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  1. #1
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    My Master's Degree Wasn't Worth It: Students Tell Their Stories

    http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/my-...65.html?page=1

    I know the job market is tight, to say the least, but I think some of these people were a little unrealistic about how much they could expect to earn after graduation, or how much student debt they took on.
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    Not to mention the fancy-sounding but ultimately vague descriptions of their specializations/majors. If I was hiring someone, I wouldn't know what to make out of those descriptions either.

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    That is soooooo sad!! And at the amount of debt these people has. I hope they keep trying and do not give up.
    “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” William Shakespeare

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    The scientist is making me . There are still jobs out there for scientists, but you often have to be willing to work in industry, which is kind of a drag. Academia doesn't pay that much, unless you are a brilliant PhD and survive tenure, and there aren't enough teaching jobs to go around. If you only have a master's, you can really only be a staff scientist. I have no idea what his expectations were. Teaching with a master's when they are a glut of recent PhDs who are willing and able? Um, no. He's going after the wrong thing entirely. Scientist with an master's = industry. Not teaching. That's just how it works.

    I know a EE major from a renowned school who supposedly "couldn't find a job" and went back for her PhD. Of course I would be the last person to tell her to take any old job, but many of these folks still hold on to certain expectations that simply can't be met by reality. In most cases, the degree is still worth something, you're just using it wrong!

    To be fair, nowadays there are too many JDs and MBAs for them to be really worth anything anymore, but a master's can still be exceedingly useful if you choose the subject well and leverage it correctly.

    I feel sorry for the guy who got a master's in HR and just graduated at the wrong time. It's really crummy luck, and only the most brilliant will survive that. Brilliance should not be a requirement for achieving modest living standards.

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    From the title, I was surprised to see that the article wasn't all about MBAs not getting their money's worth. I guess in this economy, everyone struggles.

    Many engineering schools offer 5 year joint bachelors-masters programs. The trick is that they do not give the bachelors degree until the end of the 5th year (both degrees are awarded at the same time), which means that the students can use their financial aid to pay for the 5th year. I am not a big fan of those programs because it seems to be a fall back for students struggling to find a job in their senior year (often you can switch to the joint degree program during your senior year). So, while some in the program are excellent students, many are the opposite. For the not-so-good students, spending the extra $$ for the masters degree just isn't worth it in terms of job prospects (many aren't able to turn around their GPA in the extra year).
    Creating drama!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffisjeff View Post
    From the title, I was surprised to see that the article wasn't all about MBAs not getting their money's worth.


    I figure that if you have to pay your own way through grad school, you shouldn't go.
    Trolling dates all the way back to 397 B.C. - People began following Plato around and would make fart noises after everything he said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    I figure that if you have to pay your own way through grad school, you shouldn't go.
    I tell students that. But sometimes I think, well, not every program is the same, so maybe I'm not being fair. But, yeah, I don't generally advise people to shell out lots of $$$ for a masters, unless it is from a top 10 b-school.

    I didn't initially plan to get my PhD, just the MS, but was told to just check both the MS and PhD boxes on my grad school applications (sometimes by faculty at the universities!), and I would be offered RA or TA support. So I did and I was. And of course I decided to stick around a few more years.
    Creating drama!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffisjeff View Post
    Many engineering schools offer 5 year joint bachelors-masters programs. The trick is that they do not give the bachelors degree until the end of the 5th year (both degrees are awarded at the same time), which means that the students can use their financial aid to pay for the 5th year. I am not a big fan of those programs because it seems to be a fall back for students struggling to find a job in their senior year (often you can switch to the joint degree program during your senior year). So, while some in the program are excellent students, many are the opposite. For the not-so-good students, spending the extra $$ for the masters degree just isn't worth it in terms of job prospects (many aren't able to turn around their GPA in the extra year).
    Do they have to pay extra for the master's, or is the extra tuition for the extra year? My sister gained a masters with her bachelor's in 4 years, but it wasn't an official program. I mean there is a program that makes it possible for students to do so...not usually both in 4 years though! She really did fulfill all the requirements and wrote two theses within that time span. She's crazy and brilliant. But again, brilliance should not be a requirement for having a modest living standard...

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    I had to shake my head at the person who had their M.Ed and was complaining because they couldn't use it for anything else. Duh...you did a masters in education!

    My M.Ed. was most definitely worth it. I was fortunate because it was a cohort program that allowed me to continue working while I studied, so we paid for it as it went. The fact that I could base my thesis project on my work in the classroom was a huge bonus. Hubby and I did ours at the same time. I got my M.Ed. at the ripe old age of 49, and it has already paid for itself because it bumped me $5K/year. His has paid off because it allowed him to compete successfully for senior administration positions.

    Were we lucky? Maybe. But we were also in a position where the cost-benefit analysis was definitely in our favour. There's no way I could have done it when our kids were little. So yeah, some luck...
    Haunting the Princess of Pink since 20/07/11...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anita18 View Post
    Do they have to pay extra for the master's, or is the extra tuition for the extra year?
    They pay full tuition for the 5th year. These programs are much needed sources of revenue for some universities.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffisjeff View Post
    I tell students that. But sometimes I think, well, not every program is the same, so maybe I'm not being fair.
    That is true, but I hope it at least makes people stop and think about cost vs. return, especially for those who already have debt from undergrad.
    Trolling dates all the way back to 397 B.C. - People began following Plato around and would make fart noises after everything he said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Really View Post
    I had to shake my head at the person who had their M.Ed and was complaining because they couldn't use it for anything else. Duh...you did a masters in education!
    ...They get a highly-specialized masters in Education and are complaining they can only find jobs in education.

    Right...you know, I don't think we WANT these people teaching.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Really View Post
    I had to shake my head at the person who had their M.Ed and was complaining because they couldn't use it for anything else. Duh...you did a masters in education!
    She complained she couldn't find any teaching jobs, and thus the degree became useless and she went back to her old field. She wasn't complaining that she was only getting education jobs on her radar.

    I do think a teacher is better served by getting certified and teaching with their bachelor's for a while, and THEN getting a masters if it will bump up their pay. (That's what my old roommate and her husband did, like you.) But give her some credit here, she was trying to use her degree the way it was meant to be used.

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    I worked for a University Hospital which paid for my Master's. I wouldn't have bothered otherwise. Sometimes it seems like the new master's program is what the bachelor's was originally the qualification.

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    I think both of my masters were worth it, just because of what I actually learnt, both in them being relevant to my field, and just because it kept my mind ticking and active. I didn't get any more money for getting them, but I also didn't get into debt getting them. I enjoyed the work immensely, and would recommend anyone in Australia (or anyone who could afford it with no or minimal debt) getting one if they so want, but our system is so different that it doesn't require the same sort of financial debt. I am in debt less for my house than these people are for their degrees

    Why are institutions lending this sort of money if the return isn't there? Isn't there a requirement to be able to pay back and it be a percentage of living costs? How long do most have to pay these loans?

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    I feel sorry for the HR guy who missed the HR boom by 1-2 years. Something similar happened to an old boyfriend of mine -- got his PhD in Chemistry and did his thesis in an area that was in great demand up until about 6 months before he got his degree when the market totally fell out of it and the only people who would interview him were cigarette companies and he didn't want to work for them for ethical reasons.

    But that one guy with the double major / science degrees who can't even get interviews reminds me of people I know who can't get jobs because of personal issues and blame it on the market or other things when it's really just them.

    Some of the comments on the article were pretty spot on though.
    "Cupcakes are bullshit. And everyone knows it. A cupcake is just a muffin with clown puke topping." -Charlie Brooker

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    A couple of things that worked for me and my husband:

    - Get your Master's degree only if you can get it fully funded (e.g. with a tuition waiver and a TA or RA position).
    - Get your Master's degree in a different field than your Bachelor's degree, to make yourself more uniquely qualified for a variety of jobs. I combined my B.S. biology degree with a M.S. in technical journalism, and was able to work doing college teaching and then technical writing for a high tech company. An education degree combined with a technical degree provides a good background for developing training courses or writing instruction manuals in the corporate world.
    - Get internships before graduating with your Bachelor's degree. You need job experience before graduation in order to compete for jobs after graduation. You also need to cultivate professional contacts in order to get job leads and references. If they like you during an internship, that could lead to a job offer.
    - Join professional organizations and volunteer for leadership positions. Employers are looking for people who have leadership skills and are go-getters.

    The amount of education you have is only one item on a resume. The other areas showcasing your work experience and professional activities mean a lot too. There is also a lot of truth to the adage that getting a job is "who you know". I got a lot of job leads after graduation from professors and past work associates.

    I also agree with the poster who said a master's degree is best suited for a job in industry, while a PhD is best suited for a job in academia or as a corporate researcher (e.g. developing pharmaceuticals, doing IC chip design).

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    I agree with everyone who said it depends on expectations. I have a master's and it hasn't really helped me financially, since I got it in 2009. Wrong time! That said, I had a fantastic time studying it, met some of my best friends, took some of the best trips with them and got to live in a foreign country for two years.

    Now, years later, I'm slowly cracking into a field somewhat related to my master's, and having it definitely helps. Even if it didn't, the debt was worth it for what I learned and how much fun I had

    I did my master's in Europe though, so we're talking about substantially less debt that in the US. Not sure about Canada?
    One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angelskates View Post
    I think both of my masters were worth it, just because of what I actually learnt, both in them being relevant to my field, and just because it kept my mind ticking and active. I didn't get any more money for getting them, but I also didn't get into debt getting them. I enjoyed the work immensely, and would recommend anyone in Australia (or anyone who could afford it with no or minimal debt) getting one if they so want, but our system is so different that it doesn't require the same sort of financial debt. I am in debt less for my house than these people are for their degrees

    Why are institutions lending this sort of money if the return isn't there? Isn't there a requirement to be able to pay back and it be a percentage of living costs? How long do most have to pay these loans?
    The institutions don't lend the money, companies like Sallie Mae do. It is a fairly rare school that will give out its own loans and grants. Also, often there is a portion of financial aid that are government grants (ie Pell Grants, named after the grandfather of Mr Kwan ) , and that's what the institutions are really after. I know University of Phoenix and other for-profit institutions were criticized for going after those grants specifically, often taking in underqualified students who didn't have a prayer of graduating.

    It is also a rare institution/professor to tell a student NOT to go into their field because of lack of jobs. There's an issue of pride and denial there. My boss is one of those rare ones - a professor and researcher, who tells everybody who asks that they should go to med school, not grad school.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anita18 View Post
    The institutions don't lend the money, companies like Sallie Mae do. It is a fairly rare school that will give out its own loans and grants. Also, often there is a portion of financial aid that are government grants (ie Pell Grants, named after the grandfather of Mr Kwan ) , and that's what the institutions are really after. I know University of Phoenix and other for-profit institutions were criticized for going after those grants specifically, often taking in underqualified students who didn't have a prayer of graduating.
    I meant the financial institutions lending money, not the universities. Shouldn't you need to show you are capable of paying it back within the terms, and still being able to live? Would these people get a housing loan of $120,000? If not, why would they get a study loan for $120,000? Is the criteria different? Why?

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