Hi all! I am looking into options for graduate school. I want to hear what your experiences are-
did you go right after your bachelor's or later? Did you get it online or attend the university? Did you complete it as a full time or part time student? Did you get it in something related to your field or completely different? Lastly- was anyone able to get scholarships? Grad school is so expensive!
Any shared experiences are greatly appreciated. I always thought I would go straight through 5 or 6 years of schooling and get my Bachelors and Masters at once, but I didn't. I couldn't rationalize paying what I would be paying for the degree and was too chicken to explore fields that really interested me but didn't guarantee jobs and would require going farther away to school. So, I've worked the past 4 years since graduating and realized that I need to step it up if I want to achieve this personal and professional goal. The cost scares me and the unknown, but I'm more scared of just staying at my status-quo position for the next 30+ years. I'm 26 now, married a year ago, and not planning to have children for a while. The time is now! :)
I recommend talking to a lot of people in your field to see if a masters will add any value. I considered at various times a masters in economics or stats but after talking to people in the fields realized I would really need a PhD and the masters alone would not get me much.
I ended up doing an MBA and was able to get some scholarship money but traditionally its very difficult to get scholarships for professinal degrees. I started at a part-time program while working but then decided to switch to a full time program at a different and more prestigious schooll -- each had its benefits -- the part-time program was paid for by my employer but the full time program was at a great university and has really helped me build contacts and stand out.
I waited a year and a half before I went back for my Masters. I decided on a University that I could attend and have the option of taking an online class if I wanted too, especially since I work full-time.
I went straight into an MBA program after receiving my Bachelors so I was able to complete both BBA and MBA in 6 years (done at age 24). I did both full time (4-6 classes per semester plus 2 summer classes for the MBA). I think this was the right choice for me since I was in that "school mode" from BBA and was able to get the MBA over with pretty easily. I feel it was such a good decision to go straight for my MBA..i was the youngest person in my MBA program and really saw how difficult it was for my friends that I made in the program who had kids and full time jobs.
Did you go right after your bachelor's or later? I took two years off before getting my master's. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, and while I feel you can get a bachelor's and not really care about going to school, I think you have to have a lot of drive and a clear goal for an advanced degree.
Did you get it online or attend the university? Some of the classes for my program were offered online, but the majority were in person, and a major research component had to be done in lab.
Did you complete it as a full time or part time student? I made the decision to quit my job and pursue school full time. It was the right decision for me at the time; I just wanted to get my degree as quickly as possible, I guess I saw part-time school as dragging it out and delaying meeting my ultimate goal, which was to get a career in my field.
Did you get it in something related to your field or completely different? I chose a specific subset from my undergrad degree, which was a general scientific discipline and served as the foundation for my master's.
Was anyone able to get scholarships? I received a tuition waver, a monthly stipend for doing research, and also took on a work-study job.
I don't think a grad degree is a good way to "explore" a field. The level and intensity is such that it should be a good fit, and you should be highly motivated and committed to it. It's definitely something that will be a joint venture for you and your spouse. Could you look into taking one class at a time?
If you're considering PhD level, there is a national standard rate of pay for candidates, so you could feasibly quit your current job depending on your income needs.
I admire your desire to not be "stagnant" in life and in your career. There will be no "job guarantee" no matter which program you choose. However, if you've reached a stand-still in your promotional potential, a degree can help get you over that hump. If you're looking to switch fields entirely, I think you're still young enough to have a great career ahead of you. Don't be afraid to cold-call (or email) people and ask about their experience with a certain program, I'm always willing to talk to interested people.
personally i think it really depends what field it is....i did work less than a year between my undergrad and grad degrees and it's not enough. if i worked 2-3 years before going to grad school...i think i would have made much better choices.
i had the old "unrealistic" vision of education...that i thought a degree can get me good jobs/promotions and such. but it doesn't work like that in this culture or in NYC...it's very cut throat in NYC....and in any big star arch firms...most employees have an ivy league degree...
so don't think when you get a master that you'll get a better offers/opportunities...it might not. but when there's an opportunity...a master degree can come in handy.
Thank you so much for all of your replies! I feel very lost in what I want to do and thought any experiences would be good to hear.
I thought I was going to get at least my master's ever since I was a little girl. Personally and professionally, it was simply a goal I wanted to achieve. My plans changed as circumstances in my life changed, and I did, at the time, what was best for my future. Now that it's been 4 years since I graduated my with my B.A., I feel that this is the most opportune time in my life to go forward with it.
So, I am at a crossroads because I don't love the job I'm doing now, but I also don't know what else I would want to do despite many hours of reading, researching and soul-searching. 80% of the people at my place of employment have at least their master's, mainly because you get paid more for each level of higher education you have. My colleagues are often asking me why I haven't started a program yet, since it seems to be the logical thing to do for a person who wants to be there until retirement as it will earn you more money in the long run. I don't tell my coworkers "well, I don't really want to be doing this forever, so I'm not going to pay money to get a degree that says I can do the exact same thing I already do everyday." I don't know what else I could do, though, or want to do. I have interviewed for different jobs but have ultimately stayed where I am. I have tried making the best out of my job but often feel like there's something more I could be doing and that I set my goals too low for myself.
I am researching things I can do; my undergrad is sort of a base degree for lots of venues, so I'm always looking at programs at nearby colleges/online and thinking "Oh, that would be fun! Would I actually like that? Be good at it? Make a living from it? Should I just stay where I'm at because it's safe?" Big sigh. The things that excite me also scare me because I think, what if I could never actually get a job from this? I often think the logical thing to do would really be to go for something in my field, since I'm already in it, and because I don't know how long I'll be in this field, so it can only be beneficial in terms of earning power. Then I think, heck, I might as well go for something that really excites and interests me that might be something different altogether. I am looking, by the way, to do this part-time while I work full-time. I really can't quit my job or pick up and leave to go to school somewhere.