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Thread: Experience Vs. Education

  1. #1
    Cyburbian big_g's avatar
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    Experience Vs. Education

    I just start my first job related to planning about six months ago. I always assumed I would go on for a masters degree. Right now I am leaning towards an MPA program maybe starting in a year. I guess my question is, considering I am pretty much starting out on my professional career, Should I just concentrate on learning the in's and outs of my particular job for a few more years. Or try to get an advanced degree as quick as possible. We are a family of three with 1 income so money is always an issue. I've heard that an advanced degree can generally bump up a salary almost 10k. What do you think?

    Big G

    P.S. I could get financial asstistance from my employer and maybe some other sources to pay for some of the course work
    Last edited by big_g; 10 Jan 2005 at 12:15 PM. Reason: more info

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I'm in my first year working full-time in planning (had a long-term internship) and am currently working on my MPA. I was able to start grad school immediately since I'm one thrifty SOB and had a little disposable income. Also, I knew that if I didn't start immediately I would probably never go. Here's my take on your situation.

    I'm not sure you get that immediate 10k 'bump' in salary, but it does open you up to advance much quicker. However, do not sacrifice opportunities to gain experience for the sake of 'book learning'. As long as you can stay focused at work, I say go for it. Be sure to balance it with your personal life though since you have a family (little kids don't care if Daddy has to study). I would also research financial aid grants since you are a single-income family with a kid wanting to continue education.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #3
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    If you can do both, and your employer will pay for part of it... do it. I built up 2 1/2 years of experience then went back once my employer would pay for part of it. I am lucky enough that I work with in 10 min of Western Michigan University, so I can take classes at night, and work during the day.

    I can also mention that depending on how much practical experience work you get to do in your classes, working can be just as if not more valuable. But both is always best.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    Get the Masters for long term benefits, but I have yet to work anywhere that gives you a bonus for achieving a higher degree. However, the Masters will probably be necessary for you in the future when you decide to move on.
    Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally posted by Coragus
    Get the Masters for long term benefits, but I have yet to work anywhere that gives you a bonus for achieving a higher degree. However, the Masters will probably be necessary for you in the future when you decide to move on.
    Agreed. You will reach your ceiling faster without the advanced degree. Plus, my experience has been that it gets more difficult to advance your education once family concerns become bigger.

  6. #6
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    General rule of thumb.

    If you are young, you need a masters because you will be competing against MPAs for future jobs.

    If you are old, it doesn't matter as much. You get jobs based on experience.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian big_g's avatar
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    Thanks For The Input

    I don't have a lot of experience. and i am thinking that maybe before taking on an advance degree, I might concentrate on getting trying to master the most basic tricks of the trade be for the next year and take it from there.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Coming back to school after a year or two away gives you an entirely new perspective. Most of my graduate class had spent time working after getting their undergraduate degrees. In general, they seemed to be more focused, perceptive, and critical in their thinking. On the other hand, you don't want to wait too long. Life has a habit of getting busy, and while it may seem like you have the time to take on a course or two now, it only gets more difficult to do down the road.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Cardinal has it dead on. Speaking from similar experience, I worked a year in a planning office (well 2 if you count the internship) before going back for my MPA. It really gave me a good perspecitve, and I highly recommend it. I did also work full time there while doing my MPA (it took 5 years), but it paid off in the end, and I would say your 10k number is low for the current market. The masters will pay for itself very quickly.

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