Author Topic: Should I use my savings to go to grad school and follow my 'passion'?  (Read 4691 times)

Cranky

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Re: Should I use my savings to go to grad school and follow my 'passion'?
« Reply #50 on: October 13, 2019, 04:30:49 AM »
BTW - I loved my MA program (history). I didn’t finish my PhD for a couple of reasons, all practical, but not because I wasn’t enjoying it.

My dh enjoyed his PhD (biology) and almost went for an MD a year after finishing that. (At that point we had a baby and I was not keen on another round of school, but I think he would have enjoyed it.)

My dd loved the 2 years she spent getting an MA in theology at a surprisingly competitive academic program and would have enjoyed getting her PhD if there hadn’t been money factors in play.

So grad school is not an inevitably grim and miserable experience but there is also no reason not to start small and find out if you like it before you disrupt everything. A job that you like and that pays well is a pretty great thing, too.

mistymoney

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Re: Should I use my savings to go to grad school and follow my 'passion'?
« Reply #51 on: October 13, 2019, 08:44:33 AM »
Was I not also just sharing my thoughts and perspectives?

Your initial comment did not come across as sharing your own perspective (although your second one certainly was) but instead criticizing other people for sharing perspectives you disagreed with and viewed as logically inconsistent with how separate people had talked about travel. See below:

what I'm finding most remarkable about the comments here is the difference between the attitude towards indulging in a degree and what I've seen for those taking 1-2 year off to travel well before hitting FIRE numbers.

Suddenly - because this is education and not travel (??) - the loss of compound interest from early investments, needs for medical insurance, eventual boredom from path chosen is something that needs to be overly dissected with OPs desires and dreams completely poopooed. OP should proceed 10-15 years in the rut to get to FIRE before pursuing this......why is that not then the standard advice for 2 years of traveling?

LOL! so can't have more than one area to comment per thread? ok....


mistymoney

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Re: Should I use my savings to go to grad school and follow my 'passion'?
« Reply #52 on: October 13, 2019, 08:53:12 AM »
BTW - I loved my MA program (history). I didn’t finish my PhD for a couple of reasons, all practical, but not because I wasn’t enjoying it.

My dh enjoyed his PhD (biology) and almost went for an MD a year after finishing that. (At that point we had a baby and I was not keen on another round of school, but I think he would have enjoyed it.)

My dd loved the 2 years she spent getting an MA in theology at a surprisingly competitive academic program and would have enjoyed getting her PhD if there hadn’t been money factors in play.

So grad school is not an inevitably grim and miserable experience but there is also no reason not to start small and find out if you like it before you disrupt everything. A job that you like and that pays well is a pretty great thing, too.

I will hazard a guess that you are all very bright and good students!!

I know plenty of people who are extremely bright, but can't really buckle down into the student role for a long haul, and some people I know are very good students but it takes a lot of work for them to stay competitive within the workload and type of work for advanced courses.

It is important for people to understand their strengths and weaknesses within a discipline and their own abilities as a learner when they engage in post graduate education.

Another option for OP to consider:

Does your proposed program offer any remote courses - perhaps within a certificate program - some way to try before you buy-into the big program? Of course only for credits that are transferable to your intended degree.

This of course would not give the experience of being immersed into the discipline, along with like minded others - but may be an option if you are feeling cautious about taking the plunge.

obstinate

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Re: Should I use my savings to go to grad school and follow my 'passion'?
« Reply #53 on: October 14, 2019, 11:15:57 PM »
I don't think this is a good idea. Maybe you would be able to come back to your field, maybe you wouldn't. "Worked in STEM for three years after school then took a two year break to get an arts degree" does not necessarily make your resume more compelling. It might hurt it. The prevailing economic conditions when you reenter the job market could be different from what they are today. If they are bad, it might take you several more years just to get back to where you are at today. You also risk giving up whatever career growth you might have experienced on your current trajectory.

I am also not sure you are appropriately accounting the costs. The cost is the tuition plus foregone earnings. If you make 100k take home and go to a two year MA program with a 70k tuition, the cost is 270k, not 70k.

Taking a break from your career this early on would be, at best, very imprudent.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2019, 11:24:16 PM by obstinate »

akzidenz

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Re: Should I use my savings to go to grad school and follow my 'passion'?
« Reply #54 on: July 22, 2020, 11:29:31 AM »
I thought I would update this post, since everyone was kind, thoughtful, and candid in giving me advice. And also because, whenever I read threads like this, I always wonder: well, what ended up happening?

So here's the update: I'm going to grad school. Yes, in the middle of a global pandemic. Yes, in the middle of an economic crisis.

Some details:
  • Late last year I applied to exactly one program in my field (one year long). I told myself that, if I didn't get in, I would consider switching jobs to inject some novelty into my life. I was accepted just before COVID-19 hit.
  • From early October (when I started this thread) to now, I've saved $68k. A decent bit of this ($25.5k) is in retirement savings and is inacccessible to me, but the remainder fully covers my tuition costs.
  • My current net worth (this assumes tuition is already paid) is $261k. I am hoping to use these forums to motivate myself to keep my living costs as low as possible while I'm studying.
  • I'm trying to work out a part-time arrangement with my job that will last perhaps 3-6 months. They are very sad to see me go, I've built up a lot of goodwill, and I'm very hard to replace in some specific areas. Not sure what the finances for this will look like.
In the past few months (given all the global events happening) I've been considering, reconsidering, and thinking about whether I should change my mind and stay at my job longer. I did a lot of reading and writing on my own (some academic reading, including going through bibliographies of papers/books I liked and then reading all the things they referenced/cited). I also looked at a lot of people doing the work I might want to do in industry or academia, if I switch paths a bit, and looked at what they had on their CVs and resumes.

It felt right, in the end, to go. Ultimately there's no way to explain or justify this risk, but I'm doing it, and I feel happy and at peace with it.

I can't describe how incredible it feels to have, essentially, purchased for myself a full year to follow my intellectual and creative passions. I've started doing a lot of reading and amateur-level writing in my chosen area of interest, but I felt quite strongly that I wouldn't be able to do the kind of work I wanted to without serious focus and a serious intellectual community. I also believe, strongly, that money isn't the only thing that compounds. Knowledge and creative skill do as well. I would like to do this now—knowing that life is short, knowing that the length of my life is uncertain—so I can do intellectual/creative work that's meaningful to me in the decades to come.

What Noodle said here resonated:

I also want to push back a bit against the idea that you can self-educate to the level of a master's degree (at least in the humanities). A determined person could probably get a lot of the value of an undergraduate degree in many fields with a well-chosen bibliography and a critical eye, because a lot of undergraduate education in many programs is lecture-based, and there are a lot of commonalities between reading a book and listening to a lecture (although of course a good professor will be doing a lot of the work of vetting and synthesizing research for you). But grad school is all about the community of learners.

And this, from mistymoney:
sometimes life becomes more complicated the longer you live it. Which is why I think OP should strike while the iron is hot. If in fact, OP does their due diligence, gets all the info, thinks hard about it, and determines this is what they want to do with the next few years of their life.

I'm sure a lot of people reading this will be very stressed by the decision I've made! Anyways, I will make an effort to update this thread at least once during my program and a few times after (so that forum-readers in the future can determine whether it was wise or not to do so, and how it impacted my finances after).

mozar

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Re: Should I use my savings to go to grad school and follow my 'passion'?
« Reply #55 on: July 22, 2020, 01:14:57 PM »
i don't feel stressed about it. You sound like you are already a very successful person and you will be successful whatever you do!

marble_faun

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Re: Should I use my savings to go to grad school and follow my 'passion'?
« Reply #56 on: July 22, 2020, 02:08:34 PM »
Good luck!

I am feeling stressed on your behalf, but only because things are so weird in the world of higher ed right now.  I'm worried you might not get the full "community of learners" experience and would be better off deferring for a year. 

But if you go, I hope it works out well!
« Last Edit: July 22, 2020, 07:08:14 PM by marble_faun »

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Should I use my savings to go to grad school and follow my 'passion'?
« Reply #57 on: July 23, 2020, 08:29:27 PM »
Good luck, and thanks for the update!