To grad school or not to grad school? That is the question.
At a time when universities are under scrutiny for cost and the value they provide, grad school is under attack as well.
An article in the Wall Street Journal covered the stories of graduate students who went into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for a minimal return. Art and film students, family counselors, and publishing graduates spent over $100K only to make $30-50K once they graduated.
This lead me to ask on LinkedIn if people had graduate degrees, and if so, was it worth it?
I got so many responses that I decided to share them all here. Overwhelmingly, people who responded to my poll (50%) said they have a graduate degree and it was worth it!
Graduate degrees and career advancement
“I did my graduate degree while working and worked with my employer to share cost. I built a pseudo- business case so the return on investment was clear to me and them and it was linked to my career progress and linked to their success as well.” – Tamara Niedzwiecki, MBA
“I think my MBA helped me break into my field because it was a drastic change… But, if I had an appropriate certificate or BA, I feel I could have still gotten the same effect without the epic amount of debt.” – Caitlin Norem
“…going to the job market without such degree (professional bachelor or academic master) closes many doors.” – Stefan Boeykens
Graduate degrees are about learning
“One word of advice, if I may: if you are just looking for a career jump or a nice title, then don’t bother enrolling. That type of journey (DBA or PhD) is unlikely to work out and/or make you happy – at least if you apply for a high quality program.” – Dr. Richard Hagl
“One’s degree might not be “worth it” but the joy of learning and making connections and building relationships might have its own value. Is learning an end in itself or a means to an end? I love how Cafavy’s poem “Ithaka” reminds us that, while the end might not always turn out like we expected, we are richer for the journey.” – Hans Davies
Graduate degrees later in life
“I realise that going back to school 10 years after undergrad as a grown self-funding adult has made me respect and value the process so much more than I would have back then. I think knowledge & real life work experience should go together rather than being 1st then 2nd phases. Highly recommend life long learning and I’m a proud “mature” student.” – Bronwyn Williams
When graduate degrees don’t work out
“It was interesting and in todays world most auto dear john HR systems auto reject those without one but it has provided the square root of zero useful input to any job I have done in 35 years.” – David Hitchman
“I have the feeling that I did very wrong because what is needed and what makes my friends satisfied is hands on work. In university innovative ideas were always demonized and cut down. PhD students are exploited. Today I would recommend any kid to think about what makes them happy and not to let them be guided by wrong status expectations.” – Michael Schönmoser
Elite vs. State school grad programs
“Don’t go for “elite” programs. There are so many universities with affordable and low fees. Complete your degree there. What you should be looking for is curriculum. Then, if you want, apply for PhD at a more prestigious university.” – Andrei Loginovksiy
Graduate school, show me the money
“I got my MBA for a total cost of $12,500 from LSU-Shreveport. The cost of this program (while still being a reputable school) is what convinced me to do it. I can’t say exactly what value I’ve seen from it, but it has definitely opened doors and set me apart in hiring and promotion decisions” – Nathan Winzenried
“If you think there’s a way you can equate $X tuition with amount Y of Knowledge, that’s one way of measuring value. Or is it for net present value of $X in relation to $Z earnings? Or is it an opportunity cost (time) of what you could be doing instead? …grad school is a place you forge long lasting bonds with people of like minds and interests. I feel very lucky in that regard. There’s no price tag on that.” – Robb Ziegler
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