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Old 12-16-2010, 09:26 PM   #21
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Everyone is hard-wired differently. DW, for example, fretted and stewed and gritted her teeth over academic bureaucracy. I didn't. My attitude was: If it doesn't affect my day-to-day teaching and research (or my salary ), I don't sweat it. Just go with the flow.

I envy you former (or current) military types who evidently didn't (or don't) have to put up with military bureaucracy--based on your inability to swallow academic bureaucracy. My experience, however, is that academic bureaucracy (I taught at or attended six different universities) pales in comparison to the monumentally massive military bureaucracy that I experienced while I was an Army officer (1971-83) in the Reserves and National Guard.
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Old 12-16-2010, 11:29 PM   #22
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I was/am a really good student, and jump on any opportunity to take a class. However, perhaps like you, my concentration is only on face-to-face time. I found distant learning difficult because I felt less motivated to study.

I do think you should investigate the program and make sure it's ready FOR YOU, as Nords suggested. I went back to school this fall to take an accounting class, and found the teacher to be very inadequate. He was just going over theory and questions, but gave very little real-world examples. Given his general audience (in the early to mid-20s), perhaps they found it satisfactory. But to me, it was very dry and boring.

That said, if I see a graduate program I think I'd enjoy and will/could make me more employable, I would do it in a heart beat.
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Old 12-17-2010, 12:16 AM   #23
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I envy you former (or current) military types who evidently didn't (or don't) have to put up with military bureaucracy--based on your inability to swallow academic bureaucracy. My experience, however, is that academic bureaucracy (I taught at or attended six different universities) pales in comparison to the monumentally massive military bureaucracy that I experienced while I was an Army officer (1971-83) in the Reserves and National Guard.
I think the veteran's attitude is "I've already put up with way more of my share of this from the DoD's trained professionals, so why would I have the patience to put up with you second-rate amateurs?!?"

But it's not everyone. One member of this board, Boxkicker, is doing a degree under the GI Bill-- and it's working out quite well for him.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:36 AM   #24
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Could you take one week off now, travel to the college and sit in the course they run now? This will give you a better feeling what you get when you go for it.

A sabathical in the middle of life to learn something new, to explore other options and to go the road less travelled looks good to me.
On the risk / loss of future earnings is money: how safe is your current job really? It might go away anyhow. None of us knows for sure if we can stay employed till (E)R by our own time line.
It looks to me that the program might make you more employable and open some new doors to you.
I always thought (and agreed with DH) that his safe employment would allow me to take some risk in my job. If your relationship is stable and your wife is on the same plate with you the risk is limited.
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Old 12-17-2010, 10:30 AM   #25
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On the risk / loss of future earnings is money: how safe is your current job really? It might go away anyhow. None of us knows for sure if we can stay employed till (E)R by our own time line.
My job is fairly safe, but as I mentioned above, I am considering putting my name forward for voluntary redundancy. I'd be in line for a 200K payoff.

Something slightly strange is happening here since we've been trimming expenditure (but not enough that we actually have to lay people off involuntarily). Departments which can scrape money together to pay golden handshakes are having to beat off 5-years-from-retirement people with a stick. In others, people under 50 are trembling. Yet another set of rocks to steer between here in HR.
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Old 12-17-2010, 11:01 AM   #26
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Everyone is hard-wired differently. DW, for example, fretted and stewed and gritted her teeth over academic bureaucracy. I didn't. My attitude was: If it doesn't affect my day-to-day teaching and research (or my salary ), I don't sweat it. Just go with the flow.

I envy you former (or current) military types who evidently didn't (or don't) have to put up with military bureaucracy--based on your inability to swallow academic bureaucracy. My experience, however, is that academic bureaucracy (I taught at or attended six different universities) pales in comparison to the monumentally massive military bureaucracy that I experienced while I was an Army officer (1971-83) in the Reserves and National Guard.
The difference is the military bureaucracy is well defined, and comes with the job. There's a chain of command to address problems. At universities, there;s staff and there's students. And the students are all treated like 19 year old kids, whether they are or not, no exceptions.

My expectations as a college student, was to show up to class, take notes, do homework, and pass tests. My experience was that this university used all students as defacto student workers.

I'll give an example: I had a course in Educational Psychology, taught by a graduate teaching assistant. The drill was when certain assignments were completed, the professor who was supposed to be teaching the class, had to sign-off on them. All well and good. Except the professor was never in her office, and next to impossible to make an appointment with. I don't need to put up with that kind up crap, and I didn't. Wouldn't it been easier for the assistant to gather the assignments and present them to the professor? Sure, but they liked to play mind games, and the typical student put up with it.

I don't need a college degree to validate my self-worth. When the bullsh-t exceeded the value of my monthly GI Bill check, it was no longer worthwhile.
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Old 12-17-2010, 04:00 PM   #27
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It is difficult to comment on your situation... because I don't know enough detail.

But I can comment with respect to myself... There is no way I would do it. Why? It just costs money, moves me further from my FIRE goal.... and I would never recover the investment.

If you feel uncomfortable in your new assignment, consider finding some targeted training classes (locally) to fill the skill gap. Do self study.
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Old 12-17-2010, 04:58 PM   #28
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I agree with the multiple posters who have emphasized the importance of a learning environment that respects your experience / maturity / geezerhood and treats you like an adult. I was lucky enough to choose such an environment when I went back to school @42. 11 years later, I would not do it now. The time and money investment would be too great at this stage. FIRE is around the corner. I just don't need the hassle.
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Old 12-17-2010, 05:39 PM   #29
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A friend of mine had owned his own business for years.....a big lumber company. Then at age 50, he decided to go to law school! At 55 he was a lawyer! He is still a lawyer, and is now about 68 or so. He had a great time at school.....met a lot of younger friends, that he has to this day......course now they are in their forties!
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Old 12-27-2010, 08:01 PM   #30
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I'll give an example: I had a course in Educational Psychology, taught by a graduate teaching assistant. The drill was when certain assignments were completed, the professor who was supposed to be teaching the class, had to sign-off on them. All well and good. Except the professor was never in her office, and next to impossible to make an appointment with. I don't need to put up with that kind up crap, and I didn't. Wouldn't it been easier for the assistant to gather the assignments and present them to the professor? Sure, but they liked to play mind games, and the typical student put up with it.
Yes, things like that happen--unfortunately. But that isn't what I would call bureaucracy.

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I don't need a college degree to validate my self-worth. When the bullsh-t exceeded the value of my monthly GI Bill check, it was no longer worthwhile.
Sound reasonable. In your situation, I probably would have made the same decision. In fact, I made a similar decision for a similar reason: I resigned my commission in the Army and quit the National Guard after 12 years as an officer. The BS exceeded the value of my monthly military check.
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:14 AM   #31
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I went back to get an MSW in 2007, at the age of 49. I had the sames concerns and fears, but things were under shaky leadership at my workplace and I felt I might need the credentials if I had to leave. I went part-time, after work. After one semester, I was promoted unexpectedly, so had that stress (supervision) on top of school. My observations:
There was no credit for life experience (my 29 years in SW). The application and GRE experience forced my mind to work in new directions--not a bad thing.

I took a program at a satellite campus that was designed for working students. That pulled in a number of "non-traditional" (older) students, and about half the class was around 50. The program also used "adjunct" (older, semi-retired) instructors, so I had quite a few people with more experience than me doing the teaching. That was wonderful-I had professors who had run social services at the state level from 2-3 states. I picked up practical information every semester.

New ways of running statistical data, new ways of evaluating information, access to the high-dollar databases of academic journals for "free" (folded into student fees, but cheaper than private pay)...all of this helped me in my last 3 years of employment.

I increased my network of professionals in my field, and if I needed to go back to work, I would have 10-15 contacts I didn't have before, and about half are in management/hiring. We went through as a cohort, so we were with the same 22 people for 3.5 years, for better or for worse.

I was lucky in that this was a new program, and when the young'uns running the program got stuck, most were willing to listen to listen to the older students about "here's how you can fix this". It wasn't perfect, and there were some theoretical teachers with no real world experiences, just a PhD and an attitude. But the good outweighed the bad.

It was satisfying, as a former not-so-great student back in the day, to pull A's.

Everybody has to evaluate the ROI for themselves, but I finished with no debt (just smaller savings) and creds that I can use for part-time contracting work.
I could have had a bigger nest egg, but if I did need or want to go back to work, I'd be a 50-something with a BA in History and lots of work experience at a social services agency but no right to call myself a social worker. The MSW changes that and will make me more marketable for part-time gigs.
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Old 01-30-2011, 03:33 PM   #32
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Small update... I have an interview for adminssion to the course on February 8. So I haven't been outright rejected on the basis of my lack of academic background, at least.
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Old 01-30-2011, 06:45 PM   #33
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:00 AM   #34
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Well, the interview - with a very cute Canadian lady - went fine, and I've just been told that I've been made a conditional offer of a place "subject to references". Since my references were sitting there on her desk during the interview, I'm assuming that I don't have to do much else to turn this into an unconditional offer.

Now, I have to:
- Take a deep breath, swallow hard, and commit to it. Comfort zone, nuh-uh.
- Negotiate sabbatical time. In theory I have to take a minimum of a year, but I will try to negotaiate this down. I don't know if the year starts after I take all of my accumulated vacation days, or whether it can include them. Plus, our training department can some paid leave for study and a contribution towards the fees. And the person who runs the training department reports to... me.

Exciting times. I will need somewhere cheap to live near London. I might qualify for a dorm room - do they let old geezers in? Or maybe I can be a lodger...
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:07 AM   #35
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Congrats to you for being almost accepted and good luck for your negotiations.
For rooms, you may also explore Craigslist, airbnb or sabbaticalhomes.
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Old 07-05-2011, 06:58 AM   #36
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Bumping with an update...

I have more or less completely committed to doing the course. I originally thought that it would mean taking a sabbatical year from work, but having discovered that it's run on what I believe is known the "executive education" model (Friday through Sunday, every second weekend), I'm now planning to use up my considerable amount of saved annual leave, plus some extra days which the company will assign for training, and come over from France to London from Thursday to Monday. The idea is to have time for reading and essay writing, etc, before returning to the fray at work. I've already got my room lined up.

In a separate development, I am also angling for voluntary severance. A few jobs are going to disappear and we have generous payoff rules. My job isn't in line for the cuts, but I am hoping to be able to swap with someone who doesn't want to go. I calculate that with the payoff and our savings, we would have enough to live on at our current expenditure level, even if the couple of work possibilities which I've been sort-of-offered-if-you're-free don't come through.

If that happened, all I would have to do is work out what to do with my time. I would hope that, armed with a master's in positive psychology, an interest in all things skeptical and rational, and what I like to think is an ability to animate a group, I could find something, paid or unpaid. Part of the problem of living where I am - pretty part of the world though it is - is that I have a very small network of contacts. (That's one of the reasons I'm doing the MSc.)
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Old 07-07-2011, 10:37 AM   #37
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If that happened, all I would have to do is work out what to do with my time. I would hope that, armed with a master's in positive psychology, an interest in all things skeptical and rational, and what I like to think is an ability to animate a group, I could find something, paid or unpaid. Part of the problem of living where I am - pretty part of the world though it is - is that I have a very small network of contacts. (That's one of the reasons I'm doing the MSc.)
Everybody worries about that before ER, and afterward everybody wonders what the heck they were worried about:

“What, me worry?” | Military Retirement & Financial Independence
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:37 PM   #38
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Well, this week I:
- paid the fees (5% discount for up-front lump sum payment)
- confirmed my room with my landlady (both "sight unseen", but she and it come recommended)
- booked my initial trip over with our spare car and my return plane ticket after the first weekend
- booked the second weekend return plane ticket ($70; gotta love Ryanair)

So I guess I'm committed... just hope it doesn't suck !
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Old 09-01-2011, 04:47 AM   #39
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Good luck BigNick. I am 46 and still involved in post doc studies. It's never too late to learn new things.
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So I guess I'm committed... just hope it doesn't suck !
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Old 09-01-2011, 04:59 AM   #40
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All the best and have fun!
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