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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: luke on November 04, 2013, 09:12:35 AM

Title: Is a free degree worth it? Need some mustachian advice
Post by: luke on November 04, 2013, 09:12:35 AM
Thanks to the GI Bill I am a senior in college, getting a Management of Information Systems (IT) degree, and the total cost to me will be $0.  I have a great job in IT already, decent wages, and don't really need the degree.  My question is this:  Should I take some time off school?  I'm getting burned out as all my free time is consumed with school.  I have little time with my family and no time to work on other aspects of life; business, hobbies, etc.  I could be done by December of 2014, but am thinking of taking a year off to pursue some other interests.  The degree, at this point in my life, is more of a personal goal than anything else.  Can I get some help making this decision?  It seems hard to justify taking the time off in my mind, but right now I'm just enduring college and not really getting much out of it.
Title: Re: Is a free degree worth it? Need some mustachian advice
Post by: footenote on November 04, 2013, 09:36:52 AM
I know it's really hard in the last inning when working and going to school. (I worked full time while earning my MBA and, during the last year, I was really burned out.)

When making your decision, remember that degree / no degree is often an easy first elimination round for a staffing department faced with 1,000 applications for one position. I've seen more insistence on having a degree for MIT jobs than development positions. For some reason (perhaps demand), dev's sometimes get a "pass" on having a degree. Having said that, many big employers do demand the degree for any technical hire, although tolerating no-degree candidates for consultants.

I would be on the fence if you were a freshman or even sophomore. But having put so much time in, grit your teeth and get it done. Especially with it being free, it's worth less than a year to complete it.
Title: Re: Is a free degree worth it? Need some mustachian advice
Post by: dfrei on November 04, 2013, 09:44:57 AM
I am basically in the same boat. I began a part-time masters in electrical engineering from my undergraduate institution right after I graduated with my bachelor's degree. I also do not *need* the degree for career advancement, higher salary, or anything else really, except for the satisfaction of achieving a personal goal. And work is paying for it 100%.

The reason I dove right in and went for it right away is because we wanted to start a family, but I also wanted the graduate degree, and I didn't want my daughter to only remember daddy being at school all the time. So I figured sooner was better than later. If we had already had the kid when I started (she was born between years 1 and 2 of the three-year program) that would have changed things. At this point, the only reason I am gutting it out is because I only have two classes left and I can't bring myself to quit. The time away from the family is a huge issue.

Basically, after all this rambling, it comes up to how bad you really want it. I would say you probably better want it really bad, and have a supportive family. Personally, my own motivation has been steadily declining, and my wife just rolls her eyes.
Title: Re: Is a free degree worth it? Need some mustachian advice
Post by: xingcat on November 04, 2013, 09:47:14 AM
I left school with one semester left to go because I was working full-time and felt burnt out. Eventually, I wanted to finish my degree, but it took five years to get back to school.

I know it feels tough to stay through this next year, but you're in the home stretch, and a free education in this country is so rare that I think you should just push through it.
Title: Re: Is a free degree worth it? Need some mustachian advice
Post by: randymarsh on November 04, 2013, 09:55:48 AM
I would stay if you're this close. I'll graduate in the spring with the same degree.

From everything I've read, IT is a field where you still can do well without a degree, as you're currently doing. But, a degree isn't going to hurt. You also see an increased need for education for management and executive positions. That might not be something you're looking at now, but you may feel differently in 5 years.

At my current internship, only 1 of the 6 people in the department have a bachelor's. That one person is our boss. I don't think that's a complete coincidence.
Title: Re: Is a free degree worth it? Need some mustachian advice
Post by: rockstache on November 04, 2013, 10:03:58 AM
Stick it out!! It's free, and if you're accepting the BAH they are PAYING you to go to school.

I just finished my degree this last May, working full time during the day and full time school in the evenings on the GI Bill. It sucked SO much, especially towards the end, but I am so so so glad I didn't quit. I am staying at my job (which didn't require the degree), for now, but it's nice to know that I have it, in case my situation changes at any point.

Do it....you're almost there! When it got really bad for me, I would just think of it as a second job. The extra money to stash always seemed to get me through.
Title: Re: Is a free degree worth it? Need some mustachian advice
Post by: olivia on November 04, 2013, 10:10:44 AM
I would absolutely power through.  I also took a semester off school and then took 5 years to go back and finish.  You can do this, and it will be over before you know it.  I know how much it sucks, I worked full time and went to school full time for 2 years to finish my degree.  Just keep your head down and plow through it-you'll be so glad you did when it's all over.

Also, you may already be doing this, but is there a way to take a class or two in the summer or over winter break to lighten up your load in the spring and fall semesters?  My school offered a ton of summer classes and a few "intersession" classes that were very intense between the fall and spring semesters.  I took advantage of these because I'd much rather have an intense week or month vs. the whole semester.

ETA alternately, could you take a light load this spring to give yourself a break, and then stack your last semester with the rest of the classes you need?  That could give you the breathing room you want, and then when it's your last semester you'll probably be a lot more motivated to power through it all.