Should I go to grad school?

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allones
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Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:27 am

Should I go to grad school?

Post by allones » Sat May 23, 2020 11:01 am

I have been accepted to a highly-ranked graduate school for Information Management. I have been on the fence about needing to go to grad school for years, and now I'm on the fence about accepting. I applied when the pandemic started out of fear of losing my job. The program is 1 year, evenings and weekends, and costs ~$35,000 which I would pay for out-of-pocket.

I am 42 and have worked in IT for a Silicon Valley tech company for the last year, and in tech for 15+ years. This job was remote from the beginning and remote work will always strongly be my preference, but I do live in a tech hub. The company is doing well (my panic seems to have been unwarranted), takes very good care of its employees, salary is generous and barring any changes for the worse, I would like to work at this company for as long as possible. My manager indicated that an advanced degree wouldn't be needed for my advancement at the company.

However. I'm concerned as I get older that if I'm laid off I will have a difficult time finding a comparable job. Master's degrees are almost always preferred in job postings in my field, my bachelor's degree is not relevant to my line of work, and my career path is moving less technical and more managerial. Getting this degree feels like insurance.

This degree does not align with my long-term goals, which are to work for 10-15 more years in this high-income capacity while also developing more creative side work. Tech has never been my passion and I'd like to bridge my tech career and retirement with fulfilling work that covers my cost of living while compound interest does its thing, aka "coast". Right now I'm exploring commercial real estate photography but have other ideas if it's not viable. I figure 10-15 years is plenty of time to build independent work on the side. My partner has a government job that can cover health insurance.

Essentially, I'm debating putting time and money toward feeling secure or toward feeling fulfilled. I'd love some feedback and guidance.

New Providence
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by New Providence » Sat May 23, 2020 11:46 am

40's is the execution of long-term plans, whatever those are. You are not getting any younger.

yohac
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by yohac » Sat May 23, 2020 11:51 am

Sounds like you're simultaneously looking for both IT job insurance, and a path out of IT. It's your time and money, but after 37 years in IT, I can't think of a single person who pursued an IT-related masters after 15 years of successful experience. Seems like this would be the time to get some education in the areas where you actually have passion.

BernardShakey
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by BernardShakey » Sat May 23, 2020 11:55 am

Hmm, doesn't really sound like your heart is into this grad program. How necessary or beneficial is the degree for employment should you be out of work in say the next 1-5 years ? If the degree is partly technical in nature it might not be that helpful several years down the road as the field changes. Information Management though, sounds like the degree is more managerial than technical and in that case the benefits might be more broadly applicable and not as time-limited as a technical degree. 35k is a lot of dough for something you don't really feel enthusiastic about nor necessarily need for continued employment. Maybe some folks from the IT field can weigh in here.
A key to investing is having a well-calibrated sense of your future regret.

oldfort
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by oldfort » Sat May 23, 2020 12:01 pm

At 42, $35k and a year of your life sounds like expensive insurance for the possibility of getting laid off and then not being able to find another job.

sandan
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by sandan » Sat May 23, 2020 12:10 pm

Just do it.

A 1 year commitment is nothing, especially if your entire cohort are full-time workers. You might meet some students and expand your network.

I wouldn't worry about impressing the the Professor (You might have one or two good ones, but most will be clueless). Its more about making good relationships with your classmates. There are going to be many classmates who know what they are doing, and their insights and connections will be valuable.

Overall, too many people take their Master's degree seriously. The only way to call their bluff is by having one.
Last edited by sandan on Sat May 23, 2020 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MathWizard
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by MathWizard » Sat May 23, 2020 12:32 pm

If this will require leaving your job, I would not do it.

I would suggest a management degree like you or thinking of or an MBA from a local school. Keep your job and do a part time program on Saturdays.

You would likely be moving into management. You can show that you are doing professional development and can see where this can apply as you move into management.

My guess is that if your boss says you do not need the advanced degree,then HR is using it as a filter, just a checkbox to be filled.

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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee » Sat May 23, 2020 12:38 pm

I have two graduate degrees earned years apart from different universities in different subjects, the second a terminal degree. It's tough. Many started. Few finished.

If, as you say, it doesn't align with your long-term goals I would suggest not to attempt it.

PJW

jajlrajrf
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by jajlrajrf » Sat May 23, 2020 12:42 pm

I think you should ask this question in places other than this forum, which I think has something of an anti-higher ed (and in particular, anti-expensive higher ed) bias (which is understandable given the board's composition.)

My personal opinion is that if you're not actually interested in the area of expertise the degree would confer, putting the effort into it is a mistake. If you were energized by the underlying material, my answer would be different.

tashnewbie
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by tashnewbie » Sat May 23, 2020 1:10 pm

Are you going to be paying? Would there be any possibility that your employer would pay?

It doesn’t sound like your heart’s in it. You’re basically doing it to get insurance against possible job loss in the next 5-10 years, but sounds like you want to transition out of the field in 10 years anyway. Only you can decide if that insurance is worth it.

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Watty
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by Watty » Sat May 23, 2020 1:12 pm

allones wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 11:01 am
The program is 1 year, evenings and weekends......
Are you sure this is a good program?

One year of evenings and weekends does not sound like enough time to get a masters unless it is practically every evening and weekend. Even if you were going to school full time getting a masters in a year would keep you real busy.

You also need to figure out how this would work with your work schedule if you travel any for work or need to be available for things like weekend conversions. With such fast paced program if you have to miss a week because of work or illness it might be real hard to catch up.

Topic Author
allones
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by allones » Sat May 23, 2020 1:26 pm

My objective for going into the program would be to solidify my ability to be in a tech management role. The degree is like a tech MBA.
Would there be any possibility that your employer would pay?
My employer will chip in $2500, which doesn't really move the needle for me.
Are you sure this is a good program?
Yes. It's local to where I live and has a good reputation. I'd be entering a mid-career version of the program. There's a 2+ year version for people without substantial professional experience. Folks who graduate get recruited directly into FAANG positions. The program is upfront about the schedule being rigorous.
I think you should ask this question in places other than this forum, which I think has something of an anti-higher ed (and in particular, anti-expensive higher ed) bias (which is understandable given the board's composition.)
Agreed - I've been getting as much feedback as possible. I tend to come here for advice that I think my dad might give me if he were still around, which is to not blow this really good-paying career but also don't spend anything I don't need to. I'm often surprised here by some of the "life is too short to have a meh job" sentiment, however.

lws
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by lws » Sat May 23, 2020 2:24 pm

Do you have good mental focus while doing IT tasks?
Do you enjoy doing IT tasks?
Do you feel all right when you are not doing IT work?

You have a good fit career if all the above are true.

birnhamwood
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by birnhamwood » Sat May 23, 2020 3:21 pm

It's hard to imagine the "highly ranked" school you describe, unless only night and weekend schools are ranked. Frankly, the school sounds a little Trump Universityish. Hope I'm wrong.

I do not think you can get the good advice you need unless you name that school.

Topic Author
allones
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by allones » Sat May 23, 2020 3:38 pm

birnhamwood wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 3:21 pm
It's hard to imagine the "highly ranked" school you describe, unless only night and weekend schools are ranked. Frankly, the school sounds a little Trump Universityish. Hope I'm wrong.

I do not think you can get the good advice you need unless you name that school.
It's the University of Washington Master of Science in Information Management program. https://ischool.uw.edu/programs/msim

This particular program offers evening and weekend classes for working professionals.

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tennisplyr
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by tennisplyr » Sat May 23, 2020 6:11 pm

FWIW, I earned an MBA many years ago and always felt it gave me a leg up over my competition. I've worked for several Fortune 500 companies and glad I went to grad school...it wasn't that difficult. Only you know what it's worth in your field.
Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.

Normchad
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by Normchad » Sat May 23, 2020 6:19 pm

Given what you’ve said, I wouldn’t do it.

You should figure out what you do want to do in the long run, and start pursuing that.

No sense spending time and money in something you do t need that will help you do something you don’t want to do.

I’m sure this varies, but nobody I know cares or is impressed by somebody getting another degree. It certainly doesn’t help them within the company in terms of opportunities or pay.

birnhamwood
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by birnhamwood » Sat May 23, 2020 7:01 pm

Yes, UW is an excellent school. Thanks

It would be a hard decision for me. Given your particular circumstances, I probably would not do it.

But best of luck whatever choice you make.

go_mets
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by go_mets » Sat May 23, 2020 8:28 pm

I wouldn't.
I have a Master in the same field as my Bachelor.
I went back to school in two years into my career.
I never felt it got me anywhere to be honest.

Many of those programs are for people who are already in management and need the degree.

I'd invest the $35K and call it a day.


.

SteadyOne
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by SteadyOne » Sat May 23, 2020 8:41 pm

allones wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 11:01 am
I have been accepted to a highly-ranked graduate school for Information Management. I have been on the fence about needing to go to grad school for years, and now I'm on the fence about accepting. I applied when the pandemic started out of fear of losing my job. The program is 1 year, evenings and weekends, and costs ~$35,000 which I would pay for out-of-pocket.

I am 42 and have worked in IT for a Silicon Valley tech company for the last year, and in tech for 15+ years. This job was remote from the beginning and remote work will always strongly be my preference, but I do live in a tech hub. The company is doing well (my panic seems to have been unwarranted), takes very good care of its employees, salary is generous and barring any changes for the worse, I would like to work at this company for as long as possible. My manager indicated that an advanced degree wouldn't be needed for my advancement at the company.

However. I'm concerned as I get older that if I'm laid off I will have a difficult time finding a comparable job. Master's degrees are almost always preferred in job postings in my field, my bachelor's degree is not relevant to my line of work, and my career path is moving less technical and more managerial. Getting this degree feels like insurance.

This degree does not align with my long-term goals, which are to work for 10-15 more years in this high-income capacity while also developing more creative side work. Tech has never been my passion and I'd like to bridge my tech career and retirement with fulfilling work that covers my cost of living while compound interest does its thing, aka "coast". Right now I'm exploring commercial real estate photography but have other ideas if it's not viable. I figure 10-15 years is plenty of time to build independent work on the side. My partner has a government job that can cover health insurance.

Essentially, I'm debating putting time and money toward feeling secure or toward feeling fulfilled. I'd love some feedback and guidance.
What new will you learn for 35k? Or just adding MS to your resume?
“Every de­duc­tion is al­lowed as a mat­ter of leg­isla­tive grace.” US Federal Court

psy1
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by psy1 » Sat May 23, 2020 8:52 pm

I'm no tech person so just a random internet opinion. However, the two largish computer tech companies I am somewhat familiar with are populated with a very young workforce. A random walk through the building finds almost nobody over 40 visible. Those over 40 are hidden in administrative offices. I think it is part of the natural history of tech jobs that the vast army of young tech grads occupy the front lines. In most professions, the more senior staff gravitate to administration for various reasons. Might not be the first choice of work, but it goes with the territory. Adapt of be overrun. I would spend a year of time and get it over with.

GreendaleCC
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by GreendaleCC » Sat May 23, 2020 8:57 pm

To the degree that it's applicable to your role/field within IT, have you considered devoting the study time (and less money) to getting certified in the cloud platform of your choice (AWS, GCP, Azure) as an alternative to the master's degree?

drk
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by drk » Sat May 23, 2020 9:00 pm

allones wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 1:26 pm
Folks who graduate get recruited directly into FAANG positions.
Into which roles, though?

inbox788
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by inbox788 » Sat May 23, 2020 9:59 pm

allones wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 3:38 pm
It's the University of Washington Master of Science in Information Management program. https://ischool.uw.edu/programs/msim

This particular program offers evening and weekend classes for working professionals.
Sounds like a good program for some people, but general sense from what I've heard so far here is that it may not be for you and your future plans.
Specialization classes offered in a Mid-Career-friendly schedule (evenings and weekends) are Data Science, Business Intelligence, and Information Security.
https://ischool.uw.edu/programs/msim/specializations

Did you look into or apply to any MBA programs?

Helios
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Re: Should I go to grad school?

Post by Helios » Sat May 23, 2020 10:49 pm

Enroll in one class and let it be known around the office.

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