Wednesday, February 8, 2012

to master.

I've always thought about getting a master's degree. When I was in school for my undergrad and was approaching graduation, I applied to grad school as a "fallback" plan. I would go if I didn't get my coveted internship spot. Coincidentally I was interviewing for a graduate assistantship the day I got a call to interview for said internship, and later in the week, on the day I took the GRE, I got a call offering me the position at USA Badminton. Needless to say, I accepted that and left all ideas of grad school in the dust.

Don't get me wrong - I didn't give up on the idea of another degree. I looked at different programs and entertained the idea of grad school many times. But I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, and to me it seemed silly to get a master's in something I wasn't sure about. I still wanted it, but I had to find a program that fit.

Now that I've found one I want to pursue (partially because it looks like it incorporates all the parts of my job that I love), I have decisions to make. Do I really want to start this program? Do I want to take out a loan? Do I have time for this?

There are always going to be people who are advocates for higher education, and there are always going to be critics. One blogger/business woman I read regularly basically shoots down grad school because she says it is not practical and there's never a good time to get that kind of degree. Maybe that's true.

I didn't get a master's immediately after my undergrad. I have been working for three years, trying to figure out what I want to do in my life. So no one can accuse me of avoiding the real world with a graduate program.

$$$$$$$. (source.)
Master's degrees are expensive. And I have never been in a position where someone is going to say "Hey! We'll pay for your degree!" My job doesn't offer tuition reimbursement. I can't quit work to go to school full-time and do a graduate assistantship (it's not logical for me), and I don't want to quit work because I like it. Loans take years and years to pay off.

And honestly, I don't need a master's to do the exact job I am doing now. I don't. It might inspire me to have new ideas and new perspectives, but it wouldn't really change things financially. Not today.

But in the future, it might open new doors for me. It might be the thing that makes my resume stand out to someone. I don't know - we can never know what the future will bring, but we can try to prepare for it to the best of our ability.

And mostly, I want to do this for me. You might be thinking, "LindsAy, that's a really expensive way to better yourself. That's stupid." But why should I keep denying myself something I want, for me, when I can do something about it?

It's like this with anything in life, I think. If you set goals for yourself (say, completing a master's program before you're 30 or running a marathon before you turn 27 - that's another story), what's stopping you from accomplishing those goals? Money? Money is always going to be an issue, unless you win the lottery (unlikely) or you become some sort of celebrity or big-wig executive. Ability? Ability doesn't have to hold you back if you have the will or the drive. So what is it that holds you back?

Likely it's what other people say. And that shouldn't matter. If you want to do something, why don't you decide to go for it, despite what someone tells you they think? Like Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right." And while I love to hear what others think about this, from family to friends to social networks... my mind is pretty much made up.

We have to do things for ourselves, not for what other people will think of us. 

It's not going to hurt my feelings if you disagree with me. You can. I welcome it. But know that I'm not going to get a master's for you. I'm getting it for me.


  1. I'm don't want to sound like I'm trying to convince you not to get a masters degree, especially if its something you WANT to do. But I spent 3 years and $60,000+ on my masters degree and it didn't do me a lick of good career wise. In fact the job I took after graduating was $3000 a year less than I was making when I decided to pursue the degree. So not only am I in the hole for my degree, I'm making less than I was 6 years ago.

    I know a few people who were working while they were in the same program with me. They don't regret getting their degree, but even though their employer helped pay for it, it wasn't helping them out in their career. They are still working the same position because the employer doesn't take it into consideration for future positions.

    I don't regret getting my masters degree because I did have some great experiences and met some great people (yourself included) while I was working on it. But I do question if it was really worth it on a regular basis.

  2. I benefitted so much from my master's degree - but I knew I would. Besides the obvious (a career path, starting afresh and leaving undergrad results behind) what I benefitted most from was the time I had to develop reasoning and opinion. Yes, I know. I was *able* to have an opinion before. But the two years I spent studying gave me the space and opportunity to experiment with thinking, with argumentation, with ideas. Those two years were inifinitely beneficial in ways that perhaps I can't explain in any other way than to say that I now feel I *can* have opinions. Those years helped me to grow and become who I am today.

    I did my degree after two year's work post undergrad. I had job offers straight out of undergrad that paid more than the job I took post grad school. I spent 8 years paying off my grad school loans.

    But getting a master's is not about money. I totally agree - it is all about developing YOU.

    Would I do it again? You bet. In a heartbeat.

    And that's my opinion :-) Good luck with what you choose Linds.

  3. Advanced degrees are so tricky like that. My vote is that if you're really feeling it in your heart of hearts, you should absolutely go for it. 10 years from now, you won't regret it. If you were lukewarm? Then you might.

    Good luck, lady! It's such a huge step to take in your life either way.