Graduate School Dropout, No Graduation Day for You
October 18, 2011 8:50 PM Subscribe
My Masters program isn't the academic challenge that I hoped it would be. I'm paying a lot of money and spending a lot of time to do this in addition to my full-time job. Should I keep going or cut my losses?
posted by anonymous to Education (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
About six months ago I started a job that offers tuition reimbursement and I decided to take advantage of it. I applied and was accepted to a MS in Communication program at a top 20 school. The program meets one day a week, alternating Fridays and Saturdays, and my company is giving me paid time off for the Fridays. It's an ideal situation for pursuing a degree while working and one that would be difficult to find elsewhere.
Though it's a communication degree, it covers a variety of fields including management, leadership, international business, law, and technology. A communication degree is relevant to my current career and what I'd like to pursue in the future and the coursework, in theory, would be valuable in developing skills that would be useful for my career. Plus I have always loved the structured learning environment that school provides and I was looking forward to some intellectual engagement outside of my job.
The problem is that the program is not at all challenging. I'm disappointed on several levels, but the biggest one has been the quality of the other students. I don't expect everyone to love school and nerd out like I do, and I understand that no matter where I go there will be people who are just in it for the credential. However, most of the other students I've encountered seem interested in doing only the bare minimum required to graduate. Aside from their lack of motivation, they are not very intelligent, to put it bluntly. We spend a lot of time covering basic things that I think should be common knowledge for someone entering a Masters program ("What is the FCC?") and/or are things they would know if they'd done the reading and looked into anything they didn't understand ("This chapter mentions VoIP a lot. Can you explain what that is again?").
Compounding this problem, I think that our professors are teaching to the lowest common denominator. The apathy and students' low-level understanding of the material pretty much precludes any meaningful discussion during class and makes group projects grueling. I'm only five weeks into the first ten week quarter and I already want to pull my hair out after working on two group projects and having lecture derailed more times than I can count by people who just want to ask questions to hear their own voices (An excerpt from class: "So, didn't the NFL violate Hank Johnson's 5th amendment rights?")
I wanted three things from this program: the fun of an intellectual challenge, useful skills, and a credential that I can use to advance my career. It seems like the first two will not be possible. Even with the tuition reimbursement this program will end up costing me about $33,000 in student loans. If I leave now it will be mostly paid for by the reimbursement but will still cost me between $3-5,000 in loans.
What I'm hoping for is some insight into whether the degree will be worth the money. If it will advance my career, then I can tough it out and deal with my irritation and do the minimal work required to get my degree. I'm just starting out--I graduated college four years ago. I was hoping that my current position + the degree would be my springboard to something even better. But I'm having trouble sorting out the hype from reality. Is a Masters degree necessary or even desirable for career advancement? Should I stick with this or cut my losses? I'm also open to suggestions for improving my experience.