Grad School Not a Practical Option for all Students

By PAULINE PARK
On February 15, 2016

Photo by Nicole Williams

Generally speaking, the effects of a crumbling economy are that individuals are in need of more money and higher-paying jobs. While salaries are based on a specific candidate’s qualifications for a certain job, qualifications are typically measured by a candidate’s level of education and prior experience in that field, among other factors.

Working individuals have their own work-related strengths and weaknesses and many individuals will typically use their strengths to increase their marketability for a higher salary — there are also some individuals who will increase their attributes with yet another school degree, such as a master’s degree.

This option may not be financially feasible for some, considering gaining a master’s degree takes a significant amount of time and money. The duration of each master’s program may vary with each degree, but graduate degrees typically take two or three years to complete.

According to Petersons.com, a college readiness website for graduate and undergraduate studies, the average annual tuition cost totals from $30,000 to $40,000, depending on the school. This cost may be a huge factor when deciding whether a graduate degree in today’s economy will really be worth the time and money spent.

Moreover, the website reports that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, over a lifespan, individuals with a master’s degree usually earn $400,000 more than someone with a bachelor’s degree earns. However, it is important to note that for some people, a higher educational background does not guarantee a higher pay.

Whether to pursue a graduate degree for a better salary is an important decision that will either positively or negatively affect one’s life, at least for several years. Therefore, individuals should know exactly what they are getting into and what to realistically expect from a graduate degree.

High tuition fees may affect a student’s ability to focus on their students; many have to juggle part-time or even full-time jobs on top of their academics.

According to Petersons.com, “If you plan to forgo working to attend a graduate degree program full-time, you might have to give up several resources that can affect your life on a long-term basis including a salary and benefits, contributions to your retirement fund or savings account, and time away from the job market.”

Some people tend to think that as long as they spend money wisely, living expenses will not be a burden during their studies. However, the average graduate student will either not have a regular income or have a very small income.

Forbes Magazine recently published an article, “Ten Reasons You Don’t Need An MBA,” which states its number one reason as, “You won’t make more money …Or at least not as much as you think you will.”

According to Forbes, the overall wages for people with MBAs only recently saw a small increase, but had been stagnant for several years. That “small increase” does not seem high enough to invest two years’ worth of tuition and time earning a MBA.

Students should also keep in mind that degrees can only supplement professional experience and the two are not interchangeable. One should not expect to always be guaranteed a similar or better pay compared to someone who’s been in the professional field for years.

Students should carefully plan out the rest of their education and future career, weighing each factor and every possible effect and outcome, which may be, but not limited to, stifling debt. Most people already have student loan debt left over from their undergraduate studies and it is important for such students to consider that they will gain an additional accumulation of debt if they choose to attend a graduate program. These students should very realistically and practically determine if they really can pay off the loans in a timely manner.

More money and more time is what everyone yearns for. However, those two things may hold one down in life if not managed and planned carefully according to each situation and circumstance. Therefore, people need to look at their situation in the big picture and determine what is most beneficial for them.                                                      

ppark1@ramapo.edu

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