Expanding my education

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 17, 2008 4:04 PM GMT
    I have been "talking" about going back to school for years, but have not taken many steps to move toward that goal. It almost has become part of the generic greeting..

    "how are you doing?"
    "oh good. Very busy. Thinking of heading back to school."

    And that's where it is left.

    I know a lot of guys are grad students here. I wonder how you went about chosing a program and a school. I have a great opportunity if I could get in to Univ. of Texas, but the prospect of going back to school opens up opportunities to try out another city and experience something new. Luckily, my copany has offices everywhere, so a transfer is not an issue.

    So to what point do you choose a school or do you cast your net and let a school choose you and then follow it to something new.

    Also, anyone choose to go to school in something completely unrelated to their current career?

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    Apr 17, 2008 4:09 PM GMT
    I think that depends, DJ, on what kind of grad degree you're seeking. Being in the liberal arts (options are a dime a dozen), I narrowed down my choices based on (1) region and (2) the faculty at the institution, and if I'd be interested in working with them, i.e., if their specialties or areas of interest 'matched' my chosen direction.

  • ShawnTX

    Posts: 2484

    Apr 17, 2008 4:10 PM GMT
    I've spent the past 10 years working as a make-up artist, and back in the fall of 2006 I went back to school to get my natural healthcare practitioners certification. I'll be done at the end of May of this year, then I'm off to Texas.

    You really can't get more divergent than that - make-up to alternative healthcare.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Apr 17, 2008 4:16 PM GMT
    Well DJ.. start with the basics...

    Why is it important for you to go back to school?

    Is it career, marketability, just want to for self improvement? Make sure you know specifically why you want to do it.

    If its career, whats most prudent? Will your company pick up part of the tab? Have you done your homework as to how you will fare professionally with the grad degree?

    Do you have time... and will make the time to do it the way it needs to be done?

    Financially is it an issue?

    Can you take some classes on the internet?


    You need to (and maybe you have) done the self analysis to make the process practical. Based on that, either proceed....or no.
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    Apr 17, 2008 4:17 PM GMT
    Shawn, I went to grad school to get an MA and PhD in medieval European literature. I got the MA, decided to wait on the PhD and diversify with an MA in medieval history, and fortunately came to my senses and stopped there.

    I landed an education-related job, but now the work I do is more communications-public relations. Go figure. I'm just happy that a liberal arts degree has so many transferable skills.

    DJ, Kansan has a good point above...consider carefully the purpose of the continued schooling, and then consider how applicable that degree might be in the career world. I was lucky, I guess...I don't much find a need to explicate medieval chansons these days, but analyze and critically think? Yes indeed.
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    Apr 17, 2008 4:18 PM GMT
    It really depends on the field and your goals.

    What are you interested in, what do you want to study, what do you want for your career, and what are you doing now?
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    Apr 17, 2008 4:48 PM GMT
    I am currently torn between a degree that will advance me into my career and one that will open my mind to something new and challenging. I was thinking psychology, which is often a doctoral degree. I think even if I go the career route, which would be more of an MBA in marketing, i would want to branch out into something slightly different.

    Either way, education would be a reason to reengage my mind and expose myself to something new. Plus I would be better equipped to take on a higher level in a career.
  • irishboxers

    Posts: 357

    Apr 17, 2008 5:09 PM GMT
    I'm glad you brought this up, Bens, and thanks to the guys who have contributed info.

    I'm at a similar place, mainly for marketability and career advancement reasons. I'm in training/corporate education and most director jobs out there ask for a graduate degree. My current company isn't asking me to go back to school (they also don't offer tuition reimbursement), but if I want to take a step up with another company...well, you get the idea.

    Any thoughts from anyone on whether taking on the debt of school loans is a good idea with the economy acting like this? Is the career advancement and monetary reward worth it?
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    Apr 17, 2008 5:16 PM GMT
    Here is a good article about the worth of a degree

    http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/CollegeAndFamily/SavingForCollege/IsYourDegreeWorth1million.aspx?page=2

    and another:

    http://www.princetonreview.com/grad/research/articles/decide/return.asp


    It's all about figuring out the return on your investment by getting a degree.
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    Apr 17, 2008 5:20 PM GMT
    DJBens77 saidI am currently torn between a degree that will advance me into my career and one that will open my mind to something new and challenging. I was thinking psychology, which is often a doctoral degree. I think even if I go the career route, which would be more of an MBA in marketing, i would want to branch out into something slightly different.

    Either way, education would be a reason to reengage my mind and expose myself to something new. Plus I would be better equipped to take on a higher level in a career.



    can you afford to pursue a post-graduate degree without expecting returns? the cost of going to grad school even with financial aid is pretty horrendous. although getting a degree to broaden your horizons sounds great and actually would be a great experience, you have to think about the fact that you would be in debt up to your eyeballs and the degree would actually be worth less than your bachelor's.

    also: do you plan on sticking with your current career for the rest of your life? getting a PhD can hinder some opportunities to getting certain jobs because you are considered to be "over qualified." Things you can do with a PhD: Research, or teach...that's about it, and people with doctorates degrees actually make less money than people with a master's degree in most fields.
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    Apr 17, 2008 5:28 PM GMT
    DJBens77 saidI am currently torn between a degree that will advance me into my career and one that will open my mind to something new and challenging. I was thinking psychology, which is often a doctoral degree. I think even if I go the career route, which would be more of an MBA in marketing, i would want to branch out into something slightly different.

    Either way, education would be a reason to reengage my mind and expose myself to something new. Plus I would be better equipped to take on a higher level in a career.


    You dont have to go for a full degree to get the innovative and mind-expanding benefits of an education. Today, certifications can launch your new career. One you have a college degree, you have kinda proven your smart enough...after that get the specialized knowledge is enough.

    Afte grad school, I have just kept myself marketable by pursuing certification: first, in publication design; second, in web design.
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    Apr 17, 2008 6:23 PM GMT
    I advise a lot of people looking to get a graduate degree, and I recommend that they first imagine that they've gone through all the pain and suffering of getting the degree, and they're now looking for the next step. Where are you looking to go now? What will this degree help you do? Do the people who are working in the area that you're hoping to enter value the knowledge, skills, and experience that you've just earned?

    I've seen too many people get a grad degree and it really hasn't gotten them to where they wanted to go, because they didn't know what that was until after they were 75% through the program, and then discovered that it was the wrong one for them.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Apr 17, 2008 6:38 PM GMT
    The financial cost of getting a graduate degree depends heavily on the program. As a general rule, professional schools (law, medicine, business) you pay through the nose but get a decent return in terms of a higher paying job afterwards. MA and MS programs you generally pay substantially for, and whether they help your job prospects is highly variable. A PhD generally pays you (though not very much), but the expected return on the investment of your time is very low--you have to really enjoy it for it to be worth it.

    Factors to consider:

    What do you plan to do with your degree? If you plan on going into the commercial sector, the name of the school you get your degree from will probably matter. If you're planning an academic career, the name of the school is far less important than the name of your advisor--much better to have a well-respected advisor at a no-name school than vice versa.

    How much time are you going to be willing to devote to the work? As a PhD student, 65 hour weeks are the standard, at lower hourly pay than the janitors make. You'll have to keep that up for at least 5 years, and maybe longer depending on your field. As a Masters student, you're probably looking at both shorter weeks and fewer years, but at a higher financial cost. But if you're going to be working days and going to school nights, it'll still be quite tough to do--took my father something like 8 years of doing that to finish the 2 years he had left of college after he started working full time.

    Why, exactly, do you want this degree? It's very good to have that worked out for when things get difficult.

    How do you deal with vagueness and a lack of feedback? It's important to note that graduate work outside of the MBA/JD/MD styles is often very little like college--much longer-term projects with little direction and much less feedback, work that isn't primarily organized around classes, a very different social environment, much shorter vacations, etc. Many people make the mistake of assuming grad school will be like an additional couple years of college, and are incredibly disappointed when they find out it's not.
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    Apr 17, 2008 6:47 PM GMT
    All good questions...

    Perhaps taking some more certification based classes at the continuing education program might be a good start to see what I want to get out of things and if I want to move forward with a degree.

    I already have a certificate in business management, but it has not really done much for me outside of the knowledge I gained.
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    Apr 17, 2008 6:53 PM GMT
    [quote]DJ said: "Also, anyone choose to go to school in something completely unrelated to their current career?"[qoute]

    I majored in English
    I've spent the last 3 years in accounting.
    I hated math in school, but I really love my job.
  • dhinkansas

    Posts: 764

    Apr 17, 2008 7:04 PM GMT
    Try making some appts and go talk to some of the graduate advisors since you are right there in Austin. Get some feedback from them, and they also should be able to give you an idea as to their placement rate of success with graduates and how active their placement process is at the grad level, and even what areas anticipate career growth.....both geographically and what fields are in demand. That may help you refine your choices.

    It's not an easy decision, but you have all the resources for research right there. Expanding your knowledge and experience is always a good thing.

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    Apr 17, 2008 10:26 PM GMT
    If you're thinking about psychology, I'd suggest you get an MSW. In most areas of the country, it's the most practical degree. A clinical PhD no longer assures you a better income than a master's level practitioner, in large part because of insurance company practices.

    You asked if anyone changed fields when they went back to school. I changed from journalism to psychology, but I've continued to do a lot of writing. So, one advantage of pursuing a different field is that you have two careers, rather than just one. Because I do both, I don't have to take writing assignments that bore me and I don't have to see clients who, um, bore me, either.

    I didn't find master's work any more difficult than undergrad work. However, PhD work is a fucking nightmare. More than half of doctoral students don't finish; the course work is the easy part.

    Another thing to look at is combined track programs -- ones that grant you a master's degree on the way to getting your PhD.
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    Apr 17, 2008 10:32 PM GMT
    ShawnTO said
    You really can't get more divergent than that - make-up to alternative healthcare.



    Alternative healthcare isn't the weird part.

    WHY TEXAS?
  • ShawnTX

    Posts: 2484

    Apr 17, 2008 10:35 PM GMT
    Hehe, I ALWAYS get that type of response when I mention it.

    1) I LOVE Texas
    2) I love the people
    3) For work
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 17, 2008 10:37 PM GMT
    ShawnTO saidHehe, I ALWAYS get that type of response when I mention it.

    1) I LOVE Texas
    2) I love the people
    3) For work


    what the heck do you love about Texas?
  • ShawnTX

    Posts: 2484

    Apr 17, 2008 10:40 PM GMT
    Rednecks
    Homophobes
    George bush
    Polygamists
    Checking for scorpions between the sheets

    what the heck do you love about Texas?

    What a strange question.
    icon_wink.gif
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    Apr 17, 2008 11:49 PM GMT
    DJ

    Good news to hear that you are interested in more education. You're young so there is so much time to do it all. Don't drop the ball ... keep swimming like the all american that you are!

    Obscenewish is correct--if you plan to pursue a career in psychology get that MSW--Master Social Work. It is in demand all over the country and there are not enough good ones to fill the need. I have many good friends in this business (psychiatrists, pscyhologists, social workers, counselors) and the MSW is golden. You'll never be unemployed AND you can help people at the same time --- imagine.

    I wonder though--I do not know what you do now and what education you have now. That is important start. As far as traveling with your business and then seeking schools. You do not need a Ivy league place to get quality ed. It's the credential of the people teaching you that is important, do they love what they do, can they convey thoughts/ideas well ... eventually you really need to find one who can mentor you and whom you will bond to ... they are out there.

    I guess I am a socratic guy and see the need to find one and latch on for the ride.

    I might suggest that you take some tests that might reveal your likes, dislikes, abilities, gravitations to etc. Even if you know youself really well--these tests will solidify and make you laugh perhaps OR they may point to a direction you thought about and dismissed or never thought about. Your techs, Universities nearby can provide you with this opportunity. What have you to lose--you have the time and you are young.

    And then you simply need to have the courage and get off the ass and finally do it ... take a chance--what can you lose ... you'll learn more of you and people--what more could you want?

    I completed a BA in Eng/Phil/Psych with hopes to pursue a degree in clinical work and literature.

    A war stopped me dead in my tracks .. almost lterally.

    I had worked in a bank during my college summers and they took me in when I was without a job and school was over and grad school would not have me because I was activated.

    Years later I was still in finance and working on an MBA. I have been in finance ever since.

    Five years ago I returned to school for an MA in English.

    I live near a great school and I could take one course per semester at night. I am now struggling with a thesis--I would rather have twenty more classes than write this. But it was part of deferred dream .. and I cannot quit now.

    So fella--go for it -- you'll never regret it.

    If you choose a direction that your employer will support--all the more to pursue it.

    Good luck
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 17, 2008 11:57 PM GMT
    I always want to put a comma in your screen name.

    "Call me, Ishmael. No kidding, I don't care what time it is, I'll sit by the phone....and wait...."
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    Apr 18, 2008 12:12 AM GMT
    I thought about going back to school...so I can teach constitutional law on the college level...but its hell trying to pay off my debt as a high school history teacher.
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    Apr 18, 2008 12:21 AM GMT
    RealAmericanHero

    Man--do not defer this dream that you have; see someone at that college that will provide you with this dream and then find a financial planner--and see what can be done to be able to live, teach, love and pursue this dream.

    Teaching is a demanding profession and if you are dedicated all the more you don't have the time---but you DO. Money? There are ways about that dear guy.

    This stands in my office for me to read and weep at when I think of what I have left behind due to all kind of reasons"

    "A great dela of talent is lost in this world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves obscure men whom timidity predented from making a first effort; who, if they could have been induced to begin, would in all probability have gone great lengths in the career of fame. The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as best as we can."

    I urge you, to begin the long walk to becoming ... what you dream of. Grab at that golden ring, please, for the gipper.