Do I really need a Master's?
October 3, 2010 4:43 PM   Subscribe

I work in the field of higher education/college access and retention. I'm sort of interested in getting my Master's in Higher Education Administration. My new job offers 80% tuition reimbursement for grad school classes at a local university. Logically, I know I should take advantage of this opportunity, and start taking classes next semester, but I have some reservations:

I'm 24, I've been out of college for two years, and I've been working with minority/low-income college access programs for four years. I really enjoy the field I'm working in and I want to continue to do so. I've been told that my resume and experience are impressive, and that's how I got my current job, but I know that if I ever want to change jobs or advance in the field, I might need a Master's Degree.

The only reason I want to get my Master's Degree is because I would hate to be in a scenario where I'm applying for the perfect job and the only thing that prevents me from getting it is my lack of an M.A.

The problem: I don't know if I have the time, energy, or emotional stamina to go back to school. I have a lot of stress in my life: work, family, relationships, and I'm not really dealing with that very well right now (yes I'm seeking therapy). I feel that going back to school will add more stress and will make me less effective at work and in my other hobbies.

I don't have a strong desire to get back into the classroom. I prefer hands-on work, like my current job. Even though I'm pro-education, I've got a chip on my shoulder re: academia, but that's another story.

Another factor: my extra-curricular passions (music, theater) are starting to progress from hobbies to semi-professional endeavors. For the first time since high school, I have both free time and disposable income, so I'm getting involved in the community, taking music and dance lessons, rekindling relationships with friends and family...all that good stuff.

Yet another factor: I want to move to the East Coast or overseas within the next few years. I can't guarantee I'll finish the program in time, especially if I go part-time, and I also can't guarantee that it will transfer.

So, I guess my question is: Should I just suck it up and take classes next semester or should I listen to my reservations?
posted by chara to Education (3 answers total)
What is your plan for moving to the East Coast or overseas? It really sounds to me like you don't want to do the Master's, and I think that going to grad school when you're unenthusiastic is a bad idea. The only reason that I could see going is that it might facilitate your goal of moving. Do you think you're going to be able to get the East-Coast jobs you want without the degree? If not, then it might be worth it to do the Master's and tell yourself that you're doing it in pursuit of a specific goal. Otherwise, I would say to hold off until you're more motivated.
posted by craichead at 5:02 PM on October 3, 2010

Who says you have to go all out into grad school. From my understanding you can take a class or two a semester or even a year and eventually have your master's. Get it from a school that will likely transfer to somewhere else or wait until after you move and get it from a school there.
posted by theichibun at 5:06 PM on October 3, 2010

I'm not sure a Master's in higher education admin sounds like the way to go if you're not fond of academia and if you're considering a move overseas. I am in such a program now, and of course the focus is on academia itself: governance, assessment, faculty, student services, etc. Not sure if those areas relate to that "chip" you mentioned, but if so you may not like the coursework. And if moving overseas, where the higher ed system may be very different, what you learn may not be totally relevant. Maybe there is a more relevant subject area to get your Master's in?
posted by dayintoday at 5:11 PM on October 3, 2010

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