Thursday, March 22, 2007

More School?

OK, I need more advice. It's non-triathlon advice but it relates to triathlon in that it would move me to a part of the country where I could train outside ALL YEAR LONG. This would allow me to battle my depression more effectively as well as make the most of a swimming and tri lifestyle. ALL good.

SO. For those of you with advanced degrees...who have done any kind of graduate studies beyond a 4 year bachelor's degree...tell me this: Was it worth it?

I'm considering a 2 year, full time program of study. Financial aid is available but there aren't assistantships or fellowships. I would need to secure additional loan(s) for my living expenses. I'm reasonably sure that the returns on my future employment would be substantial.

Tell me what you think in regards to these areas:
1.) did you get out of grad school what you thought you would?
2.) are you working in a job that you could not be working in if you hadn't gone?
3.) is the debt you've accrued as a result worth it in the long run? remember, it's only 2 years, not 7 or 8 or 11... can you make any suggestions to me about finding funding?
4.) if you had to do it again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
5.) any other words of advice?

Swam our final practice before the meet this morning... i feel fast. I'll try and post updates from the pool but I'm not sure if there's wifi so I may have to wait until the evenings. Tune in to follow our progress over the weekend!!!

Thanks for the advice!!! (TriZ and Rocketpants - i'm sure I know what you'll say re: grad school... but just humor me... ;))


Blogger rocketpants said...

Do you *really* want my opinion?? I'll send you an email in response. Hmmmm...careful what you ask for. :-)

12:23 PM GMT-5

Blogger Audrey said...

I have a public health masters degree and now I'm in law school.

1) Yes, I'm getting out of school what I thought I would. I am learning lots and especially in health school I interacted with brilliant passionate people all of whom were there to make the world a better place.

2) I don't know. I question this all the time b/c I could be working for my old company making good money by now (without a grad degree) in a job I loved instead of being on year 3 of a year 5 year total break for schooling. OR, I could have gone part-time to school while still working. Since I don't know what I'm going to be doing it's hard to say if I'm going to be doing something I couldn't have done before.

3) I don't have a huge amount of debt. I am still foregoing a salary, but I'm not in too bad of a shape financially.

4) I would do it all the same. I love school. Even if I could have done health law without my health degree I still would have gone to health school. I will probably go back when I retire.

The only thing I might have done differently is a joint degree to save me a year of schooling. I didn't decide that until too late though.

5) Words of advice: Enjoy it. Pick something and go with it. Don't feel guilty about not having a job (even though I do feel guilty about it) and once you commit to school just feel lucky you have the opportunity. I'm working on that mindset.

Try and go to school in a place you can see yourself living for a while-your networking contacts will likely be local. There are some people from my school straying from Boston-but most will be staying nearby. For me, after being in boston for 3 years I am making so many contacts up north. It will be hard for me to move.

12:33 PM GMT-5

Blogger Phoenix said...

I have a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting. Other than a poor choice of careers for me (or at least a choice that seems poor right now - long story) I don't regret it at all.

1) Relatively, yes. I learned a lot about my craft. I was able to teach for awhile and loved it. Trouble is with my field - full time teaching positions are as difficult to get as acting gigs.
2)Probably. Though I work in an unrelated field, my masters degree undoubtedly opened the door.
3) Yes. Though I may never officially "use" my degree, the education, experience and character seasoning were well worth the debt. I would add a caveat that, if you were relatively sure of some career advancement and/or more enjoyment and if the prospects for getting a job in your field are good, it would be even more worth it.
4) I would have learned a "trade" in undergrad that I could use to keep myself afloat between acting jobs - but that doesn't really apply to you. I'm glad I got my masters, I think it was my path to walk.
5) Go with you heart and your gut. We usually can't see the end of the path, we only see the steps we are supposed to take illuminated. If grad school is lighting up for you, go for it.

3:45 PM GMT-5

Blogger Joe said...

I didn't go to grad school but I did go back and get a second Bachelor's degree. For me, it was the best decision I ever made.

1.) did you get out of grad school what you thought you would?


2.) are you working in a job that you could not be working in if you hadn't gone?


3.) is the debt you've accrued as a result worth it in the long run? remember, it's only 2 years, not 7 or 8 or 11... can you make any suggestions to me about finding funding?

I didn't accrue any new debt. I just lived like a pauper for two years. It helped that my wife was working though.

4.) if you had to do it again, what, if anything, would you do differently?

Nothing. It was a great decision.

5.) any other words of advice?

Ask yourself why you are doing this and be honest with your answer. If you are unhappy with your current situation, perhaps dramatic change will help you find more happiness. Never be afraid to take chances. Here are some relevant quotes:

"Don't be afraid to go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is."

"If you don't take a chance, you don't get to dance."

Moving to a city where the weather is mild all year around is a big plus. It should definitely help with relieving depression symptoms.

Follow your heart. Do what you love and love what you do!

4:42 PM GMT-5

Blogger Triteacher said...

I had a passion for what I went back to school for (teaching reading) and have no regrets.

#1-3 yes.
#5 I would have started biking part of my commute earlier in my grad career. Make it a part of a healthier lifestyle right off the bat.

Good luck!

6:00 PM GMT-5

Blogger JC said...

I think its a somewhat subjective question and depends entirely on what you want to do with your life. As someone in high tech, I will tell you that an MBA has become almost like the BA. Sometimes its a requirement for consideration, but most people once getting through the consideration phase will tell you it isn't all that meaningful.

In academics you have to have a PhD or at least a masters for consideration. And again, I have seen the letters hold people back.

For me I have gone back to learning alot, but never for a formalized degree program. In my technology field the hard skills are what matters and not the soft ones. I need to be certified within applications and systems, and those things age, where a masters would just not be that worthwhile.

So I guess thats the long winded way of saying it might be helpful, depending on the field. Expressive Therapy, yes, totally. Computer Forensics, not so much.

there... see... i can be really unhelpful. ha.

12:10 PM GMT-5

Blogger MartyTheFool said...

ABSOLUTELY no clue, Spence. I didn't make it out of the 6th grade. Been thinking of going back, but those desks are so small. :-)

I hope you get the advice you need to help make a decision.

6:26 PM GMT-5

Blogger IM Able said...

Here's my two cents on it.

I went back for a law degree when I was 28 years old. I had worked in health care policy and mental health research until then. I got the JD and a certificate in advanced study in health law.

1) Definitely was what I thought it would be -- I truly loved the work and the learning. Really.

2) I am not working as an attorney at all, or in health law per se. I *could* be doing what I do now without the degree, but having that knowledge base makes me better at my job. problem is that it definitely doesn't equate to a higher salary or more job status

3) my debt is *not* worth it. had i known when applying that i would be able to craft the same career with some wisely placed job moves, rather than take on 3 years worth of study, i would have skipped the process. i spent all of my saving and came out about $82K in debt. it was a three year degree, but two years would still pack a punch.

i did get funding from varied sources -- savings, federal student loans, private student loans, and family loans. i also sold my car.

i chose, after all of it, to work in the nonprofit field, which means i pull a solid salary, but nothing to write home about. each month, i'm stretched thin because i pay about $700/month in student loans alone.

4) i would choose a school closer to my existing support systems. i didn't think that the stress of grad school and the isolation of living far away from everyone would be a problem -- geez, i was 28 years old, for goodness sakes! but it *was* much harder and made the experience much more difficult than it needed to be. a huge consideration i didn't think of.

5) make absolutely sure that the degree you get will equate directly to increased earnings. yes, increased knowledge is great and the experience is great. but at the end of the day, you'll be paying this off for a long, long time after graduation. make sure it's worth it!

11:33 AM GMT-5


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