Who’s the Master? – 4 Things to Consider Before Pursuing an Advanced Degree

The aforementioned logic is about as true as thinking you need lyrical talent to succeed in Hip-Hop today, sorry Trinidad James fans.  Making the decision to go back to school can be expensive, timely, exhausting, disappointing for your expectations (unless of course you wanted that waiter position) and oh yeah, EXPENSIVE.  Before jumping into the application process check out our tips for seeing if a Master’s degree is right for you.

  • Find your motivation. If it’s as simple as more money, then taking the time to calculate if a master’s degree will really help you get mo’ money without mo’ problems (like piles of loan debt and an unfulfilling or nonexistent job after graduation) is a crucial first step.  Your motivation for getting another degree will also help you determine if you’ll be in it for the long haul or not quite when things get tough.  If you’re just not ready to join the “real world”, earning a master’s degree can buy you some time, but make sure that it is beneficial for your future, and not for the sake of filling that awkward silence when friends or family ask “What are you up to these days?”  We at Urban Professor can think of far less expensive ways to escape the “real   world” until you’re ready, some being volunteering, traveling, reading, or even joining a reality show (you can’t get more unrealistic than reality TV).  Some degrees, like an MBA, strongly recommend that you have work   experience before you earn another degree.  In fact, working for 2–3 years if not more before pursuing an MBA will likely earn you more “paper” than the reverse.
  • Make your degree work for you. If career advancement is what you desire, make sure that a master’s degree is in fact valued in the profession you want to work in.  Some careers value experience over education, so take the time to figure out where you want to be in the next 5 – 10 years and if a master’s will make you more marketable.  Otherwise, you could find yourself with two advanced degrees working for someone with a bachelor’s degree and 10 years of experience.  Ask around, it’s more common than you know.  Unsure if a master’s is necessary for your dream job?  Set up a few informational interviews with people who have your dream job and find out how they got to where they are now and if a master’s helped them get there or would have helped in today’s environment.
  • Develop your passion. If you’re not sure the exact career you want or simply just want to learn more about your passion, a master’s degree can provide you with a deeper understanding of the field you’re interested in.  If you’re not sure where to begin, check out Forbes’ list of Best Master’s Degrees for Jobs to get an idea of which degree will help you further develop your passion.
  • Grind 101. Having a Master’s degree will not take the place of hard work.  Similar to video game cheat codes, a master’s degree may help you skip some levels, and equip you with better strategy to advance, but, ultimately you have to do your due diligence and work hard.

If you do decide that getting the advanced degree is right for you, make sure you do your homework.  Choosing when to go back to school and what school you should attend is just as important as the degree itself.  A master’s degree from “Intheboonies” University may not get you much further than a corner office at “Thatwasawasteoftime” Incorporated.  Bear in mind that some schools not as prestigious in name a la Harvard, Yale, or Wharton may be elite in some of their programs offered (i.e. Georgia Tech ranked #4 in the U.S. for engineering), this should be taken into account when deciding which to attend.

Be the master of your own fate and choices, including the one you make on a master’s degree.  U DEFINE SUCCESS