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Was your degree worth it?

Posted by on Jan. 31, 2013 at 11:49 PM
  • 22 Replies

There was a post about getting the GMAT test earlier today, and then I came across this article tonight that I thought I would share. This is not to say all degrees are worthless, but these are an interesting perspective. Was your degree worth it? If so, what is your degree in, how much did it cost you, how long did it take and where are you in terms of earning salary now?

My Master's Wasn't Worth It

Be careful what you study. Going to grad school isn't always worth the time, effort and money.

MBAs: A dime a dozen?

Courtesy: Aaron FraserName: Aaron Fraser, 42
Place: Virgin Islands

I once looked at the MBA as the crème de la crème of business degrees, but now I realize I'm a dime a dozen.

I have an MBA in media management from Metropolitan College of New York and a master's in organizational leadership from Mercy College. I am in debt to the tune of $120,000, and for me, it just wasn't worth it.

After graduating, I applied for jobs in New York for at least a year. In interviews, I was either overqualified, or high risk.

I am high risk, so I'm told, because I have multiple degrees, which means it's more likely that I would pursue other means of employment if I am offered a higher salary.

I'm 42 years old, and I'm competing with 25-year-olds who have MBAs from Harvard. There are so many young people with MBAs from exclusive schools, it's very difficult for somebody like me to compete. Employers don't expect middle aged people to be innovators.

My master's is a joke

Courtesy: Jen SmialekName: Jen Smialek, 31
Place: Boston, Mass.

I work in such a completely different industry, it's a joke amongst co-workers that I have a master's in education.

I completed that degree -- which was my second master's -- in 2010, and taught for a year in Boston. It was the hardest work I've ever done, but I loved it.

A year later, it was first in, first out in terms of layoffs. I didn't have any seniority and I was unfortunately laid off.

I couldn't find another teaching job, so I returned to marketing. I had about $26,000 in student debt from that master's, and I've since paid off most of it (I completed my first master's for less than $500).

If I could go back, I wouldn't earn the education degree again. It was a good personal enrichment activity, but for someone like me who does Internet marketing, my career would benefit more from an MBA.

I work 3 part-time jobs

Courtesy: Nick HintzName: Nick Hintz, 28
Place: Kansas City, Mo.

When I graduated from my undergraduate program in 2008, I had a bachelor's degree in psychology, which was too general to get me a job. I wanted to go into business, so I decided to earn a master's degree in human resources at the University of Minnesota.

At the time, it was rated as the number two HR school in the nation, and it cost a lot to go there. I took out $120,000 in student loans. The economy was unraveling at the time, but I hoped that over a couple years, the job market would improve.

Instead, things got worst. I graduated in 2010 at the bottom of the U.S. job market. At the time, only about half our class found jobs.

Now it's been more than two years, and I'm competing against fresh grads for entry-level positions and leadership training programs. A career counselor told me I missed the boat on getting a solid return on investment for my master's.

I have three part-time jobs. I am an unpaid volunteer in a local hospital's HR department, I'm a content manager for a video game website, and I clean typewriters... yes, typewriters.

I'm stuck with a large amount of debt, I have this fancy master's no one cares about, and I can't get the experience I need. I'm really at a loss of what to do.

My master's wasn't worth the debt

Courtesy: Daniel SnyderName: Daniel Snyder, 38
Place: Chicago, Ill.

I've always been in tune with other people's emotions, so I studied psychology, hoping to be a clinician or a therapist.

I earned a bachelor's and then master's degree in clinical psychology, but at the end of my final internship, I became ill and was hospitalized for a few days. I still graduated from the program, but because I had not finished my internship, I was unable to get a license to practice as a psychologist.

I was told I could return in a year to re-start the internship process. In the meantime, I hoped I could still get a job, applying the degree to other fields that don't require a license. I sent out more than 300 applications.

It's been almost a year and I have not been able to apply my degree to any jobs in human resources, psychology consultation or even restaurant management. I am just starting school again, now for a master's degree in human resources. I've been living off credit cards essentially, acquiring about $25,000 in debt. And that's in addition to the $60,000 in student loans I acquired in grad school.

I had to sell my car. It got so bad that some points, my phone or power would be shut off.

Not only was my first master's not worth the debt, it wasn't worth the emotional journey of going through a program that requires such introspection and self reflection. If I had to do this all over again, I probably would have just gotten an HR degree instead of a social science degree.

I want to use my degree

Courtesy: Mary LeMayName: Mary LeMay, 47
Place: Stevens Point, Wisc.

After working 18 years in financial counseling, I went back to school in my 40s to earn a master's degree in community counseling.

I had always aspired to be a school counselor, but when I started the program, I was informed there were very few job openings in schools. I chose community counseling instead, because I was told it was a larger umbrella with more opportunities.

After graduating in May 2010, I knew that most counselor positions would require certification as an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor). In Wisconsin, that would entail an additional two years and 3,000 hours working under the direction of someone in the field. I didn't know how difficult it would be to obtain that certification.

I've been looking for those positions, but it seems there are so few job opportunities for someone to become a counselor-in-training. Very few employers are willing to supervise you.

Why do graduate schools keep churning out counselors when there are so few jobs or opportunities for certification?

I funded my masters degree with $20,000 in student loans. I'm still looking forward to being able to use my degree, but I'm just wondering if that's ever going to happen.

I'm overeducated

Courtesy: Sean PaddenName: Sean Padden, 42
Place: Providence, R.I.

I have more education than I know what to do with, and I am one of the long-term unemployed who have given up hopes of finding a job.

After a double major in chemistry and microbiology as an undergrad, I earned a master's degree in molecular biology and gained teaching experience in cellular, micro, molecular and plant biology.

I thought this wide array of experience would at least get me interviews. After hundreds of applications over the past four years, I have had less than five interviews.

My solution has been to try and employ myself. I resorted going back to a high school hobby, as a job.

I'm working on starting a woodworking business that makes canes, using a special kind of diseased wood. Basically, I'm using my chemistry background to create functional pieces of art.

by on Jan. 31, 2013 at 11:49 PM
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by Silver Member on Jan. 31, 2013 at 11:55 PM

Haven't finished mine yet, but I watched my father struggle for years (long before the recent crash) with being overqualified due to his Master's- in Music Direction.  Apply for an entry to mid level position, has the experience/skills, ooops, he has more than a basic degree, can't hire him because company "is unable to pay him at the level he deserves with his degree".  Even if the position is completely unrelated, he would still get the overqualified line.  He uses his degree in directing music and choir at our church, which is an unpaid position because the church is so small.

by Bronze Member on Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:51 AM

My undergraduate degree was definitely worth it. Because of scholarships and the money my parents made me save and invest as a child, I graduated with zero debt. I also graduated with an information technology degree in December of 1996, when companies everywhere were gearing up for Y2K, so an IT degree was gold.

The jury is still out on my masters degree. I had originally planned on getting an MBA, but I decided to get an MS in Information Systems instead. It was something I really wanted to do, so personally, I do think it was worth it. Professionally, I am still at the same company in the same job. But, it has helped me make networking contacts, and I think it does give me a leg up if and when I do decide to look elsewhere. Also, my employer paid for 80% of my tuition and fees and 50% of my books, so that is a big plus.

by Group Admin on Feb. 1, 2013 at 10:10 AM

I think MBA's are fairly common.  I also think that WHERE you get the MBA from matters.  If the employer is familiar with the program and the knowledge gained, how easy or tough it is, they will make a decision based on that knowledge.  I don't know if my degree is worth it yet since I am still attending.  I have decided not to go for my Masters at this time.  I would have gone for my Masters in accountancy, rather than an MBA.  It cost me very little other than time at the moment, though. Essentially, I will have my 4 year degree in 5 years, and that's with taking a semester off to have a baby, and working full time.

by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 10:53 AM

No, it wasn't fyi, I have a masters in HR , Husband in masters in Business. He works for progressive insurance .  I am a manager for Directv, . Sad we paid out over 10 Gs for the both of us for each semester. Even with my masters most jobs I ever applied to I have to "work my way to the top" Same with him, it helps but we are in our mid 30s and i feel like we are still at the bottom.  We both average about 80 Gs a year. Still...I thought we would make more than that.  My brother and his wife both work at a factory , with high school diplomas and make more a year than we do.

by Group Admin on Feb. 1, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Bachelor Degree was absolutely worth it.

I haven't gone for my Masters and for the reasons listed above, I likely won't bother.

by Bronze Member on Feb. 1, 2013 at 11:31 AM
This. I still ow about $20k in loans but it was worth every penny.

Quoting the3Rs:

Bachelor Degree was absolutely worth it.

I haven't gone for my Masters and for the reasons listed above, I likely won't bother.

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by Valeri on Feb. 1, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Education is ALWAYS worth it no matter what!!  Sure, I'm not doing anything directly related to it now but it got me to one job which led me to another which led me to an unrelated job and I wouldn't change it for the world!!! 

If people are going to college for jobs.....they are sadly losing focus.  For the most part, college is about exploration of self and a field of study.  What you do with it can be limitless.  No experience in education is worthless.

*Okay, I will step of my college advisor soap box.

by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 1:02 PM
My bachelors degree was more than worth it! I came out with around $20k in debt (the school was $23k a year), and entry level at the job I have, which is my dream job and in my degree field, starts around $60k.

I am torn between getting a masters in my field or just spending the time getting a CIH (certified industrial hygienist) as a professional best of the best certification. I don't feel like I Need a masters at this point, I have the job
I want and I enjoy it, the pay is good, and the hours are amazing.
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by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 1:23 PM

 My job paid for my Masters Degree.  I got a promotion and raise 6 months after I finished.  So yes my degree was worth it. 


"One kind word can warm three winter months."
-  Japanese proverb

by Platinum Member on Feb. 1, 2013 at 4:20 PM
Both my degrees are in very a specific career path and were very worth it.

My DH has an MBA, and I think there is always value in just being smarter and better manager. He knows financial strategies and can write business proposals in a much more professional and efficient way. It sets him apart in his field from others that sit there staring blankly when a certain law, theory or term is mentioned.
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