One of my good friends Amy, who blogs over at Why Mom Won’t Clean her Basement is sharing with us today some awesome information about Masters programs. Take it away Amy!
Summer is over!!! Well for college kids anyway. I see all over social media moms shuttling their kids back to college…pretending to be sad when I know they are all secretly happy to have less laundry to do. I can’t even imagine the amount they will start saving at the grocery store. My brother has been piling his junk in my parent’s living room for weeks in an effort to get ready, and I’m sure they are glad to have that space back.
Anyway, I was out to dinner with friends last night and we were discussing master’s degrees. Specifically, we were talking about friends who have become what I’ll call “perpetual students,” those that go right from undergrad to graduate school full time (and then some again for another Masters), without holding real world work experience. I stated that I believe this to be a mistake, for one, once you begin working, your career can go down many paths. Why get a higher degree in something you aren’t sure you will excel in once in the workforce? The second reason is that it’s financially irresponsible in my opinion.
Many companies offer some form of higher education compensation. The requirements are usually very easy, the college must meet certain accreditations (so it would exclude nonprofit online schools) and typically you need to maintain B’s in all courses. There may be additional company policies, like you have to work there for a year, meet certain performance evaluations, stay for a year after getting degree, etc. Why pay for something when you can get a portion, if not all of it FOR FREE?
Now, I’ve heard some people say “but the company doesn’t pay for books.” WAH. Ok…you have a full time job. And a college undergrad degree. You can figure out how to buy a used text book and then sell it back. Like, get it together people. Another, totally legit concern, is time. You are looking at nights and weekends. This is why I think it’s important to tackle a masters no more than 5 years after college. Maybe pre-marriage, and pre-kids at that point in your life, but I know everyone is on a different path with that. But at this point, you have been in the workforce to know what direction you want to take and have a better idea of what degree is needed to advance in your current workplace and/or career path.
I discovered I needed a Masters degree 5 years after college. I was stuck and it was the only way to advance. I was thankful that my company offered to pay 50% and let me leave an hour early on Wednesdays to get to class. I was married at the time, worked in PA and lived in DE, so I spent a lot of time commuting. I decided to attend Wilmington University in DE for two reasons:
- The tuition was cheaper than other local institutions
- Accelerated Courses
Ok the accelerated courses part kind of sucked – I got my Masters in 1 year, taking 4 courses a semester. I was able to do so by taking weekend courses, so Friday night, all day Saturday and all day Sunday, for 2 weekends a month (the other weekends were “free” to spend doing work). So if a typical semester is 4 months, I would take 2 normal classes during week nights, and 2 accelerated courses. I missed a lot of events. Obviously, if the course is only two weekends you need to be present the entire time. But to get my Masters so quickly I felt was worth it.
A financial benefit to the accelerated course comes in the form of where they are offered. WilmU has various locations in DE. I took night classes at the campus in New Castle, but the accelerated courses were offered at Dover Air Force Base. Currently tuition for a graduate degree is $465 cheaper (per a course) at DAFB than at other campuses. And any civilian can take courses there.
If you add it up – by taking 2 classes a semester on base (with 2 others at another location) – you are saving $930 a semester.
Now of course, not all degrees and programs are available on base. I obtained my MSM in Health Care Administration in 2012 and at the time a majority of the MBA classes were available on base. I had to take the other courses on the health care side in New Castle. But let’s say that now the entire MBA program is offered on base, and all the classes line up with your schedule – you are looking to save $5580 on your degree. (Cost for New Castle of $455*3 credits*12 overall classes = $16,380. By comparison, it would total $10,800 on base).
If your company is offering any type of incentive, I would definitely recommend looking into all the information I have mentioned in this post. A degree is something you can take with you when you leave a company, and not all companies offer such packages. Don’t put off what you can get for free!!
Worth Noting: This also works for undergraduate degrees and maybe be offered at other bases around the country.