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Old 01-31-2013, 04:52 PM   #21
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For the record, I did business school at night while I was working full time and doing a fair bit of business travel. Most of my degree was either apid for by my employer or DWs (she got a job at my university). Personally, it was 2.5 years of hell, but my cash outlay was very small (full time students doing the degree in 2 years had ~$75k tuition bills plus living expenses in NYC). Since I went to a top 10 school, it has been extremely financially rewading.
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Old 01-31-2013, 04:58 PM   #22
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.......... I was so tired of college by my senior year that I could not wait to graduate and get away from classrooms.......
+1

I was in college for almost 5 1/2 calendar years (12 quarters, equivalent to 8 semesters, of actual "school time") because of co-op work assignments to pay my way. At the end, I just wanted OUT !!! Don't regret not going back for an advanced degree.
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:31 PM   #23
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Bear in mind that I am mainly familiar with graduate work in the physical sciences, and I am beginning to learn that a lot of funding issues depend on one's major and university.

But anyway, with that caveat, I would never recommend going for a Masters or Ph.D. unless one is getting more money for doing so than one must spend on tuition, books, and bare bones subsistence. Otherwise you must get a loan and with that loan money you are betting on the come, to use an old gambling expression. Don't do it!

If a given university department/major does not have sufficient funding to offer assistantships to cover their grad students, I would recommend looking around for a department/major (or university) that does. It will probably be quite competitive, since other students have the same goal in mind, but then I guess that's what one wants anyway.
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:31 PM   #24
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A psych master's from clown college was never going to pan out ...

FWIW, I have lots of compassion for these people and for those who got degrees of tangible value and now have to devote a lot of their enhanced income to paying down the loans. The way we don't fund higher ed in the US is insane. Rationally, we should be more willing as a country to write off/forgive studnt loans for those whose degrees do not pan out. Instead we have student loans as one of the only types of debt that cannot be extinguished via bankruptcy. I am willing to have a mortgage, car loan, etc., but I paid off what modest amounts of student loans I accumulated pretty quickly.
Fair points. I personally know a few people who started doing this around 2006 or 2007, and they went into debt *and* lost their jobs when they thought they would be in a position to get either a better paying job or a promotion where they were.

The math of paying $100K for many types of degrees never did make sense, and it's really not something one should take out huge loans to acquire. That said, I think it's also unfortunate that we look at a college education today as nothing more than training for a very specific type of job. It's basically become a vocational/trade school on steroids, and in so doing basically put the trade schools at a disadvantage because all the employers expect a college degree now.
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:45 PM   #25
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Me, too. First one took 6 years! But in the end, it did help me over a promotion hump. The second one also took years and didn't help my career much, but doing the work actually changed how I think (for the better, I believe).

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I did the old fashioned way - at night while working during the day... and letting my employer pay the tuition.

Of course it meant having no life, and taking more time to get it done... but it was a debt free approach.
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Old 01-31-2013, 06:27 PM   #26
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There's such a proliferation of MBA programs nowadays. In my small urban area of about 100K population, there are four of these programs, where none existed ten years ago.

Two are extension campus' of state universities, at local junior colleges. One is from a local bible college, who never promoted their institution much, but suddenly launched an MBA program, with a bombardment of advertising. The other one, is from a fairly prestigious private university in St. Louis, which I have to wonder if the degree is worth as much as if one attended the main campus.

All these programs are taught by adjuncts. Mainly unworldly local accountants, real estate agents, and such.

There's no way the local economy can absorb many MBA's, and most of the students are 30 somethings, entrenched locally, who won't relocate.

The marketing of education as a solution to one's income problems is disturbing.
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Old 01-31-2013, 06:36 PM   #27
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Paid my own way with a teaching assistantship at the university while mopping floors, washing windows, and living on biscuits with bacon drippings gravy and canned pinto beans for a couple of years. Wore an old hand-me-down coat with patched blue jeans and actually did walk 4 miles everyday (in the snow during winter) to get to class. When I finished I did not owe even a penny to anyone. It was the beginning of the 70's and I would'nt trade that time or the previous late 60's college years for anything. Dad encouraged me to be frugal and always said that what ever you do be sure you can be proud enough of it to put your name on it. I just don't understand why so many college and university students have to go so deep into debt that it takes decades sometimes to dig themselves out.

I'll always remember my high school guidance counselor telling me in my senior year that if I worked my butt off and got real lucky then maybe I might get a degree as high as a 2 year AA.

Years later my education eventually payed off when I finally landed the career I wanted.

But the most rewarding thing that made it all worth while was how proud it made my parents before they died. Maybe not as much what I accomplished. I don't know. But I think it was more that I had a goal and saw it through to the end on my own steam. My mother never got the chance to go to college and she always loved to introduce me to her friends as "my son the professor".

Sorry for the rambling. I just got to thinking too much.

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Old 01-31-2013, 07:34 PM   #28
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I relayed elsewhere on the forum a bit about my MS. I had a part time TAship which is probably the only "money ahead" my MS ever got me. My company always paid for additional schooling, but never honored the degrees that employees earned (oddly, they paid through the nose to get the same degrees from OUTSIDE the company.)

Having said all that, my MS degree (at least the process) was as rewarding as anything I've done, personally. I was allowed to develop courses, teach, encourage undergrads and grad students, meet incredible people, and leave my mark on a profession which had finally come into the 20th century (this was in the early 80s).

So, though I never really got much money, I got a lot of recognition from peers, middle management and from students scattered to the 4 corners of the world. All in all, it was well worth it, though don't ask DW what she thinks.

My suggestion would be to "count the costs" and, if you get an MS, that may be all the reward you get. YMMV.
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Old 01-31-2013, 09:27 PM   #29
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Most of them showed poor judgment. For instance, they accepted the sales pitches of the schools as to the value of the degree in question instead of checking with people working in their industry. Some of them made very poor financing decisions to boot. I don't think I would hire any of them.
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:18 PM   #30
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Getting my Master's was one to the best and most cost effective things I had ever done.

I was pretty sick of college too when I graduated with a BA in Physics. A couple of years later I entered a Master's program in Mechanical Engineering. I worked part time while going to school. I never went into debt for either degree. After I graduated I was promoted into the Scientist classifications. This was a big bump in salary and launched me on a much higher salary path than I ever would have as a technician. This was back in the 1980's.

Lately I've doubted the value of a college education of any kind given the amount of debt students are accumulating these days. $100k was the kind of debt that you expected MD's to take on and then pay back easily because "all Dr's were rich". College costs around here have risen astronomically in the 4-5 yrs it takes someone to graduate. Not to mention all the people who start college, take on debt, and don't finish their degree.

I understand that some of the people in the article were caught up in the financial downturn. I don't blame them for that. However, there is plenty of information available out there for anyone to do a little research on the job market and evaluate the cost and value of an education. If they can't do that then they probably shouldn't be going to college anyway. There has been an abundance of MBA's for as long as I can remember. You don't need a financial downturn to know that an MBA isn't good for much. The last guy in the article went into biology. I can tell you from personal experience that biology is a very low paying position even with a PhD.
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:27 PM   #31
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My Masters was worth it. I was bored in my career and gained the skills I needed to start a business. My career is much more fulfilling. We had saved about 30k for a major kitchen remodel, and decided to invest in my education instead.

A degree is just paper, it is how you use it that matters. I have classmates who are paying down their debt on barista salaries, who never leveraged what they learned.

I still think the job market is never going to hand you anything. You need to scrap for what you want.

And yes, my Masters was psychology related.

SIS
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:40 PM   #32
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$100,000+ for a Masters Degree!

The last time I checked a masters degree took about one full time year of education in most fields. Even allowing for room, board, car and other living expenses I cannot understand how they piled up this much debt. It would be interesting to see what the money was spent on.

A lot of master degrees (I would guess most, but do not know for sure) take two full time years... some take longer... I know there was one that took 54 hours of graduate work for a Masters of Accountancy....

A number require actual research and a paper...

Also, I do not know of many people who can take 18 hours a semester of graduate work...

I'm just guessing you do not have one.... nothing negative, just that what you say does not sound like someone who has done the work....
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:45 PM   #33
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I did the old fashioned way - at night while working during the day... and letting my employer pay the tuition.

Of course it meant having no life, and taking more time to get it done... but it was a debt free approach.
+1 spent 18 months as both a full-time worker and a full-time student (and a full-time Dad and husband as well). One of the best (and toughest) experiences of my life. I remember thinking that when I was done that I would have so much free time - didn't really work out that way though.

But there is no way I would have gone into debt to do it.
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:48 PM   #34
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In reality some of these people started the process while it still made sense, while there were still plenty of better jobs waiting for them on "the other side". That the economy tanked and helped to create both a reduced demand *and* increased supply of advanced degrees after they were already into the program wouldn't really be a "foolish choice" on their part. At least not completely; a lot of it is just bad luck.

We see so much of this today: there is very little compassion for people in bad situations, as we have been in a rotten economy and job market for so long that we've collectively develop "compassion fatigue" for people in bad shape and we always seem to find a way to say it's all because of their bad choices. We don't want to call it "bad luck," I think, because then society might feel some obligation to help, and because calling it luck would remind us that it could happen to us despite our best efforts to plan to avoid it.

I actually have compassion for the people who can not find a job... but I also think that 'help' can hinder them....

I saw a TV show with some people who were laid off... they were doing yards etc., jobs that I would hate to have to do.... but they were doing them because they wanted to work... I would much rather hire one of these people than someone who had been collecting unemployment for two years.... but I also would hire someone with the skills that I needed no matter how long they were unemployed.... YMMV...
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:59 PM   #35
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DW and I believe that our advanced degrees were worth it. Our degrees did not cost us anything (our TA-ship stipends covered tuitions and living expenses). And our earnings history post graduation speaks for itself.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:54 AM   #36
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My Master's was very much worth it, as I could not practice medicine without it. The PhD was the icing on the cake.
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:32 AM   #37
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FWIW, I have lots of compassion for these people and for those who got degrees of tangible value and now have to devote a lot of their enhanced income to paying down the loans. The way we don't fund higher ed in the US is insane. Rationally, we should be more willing as a country to write off/forgive studnt loans for those whose degrees do not pan out. Instead we have student loans as one of the only types of debt that cannot be extinguished via bankruptcy. I am willing to have a mortgage, car loan, etc., but I paid off what modest amounts of student loans I accumulated pretty quickly.
Exactly. I bet requiring the university to hold half the loan portfolio would make them a bit more aware of the future earning potential of the students in their programs. Let student loans be written off like most other debt in the US and I bet enrollments or costs would fall by a quarter.
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:12 AM   #38
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I got my masters paid for by my first employer. Took 3 years of night class and was well worth it. Left the company a year last for a 40% pay bump (before anyone harps on me for bailing on them, they had no openings for a year that would utilize my masters, and thus I was underpaid)
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:24 AM   #39
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I got my masters paid for by my first employer. Took 3 years of night class and was well worth it. Left the company a year last for a 40% pay bump (before anyone harps on me for bailing on them, they had no openings for a year that would utilize my masters, and thus I was underpaid)
No need to "harp" on it. It sounds like the tuition reimbursement may have had a one-year payback clause if you voluntarily terminated employment there after the money was paid out. (I took some graduate classes in the mid-90s with my first Megacorp and that was their policy.) I actually got 60% through the MSCS program before I burned out. And fortunately, I've never had too much remorse for not seeing it through to the end.
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:45 AM   #40
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DW and I both got advanced degrees at local state school at very minimal expense when looking at folks that had 100k worth of loans. Both of us needed the degrees to do what we wanted, masters and EdS for DW the school counselor and MBA for yours truly. I find that the expense in time, effort and money (we both were working full-time during our programs) pays off if your job requires the degree for employment. I have seen many with advanced degrees that are "over-educated" for the position that they are in. I would like to think that when an opportunity presents itself they will be ready to pounce so they can benefit from their outlay of efforts. Another aspect of this is if folks are willing to relocate to a different area. We are in a rural setting and there is a need for advance degree folks where we are at as most folks want to go to or say in the metro areas. Sure higher education is a risk but for us it was one that was worth taking both professionally and financially. As someone once said "I would rather be lucky than good" sometimes you have to be a little bit of both.

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DW Class of 2012

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