By: Revanche

Career Considerations, Part II

July 23, 2008

Higher Education, yea or nay?

As an Asian, I was raised to believe that higher education was the key to advancement, and practically the key to life. Even knowing it can mean nothing, having met my share of M.D./Ph.D. idiots, I still have a thing for the validation of a higher degree. I can’t deny that I’ve also got a fascination with the idea of being called Dr. Revanche someday. [Smartass friends suggest that I change my name to Doctor. Funny!] But I digress.

I’m not trying to make a six figure mistake without first evaluating the costs and benefits. The last time I did this, much like The Baglady’s analysis, the benefits didn’t bear out the costs. At the time, though, I was able to secure a major raise based on my work and experience. Now, assessing the prevailing head winds, I may have reached the point of salary saturation.

A: If I stay in my field, there are some benefits to attaining higher education than the standard bachelor’s degree, but it’s not a pass go, collect $200 step to success. Experience is equally, sometimes more, prized. I’ve got experience in spades for the amount of time I’ve spent in this industry, so I’m set for moving up into the management level. If I want to continue on this path, though, I still need to seek out greener, happier pastures in keeping with my intention to move out. I had set a tentative goal for the end of this year, I’d still like to make that happen.

B: If I leave my field and try my hand in business, accounting, banking or financial advising, I’m almost certain to need some higher education. Perhaps not entirely a whole new degree, but definitely some classes in more quantitative subjects. School, though rather intimidating with all the talk of calculus and such, is really appealing. I’m loving the idea of an M.B.A. or an E.M.B.A, or an M.S. in Management. Not, however, loving the price tags involved just in applying. I’ve spent a whole lot of time this weekend researching business schools to get a feel for what they teach, and talking to friends who have gotten in to familiarize myself with the admissions process. An M.B.A. seems to run anywhere from 100k to 150k for a full time program without assistance. Ideally, I’d like to get a job that offers a healthy tuition reimbursement, preferably at the university itself. The entry costs are pretty hideous: $250, GMAT; ~ $250, application fee per school; $XXX, interview costs if necessary; $XXX, new suit if interviewing. (Friend who was recently accepted to b-school reminded me of that cost, I’m not sure if I’d spring for it yet but I may.)
If this is the path I choose, and I haven’t yet completed my research to make the call that the degree gives me the kind of leg up that I want, I need to:
~ have $2000-3000 in application money
~ start studying for the GMAT right now
~ find job options near all the schools I want to apply to that offer tuition reimbursement and figure out the balance of work vs school

So here’s the conundrum: I love my current field, and I love finance. To be honest, I love working, too, so doing what I love as a job is probably more appealing than I give it credit for. I’ll let you in on a secret: I always had a sneaking conviction that doing something for fun is fun, but doing something for fun because you have to for your job makes it less fun. It turns out that doesn’t mean it’s entirely not-fun anymore. Good to know.

I’m still pondering, exploring the options, and collecting information on the various parts of the country where I could attend school and work. Ultimately, the choice I need to make is whether or not the M.B.A. or a graduate degree gives me the kind of knowledge and ability that I need and cannot get simply by working in the field. Is it going to serve as a door opener where my experience alone may not suffice?

I’m not positive how to answer that question yet, but before I make the decision, I’ve got to decide where I’m trying to go (industry) and what I want to do when I get there (actual work).

Decisions, decisions, heavy decisions to be made right before Con!

3 Responses to “Career Considerations, Part II”

  1. mOOm says:

    Here’s a suggestion – try taking one class that goes towards or prepares for an MBA at a local state university or community college or whatever and see how you like it. It won’t hurt in your applications later to demonstrate your interest. You certainly can get an MBA for much less than you quoted. The most expensive programs are worth it for the connections they provide if you really want to go down a very high powered route. It really depends on how you envision your career after the degree how much it is worth spending on it.

  2. Revanche says:

    moom: That’s a good idea, though I’d have to try to do a weekend class. The other option is bartering with my cousin: he can teach me some calculus so I have a preliminary background in that subject. I’m going to speak to a few more friends who have already been through business school to get their take on the level of schools and how they used it, as well.

  3. mOOm says:

    Do you know the “Living Off Dividends” blog? He’s about to start business school in LA. Maybe check out his blog and/or get in touch.

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