Saturday, July 19, 2008

Should I go back to School? Part I

Fall is fast approaching and for the last two years since I graduated from college, one lingering question has been on my mind: Should I go back to school sooner or later? Or at all? I admit it, I’m a nerd, I LOVE school. I love learning. I love reading. I love group projects. I love doing presentations. I love writing and doing is great! But what isn’t great is incurring more debt, and waiting a few more years to get the return on my investment on a professional and/or graduate degree.

Here are 6 reasons why I am leaning toward biting the bullet and applying to school:

  1. I am single with no children which would make putting all of my energy into my studies much easier than it would be in the future. I also have the option of moving to another city without too much hassle since my family isn’t in DC anyway and a lot of my college classmates/friends relocated after graduation.

  2. I currently live in a city that has several high caliber colleges only a short Metro ride away from where I live.

  3. I am young, so it is a reasonable assumption that I can aggressively pay down student loans I incur while I am still relatively young.

  4. Obtaining a degree now that I have some work experience under my belt, would add to my chances of obtaining a management level position in my field (or another field) in a reasonably short amount of time.

  5. Scholarships could defray the costs of attending school.

  6. I love school! Oh wait, I said that already.

Here are 6 reasons why I am considering waiting a few more years to go to school if at all:

  1. Incurring more debt turns my smile upside down. The more I am learning about pf, the more I am starting to dislike the term “good debt,” debt is debt!

  2. Attending school would leave me less time for my personal interests like blogging, working on other types of writing, and serving on the board of a non-profit organization in my hometown.

  3. Regardless of whether I attend school part time or full time, I won’t have time for my side-gig. I’ve drastically cut back my hours for the summer, but working my side-gig during the holidays does come in handy for purchasing Christmas gifts and other low-priority expenses.

  4. I’m not sure if my cum laude college GPA would be high enough to get me a full ride to any of the schools I am considering so far.

  5. Going back to school would put a crimp in my savings and debt reduction goals. My retirement savings, which I plan to make a focus in 2009 and beyond could also potentially suffer because of lack of (or reduced) income for the time period that I am a student.

  6. I dislike being in debt! Oh wait, I said that already also.

No decisions will be made today, I took the LSAT this past December and was sorely disappointed with my score, so though I don’t want to completely give up on that goal, I am wondering if another degree like an MBA or MPA might be a good fit for my goals and interests also. In the mean time: I will continue to do research on programs and schools that interest me, finally complete a personal statement (which can be adapted based on my final decision), and rack my brain for a professor I can track down for a decent letter of recommendation when the time comes. I will revisit conundrum this September when fall actually arrives.

Is anyone else out there being held back from taking the jump and going back to school because wariness in taking on more debt?


Strange Bird said...

No, but I should have! Maybe it's worth paying off more debt before going back to school, especially if your job right now is secure.

Strange Bird said...

BTW, if you're considering law school, a cum laude GPA is enough to get you at least a partial ride, if you get your LSAT score up enough. If you take a class and your score improves significantly, it might be worth the cost. (I was cum laude, had a mediocre LSAT score, and then a phenomenal LSAT score, and managed a 75% scholarship at several top-20 schools. Why didn't I pick one of those? Darn.)

Money Maus said...

Good luck with your decision! I am fresh out of college, so I am giving myself a few years to think about grad school - however, it is already on my mind since I also LOVE school for the exact reasons you do. :)

I am, however, seriously considering taking a (VERY DIFFICULT) industry-related exam, which is becoming more and more popular in my field of study, which is business. However, MBA's are also very popular, so it's a tough choice!

Well-Heeled said...

New reader here!

I want to go back to school too. But I think the key is to understand exactly why you want to go back to school - how will getting a JD or MBA get you to where you want to go?