Education Equals Debt. But Not a Job.

by Kristina on August 10, 2010 · 8 comments

As DINKS some of us may have college or university degrees and therefore some of us may have student debts. However, a college education does not always lead to a career, especially in this tough economy when unemployment is at a high, and a lot of companies have a hiring freeze.

As mentioned in a previous comment by Tim there are subjects in school that can rack up massive student debt over a three or four year degree.  After graduation the workforce salary of some subjects cannot support the accumulated student debts.
Are you thinking about returning to school because of a career change? If so, is the workforce salary a deciding factor in your subject of choice?

I would like to know if any of us DINKS work in human resources.  If so, when you are reviewing applications, is it more desirable for an applicant to have relevant work experience or a great education? I would like to think that education provides a solid foundation for our careers and workforce experience makes up the housing decor.  Basically, education is the vanilla ice cream and our relevant work experience is the chocolate sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles, and cherry on top.  One without the other isn’t quite as good.

If we are thinking about returning to school because we are changing careers or furthering our current education through grad school, we have to ask ourselves will the risk be worth the reward?  We don’t want to spend a lot of money on a university degree and not earn enough money afterwards to live comfortably, let alone repay a massive student loan debt.

How many DINKS are currently in grad school or have a master’s degree?

CNNMoney recently posted an article titled “Low Paying College Degrees”. It discusses certain fields such as Social Work that can cost a small fortune in tuition fees, but only pay small peanuts upon job placement.  When you got hired at your first job…did you have any experience? Or did you get the job solely based on your education?

Graduate School is another option for recent undergraduates who can’t find a job in this economy. In my opinion, Graduate School may help us, but it also may hurt us. As a Financial Planner with 10 years of experience an MBA of Financial Services would not add any value to my current role. It would merely be a title beside my name.

However, if I wanted to change careers and start along a new path such as international management, an MBA along with my Bachelors Degree may be a great asset. Grad programs may provide added benefits such as international opportunities to study abroad. By learning about different cultures and systems, we can gain valuable experience along with our education and other life experiences.  Subjects such as management, import and export, or political science all offer international opportunities to study abroad.

A Graduate Degree gives us an advantage because we receive an extended education and we become more specialized in our field. A Graduate Degree could be an added benefit, like a masters degree, or it may just be an accumulation of excessive debt.

Photo By Schlusselbein

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KNS Financial August 10, 2010 at 11:36 am

It’s funny, because I received a Master’s degree in Economics and studied Finance as an undergrad, but now I work in accounting/finance for a major university. I actually work in the graduate school of social work and I see these people rack up all of this debt to take a job making about 40k/year.

I think I got my job partially because of my degree, but I excelled in it because of my work experience. I think because a BA is so common (it’s what a H.S. diploma was 25 years ago), that you almost have to get a graduate degree just to compete and get noticed.

2 Kristina August 10, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I agree. A Master’s Degree is the new High School Diploma. Bachelor’s Degrees are a dime a dozen. Even with a Master’s Degree a job is not guaranteed….regardless of the subject. It’s too bad that education is so overpriced and careers are so underpaid.

3 Bridget August 10, 2010 at 10:04 pm

I think a “master’s degree is the new high school diploma” is a bit extreme. Yes, a bachelor’s degree certainly is, but some masters carry significant weight and are a huge benefit to their bearer.
Furthermore, graduate school does NOT have to be a financial burden — as in, it DOESN’T have to mean more debt. A graduate student stipend at my university is enough to cover tuition & living expenses (if you live right, and are not an international student).

Of course, it depends what you study. I would never recommend anyone get a degree in Sociology..

4 Tim August 11, 2010 at 12:48 am

undergrad, grad, and post grad do not have to be a financial burden. I really wish there would be restrictions on student loans in obviously low paying studies. with that said, I’ve been on the hiring side of things of late. Frankly, I don’t even look at where the person went to college, just that they completed college, which is a check the block item anyways. Granted most of the hires I review have career experiences already, which is what determines whether I accept a hire or not. For someone fresh out of undergrad, it comes down to the essays they have to write. Graduate and post graduate studies are also check the box items for me, although the field of study ought to be focused on the work skill set, which weighs more when I’m evaluating their analytical abilities. In the end, I weigh work experience over education level. I just had a discussion about if you should put that you are working on a degree on your resume. Some said yes. I said no, because a resume/cv is a list of your accomplishments and overall achievements, and a degree not earned isn’t a degree. In fact, I ask why the heck didn’t the person finish the degree yet if I see it on a resume. were they lazy or what? So, in this aspect your education can work against you.

I have these discussions about educational pedigrees all the time. The only time I heard anything discussed about my most excellent pedigree was when I was applying to the colleges. After graduation, no one cares/d. The only people who do are fellow alumni who want to reminisce or folks who to me are far to pretentious about it. This is from someone who doesn’t have an i love me wall nor adorns his office with his career and educational accoutrement. i don’t belittle folks who enjoy their accomplishments, but i’m not impressed having seen far greater accomplishments out of far more people in my life thus far.

Education isn’t about where you went to school, but your development.

5 brian August 11, 2010 at 12:59 pm

My wife has her Masters and I am working on my PhD. After I finish she will get her PhD.

I agree with the others that a B.S. is really not worth very much in most study areas. You do really need to have a Masters or above to get noticed. As far as debt, my wife’s Master’s cost about $8500 at a state school, so that’s not bad. We took out a loan for it, but paid the whole thing off slowly before the grace period ended!

6 Tim August 11, 2010 at 8:24 pm

@brian, I think your perception is off and goes in line with what I said above that the only time it matters is the marketing hype in getting one or the perceived notion that getting an advanced degree is going to get you noticed. I have advanced degrees and absolutely no one notices or cares. I have plenty of friends who have multiple degrees and no one cares. i do concede that there are absolutely some jobs that do require a master’s or phd for entry. other than those, advanced degrees are add-on’s onto a resume that, from my hiring point of view, simply gets glossed over. at least when i’m looking at someone’s resume, it doesn’t make a difference to me. i say this from the point of view of knowing how easy it is to get a master’s and a doctorate, so I don’t see either living up to the marketing hype.

7 Kristina August 14, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Education and Experience are a great asset when combined together. If you have a $100,000 education from an Ivy League school it doesn’t guarantee a great $100,000 job. However, 10 years of experience doesn’t guarantee a job either. We should all be greatful for our jobs in this current economy and job market.

8 Honey August 18, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I have a PhD and $100K or so in student loan debt (I also had credit card debt, but will have it paid off before the end of this year). I work for a university and make $40K per year. I’m not faculty but am on the adminstrative side, but even if I had gone the faculty route I’d’ve started at $45K or so. Not much difference.

My boyfriend has a JD, $100K in student loan debt, and $30K in credit card debt (he’s already paid about $20K of credit card debt off since graduating). He makes $92K per year but hates his job and can’t afford to quit.

But we can both pay our bills, which may be all you can ask for in this economy.

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