I went back to school to get my MBA a few years ago. I was in the middle of a good career, and didn’t really need to continue my education. My job was solid, the economy hadn’t crashed yet, and life was good. But I treasure education; I love to learn new things, and I’m an extrovert. I had the desire to further my education and found a very cool program that combined my interests in business and international affairs. I knew Georgia Tech was a great school, and I knew I would have to make some sacrifices to attend this program. What I didn’t realize at the time was the way it would change my life.
I’m an advocate for ongoing education. I’d advise everyone to continue learning, and if you’re in business, go for that higher degree in your field. Before you decide whether the costs outweigh the benefits, make sure you know what you want out of an advanced degree and how it will affect your life for years to come. Let’s break it down:
- Tuition: about $70,000
- Books, school-related purchases, international travel: about $7,000
- Income lost from reduced work schedule during school: about $25,000
- Value of my education: PRICELESS
Yikes! Yes indeed—I spent $100K + on a masters degree… and it has been worth many, many multiples of that price. I consider more than salary gained; a master’s (or any formal education program) enriches your life in critical thinking, new friendships, creative processing, pedigree, viewpoint, and an opportunity to take a new road that you weren’t on before.
Of course, there are “cons” to dedicating years of your life to school: Cost (that alone stops many people), time (your family may wonder where you disappeared to), and risk (what if you don’t get A’s, or worse, fail a paper/test/course?). I’ll counter your cons (research scholarships, take part-time courses, seek employer assistance, get the family involved because it’s a journey for the whole “team family,” know your learning style and join the study groups) and outweigh those cons with these pros:
Intelligence: You most definitely will grow a larger brain. Imagine being the go-to person in your field. Knowing how to read your company’s balance sheet with ease. Investing better for your retirement. Speaking fluently with the international clients. Being able to plan your company’s strategy. Knowing what it takes to start your own business. Mastering that skill you need to succeed in your field.
Experience: Depending on your program, you might have some fantastic opportunities in school. Take advantage of volunteer projects. Our class “adopted” a local family business and developed a strategy for growth. I led the marketing group for this venture and can now claim experience as a marketing team lead—a new department for me. Take advantage of travel. My program had courses in Argentina, India, and the United Arab Emirates. We worked with businesses and had classes at universities there. This is great international work experience available. Take advantage of extra lectures and visiting speakers. I met some great authors and found new fields of study. The exposure is invaluable.