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Was your degree worth it?

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 

Dp and I were talking and I got to wondering. How many of you that have college degrees think it was worth it? I know several people with BS degrees that are working in completely unrelated fields and their degree has done nothing for them. We were talking about would the student loans be worth it in the end or should we figure out another way some how. Based off of your experiences, what do you think?

post #2 of 60

dh's wasnt.  he spent 56k (plus interest) to get  4 year art degree he cant use for anything. he'd be lucky to get a $10/hr job at a call center
 

post #3 of 60

I spent $12,000 to almost finish a teaching degree, and then got to spend the next five years paying it off. Got pregnant right near the end, bed-rest for much of it and then just decided that it wasn't worth it to finish at that time.

 

My husband financed $15,000 to finish his degree after we were married. He was a teacher and could not have worked in his profession without the degree--but I do wish we would have cash-flowed his degree and skipped my failed degree entirely. $27,000 was a daunting amount of debt to have just starting out, and we had to make choices I never thought we would have made without that debt to pay off.

 

He also has a masters, which we cash-flowed after moving overseas to be able to pay off the previous debt. Before we moved we had $100 in the budget for "extras" over just the minimums on our student loans, $200/month for food, a super-dumpy cheap apartment and no other debt.

 

We should have been able to figure out that the debt would seriously pinch our budgets, but it's very easy to think that you will make "more" if you get your degree. At this point in our economy, just getting a job is hard enough without having to also get one that lets you pay off the debt you incurred to get there.

 

In the end I would rather we/he would have taken longer to get the initial degree, and have paid for it upfront. Then we would have had more options after graduation when all the bills started to come due.

post #4 of 60

The experience was worth. I'd rather spend a few years at college learning, figuring myself out, etc rather then a few years in and out of jobs. (Did that anyhow, as I worked through out university and summers). I went to 3yr college directly out of highschool. Finished that, worked 6months in that field, quit and traveled throughout the US. Went back to a university (funded by myself).

 

I am in an unrelated field and I am also short a class and a half from having a degree. But they do say a degree often shows a potential employer that you started and finished something, (although I certainly did not go for that reason either!)  Also, 10 years working experience is equivalent to a degree. My colleagues (we are in a software / high tech company) - I dont think anyone has a computer science degree, most have a college diploma of some wort, either in the arts or maybe in coding  and we are all making a very decent income (without the high debt or big diploma from top notch schools)

 

BUT experience versus a price tag of 20,000+ a year and ending up with debt that seems beyond ones capabilities. No way!  (My tuition costs were 5000 / yr @ a university in Canada) I am in the US now, but I will certainly direct my kids towards a college with a reasonable tuition cost.


Edited by SunRise - 8/16/12 at 11:11am
post #5 of 60

We live in Europe (Romania) and husband and I got our Bachelor degree. Both of us worked during our University years but after getting the degree we found jobs in the field we wanted and studies. 

 

So it was worth it in our case and I really enjoyed those years.

post #6 of 60
My gut reaction was no... but maybe it was a little worth it...

I have 2 bachelor's degrees -- one that I don't use at all (and can't without doing graduate work, which I may consider when DS is much older) and another that I have used for my past job, but I could have gotten the exact same job, same salary, etc. without a degree. And now I'm a SAHM so obviously I use neither degree. But I graduated with only about $10K in student loan debt (total, for both degrees, I had lots of scholarships & aid) so I'm pretty sure over the course of my lifetime it will turn out to be worth it. And even though I COULD have gotten my last job without a degree, college helped me gain experience and relevant knowledge that I would have struggled to gain on my own.

DH graduated with about $20K student loan debt. He needed a degree to get a job in his field, but unfortunately his field is not high-paying (at least not locally), with very little income growth potential. Still, his loans will (hopefully) be paid off after about 10-12 years from when he graduated, and he is making (slightly!) more than $10/hour at least. I think he could have gotten a degree in a more in-demand field & been better off financially, but at least he is doing something he is happy doing.

Bottom line, I guess I feel degrees are worth it IF you minimize the debt load (to me, that's under $30K, and preferably half that, unless it's a really high-income field you'd be going into) and IF there are likely to be jobs in that field wherever you live or plan to move. In most fields, a degree from a state university or community college will be just as good as one from a private institution, but often far cheaper. And I'd aim for a broad degree rather than a very specific one with only narrow job opportunities.
post #7 of 60
Yes, totally. My degree allowed me to teach for five years. It's in English, not education, but that qualified me for a provisional 5 year teaching license. So I was able to make decent money. Now that I am going back to work and looking for jobs, my degree qualifies me for a lot more positions. There are lots of jobs that require a BS/BA, even if it's not in that field.

Also, having a BA allows me to pursue graduate education, which can then increase my career potential.

I owe 16k in loans. However, teaching paid around 14k more per year than other entry level jobs for people with zero experience.
post #8 of 60

Yes for both me and DH. We both work in the fields we studied and have professional graduate degrees ("terminal master's"). Both jobs allow us to have the flexibility we have always wanted for our family and in our careers - which would not have been possible for him and much more difficult for me without a degree.

 

In retrospect, we did well with loans for undergrad, paid off my grad fairly quickly, but did his grad degree post-kids with a deadline (aimed for him getting a job when our youngest kid entered kindy - and he did), so we spent more than we would have otherwise & are still paying off his loans. Thankfully, they are not private loans & we're about halfway through paying it off.
 

post #9 of 60

As someone who has no degree, and the most I ever made in a job ever was $9.25, I'd say that it has to be worth it to those of you who finished.

 

Of course, I have to tell myself this as I am now going to school. :P I really felt I had no choice, as it was school or.... ? I don't even know. I couldn't find a decent job to support myself and two kids, even at the most basic level, so here I am.

post #10 of 60

Oh yes. I went the community college route for price and was making $20 an hour eventually after graduating, that was 10 years ago. Dh does not have a degree and makes excellent money but he is in a  field where a degree is worthless. That is not normal and we know that. I hope to return to grad school that I had to stop when #4 came along unexpectedly when the kids are older. 

post #11 of 60
If I looked at my education as purely preparation for a career then no, it wasn't worth it.

But I see how my education helps me in other areas of my life - parenting, my marriage, taking care of my health, being an activist, etc. so yes, it was worth it!
post #12 of 60

I don't think I've ever realized that people would feel like they had to work in the field they majored in in college for it to have been worth it.  Like, I have a BS in sociology and then I went to law school.  Does that mean I haven't used my sociology degree if I've only practiced law?  I couldn't have gone to law school without it.  If I didn't go to law school, but I had gotten into a non-sociology career, I think I would similarly feel like my degree was helpful in my career  --  as long as I wasn't waiting tables or cashiering (which I was doing before college).

 

OTOH, right now I'm kind of regretting law school.  I don't want to be lawyer.  I want to be a sahm.  But I have to pay off my law school loans and the only thing that will make me enough money to do that is lawyering.  Even so, if my life took an unexpected turn, say dh and I separated, I am way better off having this degree than I would have been otherwise.  

post #13 of 60

i think when you spend sooooo much money getting a degree  then cant get a decent job that is what makes people feel like ti's not worth it.  honestly i dropped out after middle school, got my GED and i make as much as DH would

post #14 of 60
Thread Starter 

For us college isn't about the "experience." We aren't going to find ourselves and make friends. We have two girls to raise and bills to pay. For us our thinking is "if I have a degree I can make more money." But last night when I was running the numbers, as it stands right now we are at about 20,000 in student loan debt. Theoretically, if we continue the way we have been we will be close to $100,000 combined debt for a bachelors degree! Also, for us we are wanting to work in the field our degrees are in.

 

Honestly, we are kind of in that "if I don't go to school, what else am I going to do" phase right now. I've see our parents not having great jobs and I don't want that, but then again, I see friends who started as seasonal cashiers now store managers.

 

We have been having some serious talks about all of this lately and we just don't know what to do.

 

For those of you that said degrees aren't needed in such and such field or you're making as much as someone with a degree, what do you do?

post #15 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by marsupial-mom View Post

If I looked at my education as purely preparation for a career then no, it wasn't worth it.
But I see how my education helps me in other areas of my life - parenting, my marriage, taking care of my health, being an activist, etc. so yes, it was worth it!

Yup.  I graduated with $15,000 in student loans with a BA in Anthropology, four months before my first was born and I became a SAHM.  I would most definitely have to go to grad school to really work in my field... but my education has absolutely defined the mother I have become, and that's priceless.  It definitely gave me more confidence than I would have had otherwise.  I can say it helped me to land my current job which is not at all glam, but allows me to stay at home with my kids and provides a roof over our heads.  I have a little less than half my degree to pay off still, and that sucks, but I don't regret it.  I DO regret not paying cash for it back when we had two full time incomes and very well could have afforded it.  That was just plain stupid.

 

Dh will graduate next spring with about $25,000 in student loans for a teaching degree.  I'm NOT happy about the amount, but in terms of overall happiness and his personal fulfillment, it will be worth it.  It will not be easy to pay back, we will not be rolling in money, but he'll be doing something he feels is worthwhile and happy to do, and that's definitely something.

post #16 of 60

Not sure.  I feel pretty bad about the way I managed my education, but my degree allows me to teach (only in colleges, not public schools), which is how I make all my money.  Since I'm an adjunct, I just have a few classes and the work I put in (well, not counting prep work at home etc) averages out to about $30/hr.  My partner works in a public school as a teacher's aide but would make more money doing similar work if his degree were in his field.

 

What I have is a BFA from an art school (more expensive than it should have been--dropped out of one private school, finished at another.  Not smart.) and an MFA from an Ivy League place (very expensive objectively but not compared to other similar programs).  My debt is about $40,000.  I don't have a credit card, a mortgage (we rent), or car payments, so it's not as horrible as it sounds.  But, let's face it--that's a lot.  I did LOVE grad school (well, kind of) and I'm glad I had those experiences, but now that I'm typing this out I'm starting to feel a little less okay with it all.  Mostly what I'm regretting right now is not taking practical courses like illustration as an undergrad or being more career-minded as a grad student.  I am very bad at trying to promote my own artwork.

 

Anyway, whatever, that's where I'm at now!  I can always find something to regret, at any rate...

post #17 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by hippiemombian View Post

For us college isn't about the "experience." We aren't going to find ourselves and make friends. We have two girls to raise and bills to pay. For us our thinking is "if I have a degree I can make more money." But last night when I was running the numbers, as it stands right now we are at about 20,000 in student loan debt. Theoretically, if we continue the way we have been we will be close to $100,000 combined debt for a bachelors degree! Also, for us we are wanting to work in the field our degrees are in.

 

Honestly, we are kind of in that "if I don't go to school, what else am I going to do" phase right now. I've see our parents not having great jobs and I don't want that, but then again, I see friends who started as seasonal cashiers now store managers.

 

We have been having some serious talks about all of this lately and we just don't know what to do.

 

For those of you that said degrees aren't needed in such and such field or you're making as much as someone with a degree, what do you do?

 

 

 

 

Another option is to see if there is a tech college in your area, where you could learn a practical skill (welding, plumbing, etc.) in a relatively short amount of time.  

post #18 of 60
Both dh and I use our degrees. I was blessed in that my parents paid for mine so no student loans. Dh and I paid for his. It took him 6 years to get his BS but he worked full time for the first 3 years and he was a SAHD for the second half. When he graduated we had a 3 year old and a 6 month old and $20,000 in loans. We paid those off in 10 years. He has made way more than $20,000 more than be would have without a degree. Even entry level positions in my dh's field require some form of degree and he is head of the department.

With that being to said, we are helping our dd pay for a community college education right now. Significantly more affordable at $2000 a semester for full time.
post #19 of 60

Although I'm not using my undergrad or grad degree that highly with what I do now, I have to say yes, they were worth it. 80% of the work I've done since I earned my Masters 12 years ago have been referrals from people I went to school with or referrals from former coworkers at jobs I got through people I went to school with. 

post #20 of 60
Absolutely 100%. If I had to go back and do it again, I would, no doubt about it. I got my bachelors in business from a State University and it was a great decision. I had good grades in HS and worked on applying for bazillions of scholarships my jr and sr years of HS, so with scholarship money, money from my parents, working, and being an RA in the dorms, I was able to graduate debt free. I was hired for my great full time job a month before I graduated.
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