Author Topic: should I return to school?  (Read 968 times)

porterboy

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should I return to school?
« on: December 13, 2017, 02:14:41 PM »
Hi there! I am new to MMM forums, and generally new to MMM. I'll cut to the chase: I'm trying to figure out whether it makes sense for me to return to school for an online Master's degree, while working full-time. Some background...I'm married with one toddler and another likely on the way within the next two years. I have a very well paying job for my field (GIS) due to it being classed the same as IT developer salaries. I am very interested in web development and programming (specific to GIS & mapping) and have had very little training in it. I plan to stay in my current position for at least 5 years to take advantage of our pension, but my hope is that one day I find a fully remote opportunity so my family and I can move somewhere rural. The Master's program I am looking at would definitely open doors for not necessarily higher salaries (since my current situation is unique) but I would likely have my pick of positions in various locations (so even if I don't find something 100% remote, my family could move to a more ideal location). The program costs $26,000, and would take 2.5 years (since I'd be doing it part-time). My employer only reimburses $5200 a year. So, over $10,000 would be paid out of pocket. Not a huge chunk of money but we finally just gained savings momentum having paid off my $36,000 in student loans about a month ago and opening 457s, I'm feeling a bit gunshy to big expenses! Also, we pay $17,000 a year in childcare (not willing to change this...we live in a high cost state for childcare and we've found a place we love & trust), and with the thought of another kiddo coming soon, that will be taking up even more of our savings potential. Any suggestions either way? I'm happy to provide more info if needed. Thanks!

wordnerd

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Re: should I return to school?
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2017, 04:20:37 PM »
$10K seems like a drop in the bucket if it will allow you to do what you want and work where you want. Look at this way--if you had the choice to live in an non-ideal location or your ideal location, but the house in the ideal location cost $10K more, would you pay it? I bet you would, and I bet you wouldn't hesitate. This seems like a potentially better deal, since you'll improve your resume and increase your career opportunities.

The bigger issue to me (speaking as the parent of a toddler with one on the way) is the time cost. Do you have the time and energy to devote to working full-time, going to school, and parenting? It's doable, but sounds exhausting.

mozar

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Re: should I return to school?
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2017, 08:14:52 PM »
I think you should interview some people in the industry you want to get into and ask them if they see the degree you want to get favorably. Usually online degrees aren't worth much but it depends on the industry.

2Cent

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Re: should I return to school?
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2017, 04:10:44 AM »
When you are both working full time and have 2 young kids it is a terrible idea to start a part time masters program. You will either not make it, miss your childrens growing up, or spoil your marriage. I would say get an estimate of how many hours you would need per week and when your new baby is born just do some self study for that many hours, but give yourself aggressive targets. After a few months you will know if you could actually do this.

Another thing to consider is that for web development a masters is not that useful. Web development is evolving so fast that most masters programs can't keep up. Especially if you're working remote it is much better to have a small body of work to show you are proficient with the latest frameworks. Even now many masters programs are still geared towards research instead of cranking out a decent website quickly.

porterboy

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Re: should I return to school?
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2017, 06:37:52 AM »
Thanks for the feedback everyone! I agree, it does sound daunting to start another degree at this stage (with a full-time job & kiddos). This program is unique though in that it is specifically designed for full-time professionals and the majority enrolled have families (I've already checked in about this balance :)). Also, it's not a traditional program in any sense...it focuses on projects that can act as a porfolio, and is designed in a way that code/tangible results are prioritized over traditional exams/reports/etc. It's a non-thesis program. Basically, while it's still an undertaking, the program is super flexible! Additionally, my full-time employer is very flexible with a priority on work/life balance (and projects can benefit them, which means work time can be dedicated to some coursework) and my husband is a very active parent who also has a flexible employer. Without those two items I don't think I'd even be considering it. I liked the analogy of the $10k more expensive house in a better location! Also, good suggestion to get in touch with someone who is working in a position I'm interested in. I actually have a coffee date this AM with someone who is currently enrolled in the program to hear an inside perspective and how it relates to their career goals. I guess I was going at it as a purely financial decision for this forum (could that $10,000 be better used?), but it's all food for thought and ultimately, I think I just have to mull it over. Thank you!

boarder42

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Re: should I return to school?
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2017, 06:51:01 AM »
I'm a EE who heavily leverages GIS software for what we do in our industry.  You dont need a class or to pay money to teach you what you want to learn.  You can teach yourself.  ESRI has a ton of videos online its not difficult to dive in and teach yourself this stuff.

porterboy

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Re: should I return to school?
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2017, 06:55:37 AM »
Boarder - thanks for your reply! I've worked with Esri products for many, many years and have definitely taken advantages of their resources. This program is focused on Python, Java, SQL, NoSQL, GDAL, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Bootstrap, Leaflet, CartoDB, Mapbox, CartoCSS, and D3, etc etc. Different, exciting path! Thanks for the suggestion though :)

boarder42

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Re: should I return to school?
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2017, 07:33:51 AM »
again these are all things you could teach yourself if you really thought you needed to learn them.  there is a wealth of free information online for these.