to grad school or not to grad school?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Christ Reynolds, May 23, 2004.

  1. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    never thought i'd use 'grad school' as a verb. anyway, my gf just finished her masters degree last week, and being the notorious planner-ahead that i am, i have a question. i'm not done with my B.S. degree yet, but how should i go about thinking about grad school? i've heard that people wished they thought about it earlier than they did, and i'd like to at least be prepared to make an intelligent decision. i would ask some people at my school, but i'm not there yet (transferring). i wont have to take the GRE if i decide to go, i'd be going to the same school if i do, and they dont require the test if i get my undergrad degree there. i've read a few articles here and there about how undergrad is much different than masters and doctorate degrees, but they seem to be very general articles, and they only seem to be written for people who have already entered/decided to go to grad school. also, i've read that you can do your phd without getting your masters? i'm not even sure i will attend grad school, but i'd like to be as educated and prepared for the job market as possible. any info/links would be really helpful.

    CJ
     
  2. LDfan

    LDfan Supporting Actor

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    I guess it all depends on what your degree is in. In general the more education the better but graduate school is a big sacrifice in both time and money.

    Good luck with your decision.

    Jeff
     
  3. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    As Jeff said, a lot of it depends on your degree. In most any profession it will certainly make you more competitive in the job market, which is especially good in the current economy. Additionally, it would allow more time for the economy to pick up.

    I think probably the biggest consideration is money. How far in debt will you be for undergrad? How much further would grad put you in debt (grad is usually about 2x undergrad per year at the same school)? Would the potential increase in salary make-up for the increased debt? Are there opportunities for TA positions that pay a stipend or tuition during grad school?

    I recently made the decision to get my MBA immediately following my undergrad degree. This decision became a little easier when I was offered a TA position paying half tuition plus a monthly stipend.
     
  4. Pamela

    Pamela Supporting Actor

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    As I was nearing graduation for my undergraduate degree, I kicked around the idea of grad school. I was so burned out, however, that I decided to wait. I got a job, worked for four years, then decided it was time. For me, the wait was a good thing. I really excelled in grad school, loved learning, and enjoyed my education much more than undergrad. I liked it so much, as I was finishing up my M.A., I started an M.F.A.

    The down side was, I put myself in debt. And in my field, graphic design, a graduate degree didn't do much for me as far as job advancement. Despite this, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I experienced tremendous personal growth and really broadened my horizons.

    Yes, some programs allow you to go straight from a bachelor's degree to a Ph.D. program. I have a couple of friends who did that. I found that graduate studies did differ from undergrad, but I don't know if that is the case with all majors. In grad school, independent work was encouraged much more and I really developed my critical thinking skills. I felt I had more input into the education process. The one thing I didn't like was the politics involved in the thesis process. There were a couple of real a**holes on my committee.

    I agree that you have to weigh the money factor when making your decision. Good luck with whatever you choose!
     
  5. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    thanks for all the replies. my degree will be in electrical engineering, and that would be the field i'd study in grad school as well. the cost is manageable, as it is a state school, and i'm a resident of that state.

    Annual, Taking 9 credits each semester
    Total $5,451

    Annual, Taking 12+ credits in both semesters, 24+ total
    Total $7,267

    this is compared to $6,154 for undergrad. i received some financial assistance for undergrad, but no performance besed scholarships (yet). is the financial assistance as good as undergrad, in general? i will probably have to wait until i actually get to this school, and ask the grad students and professors there. i'm not sure i will go as far as phd, but it is nice to know i have the option at this school.

    CJ
     
  6. CalvinCarr

    CalvinCarr Supporting Actor

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    For engineering it's not neccesary. Work on your P.E. first.
     
  7. Johnny_M

    Johnny_M Second Unit

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    i would say...


    N O T.




    drop out, get drunk, and watch a movie instead!



    Johnny (stuck at work today)
     
  8. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    Why do you say this? Very few Electrical Engineers take the P.E because it does little as far as job opportunites go. The employers hiring EE's in this country, look much more favorabally on a master's degree. That's not to say an engineer needs a master's degree, but it certainly does not hurt.

    The P.E. is something that is geared for those who want to get into consulting and do work for municipalities which many times require an engineer to have a PE. It is geared towards civil and mechanical engineers for the most part (including content of the EIT test). The PE involves passing two tests and working for about five years. It is not a degree, but simply a professional title.

    A master's degree generally takes 1-2 years of full time study, and provides you with advanced knowledge that has a value. Depending on the branch of electrical engineering Christ is getting into (digital/analog electronics, telecommunication, digital signal processing, power systems, controls and robotics), a master's degree may almost become a necessity in the coming years.

    Everyone talks about the IT jobs being farmed out overseas, but this is also beginning in the engineering trade. Certain large companies (who I will not mention) actually send large projects over to India and Pakistan. When the work comes back usually with quite a few mistakes, the engineers here in America make the corrections. Why do this if the work is not great? Well in India, degreed engineers get paid only 8-10 dollars an hour, compared to here in the states where an entry level engineer generally makes at least 20 dollars an hour plus benefits. Sad but true.

    From a manufacturing standpoint, America is going to have to stay ahead of the curve in producing those items which require added precision, and cannot yet be mass produced. Once an item is commoditized (including labor) it is quickly shifted overseas where production costs are always cheaper. Having an advanced degree will put an engineer ahead of this curve, and keep his skills in demand.

    J
     
  9. JustinCleveland

    JustinCleveland Cinematographer

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    Depends on what you want to do, and if it's required. I want to teach Public Speaking at the collegiate level and write on Rhetorical Theory in academic journals. I need a Ph.D.

    If you don't NEED it, don't get it. At worst, get a job that will promote you into a position where additional education would be subsidized by your employer.
     
  10. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    I agree with this totally, as many jobs (with large companie) will pay the freight on your schooling. Having a master's degree right out of school will generally not have a dramatic impact on your starting salary, because companies view all new grads as entry level. You will just have a bigger student loan to pay off.

    Since Christ is going to a state school, the costs for going for his master's are not too prohibitive even if he does not get a grant or stipend. Paying for a master's at a private university out of pocket can be a sure path to financial nightmare.

    J
     
  11. Leo Hinze

    Leo Hinze Stunt Coordinator

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    For electrical engineers, it is possible that neither a graduate degree or a PE license is necessary.

    PE licenses are needed by those who sell their engineering services, and do engineering work for the public. For example, if you're an EE and you work for Intel designing computer stuff, what you (or Intel) are ultimately selling to the public is a computer thingy. If you design buildings, what you are selling to the public is your engineering expertise in the form of the electrical system for the building. PE licensing was created to help ensure that engineers know their stuff before being unleashed on the public.

    Graduate degrees are useful for engineers, but by no means necessary. Most places that hire engineers expect them to learn the specific things they need to know while on the job. For example, my first job as a mechanical engineer was designing ice cream machines. I knew much about the mechanics of materials and stress and machine design and such, but I didn't know anything about desinging ice cream machines. I learned much on the job.

    Graduate engineering degrees usually entail specific research into a small area. While this knowledge is useful, it may not be necessary, depending on your job. If there is some aspect of EE that you're really interested in, by all means, get a grad degree.

    Without a more compelling reason (other than to be educated and prepared for the job market) from you on why you want to go to grad school, I'd say skip it. Engineering degrees are great becuase with only an undergrad, you are already very educated and prepared, you can make a lot of money, and you can advance far. That's in comparison to pure science degrees, where opportunities for those with only undergrad are few, and even those with grad degrees don't seem to have the opportunities that engineers do.

    edit - I was typing as the Justins were posting their message, so I apologize for any redundancies.
     
  12. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    thanks for all the great replies, guys. fortunately, the decision to go to grad school is not one i have to make immediately.
    i wouldnt expect to start at anything higher than an entry level engineer right out of college no matter what degree, but if i did have a masters before i started work, would it mean i may be promoted at a slightly faster rate than the other hypothetical entry level engineer who had a bachelors degree? most likely i will get a job right after my bachelors degree, hopefully at a company that can offer assistance.

    CJ
     
  13. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    I never thought I'd want to go back. But after watching the requirements on a few good jobs at my company ask for an MBA, guess what I'm doing? [​IMG]
     
  14. Anthony_J

    Anthony_J Stunt Coordinator

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    CJ - did you ever think about working for a few years and then getting an MBA (as opposed to an advanced degree in the same field as your BS)

    Bottom line - with very few exceptions, no matter where you work as an electrical engineer it will all be about profit and business at the end of the day (as most companies don't exist soley to make people happy).

    The MBA demonstrates that you understand business concepts and things outside of your specialty field. Most companies are looking for robust individuals with overall experience and knowledge. The more you have, the more doors will open for you.
     
  15. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    Get a job and have your company foot half of the bill - then you're getting experience and education simultaneously.
     
  16. Mike Lenthol

    Mike Lenthol Second Unit

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    Almost universally, companies will only pay tuition if you are full time. Very few can handle a full time graduate load at any decent school and a full time job. It is pure hell, times two if you have a family. To retain your mental health, the degree would have to be taken part time, and time wise would be stretched at least by a factor of 2.

    Even going part time and a full time job you can pretty much say goodbye to free time. And don't forget that 'going to school' is an important skill that is forgotten with time. If you feel you can do it now, do it.
     
  17. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    I'm currently pursuing an MBA.

    Both my current employer and my previous would had tuition reimbursement but ONLY for part time. My previous employer limited it to 2 classes a semester and my current employer limits it to $2000 a calender year.

    Their reasoning is that they don't want to have employees pursuing full time education since that will, presumably, take away from their work responsibilities. Some can handle it but a lot cannot.

    Sure my MBA will take me considerably longer to finish, but I get to work at the same time and get more experience. I'm still young so in a few years my MBA may actually be more valuable.
     
  18. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    I wouldn't think so. Once you're hired, generally you're promoted based on performance, not education. After the hiring process, no one really remembers what your educational background is, just whether you're doing your job well or not. Those who are get promoted regardless of whether they have an advanced degree.

    Having worked in the consulting business for many years, I will say that if you're intending to work for a consulting engineering firm designing electrical systems for buildings and such, the P.E. is far more important than a Masters. A Masters Degree isn't marketable to a potential client. The firms I've worked with also offer a significant salary bump for P.E.'s.

    Education is really just a launching point for you to enter a field. It doesn't really do much for you once you're actively practicing in that field (except for teachers, possibly). So unless it gives you an advantage at the entry level, I'd say skip it.
     
  19. CalvinCarr

    CalvinCarr Supporting Actor

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    My company pays for all tuition, books, supplies and labs. For an undergrad you have to have at least a C and for grad work a B. But we also promote people to engineering positions without a degree based on job experience and performance.
     
  20. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    $2k per year is pretty low. $5k is the typical amount reimbursed for Minnesota companies (ie. corporate).
     

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