Paying It Off

Thanks to iDanSimpson on Flickr for making this image available.

Yes indeed, your college education is an investment, and a really good one. But when you rack up student loans and other forms of debt, you need to get to work implementing strategies for paying them off.  (An aside: I do not believe that going to graduate school so you can defer your payments is a great strategy; there ought to be many other reasons to go to graduate school before that one!)

Many thanks to my friend Harriet over at The Encouragement Lounge for posting this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education that contains great strategies for dealing with student loan (and other) debt:

In Debt to Your Degree

The most important strategy, in my opinion? The first:  Take Responsibility.

To Know Your Path, Or To Find Your Path?

Recently, the New York Times’ blog Room for Debate published opinions on this question: “What is a Master’s Degree Worth?” Four experts weighed in on this topic, each with his or her own spin on the return on investment of a graduate degree. A few days later, the editors posted a summary of even more opinions on this question written by readers who shared their stories and ideas in the comments of the original post.

(Ah Glorious Technology!)

In this economy, it makes a lot of sense to ask this question; to seek a sense of the costs and the benefits; to consider job markets, labor trends, and projected industry needs; to consider what you, with a degree, as a commodity, will be worth to a current or potential employer; and to weigh the benefits and challenges of furthering your education. It probably makes sense to do so in any economy.  I vociferously preach this kind of analysis to students who take my Preparing for Graduate School course. I believe in the exercise.

Feel Smarter?

Yet the thought of doing this analysis also makes my stomach knot up and what is left of my non-gray hair turn gray. I’ve been giving a lot of thought about why my skin crawls every time I suggest doing this analysis to a student, and here’s my hesitation with it, based solely on my own experience:

Had I tried to do this calculation when I finished my Bachelor’s degree, I surely would not have ended up doing what I do now, which I really love.  LOVE! L.O.V.E.!!!

For me, it was only by doing my Master’s (and associated activities that came along with it, such as being a graduate teaching and research assistant, working with neat people who became mentors, and discovering what mattered to me) that I came to have clarification of what I wanted to do with my Master’s. At no time did I question earning potential or job market needs; I simply wanted to continue my learning, and from that passion came clarification, and from that clarification came employment possibilities.

For me, it was that simple. And, alas, it was that complex.

What will it be for you?

On Grad School – Show Me The Money

I teach a course called Preparing for Graduate School, but I only teach it twice a year, and it might be helpful for some of you to have the latest resources I find on this topic, even if you aren’t in my class. To this end, I will continue to post resources here, on this blog, under the category of “Preparing for Grad School.” Please check back or subscribe to this blog using RSS (see more about this below) for more info for undergraduate adult learners who are thinking about grad school as a next step.

Here’s a new one that just came my way, a podcast that addresses this topic: “Whether you’re thinking about graduate school–or are already on your way–this podcast helps answer many questions about the financial aid process.” It’s geared to the professional adult student (yeah – you!), so it might be worth a listen.

Graduate School Financial Aid for Professionals

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