Terminal Illness is a bad thing. However, a terminal degree is a GOOD thing. Before adding additional education that will do nothing but pile up additional amounts of debt, ask yourself these three questions:
- Are the degree requirements clearly defined?
- How many years is this degree and what is my likely salary increase upon completion.
- Is adding this degree or certification going to qualify me for a job and set me apart from other job applicants?
Clearly Defined Degree Requirements
This may seem like a silly thing to investigate until you do it. There is absolutely no way to accurately assess the value of a degree unless the parameters of the degree are clearly defined. Too often the completion of advanced degrees are left up to the whims of a few professors. They might like your research but they might not. Generally, professors have the ability to stop graduate students at several points in the program. Find out when these times are before you enroll.
Vague Medieval practices are common throughout institutions of higher learning. The modern names for these practices are things like: “Research assistant, Postdoc, language studies, research plan submittal and review process, PhD exam preparation period, PhD thesis submittal and review process, etc. The modern word for all of these items is at best: apprentice and at worst: slave.
Nail down every ambiguous loophole in the academic process before signing onto any program. Remember, the school is paid whether or not students ever graduate. Moreover, most PhDs in science are more useless than the paper they are printed on without adding a successful Postdoc after the degree and this can take years of additional servitude on starvation wages.
How Many Years in College vs. Earning Potential
This is a simple equation. Lets say a nurse who earns 50K a year decides to go back to medical school to become a doctor. Medical school will cost the nurse approximately 50K per year for 4 years at the University of Wisconsin. Add on an additional 6 years of residency earning 54K at the Department of Pathology at Boston Medical Center. At the end of this 10-year period the nurse will be approximately 184K in debt. She can expect to earn on average 139K as a doctor after residency. In her 6th year, 16 years after she started, the nurse can expect to be debt free and living like a doctor. This is assuming that she pays the debt off and continues to live on 50K a year for the entire time period. Is the investment worth it? Decide after doing the math and before enrolling.
Terminal Degrees and Certifications Can Pay Off
Degrees that add specific skills and separate you from other job applicants can be very valuable. Lets say you are fluent in Chinese and English. As an interpreter you can earn $50.00 an hour. Add a 3 year law degree and the average pay is 300K a year for a lawyer specializing in International Contract Law. Lets say you are a cook and you earn 25K a year. A degree in nutrition could help you take those skills to a school district job with double the salary and union benefits. Maybe you are a manager in a manufacturing plant. Adding Six sigma online training could raise your income to an average of 150K a year. There are many different types of terminal degrees that can substantially increase a person’s earning potential. The ones that are most valuable build on and enhance existing skills. Moreover, many terminal degrees can be completed while working.
Going back to school to pursue education for the sake of learning is one thing. Returning to school to improve your income and your standard of living is entirely different. Invest intelligently in a terminal degree; Hire Education leads to a bright future.