

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2014, 07:32:46 PM »
I did my own grad school and I'd be willing to bet I know more than most MBA's. I just read about 50 books and followed a bunch of blogs, watched a bunch of videos and soaked up as much as I could. Took me a few years but I now consider myself pretty dang proficient. Wouldn't trade it for a formal education but the degree is good for some jobs. If you just want to learn something, I don't think you could do better than learning on your own.

MsGrimalkin

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2014, 08:09:05 PM »
Thanks so much for responding!  I'm pretty new to this board but hope I'm doing it right.  I do use YNAB,and love it.  I know exactly how much I spend each month and how totally ridiculous it is.  At this point it's all about the person staring me back in the mirror exerting some control.

[Try using a flow chart to map your possible routes. I like coggle.it:
https://coggle.it/]

Thanks so much!  I'll check it out.


[I think one of your concerns should also be boredom after FIRE. If you persue a degree in something you like instead of an MBA, you might be more likely to avoid that boredom.]

There is zero danger of this.  I could fill out a page with all the things I want to do.  I have tons of hobbies and they are all time-consuming (reading, writing, crafts, hiking, painting, etc...)

I think I blew it on quoting you.  Sigh.

MsGrimalkin

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2014, 08:36:28 PM »
Ok, let's try this again.

I did complete a mini-MBA extension course through the local university at the low cost of $5k.  Learned a lot but unfortunately employers don't care.  But it was definitely worth my time and money.

Could you do consulting without grad school?   Do you want to do consulting or is just about the money?

Personally, given your high salary and being single I would hunker down for 6 or 7 years, save like mad, work hard and then move to a lost COL area and FIRE.  Get a side-hustle if you are not quite close enough.  As a single person you really shouldn't need that much to live on and you do have a substantial salary.  You are also in a very unique situation that you have a massive safety net in your parents.   Normally I don't really like the 4% rule for people in their early 40's but in your case it is less of an issue, you could probably go even a little higher so the saving goal is just that much closer.

It is all about they money.  I've been working full-time for 11 years and initially I honestly didn't mind the concept of "work" even though most years I didn't really like my job.  I've also never taken a vacation in those years unless you count unemployment and I've usually had a side-hustle.  I'm not a vacation/travel person but I do like camping.  This last year has really got me down (received non-performance related pay cut, way too much drama at work, way too many hours, etc...).  I would never have found this website if I hadn't been miserable at my job.  Conventional wisdom says "get a degree so you can do something better".  Higher up in management does not equal "better"- it just means hopefully more pay to put up with exponentially more shit. I feel trapped where I am.  What you suggested above is kind of what I'm leaning towards.  I don't want to move until I'm 40 so I have 6 more years.  This is totally arbitrary and has no logic behind it.

However, I am confused on the house situation. You owe $250K to your parents, and $280 to the mortgage company, but the house didn't have an 80% LTV when you refinanced?  So is it worth $350ish, or is it worth $660ish?  If it's worth $660ish, and you could make a high salary in a lower COL area, it might be well worth considering selling the place and relocating to a place where you can rent a nice house for $1K per month, or buy something for around $150.  That would propel your FI with more certainty than staying in that house and waiting and hoping for gentrification and appreciation to happen.  $530 plus the other debts is a really staggering figure when you think of it in terms of being like 5X your gross wages. 

Sorry, let me clarify.  I refinanced in late 2012.  The mortgage company did comps in my area at a time in which we had a slew of foreclosures and does not accurately represent the property.  Today, 2 houses similar to mine are going up for sale for over $600k.  I am confident that if I were to sell now, I could get all of my money back and a little bit of profit.  House was purchased in late 2008 for $410k.  It needed a ton of work.  So the $250k includes the $100k down payment plus all of the work that went into the house.  It is 2bd/1ba, 1100 sq ft on a 7700 sq ft lot so it is definitely not a McMansion.  Unfortunately it was a complete dump when I purchased it so we did new windows, new plumbing, new electrical, etc...Location is desirable and finite (they can't build more here).  So if I were to pay it off tomorrow, it would cost approx. $530k which we could get back and the some.  The mortgage is not what keeps me up at night, it's what I owe my parents.  Yet at $2k/mo I could be done in 10 years.  < need to make this happen

Determine what you want to achieve from the education, and do what fits into your long range plans.

Yeah, this is what I need to do.

To clarify, I will not quit the workforce to study.  All programs I'm considering are evenings/weekends.  I find that I can structure my time better if I am working.  Let's just say I'm not the most studious person out there.  I do get good grades but I'd rather play video games than study.

Thank you to everyone who posted!  You've given me a lot to think about.

frugal_c

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2014, 08:49:59 PM »
One other option would be to just get another job in your field.   Not all jobs are equal, some jobs are better all-around.   If you are unhappy with your job, it might be worth switching even if it's a bit lower pay and adds some time to your work career.   You might even be able to find a better job with better pay.   I suppose you have probably thought of this, but just trying to get you thinking, there are many options.

mozar

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2014, 09:25:16 PM »
I just want to say that MBA's are over saturated in the market. The other masters degrees would probably get you where you want to go faster and be cheaper. Employers really want technical and specific know how. MBA is a generalist degree.

Pay your parents back when you sell the house?

MsGrimalkin

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2014, 09:36:53 PM »
I just want to say that MBA's are over saturated in the market. The other masters degrees would probably get you where you want to go faster and be cheaper. Employers really want technical and specific know how. MBA is a generalist degree.

Pay your parents back when you sell the house?

This is what i was thinking as well. There are too many MBAs and schools get away with charging 100k because of the demand. I was thinking of a MS in Business Analytics which would cost 44kish and would take under 2 years to complete part time. My soft skills are excellent and I am a Manager. My quantitative skills need improvement. I sat through an MBA class where they did a SWOT analysis on the wine industry. I was really turned off because it was so basic and I had already done that in my business extension classes.  Plus the subject matter is too broad in my opinion: accounting, then branding, then investment banking, etc. Seems like a lot of wasted class time to me since I will not being doing activities related to this.

But maybe I am missing something...

so.mpls

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2014, 07:58:00 AM »
Hi MsGrim,

I've also had a recent struggle with the decision on whether or not to go back to school for a masters degree.  I decided to go for it, and what it ultimately came down to for me was just basic cost vs reward. 

I'm 100% in it for the money, so I just tried to map out the benefits over the rest of my working career and decide if the time/money commitment now was worth it.  Essentially I figure that I'm sacrificing my free time for the next 3-4 years by adding ~20 hours of school work per week, in exchange for chopping 7-10 years off my days as a wage slave. So that's worth it to me.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2014, 08:42:15 AM »
I have an MBA from a different era ('80's).  Back then, I could get reimbursed for finger painting from the bank I worked for, so I decided to go for it.  Though it may have helped me at times in my career, it did not do so directly.  It helps in personal financial planning and in always thinking in terms of present value/future value.

In today's job market, I would not spend my own money to get a graduate degree hoping it will enhance my future.  I would find an employer to sponsor me or "fagetaboudit".

skunkfunk

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2014, 08:52:40 AM »
I know this is not the question, but why have you refinanced 3 times and also not sold the house?? If I owed my parents that much money I would GTFO of that house and pay them back. Very uncomfortable.

If you're retiring early, you won't have as many years to pay back grad school, so figure that into your calculations.

MsGrimalkin

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2014, 09:34:41 AM »
I know this is not the question, but why have you refinanced 3 times and also not sold the house?? If I owed my parents that much money I would GTFO of that house and pay them back. Very uncomfortable.

If you're retiring early, you won't have as many years to pay back grad school, so figure that into your calculations.

Brace yourself for some irrational stupidity.  I didn't want the house.  I was perfectly happy with my small studio apt.  My Dad is obsessed with real estate and at the time of initial purchase I had a more definite career track and was making more than I am now.  He talked me into it and it made sense at the time.  1 year later I lost my job and pretty much had to start over in a new industry and I am not earning as much as I should be given my skills.  I refinanced from 6% to 5% to 3.75% over the course of 4 years and this has reduced my monthly mortgage payment from $2k to $1400 which is comparable to renting in this area (but once you add it taxes and insurance it's closer to $2k/mo).  Rents are very expensive around here and ironically the longer I hold on, the more I will benefit.  My parents don't care that I owe them money.  I care.  But I can't sell the house because my Dad would view it as a slap in the face.  They are weird about money. 

It's stupid, I know.

retired?

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2014, 10:00:22 AM »
So, back to the original question.  For me, it was financially worth it.  Also, stimulating since I really liked the topic.  I worked for two years after undergrad, then when into a Phd program.  Upon exit, had I gone into academia, I would have earned about 2x as much with slow increases, but I went into industry and earned 3x in first year out and 5x a few years later.

However, you are starting at a higher level of income.....about what most MBA's from decent programs earn upon completion.  I'd try to do some research to see how much of a boost the pre-MBA high earners make.

To echo some earlier posts, most MBA programs are fluff.  They can boost your career, but you don't learn in detail.  Of course, it is a generalist sort of degree.

In your case, I would not consider an MBA that is not a top 20 school for the sole purpose of boosting income.  But, if you want to use it as a "career changer" to get into a different field, then perhaps.  My two cents.

Spudd

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2014, 10:08:29 AM »
Nobody has addressed your throwaway last line in your post. If you really want to move to a lower COL area and become a sheriff's deputy, why not make that your goal instead of making a bunch of money and retiring early? Have you looked into what is required to become a sheriff's deputy? Is that something you could start working towards in your spare time?

I am sure your parents would understand if you sold the house in order to move to a new area.

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2014, 10:13:18 AM »
I just want to say that MBA's are over saturated in the market. The other masters degrees would probably get you where you want to go faster and be cheaper. Employers really want technical and specific know how. MBA is a generalist degree.

Pay your parents back when you sell the house?

This is what i was thinking as well. There are too many MBAs and schools get away with charging 100k because of the demand. I was thinking of a MS in Business Analytics which would cost 44kish and would take under 2 years to complete part time. My soft skills are excellent and I am a Manager. My quantitative skills need improvement. I sat through an MBA class where they did a SWOT analysis on the wine industry. I was really turned off because it was so basic and I had already done that in my business extension classes.  Plus the subject matter is too broad in my opinion: accounting, then branding, then investment banking, etc. Seems like a lot of wasted class time to me since I will not being doing activities related to this.

But maybe I am missing something...

It doesn't sound like you have much love for the business world. But, if you do decide that you want to go that route...

as others pointed out, MBAs are a dime a dozen.

There are multiple paths to consulting. As a former Big 4 consulting monkey, I worked with a lot of people with a lot of different master's degrees that weren't MBAs, although there were plenty of those too. These included fields like public administration, international studies, industrial/organizational psychology, IT-related fields, marketing, statistics, etc. Once you're in, no one really cares what your degree was in. A top MBA program will get your foot in the door quicker, but it's not the only path by far (unless you're hoping to work at BGC or McKinsey).

Personally, I think a master's in a related field is a good move because it's cheaper (I can't believe what even backwater programs cost - it's criminal), it differentiates you, and it provides an actual skillset that can be more valuable. If I were to do it all over again, I would consider an analytics program myself.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2014, 10:15:33 AM by Tetsuya Hondo »

MsGrimalkin

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2014, 10:38:32 AM »
However, you are starting at a higher level of income.....about what most MBA's from decent programs earn upon completion.  I'd try to do some research to see how much of a boost the pre-MBA high earners make.

To echo some earlier posts, most MBA programs are fluff.  They can boost your career, but you don't learn in detail.  Of course, it is a generalist sort of degree.

Well, at the part-time programs I visited (1 was top 10, the other top 20) the average age is mid-thirties.  But the applicants were overwhelming engineers and programmers and I could see how their lack of soft skills and "management" skills are why they were pursuing the degree.  From what I can tell, you pursue the part-time program for 1 of 3 reasons: career change, technical person seeking to transition to management, or go into consulting.  Consulting would be more applicable to me.  I am interested in honing my quant skills as I am struggling with the math on the GMAT and my undergrad was in Chinese/Japanese.  I've taken a "back to basics" approach and have actually taken a few on-line classes for programming and excel.  I am definitely improving but this is the area that I am weakest- the last math course I took was in 11th grade in high school.  I am excellent in reading contracts, drafting proposals, making sales pitches, analyzing data, etc...I am fortunate, or cursed, in that I have done many different jobs from accounting to sales to legal contracts to international sales to data management to recruiting etc...This wasn't by choice, it just kind of happened that way. 

Nobody has addressed your throwaway last line in your post. If you really want to move to a lower COL area and become a sheriff's deputy, why not make that your goal instead of making a bunch of money and retiring early? Have you looked into what is required to become a sheriff's deputy? Is that something you could start working towards in your spare time?

I've investigated what is required to be a Sheriff's deputy.  The pay sucks but if I were FIRE it wouldn't matter.  I live in a concrete jungle and I don't know my neighbors.  This career path fits in with my romanticized view of small-town living.  I am probably delusional and misinformed.

I just want to say that MBA's are over saturated in the market. The other masters degrees would probably get you where you want to go faster and be cheaper. Employers really want technical and specific know how. MBA is a generalist degree.

Pay your parents back when you sell the house?

This is what i was thinking as well. There are too many MBAs and schools get away with charging 100k because of the demand. I was thinking of a MS in Business Analytics which would cost 44kish and would take under 2 years to complete part time. My soft skills are excellent and I am a Manager. My quantitative skills need improvement. I sat through an MBA class where they did a SWOT analysis on the wine industry. I was really turned off because it was so basic and I had already done that in my business extension classes.  Plus the subject matter is too broad in my opinion: accounting, then branding, then investment banking, etc. Seems like a lot of wasted class time to me since I will not being doing activities related to this.

But maybe I am missing something...
There are multiple paths to consulting. As a former Big 4 consulting monkey, I worked with a lot of people with a lot of different master's degrees that weren't MBAs, although there were plenty of those too. These included fields like public administration, international studies, industrial/organizational psychology, IT-related fields, marketing, statistics, etc. Once you're in, no one really cares what your degree was in. A top MBA program will get your foot in the door quicker, but it's not the only path by far (unless you're hoping to work at BGC or McKinsey).

Personally, I think a master's in a related field is a good move because it's cheaper (I can't believe what even backwater programs cost - it's criminal), it differentiates you, and it provides an actual skillset that can be more valuable. If I were to do it all over again, I would consider an analytics program myself.


Thanks, this is very helpful.  I am leaning heavily towards foregoing the MBA and going for Business Analytics.  Big data is the future.  With my GMAT score (still studying, but I won't break 700) I could not get into a full-time top program but I can probably get into a part-time program at a top university or not-popular master's program at a top university.  It was initially the price tag (I can cash flow $44k, $100k? ugh forget it) but it will also take less time than an MBA and I do enjoy analytics.  I don't know if I would feel right about paying $7k for "Managerial Perspectives".  Plus what really bothered me about these programs is that you can "buy" units by taking a 1 week int'l course which is essentially a working vacation in exotic places like Singapore and UAE.

OH I LOVE YOU ALL!  Thanks much!

pbkmaine

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2014, 10:47:57 AM »
If you are interested in financial analysis, you can get a CFA ( Chartered Financial Analyst) much cheaper than you can get an MBA. There are exams you need to take and study materials you need to buy, but that's it. People who run mutual funds tend to have them. Google "CFA" and see if it interests you. The exams are HARD, though. Similar to the CPA or actuarial exams.

urbanista

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2014, 03:53:58 PM »
I am currently studying "analytics" while working full time. It has already been 5 years studying part-time. About 2 more years to go. Granted, I do it properly: lots of math & statistics, programming in 4 languages and a master's thesis on stochastic processes.

Imho, if you think that you would be able to learn "analytics" in 2 years part-time having virtually no background in math, you are fooling yourself. Yes, it's better than nothing, but you will barely scratch the surface with such a program. It must be very light on content, and will not teach anything that can't be obtained learning through MOOCs for free.

Unless you really confident that "MS in Analytics" in your resume will improve your career prospects, I would not pay $44K to learn what is freely available on the web.

MsGrimalkin

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2014, 06:57:50 PM »
If you are interested in financial analysis, you can get a CFA ( Chartered Financial Analyst) much cheaper than you can get an MBA. There are exams you need to take and study materials you need to buy, but that's it. People who run mutual funds tend to have them. Google "CFA" and see if it interests you. The exams are HARD, though. Similar to the CPA or actuarial exams.

Thank for the suggestion!  I actually worked in the securities industry for 4 years and made it half way thru the CFP.  I took a look at the CFA process an it's not for me.  I've done a fair amount of security analysis but I find it really boring.  Plus, I'm with Mr. MMM, I just buy low-cost index funds and call it a day.

I am currently studying "analytics" while working full time. It has already been 5 years studying part-time. About 2 more years to go. Granted, I do it properly: lots of math & statistics, programming in 4 languages and a master's thesis on stochastic processes.

Imho, if you think that you would be able to learn "analytics" in 2 years part-time having virtually no background in math, you are fooling yourself. Yes, it's better than nothing, but you will barely scratch the surface with such a program. It must be very light on content, and will not teach anything that can't be obtained learning through MOOCs for free.

Unless you really confident that "MS in Analytics" in your resume will improve your career prospects, I would not pay $44K to learn what is freely available on the web.

Ok, help me out here.  I was skeptical that this program was simply another money-grab by Universities.  One aspect of my job I do (and enjoy) is combing through all sales, seeing which products are selling, which territories are selling what and to which customers, etc...Since we are cheap, I get the pleasure of doing this using 3 different systems, including home-grown piece of shit that looks like Rbase.  I have no delusion that I will be an expert on how to "do analytics" or in fact build models.  I'm not looking to go work for the NSA.  I'm more interested in the business applications of being able to read and interpret data and provide those results to upper management who can make the decisions necessary in order to act. 

The program I was considering has no pre-reqs (maybe another warning flag?) but it is a top school.  I'm not going to set myself for failure so I was intending to take pre-calc, statistics, and other courses I missed in college through another university's adult extension program.  I read all of the course descriptions and although you do learn a programming language (name escapes me), I would not say it emphasizes that.  Also, I totally agree that you can learn almost anything on your own.  The problem is that employers, especially large Fortune 500s, expect credentials.  Which is how you get total morons with MBAs from University of Phoenix running departments into the ground.

Here are some of the class titles:
Applied Modern Statistical Learning Models
Foundations of Data Management
Statistical Computing and Data Visualization

Thoughts?  Thank you for responding to my post.  I was hoping someone here was in this field.



urbanista

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2014, 07:42:23 PM »
Ok, I have googled the course you are considering.

There is no way one can cope with "Applied Modern Statistical Learning Models" having only pre-calculus and statistics. One must understand at least some foundations of calculus, linear algebra and probability theory.

The course description claims that it will provide "a very applied overview", which I translate as follows. They will teach you what function in R to call and what parameters to pick for a particular method and some interpretation of the results.

They will also teach you a bit of R language. Plus a lot of fluff in other "business analytics" subjects. No way you will understand what you are actually doing. In my opinion, complete ignorance is better than this sort of knowledge, as one may *think* he knows what he's doing whereas one has got no idea.

Look, if you believe that you might work as a manager with a team of well-trained analysts reporting to you, I would say, this program is fine. Also, if you are after some credentials, it might be fine also. If you want to be actually *doing the analysis*, it is a waste of time and $47K. Everything is available on coursera and in some 3-5 books provided you have studied calculus, linear algebra and statistics+probability theory (these courses are available on coursera as well).
« Last Edit: November 05, 2014, 07:44:51 PM by urbanista »

urbanista

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #24 on: November 05, 2014, 07:55:14 PM »
I'm more interested in the business applications of being able to read and interpret data and provide those results to upper management who can make the decisions necessary in order to act. 

I understand what you mean, I really do. I have 5 years as a business/commercial analyst under my belt. I also completed a very similar program to what you are considering. It was expensive 2 years part-time program. Then I went back and started from the very beginning: calculus, linear algebra, probability, statistics, R as a language (no modelling!)... only after that I was able to start understanding "statistical modelling" at all.


MsGrimalkin

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #25 on: November 05, 2014, 08:50:05 PM »
Ok, I have googled the course you are considering.

There is no way one can cope with "Applied Modern Statistical Learning Models" having only pre-calculus and statistics. One must understand at least some foundations of calculus, linear algebra and probability theory.

The course description claims that it will provide "a very applied overview", which I translate as follows. They will teach you what function in R to call and what parameters to pick for a particular method and some interpretation of the results.

They will also teach you a bit of R language. Plus a lot of fluff in other "business analytics" subjects. No way you will understand what you are actually doing. In my opinion, complete ignorance is better than this sort of knowledge, as one may *think* he knows what he's doing whereas one has got no idea.

Look, if you believe that you might work as a manager with a team of well-trained analysts reporting to you, I would say, this program is fine. Also, if you are after some credentials, it might be fine also. If you want to be actually *doing the analysis*, it is a waste of time and $47K. Everything is available on coursera and in some 3-5 books provided you have studied calculus, linear algebra and statistics+probability theory (these courses are available on coursera as well).


I had thought that the course was more designed to be "yo dumbass biz manager, here's how you can run other people's data models" vs "yo math major, here's how you build your own models".  When I emailed the program admin to inquire about pre-req's I learned there were none besides a 4yr degree and a GRE or GMAT score!  So I agree with what your conclusion.  I would definitely be in the position of manager with smarter people reporting to me and me in turn reporting to dumber people up the management chain.  ; )

Thanks for the advice!

mozar

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #26 on: November 05, 2014, 08:58:46 PM »
I don't think no pre-reqs is a red flag. I got my masters in accounting from a school that is well known locally and they didn't require any accounting or math coursework. Huge boost to my career, but I was changing careers. One reason I went with MAccy instead of MBA is because the MBA programs had a calculus pre-req.

urbanista

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #27 on: November 05, 2014, 09:07:39 PM »
I don't think no pre-reqs is a red flag. I got my masters in accounting from a school that is well known locally and they didn't require any accounting or math coursework. Huge boost to my career, but I was changing careers. One reason I went with MAccy instead of MBA is because the MBA programs had a calculus pre-req.

Can't compare accounting and analytics. Accounting does not mean to use calculus. Analytics heavily relies on it.

KHud1981

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #28 on: November 05, 2014, 09:11:27 PM »
Ohh girl. 33 years old, MS-Marketing student (thanks to interest-free loans from parents), living in a house (initially) bought using money from parents. I feel you so hard on this matter that I went and created a forum login just to respond. It can be very tough (in an incredibly lucky and privileged way) to be the child of well-off parents with Opinions about how money should be spent.

It seems like you are not really interested in the degree beyond the financial/job implications, which, since you're looking to FIRE sooner rather than later, is maybe not the best use of your money? If you're not going to recoup the investment in your degree within let's say 5 years, and your post-FI career won't be related to your current one, is there a point to being miserable for the next two years while you study?

So let's talk about your pricey house that you didn't want to buy! Is there any possibility you could talk to your dad about being involved in real estate as an investor but not as an owner? This is a scenario I've thought about a lot. My dad owns one rental house and is always on the lookout for a great deal - if I didn't want my house, he was going to buy it. If I ever decide to move away or get married or sell for any other reason, I will offer him the right of first refusal. If your dad collects investment properties, maybe he would be open to the idea of you selling your house to him at a discount - or selling to someone else and using the profits to invest in his real-estate portfolio. It sounds like you've put a lot of sweat equity into the place, so he can't say you haven't given it a chance!

I've investigated what is required to be a Sheriff's deputy.  The pay sucks but if I were FIRE it wouldn't matter.

Hey, if you're making $100K a year, the pay at pretty much any other job is going to "suck." If you're living on Mustachian principles, you can get by. :)

retired?

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #29 on: November 05, 2014, 09:28:36 PM »
You mention you wanted to improve your "quant skills".  I worked as a quant....granted that title has a variety of meanings.  I had an undergrad in math, and grad degrees in math, OR, and fin eng.

I don't want to be a party-pooper, but if the last course you've taken in math was in the 11th grade, you would have a lot of catching up to do for any analytical degree.  There are tons of people who studied math, engineering, physics as undergrads and then go into business type roles.  I am not saying it is not worth it, but it might be better to enhance your current role or career track rather than to actually make a career switch.  By enhancing current role, I mean you'll understand more of what the analytics people are doing.  If you try to switch to an analytics role, you'll be competing with people who have focused on that for a while.

As other mentions, an MS rather than MBA could benefit you more (given already decent comp) take less time and cost you less.  What program were you considering?  I didn't see.

MsGrimalkin

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #30 on: November 05, 2014, 10:12:22 PM »
Ohh girl. 33 years old, MS-Marketing student (thanks to interest-free loans from parents), living in a house (initially) bought using money from parents. I feel you so hard on this matter that I went and created a forum login just to respond. It can be very tough (in an incredibly lucky and privileged way) to be the child of well-off parents with Opinions about how money should be spent.

So let's talk about your pricey house that you didn't want to buy! Is there any possibility you could talk to your dad about being involved in real estate as an investor but not as an owner? This is a scenario I've thought about a lot. My dad owns one rental house and is always on the lookout for a great deal - if I didn't want my house, he was going to buy it. If I ever decide to move away or get married or sell for any other reason, I will offer him the right of first refusal. If your dad collects investment properties, maybe he would be open to the idea of you selling your house to him at a discount - or selling to someone else and using the profits to invest in his real-estate portfolio. It sounds like you've put a lot of sweat equity into the place, so he can't say you haven't given it a chance!

I'm so glad you created an account! I know the feeling, I created an account just to tell someone I thought their vacations were stupid.  (bad! bad! I know!)

Pops fancies himself as a real estate tycoon.  He's been investing in real estate nationally for the past 30 years and has amassed quite the profitable portfolio.  Yet he doesn't own a single stock so there you go (even though my brother told him to by tech stocks in the early 90's).  I actually did rent out the place for 2 years when I went through my job upheaval and was able to not only cover costs but also pay down the principal.  So it could definitely work as an investment property and my Father never met a house he didn't like so if I really want to call it quits he'll just add it to his curio cabinet of real estate.  Based on your post, I feel you and I would have a lot in common.  I've turned out OK but only because I'm fairly stubborn and independent.  My parent's form of "help" has absolutely crippled my siblings.  But financial assistance is another form of control.  I know I can support myself and have been doing it for 11 years (often with roommates, often with crappy living situations, one time with neighbors who had a donkey, chickens, and a junk yard for a back yard plus mariachi Mondays, etc... The debt I owe bothers me so regardless of school I need to make progress on that.  Thanks for helping me realize that!

I don't want to be a party-pooper, but if the last course you've taken in math was in the 11th grade, you would have a lot of catching up to do for any analytical degree.  There are tons of people who studied math, engineering, physics as undergrads and then go into business type roles.  I am not saying it is not worth it, but it might be better to enhance your current role or career track rather than to actually make a career switch.  By enhancing current role, I mean you'll understand more of what the analytics people are doing.  If you try to switch to an analytics role, you'll be competing with people who have focused on that for a while.

As other mentions, an MS rather than MBA could benefit you more (given already decent comp) take less time and cost you less.  What program were you considering?  I didn't see.
).

As urbanista noted, the program I am considering (MS in Business Analytics) is "frothy".  I'm not trying to be an analyst, I'm more interested in a manager role with business-side reporting abilities.  I currently work for a company that sells B2B high-end software and much of my day is translating what the techies tell me to management.  I don't know how they do what they do but I know enough about the end result to put it in plain English and talk to CIOs.  So it wouldn't really be a career switch as I see it.  I subscribe to a job notification service called "business analytics jobs".  The vast majority do not require programming knowledge, it is more about interpreting the data.  I currently do sales operations and business analytics definitely feeds into this- but it's not about designing modules, more about running them. 

MsGrimalkin

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #31 on: November 05, 2014, 10:20:05 PM »
I should clarify that I know I haven't had it "tough" by any means.  My last post was to illustrate that I am OK without having the fancy car, house, etc...My house does cost a lot but in this area it is actually very reasonable and is under 1100 sq ft (big for one person but not outrageous).  No need for me to be cagey, I'm in Los Angeles.  Not the Bay Area or Manhattan, but still ridiculously expensive and the land of the clown car commute.

KHud1981

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #32 on: November 06, 2014, 05:47:21 AM »
Pops fancies himself as a real estate tycoon.  He's been investing in real estate nationally for the past 30 years and has amassed quite the profitable portfolio.  Yet he doesn't own a single stock so there you go (even though my brother told him to by tech stocks in the early 90's).  I actually did rent out the place for 2 years when I went through my job upheaval and was able to not only cover costs but also pay down the principal.  So it could definitely work as an investment property and my Father never met a house he didn't like so if I really want to call it quits he'll just add it to his curio cabinet of real estate.  Based on your post, I feel you and I would have a lot in common.  I've turned out OK but only because I'm fairly stubborn and independent.  My parent's form of "help" has absolutely crippled my siblings.  But financial assistance is another form of control.  I know I can support myself and have been doing it for 11 years (often with roommates, often with crappy living situations, one time with neighbors who had a donkey, chickens, and a junk yard for a back yard plus mariachi Mondays, etc... The debt I owe bothers me so regardless of school I need to make progress on that.  Thanks for helping me realize that!

Thankfully, my parents are pretty awesome in general, and their "help" (financial and otherwise) has actually been helpful. They've taught me some excellent lessons about financial responsibility, and if it weren't for them, I would probably be slowly suffocating under an ever-growing mountain of credit card debt. Instead, I'm debt-free except for a home equity loan I took out to pay them back for the house (they lent me the funds to make a cash offer). That loan has a 10-year term, but I'm paying it off on a 7-year schedule and hoping to get it paid off even earlier than that!

My mom can get a little weird about things like "well, since we helped you buy this house, I really think you should listen to me when I tell you that's a bad color to paint the walls" and "I see you're going on a road trip this weekend; I hope you're still going to be able to make your student loan payment to us," but I see these slight irritations as incentive to discharge the debt earlier.

As urbanista noted, the program I am considering (MS in Business Analytics) is "frothy".

Ha ha ha - not to me, it isn't! I'm taking an intro class in business analytics right now as a prerequisite for my marketing master's, and that is some tough stuff for my English-major mind to wrap itself around! I can definitely see its importance, but it's not for me. :)

I chose to go back to school because I get to study a subject I'm interested in, in order to further a career I enjoy, and thanks to my parents' help, doing so is not a huge financial sacrifice. Your motivations may vary, but I don't think I could see myself doing the same thing if the subject/career were something that didn't interest me. (I can't really tell from your posts whether you're interested in analytics for its own sake or purely to make more money, but your wish to completely change careers after FI leads me to believe it's the latter.)

LeboLebo

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Re: Difficulty deciding if grad school is worth it
« Reply #33 on: November 06, 2014, 05:54:13 AM »
I just finished my MBA in July and while it did cost a substantial amount, I did a part time program while I worked. Not only did I manage to graduate debt free but I was also able to majorly increase the 'stash.

For me, the dramatic life change and adding school into the mix was a further catalyst to change all my other spendy ways, in addition to use that learning and new financial skills to systematize my own thoughts about investments.

Every situation is different but with the increase in pay and opportunities I certainly see a closer date to FI than before the MBA program.