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Was your degree worth it? - Page 2

post #21 of 60

Neither my dh or I had typical 4 year college experiences. I went to community college and then transferred for my last 2 years with minimal debt. My dh went to community college, transferred and took 3 years for his BS and then went on to get his MA. I would say my degree was 'worth it' to me but I'm not employed in my field and I don't plan to be in the future. I planned well and paid for school as I went. It was about life experience. My dh waited until he was older and knew what he wanted to do. He not only provides for our family based on his degree he also finds a great deal of personal satisfaction in his work. We do have debt from his school and will for several more years. So my questions is - do you know what you want to do? Is there a way to do it with out a degree? Can you get creative and do an internship, an apprenticeship, freelance, something like that? If you know your dream and it is only attainable through a degree then get the degree.

post #22 of 60

Yes, absolutely. I was a non-traditional student. I attended the first two years at a community college then took a few years off to work part time and parent. I transfered to a local university and earned a BS with honors. I worked my way through college and I also had help from my parents. I was very lucky. I actually landed a job in my career field before I even graduated and I graduated during this recession. I also make more money than I ever had before and there's still plenty of room for growth and advancement. I also make more money than my husband who never went to college. He does labor and production work. He's not interested in college and that's fine with me because college is expensive.


If you're considering college I suggest starting with a community college, continue to work and pay as you go, and make sure you're degree leads to a career.    

post #23 of 60
Originally Posted by hippiemombian View Post

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?

I'm a web designer/developer. I made my first website when I was a teenager so I have been doing this kind of stuff for almost half my life. Getting a bachelor's degree definitely expanded my skills some but it's a field that's constantly changing and you really need to be in it to be successful at it -- it's not enough to just have a degree & it's not necessary to have a degree. The people I know who are succeeding in this field without degrees are incredibly talented & passionate and devote a lot of time to educating themselves without formal schooling. I think this is true of a lot of computer-related and art-related specialties. What are you interested in? What are your best skills? What are you going to school for?
post #24 of 60
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

 What are you interested in? What are your best skills? What are you going to school for?


It's such a simple question, but so hard to answer! I am interested in theatre, music, and midwifery. I'm best at planning and researching things. I really enjoy researching a new idea and figuring out what needs to be done to make it happen. I've had a few failed semesters due to being lazy so I am suppose to be taking general classes like English and math this upcoming semester.

Originally Posted by pbjmama View Post

 So my questions is - do you know what you want to do? Is there a way to do it with out a degree? Can you get creative and do an internship, an apprenticeship, freelance, something like that? If you know your dream and it is only attainable through a degree then get the degree.


 I was thinking about doing something like arts administration or web administrator (idk the actual name, but something similar to running a site like this). I would like a flexible job to be able to work from home or even be my own boss! I don't do really well with typical 9-5 same thing every day type of jobs.


I guess its figuring out how to live and go to school at the same time. DP and I both have full pell grants duck.gifthat pay for tuition and books, the loans we have cover our living expenses. We haven't been able to find the balance. DP recently just lost both of her jobs that she was working while going to school.. so we're not as completely lazy as we sound.

post #25 of 60
Originally Posted by hippiemombian View Post


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?

i work for an agency that provides services  for people with  developmental disabilities.  they hire just about anyone and dont require experience or a degree of any kind.  i make about what DH was making at the call center he worked at. 

post #26 of 60
Originally Posted by hippiemombian View Post

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?



In terms of money and a career, my degree hasn't really brought much to me.  In terms of personal growth it was very valuable to me.

In my case my degree is in something that I was good at but wasn't really a practical choice for getting a regular job.  I don't even want to work in the field I got a degree in at this point in my life. I would choose a bit differently now.

I have been a SAHM for 12 years. I never really had a job that I would have actually needed my degree. 'm not sure how much it would help right now to have a degree from 16 years ago versus more work experience or more current schooling.


My dh is going to be finishing college after 1 more semester and hopes that it will lead to a broader range of job opportunities and maybe a better salary.  I don't know if he will get a job in his field of study but I do think with his work experience it could lead to something better for him.

post #27 of 60

Yes, definitely! I do have a lot of debt, BUT it will be paid off/forgiven because I work for the government (if you work for a public agency or non profit and pay on your student loan for 120 months, doesn't have to be consecutive, even if you are doing an income-based repayment, the balance of the loan is forgiven, google "public service student loan forgiveness"). I don't make that much yet, but I would not have gotten my last few jobs with out it and having the degree qualifies me for more jobs and promotions.

post #28 of 60

The degree was worth it.


It was worth it from a non-job standpoint (intellectual stimulation, personal growth) from the get-go.


I wish I could have done it without student debt.  It was a real albatross to start out adult life with a huge debt on our shoulders.  We do make decent money now - but it took years.  My degree has been relevant.  Dh's?  Not so much. 

post #29 of 60

As someone who worked in a field for years without the degree most people had to get there (finance), I would have said that no, you don't need a degree... you just need determination and hard work... until the recent economic collapse when I got laid off and no one would hire me in my field despite my decade of experience because I didn't have a degree. I went back. And now it doesn't make sense financially for me to get just a BS because I'd end up in the same financial position I was for a decade, but with college debt. Now I'm on my way to grad school and I can't get there without the BS, so it's worth it to me. BUT (and this is a very big "but"), I have a specific goal for which the degree is required. If I didn't have that goal, along with a reasonable expectation of how much money I'll make in the long run, there's no way I'd go into debt for it. Especially as much debt as I'll be in when I get out. Based on the answers to the PPs questions above, I wouldn't waste your money. Put all your time and effort into gaining experience in lower level positions in those fields... for instance, volunteer to be a moderator for MDC (I hear they're looking) and then put it on your resume for when you shop jobs. Also, hire a professional resume writer to appropriately spin your experience toward the jobs you want (I'm available for hire, BTW - *shameless self-promotion*).

post #30 of 60

The "to get a degree or not" question I think is going to depend on so many different circumstances.  If you are having trouble deciding, why don't you try submitting a resume and interviewing for positions in the fields you would like to work? That should give you a pretty clear idea of what types of classes/work you would need to do to get to where you want to be. 


I think this question has a different spin when you are talking about going "back" to school to improve quality of life...if the career you ultimately want to go into requires a degree, then obviously you would need to go back to school.  BUT there are ways to work your way into positions with hard work, determination, and by making connections. Just going to school to have a degree without a specific plan can be detrimental.  Many places that are looking for people with a degree that isn't specialized to the field, really just want to see that there is determination and the potential for longevity.  And that you mesh well with the team.  My husband is a programmer and cannot find people to fill the open positions...not because people aren't "qualified" per se, but because they have sucky work ethics or can't work as part of a team...isn't that crazy in this economy?? So it's not always all about the degree, but if there is specialized knowledge needed about the field you want to be in, then it would be good to have a degree, or maybe even some specific classes would suffice. 


FWIW, I have a BS degree in Molecular Biology, worked for a couple of years in the field, then became a SAHM.  I still have a small amount of debt that we are paying off, but should be done soon.  I have found the degree to be worth it...I worked through school and got good grades, so beyond just the degree school taught me a LOT.  When, at some point I return back to work, I will probably need to take some "refresher" classes if I want to go back into the field...at the very least.  If I wanted to make a career in the field, then I would need a lot more schooling.  I don't think that makes my degree useless though.  I'm quite sure that having it is important, and I can use it as a stepping stone into other industries. 


My husband was a double major Math and Computer Science, and works in software.  Again, being in school while working teaches you a lot.  He has a awesome job that he finds fulfilling and he likes going to work.  Definitely worth it, and still paying it off.


That being said, we made these degrees work for us.  We didn't get the degrees to lean on, kwim? A degree isn't something that work's for you, it's a tool you use to get what/where you want.  That's really how you need to look at it.  The degree proves that you are capable of learning the information, but YOU need to prove that you are capable of actually doing the job.  There is a difference there, and some people forget that.  I would never recommend that someone get a degree "just because".  There should be intent there. 


ETA: Obviously you should take into consideration the cost of the degree vs income in the field as well.

post #31 of 60

I'm in the category of needing the financial aid in order to care for my children. I have no job skills because I was a stay at home mom for many years and then I left my husband because he was abusing me and it left the children and I homeless and penniless. So I am going to the University in order to be able to afford to raise the kids on my own and still be able to be there for them with my flexible school schedule. I get no child support because my ex hides all his assets and income so the state can't get anything and I am trying to gain some education and skills in hopes that after I get my degree there will be something for me out there that will enable me to still be able to afford to raise the kids and live an ok life. Until then I live off of loans and grants and pray the future will be kind to us.

post #32 of 60

YES. And this is coming from a SAHM who only recently started working from home. winky.gif


My first degree was psychology/anthropology. My master's was International Relations. A bachelor's in psychology was mainly a stepping stone to grad school. I couldn't do anything with it. I did use my master's degree before DD was born, but that's not necessarily why I say my degrees were worth it.


The experiences I had during college, I will remember for the rest of my life. They have helped mold me into the person I am today. College, study abroad, and grad school have expanded my worldview, allowed me to get out of the homogenous small town I was living in and meet people and make friends from all walks of life. I was able to see amazing cultural events free of charge through a program at my college in undergrad (a symphony performance with guest Yo-Yo Ma, Broadway on Tour musicals, etc). I learned to make mistakes, and probably went to a few too many frat parties. I discovered Habitat for Humanity spring break trips, which was the first time in my life I ever volunteered. I discovered a passion for helping others in need, learned to stand up for what I believe in, and learned about a lot of really interesting things. I developed a love for learning, and doing, something I did not have in high school. I got to travel around the world on Semester at Sea, and fall in love with travelling. 


And, most importantly money-wise, I learned to write and speak in public. And that is now how I earn an income, as a grant-writer and occasional travel writer; prior to my daughter being born I also did a lot of public speaking for the nonprofit I worked for. My grammar going into college was atrocious, filled with regional slang and a somewhat funky dialect. Without college, I would probably still speak that way. Which isn't a bad thing, per say, but would have made it difficult to do the kind of work that I do today.


I also met my husband. smile.gif


I have been paying off student loans for about 6 years, and probably have another 2 years to go, but I have no regrets. All of these experiences have already influenced my daughter. I take her with me when I volunteer at a local refugee resettlement agency. She is learning Spanish from a young age. She has just travelled out of the country with us for the first time, to France, and we plan on taking her to Costa Rica next year. I could keep going, but the point is, many of the experiences we choose to expose her to can be linked to things I learned or discovered about myself while studying at a university.

post #33 of 60

YES! my degrees are worth it.  Even if I'm not currently using any or all of them.  I have a BA in business with a psych minor. I have 99% of an MBA and I have a post grad teaching certificate in secondary education.  I've working in Fraud, collections, brokerage markets, credit markets, customer service, call centers, and education.  I am thinking of going back to school again for Masters in Counseling. That would be basically my 4th degree or certificate.  Right now we are living in poverty, due do my mental health but the potential for income and a career is there.  I have decades of employment to think about.  Even if I don't go back to school I have my education to fall back upon as well as my work experience.

post #34 of 60

Yes, my experience was worth it. But it was a life trajectory thing. Things are hard to generalize. :) I went to community college, transferred to a state school, got a teaching credential and completed seven years of graduate school and left with $30k in debt and no degree.


But my first book has been downloaded more than a thousand times and I am working on several others. I gained a lot of confidence in myself as a writer. Even though academia doesn't want me long-term I got what I needed out of the experience. No, I don't appeal to the stuffy white men who sit on judgment committees in snobby English departments. What else is new? :)

post #35 of 60

Oh I have so much to say about this! too much to write so please PM me if you want more info.


The short version of my story-

I have been an entrepreneur and contract worker on and off for 5 years. It is my passion and I thoroughly researched how to make a full time living doing it though money would never be solid or for sure. BUT when my husband got laid off I realized fast I could not apply for anything with solid money without a degree and we have struggled endlessly because of it. My husband could at least try for many jobs because he has his BS (though also tons of debit). I thought the only option was a traditional degree/school which means lots of debit but much more opportunity.




I cannot say enough about it! 


basically to summarize through a wonderful regionally accredited school and tons of CLEP tests, DANTE exams and some other test only courses I will have a fully accredited bachelor with ZERO debit, and it took me exactly 12 months (with no prior credit) to complete! It sounds way too good to be true, right? I thought so too but its truly the real deal.


I did this all with a husband who travels, while pregnant, with a toddler.


I plan to become a teacher and start helping other complete their degree the way I did.


you can do it!

post #36 of 60

I have a BS in Geology and a MS in Geology, oh and 100k student loan debt. I am employed as a Geologist. My education was 100% worth it and I am on the income based repayment plan, plus I work for a non-profit so my payments are totally manageable. I will probably pursue a PhD.

post #37 of 60

I had $80,000 in loans to become a nurse and I think it was well worth it for me.  Great career. lots of job opportunities and I was able to get a large chunk of that loan money taken away because I was working as a nurse full time (the government has some "deals" for professionals working in high need areas).  My current salary is amazing and I love what I do.  which i think is so important!  Nursing is a great profession because there's so much  you can do with it and it's a good salaried job and flexible too, especially for a mother.  


So I think getting a useful degree is important.  unless  you are going to college to get an MRS degree which can be what your goal is too which is fine but I would think it was important to think about how much you are going to be in debt in the end and if you'll be able to pay it off.  


My sister in law went to a prestigious private college for an art degree and is now a SAHM.  She had her father's money to pay for this degree.  DH's cousin had no money, no rich parents, and got the same degree and is now working in a coffee shop/grocery store and desperately trying to pay it off.  same degree. 2 different stories and outcomes.  

post #38 of 60

Yes, my degrees are absolutely worth it.  My current job is not related to my degrees but there's no way I would have been offered this job without that background and experience.  Having a well-rounded education allowed me to grow as a person, a member of society, and a future mother.


There are ways to get a college degree without any debt.  I have an associate degree, two bachelors degrees, am working on a masters degree, and I have zero debt.  My parents did not fund my education--I did.  I realize that's not possible for everyone, but it's certainly not impossible.  Here's how I did it...


  1. I chose moderately-priced schools rather than going to the most prestigious or most convenient school that would accept me.
  2. I always lived in very modest apartments with roommates to keep rent prices low.
  3. I nearly always walked or rode the bus to school to ease transportation costs.
  4. I applied for EVERY scholarship/grant that I heard of.  I was able to defray a huge portion of my costs through these scholarships.
  5. I started working at age 12 (for family members) and age 16 (official employment) and always saved money for college.
  6. Most colleges have the same tuition rate for full-time students whether they take 12 credit hours or 18 credit hours.  I always took the maximum allowed credit hours per term to cram the most in--even when that meant combining many difficult classes.
  7. Many colleges charge less for tuition during the summer.  I took summer classes.
  8. I used library resources frequently.
  9. I always worked during college even when I had more than a full-time class load.  At first this was menial labor with terrible hours, gradually I progressed into more desirable jobs.
  10. For my latest degree, I chose an employer with a tuition reimbursement plan that helped to cover much of my tuition.
  11. I regularly checked in with financial aid counselors.  Although I did not qualify for government or other tuition assistance, this helped me to be aware of options.
  12. I lived extremely frugally and spent very little on groceries, clothing, etc.
  13. I regularly checked in with my college counselors to ensure I was taking the correct classes, making progress, etc.
  14. I always bought textbooks used and re-sold them ASAP.  When possible, I shared textbooks with others or just didn't buy them.
  15. When I didn't have enough money to pay for college, I stopped and worked to save until I could afford it again rather than getting loans.


I'm so thankful for my degrees and am also very grateful that I was able to do it without debt.  Even if I left the workforce to be a full time SAHM I would never regret the time, money, and effort that I dedicated to earning them.

post #39 of 60

It depends on what you want.  DH and I both somewhat regret our degrees and how much we under-estimated the drain that the student debt would be on us.  At nine years out of school we're still paying off loans.  More than anything we regret what we studied.  DH was a French teacher - 4 year French degree followed by 1 year teaching degree.  As it turns out, he didn't enjoy teaching as much as he hoped.  He recently changed careers and is a professional truck driver.  He loves his job now.  It was a six week course and within a couple weeks he was working.  Jobs are super-plentiful and they pay decently.  We would be so much farther ahead financially if he had been truck driving for the 5 years he was in university - making money instead of making debt.  That said, I think that if DH had studied something in university that was more geared toward his interests and aptitudes, there wouldn't be the same regret. 


I wish that I had studied a trade instead of getting a BSc.

post #40 of 60

Dh and I both went to an affordable school. His parents paid for his undergraduate degree and since his grandfather lived about 20 minutes from the school, he lived with him the first two years (Tuition was $750 a semester back then). I had grants and loans, and worked the entire 5 years. . I ended up with a teaching degree and one of the loans was written off after teaching for 5 years in a disadvantaged school. He went to grad school and took out a loan for that. We ended up with about $15K total in loans for both of us. The payments of $147 a month didn't break us. Although he didn't "use" his degree, he moved much faster up the ladder because he had one. He worked with people who had been in the workforce longer, but they had the same responsibilities and salary because dh had a degree.


The state I live in now has a program that pays for tuition for high school graduates who achieve a certain GPA (2.5) and have a certain ACT score (20). The higher the GPA and ACT score, the more money the student qualifies for. My kids know they must qualify for this to go to college. You can even use it for a trade school or community college. We will still have to pay fees, etc, and they will have to work, but I do feel it is worth it.

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