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Article: My Master's Wasn't Worth It
Old 01-31-2013, 01:54 PM   #1
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Article: My Master's Wasn't Worth It

An interesting article... tales of people who got a masters degree and now regret it... a few sad cases of people over $100K in debt with nothing to show for it....

My Master's Wasn't Worth It - Yahoo! Finance
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:27 PM   #2
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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, 02:32 PM   #3
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"I made foolish choices and did not do appropriate due diligence before making a major investment funded with lots of debt."
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:34 PM   #4
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I had scholarship funding pay for most of my masters plus I worked part time. Back then top notch education was not expensive.

It did cause me to miss out on another round of stock options that turned out to be very lucrative, but I was still able to retire earl anyway.

Do I regret it? Not really. Achieving that level of engineering education was important to me.
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:41 PM   #5
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Some of the replies were interesting, I liked this one....

Well, a degree in psychology or philosophy is great. After you graduate, you can ask people WHY they want fries with that.
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:56 PM   #6
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After 5 years of college including 1 semester of grad school. I realized I was rapidly sinking in debt and that a masters in psychology was not going to produce the buckets of money that the guidance counselors promised me. So I cut my losses and became an electrician. Second best move I ever made. The psychology has helped me to get subsequent jobs that requires a degree. Those guidance counselors can really steer young immature people wrong. Luckily I wished up before I was in too deep. As I read on another post, when you find yourself in a hole. Stop digging!

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Old 01-31-2013, 03:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by rbmrtn View Post
Some of the replies were interesting, I liked this one....

Well, a degree in psychology or philosophy is great. After you graduate, you can ask people WHY they want fries with that.
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:15 PM   #8
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I still remember a lunch discussion I had with some friends almost 20 years ago where they were making fun of me for being uneducated since I was the only one of the group without a masters of some sort. (We were having lunch to celebrate one of the guys finishing up his MBA.)

The teasing stopped abruptly when I asked if anyone wanted to compare W2's rather than diplomas. I had recently left the corporate world for consulting and was making around 50% more than anyone else at the table; they had all stuck with large companies that were paying for said degrees.

Not having a masters has precluded me from consideration for a few positions that I might have found both interesting and lucrative. But, financially, not pursuing one seems to have been the right decision for me.

Currently, I work closely with two Ivy League MBA's. One of these MBA's I consider the most valuable person in our company and would do almost anything to retain. The other, I'll just say not so valuable in my opinion. I have also worked closely with a team composed primarily of PhD's with a single outlier who only holds a bachelor's yet is at least as insightful and productive and anyone else in that group (actually even more so than most).

Even with the anecdotes above, I actually do believe that higher education generally results in more opportunities (but am too lazy to look up studies/stats today) as well as having its own intrinsic value; and, I do continue to wonder occasionally what might have been had I pursued an MS, MBA or even a PhD. (But, I do not wonder about this enough to seriously consider that route at this point in my life.)
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:15 PM   #9
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I went back to get my Master's at the age of 30. I just graduated this past May before my 36th birthday. I did an engineering degree and had no engineering background. It took 5 years because of all the make up coursework, and I continued to work at my salaried job. I would not be going back if I ended up racking up $100,000!!! I used a total of $6,000 for my 5 years of grad school, $2,200 of that was to buy a car because I was carless for 8 months and I needed a car come winter. I kept working while in school and I was able to keep borrowed money at a minimum. (Yes, I know not all degrees will leave room for working.) Currently, I am waiting for my new raise -I'm dying to know what it is! I think it's going to pay off for me!

However, I only went because I didn't have to move, I could keep my house and my job, and the situation was perfect. I would not have quit my job, moved to a new town and done it that way.
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:27 PM   #10
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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.
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:37 PM   #11
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My degree cost 0 dollars. I don't have one.
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbmrtn View Post
Some of the replies were interesting, I liked this one....

Well, a degree in psychology or philosophy is great. After you graduate, you can ask people WHY they want fries with that.
Was your Master's degree worth it?

It is ironic that I was so tired of college by my senior year that I could not wait to graduate and get away from classrooms and then promptly launched into a career that required lots and lots of industrial level training early on and then continual re-training every 6 weeks for the next 30 years.
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:49 PM   #13
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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.
I actually know a few people who have spent in this neighborhood for MBA's and other master's programs. Most took at least two years and the majority of the money was spent on tuition, fees, etc.
  • Most traditional MBA programs are a fairly structured two years.
  • Many other master's programs require a year of classes plus additional research, thesis, etc. which can easily consume another full year.
Harvard has an overview here for MBA costs: Cost Summary - MBA - Harvard Business School

MIT includes some overview of graduate costs here: MIT Facts 2013: Tuition and Financial Aid
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:54 PM   #14
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I've known several people who went for MBA, one did the executive MBA at Columbia in NY.
All were paid for by employers.

The reward: all were terminated in some fashion 6 months or so after getting the degree, and all got divorced along the way.

A reminder of the progression of degrees. BS bull$*it, MS more of it. Phd Piled higher and deeper.

I only attained the BS, in five years while w*rking full time.
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Old 01-31-2013, 04:01 PM   #15
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No question it was worth it...with one caveat. Attend a top tier school.

I was also much happier with the work than what was available with my undergrad degree.

I attended a top 10 MBA school. I would offer the same advice for other categories (law etc.). I can definitely say that there are opportunities that are unavailable to 2nd/3rd tier schools, along with the available salaries.

YMMV.
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Old 01-31-2013, 04:13 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by brewer12345 View Post
"I made foolish choices and did not do appropriate due diligence before making a major investment funded with lots of debt."
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.
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Old 01-31-2013, 04:20 PM   #17
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My Master's Wasn't Worth It
Your master's what wasn't worth it

Not directed at the OP, rather the author of the piece. Or I guess at the death of copyediting in the modern media...
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Old 01-31-2013, 04:24 PM   #18
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I wonder how much of the perceived need for a Masters is job inflation.


I worked in the software racket, with a BS in Physics. At the time I graduated the now-standard Computer Science degree existed at just a handful of universities as a novel new degree from the Mathematics department or college. Most folks doing software had picked it up while studying something else.

When I retired, openings for my position required a minimum of a Masters in Computer Science along with the usual alphabet soup of "skills". I was clearly not qualified for my old position... ;-)
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Old 01-31-2013, 04:29 PM   #19
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Mine was defintely worth the expense and effort.

1. It was very inexpensive thanks to employer help.

2. I enjoyed the course work very much. Went part time nights while working and raising a family and was actually sorry when it ended. It was a lot of work but very, very interesting. Got to hang around with very successful folks that I, as an inner city kid who went through the Chicago Public School system and worked my way through undergrad school, never thought I'd ever even meet.

3. Circumstances at work were excellent for upward mobility when I graduated. The knowledge I picked up and the sheepskin itself helped secure several promotions over the following decade.
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Old 01-31-2013, 04:39 PM   #20
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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.
A psych master's from clown college was never going to pan out, but the suckers who wished upon a star could not see that, were willing to buy into the bullcrap that the education marketing complex was spewing, or both. The whole situation was enabled by crazy student loan availability.

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.
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