Author Topic: Grad School in US - is it worth it?  (Read 3814 times)

Lunasol

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Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« on: July 08, 2016, 09:33:43 AM »
Hello everyone :)

Due to personal reasons, I've set my mind to studying a master's degree in California. The idea is to live in SoCal and within commute distance from Riverside County.

I've done my research for a long time and have come up with my best options as follows:

-UC Irvine's Msc Engineering Management
-Any other Cal State University, either Fullerton or San Bernardino

I just can't really decide which one is a best investment long term, I did Computer Science for undergrad, but this was in a school outside the US.

I'm mostly concerned about finding work after graduation and whether the school's ranking is important or not.

Money is an issue too but I'm only planning to do this move in around two years, so... enough time to save. There are scholarships available in my home country but they require you to apply to a top 200 school worldwide (Irvine falls into this category) however the money they provide is not enough to pay for a full tuition (really?)

So it's either UC with scholarship and paying the rest myself leaving me with no savings, or going to Cal State and probably being able to afford it myself, and no savings either.

Anyone can provide a word of advice? I like the idea of paying for a good school, but I'm also a little afraid I might eat up all my savings, and to not know if it'll be worth it later in life is kinda scary.

rubybeth

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Re: Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2016, 09:43:01 AM »
What would you be planning to do with the degree? I am not familiar with that degree, so kind of just wondering. You can research job growth of various fields to see if something is likely to pay off. You can also research potential starting salaries for most fields. School ranking importance? I guess for some fields it kind of matters, but in my experience, work experience and your skills/abilities are more important than the name on your degree (unless you go to a for-profit or online-only school, in which case, those are deemed pretty shady by most hiring managers I know).

As for going to California, I would encourage you to research other areas unless you absolutely need to be in that region for some other reason (a job, family, etc.). California has a very high cost of living. A calculator like this will give you a rough estimate of cost of living by city: http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/

If California is the only option, would it be possible to work while in school? Some degrees, it's not, but it certainly may be. Then you could continue building your resume, earn income, and get the degree.

fattest_foot

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Re: Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2016, 09:44:19 AM »
It sounds like you're looking to go full time. Are you currently employed?

If so, figure out how much tuition will cost. Also get a rough estimate of how much in lost wages you'll have during however many years you expect to be in school. Finally, the schools should be able to provide an expected salary range for their recent graduate class.

Add up the tuition cost and lost wages cost. Find the difference between your current salary (or current job salary plus expected raises in however many years it'd be for you to graduate, to be even more accurate) and the expected new salary. Now you can figure out a pay back period for your degree. Don't forget that you'll still have expenses like rent, food, healthcare, etc, while still in school.

It's up to you to figure out if the pay back period is worthwhile.



I did something similar a few years ago. I considered going to one of the UC schools for an MBA. My expected salary would have been in the six figures, but between lost wages and tuition, the cost analysis wasn't really in favor of the MBA. Despite the higher salary, it would mean working several extra years, on top of the 2 years of school.

Jack

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Re: Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2016, 10:22:23 AM »
IMO, the best value graduate degree (especially for a CS undergrad) would be Georgia Tech's OMSCS program. It doesn't meet your goal of living in SoCal, though.

lbmustache

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Re: Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2016, 10:59:27 AM »
What is the program? Engineering management for all schools, or just UCI?

This may be an unpopular opinion, but IMO, a school that is highly ranked in your field will open a lot of doors.

Personal anecdote, I went to CSU Long Beach. They have a very good program in my field. I was hired by several institutions because they knew the caliber of people coming out of that program - they didn't have to wonder about what I learned, my qualifications, abilities, etc. Literally all they saw was that I went to CSULB, and I was hired. :)

Lunasol

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Re: Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2016, 11:27:00 AM »
rubybeth: I can't work because I'm not a citizen or resident of the US, unless I find an internship approved by the school I think that's the only way, I'll look into the job growth, thank you :)

fattest_foot: I am currently employed in Mexico (I'm mexican, duh) of course the wages here are much less of those in the US, I think if I work for the next two years I'd be able to afford school in the US, but I'd be left with no savings, and probably not debt either

Jack: My SO lives in CA and they own a home so I'd save up a lot if I don't have to pay rent, specially CA rents that don't go below $1K, so any other place is out of the question :)

What is the program? Engineering management for all schools, or just UCI?

This may be an unpopular opinion, but IMO, a school that is highly ranked in your field will open a lot of doors.

Personal anecdote, I went to CSU Long Beach. They have a very good program in my field. I was hired by several institutions because they knew the caliber of people coming out of that program - they didn't have to wonder about what I learned, my qualifications, abilities, etc. Literally all they saw was that I went to CSULB, and I was hired. :)

I could do Msc Computer Science in CSUSB but I'm dreading taking technical classes again, I'd much more prefer to add in more businessy classes to complement my programming skills and pursue software project leader/admin jobs later on.

I'd probably go for MBA if the school doesn't have a Technology Management-related graduate degree.

Another perk about Irvine is the program lasts one year, whereas CSU programs are two years.

Jack

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Re: Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2016, 01:50:40 PM »
Jack: My SO lives in CA and they own a home so I'd save up a lot if I don't have to pay rent, specially CA rents that don't go below $1K, so any other place is out of the question :)

I figured it was something like that. The "O" in OMSCS stands for "online," which means you can live anywhere in the world. For you, the problem with the OMSCS program is not that living somewhere other than Riverside County would be expensive; it's that it wouldn't give you an excuse to get a US visa and move in with your SO.

Lunasol

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Re: Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2016, 02:01:52 PM »
Jack: My SO lives in CA and they own a home so I'd save up a lot if I don't have to pay rent, specially CA rents that don't go below $1K, so any other place is out of the question :)

I figured it was something like that. The "O" in OMSCS stands for "online," which means you can live anywhere in the world. For you, the problem with the OMSCS program is not that living somewhere other than Riverside County would be expensive; it's that it wouldn't give you an excuse to get a US visa and move in with your SO.

I have a visa, and we want to live together, I wasn't aware that was a crime.

And I'm not interested in online programs, nor where I live or in the US.

Jack

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Re: Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2016, 02:23:58 PM »
I wasn't aware that was a crime.

Who said it was? I just thought it was a clever way to solve two problems at once. Sorry for assuming you didn't have a visa.

john c

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Re: Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2016, 01:31:29 AM »
Just FYI, Irvine is not really commuting distance from Riverside.  I think it'd be foolish to enroll in a program so far away from where you want to be.  Part of being in grad school is meeting and socializing with your classmates.

Laserjet3051

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Re: Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2016, 08:47:50 AM »
I work across the street from UC Irvine. As the poster above said, it is not commutable from Riverside. Under any circumstance other than having your own personal helicopter that could park for free at John Wayne airport. While UCI is a great school, living near UCI (within driving distance) will be outrageously expensive unless you shack up with a few roommates in a tiny apt or choose to live in Santa Ana. I know folks who drive from Riverside to UCI everyday and it can take them 1.5 to 2 hrs EACH way in rush hour traffic.

waltworks

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Re: Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2016, 09:14:06 AM »
If you have to pay for graduate school, it's probably not worth it. In any reasonably in demand field, if you can get into a decent school, they will provide you with an RA or TA position that waives tuition and gives you some kind of craptacular but non-zero stipend.

If you are paying tuition, you may or may not be making a good investment.

-Walt

ysette9

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Re: Grad School in US - is it worth it?
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2016, 08:03:42 AM »
Quote
If you are paying tuition, you may or may not be making a good investment.

That may depend on the program and degree you are pursuing. If shooting for a PhD then I completely agree with this sentiment. The cost of doing a PhD should basically be the opportunity cost of not starting your career off earlier. However in our experiences getting master's degrees in engineering, the tuition was fully paid for by either us (my husband's case) or an employer (my case). Looking at it in terms of an investment is still the right approach. In the case of paying the tuition himself, my husband had a payback period of under 2 years for that degree given the type of job it allowed him to get after. In my case, who can say no to a free master's from a prestigious university? :)