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Old 02-03-2010, 12:16 PM   #1
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Default Advice Sought for Future After Undergraduate

Hello Maners, first of all I'd like to thank you for viewing the thread and a big thanks in advance to anyone who offers advice. To me, this is a pretty serious situation and would love to hear from anyone who has additional advice or suggestions.

This May I will be receiving my undergraduate degree, a Bachelor's of Science in the field of Political Science with an additional major in Anthropology. [Thus, double major.] I've been scouting the job market, and it seems like there are some real options doing non-profit and government work, and anything in between. I'm a good student, have worked for four different departments on my campus and have a wealth of references and experience to put on resume's and CV's. Not trying to sound pretentious, but my time spent as an undergraduate wasn't typical, that is to say that I did more than just "study" or "party." -- and was able to make connections with professors, administrators and various workers across campus.

I don't have any doubts that I could land a job within the time I need to start paying back my undergraduate loans. Every year, I've added how much I've taken out or received and placed it into an Excel file to keep tabs of how much I owe. After five years, I am roughly around 30,000 in debt, without figuring the interest or considering options such as consolidation, which I probably will considering all my loans were from the same lender.

In addition to that debt, I have a few thousand dollars on a credit card -- but will hopefully have that paid off.

The question is, given the times and maybe just overall in general, is it worth for me to pursue a Master's degree?

I'm extremely fond of being in the Academy, and have always been told I'd make a great teacher or professor. Learning is a true passion of mine, and I honestly can't think of a better job than teaching in some capacity. I recognize a PhD is required to become a professor at any college or university, but community college's only require a Master's.

The only real problem I have is taking out additional money for graduate school. I don't feel that what I've taken out thus far is a lot in comparison to some -- I know several friends from high school and college who have double to triple what I already have in outstanding debt. Noticing that, I don't necessarily see that it'd be a problem if I obtained an advanced degree and went into the whole a little further.

I am currently exploring graduate assistanships and other ways to reduce the costs of higher education as I move foward. Another problem is that I'm extremely interested in doing my graduate work overseas, which could potentially be more spendy. However, the schools I have inquired to overseas (in the UK and Europe) have reduced rates for American's coming to study and additionally, most of their Master's programs are only one year -- but in a diehard 9-12 month stretch of coursework and dissertation preparation. Comparatively, one year's worth of work over there (along with living expenses, etc.) seem to be less or equal to a two year track in the United States; granted I do not get any scholarships, etc.

All and all, I was just wondering if it is worth me to continue further educational aspirations. Financially, do any of you who have advanced degrees see a significant difference in compensation in comparison to those who only have a Bachelor's?

Just a young buck looking for advice from those who have been there before.

I appreciate any comments, and ask for seriousness if you do reply!

Thank you so much!

-- Chris aka Req
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:49 PM   #2
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Pros:

1. In my experience, there can definitely be a significant difference in earnings in most fields with a masters in hand vs. a bachelors. Not as significant as bachelors vs high school diploma, but still measurable.

2. This has to be the worst job market I've seen since I graduated college in 98. That's always a good reason to keep going to school instead of fighting over the scraps that might be available now. Even though you may be able to find a decent job today, I'll bet it doesn't pay anywhere near where it might've 2-3 years ago....and probably less than it would in a few years when you're out of grad school and the market is better (crossing fingers). Companies all know they can get away offering much less than they used to, so they're taking advantage while they can.

3. If you have any interest in furthering your education, it's always best and easiest IMO to do it right away. If you enter the job market with the intention of going back after gaining some experience, it almost never happens (unless you're laid off/fired and are forced to). Once you start making real money, it gets REALLY hard to stop and go back to school.

Cons:

$, plain and simple.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:15 PM   #3
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I am putting you as my first pick on the Omane suicide watch thread. , just kidding. I agree with Beantown on this. The ohter choice would to be to take a year off and travel if you have the cash to do it. Go cheap and you will never regret the experience. He is right about making money, once you do it is very hard to leave to go to school. I have a Masters and have also taught adult students going back for their degree just because I enjoyed it, but it;'s not what I do for a living. So if you like academia you can make a career out of it or you can teach at a community college at night and get some of the same fulfillment.

Once you get married, have a house, kids etc. forget it. It is so hard to get back to school or do the stuff you should/could have done while unencumbered that you need to do that stuff now.

Be aware to that it is very likely you will go through at least 5 types of careers/job types these days, not only because you find them interesting but also because at some point you may just have to take a job to bring in some cash or stay employed through an acquisition, downsizing or crappy economy.

In the end for people who have prepared well, like yourself, things generally turn out ok.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:20 PM   #4
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A Masters (at least) is pretty much required for those fields you majored in. Ideally, if you can get a job where your employer will foot part or all of your bill for graduate work then that is the way to go. My employer paid for all of my Master's which was awesome. Only thing that sucks is I had to sign a 3-year contract so I can't go out and find a higher paying gig. Still worth it though.
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Old 02-03-2010, 04:34 PM   #5
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Over here tuition is increasing 40% a year...

Even at reduced value of jobs it's better to get one, and get the experience under your belt, and then trade up once the market gets better again. At least that's in my field: Broadcast News / Journalism.
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Old 02-03-2010, 09:29 PM   #6
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Go get the graduate degree now....you are motivated and in the right frame of mind for more academic work. In your fields of work, a graduate degree will be a must down the line.

The job market sucks right now and any more debt you will incur, is good debt....an investment in yourself.

You will pay off your student loans over a long period of time....I owe a lot, but still only pay under $200 a month.

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Old 02-03-2010, 09:40 PM   #7
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If you have any inclination that you want to get a Masters now is the time to do it. It's very difficult to go back. You're in that "vibration" of thought and life pattern now. To change to a working pattern, and then try to switch streams again after life has taken you down a path is very difficult.
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:13 PM   #8
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Congrats on completing your undergraduate studies, Req. A Masters degree is an option...but if you feel you would like to stay in the academy long term in a professorial position, as you've already noted, most colleges require a doctorate, if you really want to teach (and do research) on that level. You did mention teaching at the small college or JUCO, but my own view would be that if you are going to make that kid of financial investment and the investment in time, there would be a better payoff for you at the end if you just tried to get your doctorate instead.

Another option for you is law school. I found it to be a great intellectual experience and I know you could definitely hack it. You will have to work hard, I won't lie....as it is an adjustment from undergraduate study as the things required of you there are totally different than HS and College (simply memorizing and regurgitating material will get you no points) but the investment you would make would definitely pay off for you later. If you don't want to be an attorney, there's still alot of things you can do in business with a J.D. On that same wavelength, you could also opt for a joint JD/MBA program (generally 4 years instead of the 3 for just the JD) as having both is great for a resume. Loans would be an issue but if you go to a state school rather than a private school, it would be considerably cheaper.
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:38 PM   #9
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By the way. I strongly recommend that anybody run it by the Mane, anytime you're about to make life changing decisions.
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Old 02-03-2010, 11:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
By the way. I strongly recommend that anybody run it by the Mane, anytime you're about to make life changing decisions.
Obviously.
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Old 02-04-2010, 01:55 PM   #11
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Chris,

As you said teaching is what you would like to do in some capacity and that requires a masterís degree at a minimum. If that is really what you would like to do you should definitely go for it. You only live once and you better make decisions that you know will make you happy in the long run. A masterís program is much shorter and cheaper than an undergraduate degree whether you do it here or abroad. If I were you I would definitely try to go study in Europe, just so you get a different perspective and immerse in a different culture.

I am in the final stages of my masterís program and it will definitely be helpful with future salary negotiations. Remember, you want to put yourself above the rest and make yourself unique so that employers will want you. Not only that but in my experience it is fantastic to be taking classes in your field of interest, learning more advanced concepts, all the while refreshing old ones.

As a final note, the dollar is pretty much doomed and tuitions will only go up in the foreseeable future. So I would do it as soon as possible, to keep your debt to a minimum. Also, if you do it now, everything will still be fresh in your mind and youíll have a much easier time. Remember, the current administration is encouraging students by promising that we wonít have to pay back all of our tuition in the future, the state will absorb some of it. If thatís not motivation (asinine as it may be) I donít know what is.
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Old 02-04-2010, 02:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
By the way. I strongly recommend that anybody run it by the Mane, anytime you're about to make life changing decisions.
EXACTLY! Sort of like coming to the Mane for legal advice the day before you go to court to plead out a DUI.
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Old 02-04-2010, 09:47 PM   #13
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Dude. Look at this:

http://www.orangemane.com/BB/showthread.php?t=89083


There is nothing that the Orange Mane can't solve.
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Old 02-05-2010, 08:31 AM   #14
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Thank you all for your kind advice. I've been spending some long hours researching schools, and I found out that the Western Undergraduate Exchange Program I am a part of also has the Western Graduate Program where students in 15 states (SD, ND, CA, OR, etc.) can study select graduate programs at the price of in-state tuition. There are several in the states I'm interested in and it would be a nice route to go to save some cash. The sad thing is, the programs they offer in my areas (or ones I could realistically branch off into) are few and far between -- but they do add new programs every two years, and I think this coming year or next will be when they add some new ones, so hopefully more schools begin to participate and do this.

Either way, I feel pretty good about where I am at. I talked to my good friend who was the first buddy I made up here at school, and he has over 60,000 dollars out in loans for just undergraduate. Just shocking to me. It is a lot of debt, but then again -- I don't have a lot of other expenses most people my age do. I've always taken advantage of the public transit systems in the F/M area and other big cities I've been to, and I know if I'm in Europe -- that will definitely be something to look towards. Thus no car payments, no car insurance, etc. -- so I can definitely see myself being able to fork out the extra dollars in the near future for Graduate loans, etc. Still been single for the past couple years too, and I have no desire to get married any time soon and pop out kids!

At any case, I feel good about getting an assistantship or scholarship to help reduce costs. Sometime next week I'm going to get to my professor and department head and get the graduate school catalog for the best POLS and ANTH programs here and abroad. Thank you guys again.
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Old 02-22-2010, 06:55 PM   #15
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Sounds like you're on track for good things. Myself, I started a part-time Master's degree when I was working after college. I enjoyed it a great deal, but in retrospect it might have been better to get into a better program and just go for the full experience. Keep in mind that some Master's programs have TAships which can defray the cost somewhat.

I should add that I'm in a PhD program now, and I don't regret doing the Master's first at all. It provided a nice transition from undergrad. I would only encourage someone to get a PhD if they couldn't imagine themselves doing anything else, or if it was something that they absolutely loved and would spend many years studying even if it didn't lead to a job. So take that for what it's worth. There's plenty of development that one can get with a Master's degree, and if your goal is to teach part-time at the community college level, a Master's should be sufficient.
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:11 PM   #16
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Update: probably shouldn't take my advice, as I got laid off today. However, I did get 2 months severance and have a skill-set that is in high demand, so go me. Might be moving back to CO now.
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Old 03-05-2010, 09:21 AM   #17
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Sorry to hear that TCB.
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