Join the Conversation: Is Graduate School Worth It?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Princeton University Princeton University (carbonnyc/flickr)

Takeaway finance contributor, Beth Kobliner, joins us today to talk about why going to graduate school does not make financial sense. What do you think? Is grad school worth it? Share your story. Tell us why you went to grad school and whether it was worth it»

Comments [3]

Ali Jo from Detroit, Michigan

While I greatly value my time spent at NYU pursuing my graduate degree in Arts Administration, I have to admit that the economic impact of the degree on my life thus far has been more detrimental than helpful. I went after the degree because I longed for the advanced knowledge and I thought that it would open doors for me. It opened my mind to new ideas and ways of thinking but many doors have actually closed. I now live in Michigan and during my job searches I have at times even left off my master’s degree so that I do not get skipped over by recruiters who may assume that I will ask for too much money. I recently took a job that is closer to my field but at a substantial pay cut and less than I was making 7 years ago. The bills are a struggle especially with my hefty student loan payments per month. To those pursuing a graduate education, I would rely not just on statistics from the given school about job placement rates and earnings potential, go out into the field, talk to mentors, look at organizations where you would like to work and see if you think that the people at the top seem likely to transition away from their positions anytime soon to leave some room for you. Also, most organizations will not hire you in at a higher executive position without substantial work experience, therefore make your own financial projection of how long it will take for you to reach what you consider to be a liveable wage. Most of all, if you truly love what you do, don’t let the struggle bring you down. I do complain about the expense of my degree and I question my decision, but I always value the knowledge and I will keep trying to find ways to use it in the world and hopefully improve my own financial situation.

Jun. 22 2010 09:25 AM
Theo van Joollen from NYC

I have a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in European History, which I earned in my 30's in order to stop being a starving actor. I also have a diploma in Russian from the Defense Language Institute and 4 years of U.S. Naval Service.

I work at Columbia Universty's Butler Library, where I tested in reading knowledge in German and Russian for the job. I just finished my fifth year working at Columbia.

I only earn $18.10 per hour and there are no merit raises, or overtime opportunities. I get paid the same as a HS Graduate in my grade 5 position because Columbia and 1199 SEIU claim that a HS diploma is the only prerequisite. Most Butler library employees in techincal services where I work have advanced degrees.

I can't afford my own apt. in NYC so I have been bouncing around from sublet to sublet. I have even had to spend months at a time sleeping in the library between sublets, when I could not find a place on time. I am now 47 and it gets harder to find sharing situations because the sharing market is usually a lot younger. I just want my own studio apartment. Columbia does not pay me enough for even that.

Columbia University, an IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL!, does not appreciate the educational backgrounds of it's staff employees. The libraries only recognize the MLS. Anyone else is exploited by disgracefully low pay. It is demoralizing.

Interestingly enough, I will never be able to pay back my student loans....into the 70's [I did not have the VA loan program in my day in the Navy]. I will end up as a historically news statistic...someone who is considered 'destitute' for 20 years, or more, and whose loan is forgiven...that is if the law stays the same. I am not proud of this. I have tried to advance, but am just losing steam.

Jun. 22 2010 07:14 AM
Pam from Fort Lauderdale

For me, it was the best decision of my life, without which I would not have a career. (I'm an academic librarian and a masters is required.) The masters is the new bachelors nowadays, I'm afraid; A must-have.

Jun. 21 2010 01:03 PM

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