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  1. #1
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    Working Professionals + Getting Masters Degree - How the *F* is it possible?!

    Without debt and/or a highly paid wife/sugar mama?

    I'm looking at transitioning my career and figured a Masters Degree (Masters of Business Administration) would do me right. First, I would have to quit my job (my wife can't support us both) and/or get into a crap load of debt. I looked at accredited online courses, but I think those will be just as nasty in terms of tuition. Is this the only solution?

    Any director/executive level professionals want to give me some tips? Or is it just not possible without going to BrokeBuck Mountain?

  2. #2
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    Work for someone who will pick up the tab. My wife's employer footed the bill for her Bachelor's as well as paying for her Masters. Just a thought.

  3. #3
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    Get a master of science where you can be paid through assistantships. Although an MS probably won't send you on the career path you want.

    Working for someone who will foot the bill is an option but I get the impression that you don't want to commit to just any employer (who will make such a demand with that kind of offer, for sure).

    I'd say to find a flexible PT gig that will let you work around your course schedule. But that depends on what the spouse brings in, if anything. If you can find a way to manage mostly on her pay so that PT pay will cover the school bills, at least, I'd take that one. It is essentially how I'm doing my master's without incurring debt. I made just enough with assistantships to pay my school bills with a little extra to pay for other expenses. My school is one that does not waive tuition if you have an assistantship so I have had to pay all of my tuition bills.

  4. #4
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    I am neither, but want to offer my support.

    Even a low level blue collar stiff like myself can dream. I'm a high school drop out who managed to get my G.E.D. and attend the local community college long enough to obtain my L.A. city certified welders license.

    So intrigued by materials joining and related subjects I considered taking my education further to perhaps transfer to Cal Poly to become a corrosion engineer or maybe Ohio State for weld engineering, but was thwarted but your exact dilemma.

    Working full time while pursuing my welding certification and inspectors license I felt overwhelmed at a mere 6 units per semester in the advanced classes like metallurgy, math and science, and testing and inspecting that required lots of studying and technical papers to be submitted. That experience left me believing you’re absolutely right that in order to pursue an education the right way one must be committed to it and it alone.

    To be blunt you either need monetary support from family, postpone long enough to save needed cash reserves, or deal with poverty and/ or debt. Perhaps all of the above.

    The economy is not showing signs of recovery any time soon, so I would counsel you to make some sacrifices, tighten your belt, and save up while you have work. By the time you’ve saved enough to be confident to move forward you will have acclimated to the frugal life style needed to push through. In the end if it doesn't work out it will still have benefited you as saving is always a good thing.

    Yours is a noble pursuit and I truly hope you can make this happen for yourself and your family.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    Without debt and/or a highly paid wife/sugar mama?

    I'm looking at transitioning my career and figured a Masters Degree (Masters of Business Administration) would do me right. First, I would have to quit my job (my wife can't support us both) and/or get into a crap load of debt. I looked at accredited online courses, but I think those will be just as nasty in terms of tuition. Is this the only solution?

    Any director/executive level professionals want to give me some tips? Or is it just not possible without going to BrokeBuck Mountain?
    Is an MBA really going to help you?
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  6. #6
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    Don't get an MBA--it's a waste of money and it may make you unemployable in the end. Get an MS in economics instead (or other "hard" subject areas). Technical skills are far superior to "fluff" training MBA programs have been putting out for the last few decades.

    As for making this happen, it is an investment in time and dedication from your family.

  7. #7
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    I would not join any program that is so intense you can't work. It sounds like you should keep your job and find an institution that meets your needs as an adult student learner. I don't think any program will be cheap, but its all relative to what you consider expensive. My program is going to cost about 23k, which is expensive to me. Luckily, I work for a company that pays 7k a year so it will be mostly paid for.

  8. #8
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    Online about 300-500 a credit hour and more.
    The army paid for my MBA and I finished the last course in 2004 right before I left Iraq.
    It paid off handsomely.

  9. #9
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    I work in health care and my professional background is nursing. I earned my graduate degree (MN) by working part-time and picking up extra hours when I could. My employer paid a portion of my tuition but I was responsible for most of the education and extraneous fees. I was eligible for educational awards only because I had worked for the hospital for a few years, in addition I maintained a high grade point average.

    It was financially very tough but once I graduated I made the leap to leadership positions and I applied for a cross appointment to the university so I have opportunities to teach and do research on the side.

    Its taken a few years to recover my financial setbacks but the decision to pursue higher education was worth it in other ways: I have greater job satisfaction and I feel I am contributing to my profession through staff and student mentorship, and improving patient care through clinical expertise
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  10. #10
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    An MBA is a great asset. University of Phoenix has an online program. I got my Masters at lowly Calif State Los Angeles and it was cheap, not a prestigious university but I have one. Took 4 years
    while working. While a Masters in journalism is pretty much worthless an MBA is highly worth the risk.
    Check out your local state universities, they are a lot cheaper than any private school.

    That MA in journalism is pretty lame, cuz here I am at work still at 9PM finishing off editing and producing the Nora Ephron obit. It will be airing on CNN in a few minutes.

    Good luck and here's to higher Ed.

  11. #11
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    My brother-in-law did this… not once, not twice, but three times. Paid his way through college while working full-time the entire time. I have no idea how he can still have his sanity. Dude has a masters in cellular biology, doctorate in microbiology, and some other over-the-top Mensa-happy degree thing going on. He managed this over the course of I believe ten years while bartending and having some other restaurant job the entire time. The end result is that for the past two years he has been a clinical trials manager of some sort pulling in $200K a year while my sister sits on her ass and posts on Facebook all day long instead of working.
    goodbye cruel world. I am leaving you today.

  12. #12
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    I too am a blue collar worker that dreams of higher ed someday. I tried a few years ago but simply could not manage being a full time dad, husband, sole provider, part-time student and working 60 hours a week. I do get very frustrated with many engineers in my sector. I am an HVAC tech. Today I spent 45 min trying to explain why a particular poorly designed duct system was not working to a mechanical PE.???? In my head I am thinking "Dude don't you have a degree in this crap? Why am I explaining basic airflow concepts to you?". Can't ask those kind of questions though, because I am just a "technician".

    my thoughts....

  13. #13
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    Just dont do it man. Work smarter, not harder in order to make yourself stand out and get a better job.

  14. #14
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    I've actually pulled this off so take my .02 for what it's worth. Generally large corporations have tuition reimbursement programs. In some cases, you can negotiate for tuition reimbursement with smaller companies as long as you give them a satisfactory term of service. Large corporations generally ask for one year past your graduation. You could spend time trying to track down every little scholarship and grant but your best bet will always be letting a company pay for it, even if you have to be the janitor. The other option is if you can find a job at a university because they generally give free tuition to employees. Be careful with this one. I was offered a job at UPenn but the Wharton School (business) is a day program so I couldn't have gotten my MBA even if I had taken the job, although there are any number of other degrees I could have gotten by night. Anyway, I took a job and negotiated for tuition reimbursement. I worked my tail off at my job and in school. I took night courses for three years and got my MBA. When nothing opened up for me in my office after graduation I told my superiors that I would be looking to leave. Wouldn't you know a senior manager resigned soon after and they told me the position was mine. Now I'm 30 with an MBA and I'm one of the more senior managers in my company. I wouldn't have been considered for the job if I didn't have the MBA. Now my superiors talk about my next promotion. Best of all, I'm debt free. An MBA is not a magic ticket but when it's combined with hard work and a good reputation, it will get you places you would not have access to otherwise. One final word, many of my classmates went so they could put MBA next to their names. Many of them are in no better position for it. There is something to be said about going for the education and building one's business acumen. The degree and the letters go to anyone who shows up.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshman108 View Post
    Just dont do it man. Work smarter, not harder in order to make yourself stand out and get a better job.
    Thanks for all the input.

    The transition is not entirely to make more money (although that is the ultimate goal) but to get out of this crazy hustle I've been doing. I'm even willing to take a pay cut.

    I'm a Fraternal Insurance Counselor (Insurance agent for the largest fraternal benefit organization in the world), paid by commission, and I am upward near a 6-figure income (which is still low for Bay Area, Ca. - to stay "safe" the household income should be around $130K/year). I am very well decorated in my company, and one of my walls in my office is plastered with dusty plaques, awards and certificates. I have been offered a management position but have turned it down 3 times. I am a public speaker and have conducted sales and marketing seminars nationwide; I also train new agents. I have been featured in trade publications for innovative sales and marketing techniques.

    I'm tired of the hustle. I have been operating at "redline" for nearly a decade and it's killing me.

    I work 7 days a week many weeks out of the year, start at 6am and most times don't finish until 10pm. I have to meet in people's homes. I do get to ride in between that time, but not always. Because I am a statutory employee, I don't get medical benefits (not without paying $800/month in premiums), no retirement plan, and I have to pay for 99% my expenses, including required continuing education. Although it is local travel, I travel 80% of the time. Essentially, it is running your own business. I am a 1099 employee.

    In my old life, I was Creative Marketing Director and I have two US design patents. I had a lot of fun in this position, and I even had the chance to create, write, produce and direct an animated children's educational cartoon (that was never picked up).

    I want to transition back to marketing and back to "civilian life", working regular hours. My current position is insane hours, insane stress, and if you lose a sale - you are sometimes required to pay back the commission you made. Earlier this year I had to payback $5,000 and I lost another the other day which will require me to payback $1,000. Some agents get a negative paycheck - wrap your head around that! One of our agents had to pay back $20,000 - fun, huh?

    So... it's not that I don't work hard. The fact is I work too hard and it's burned me out. My resume is littered with applicable skills and accolades - for insurance. I don't want to do insurance anymore... I don't even want to do sales anymore - I want to go back to marketing.

    So this is how I came up with the question. It isn't easy to make this transition without a piece of paper saying you are worthy, although I have spent the last 7 years teaching, training and holding seminars about marketing. "MBA preferred" is that line that kills me, and may be holding me back from even getting my resume looked at. Once I get the interview, I can nail it - it's that one component which is bothering me.

    I get at least 3 calls a day from insurance/financial industry recruiters, so I am in high demand. A recruiter from a very well-known investment firm asked me to come in today - so I'm going to see what they have to say. I've gotten ONE call from a marketing recruiter - and that's the only call I'm excited about.
    Last edited by Dion; 06-27-2012 at 12:43 PM.

  16. #16
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    Working on my Master of Engineering currently. But I have seen of disturbing trend of becoming unemployable once you obtain the Master's degree. Companies rather not pay for a ME and have few more BE's on site.
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  17. #17
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    Dion, I hear you bud. My mind is constantly brainstorming of ways to get out of the insurance industry! Agent here too, and I am tired of the rat race, so to speak. I don't make near what you do, and I am finding out that money certainly isn't everything. I wish I had some answers for you, but my only thought about your situation is the public speaking portion of your skill set. Can you turn that into a profitable endeavor? Good speakers can make a fortune, and you wouldn't even have to be an insurance speaker, but sales and motivation in general.

    Also, my thought in regards to the MBA is that you have enough skills, talents and qualities that those really should take precedence over a paper with MBA on it, especially since you are older than your typical graduating senior. It seems that employers hiring these days are looking for true skills, not the book learning psuedo-skills that a degree gets you. Looks for an employer that wants an employee they don't have to hand-hold or babysit, someone that hits the ground running.

    Good luck, and if you figure your way out of the insurance biz, please fill me in on your secret!
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giant Chachi View Post
    Dion, I hear you bud. My mind is constantly brainstorming of ways to get out of the insurance industry! Agent here too, and I am tired of the rat race, so to speak. I don't make near what you do, and I am finding out that money certainly isn't everything. I wish I had some answers for you, but my only thought about your situation is the public speaking portion of your skill set. Can you turn that into a profitable endeavor? Good speakers can make a fortune, and you wouldn't even have to be an insurance speaker, but sales and motivation in general.

    Also, my thought in regards to the MBA is that you have enough skills, talents and qualities that those really should take precedence over a paper with MBA on it, especially since you are older than your typical graduating senior. It seems that employers hiring these days are looking for true skills, not the book learning psuedo-skills that a degree gets you. Looks for an employer that wants an employee they don't have to hand-hold or babysit, someone that hits the ground running.

    Good luck, and if you figure your way out of the insurance biz, please fill me in on your secret!
    We shall have an insurance agent wilderness drum beating therapy session.

    Yeah... it's such a hustle, man. I'm glad I'm not the only one feeling this way! I'll let you know how it goes. Right now I'm in the middle of filling out three life applications and a nice annuity application I got last night

    As far as public speaking goes, I have no issue with doing presentations for 1000 people, and I've done it before. I speak in front of small groups (+/- 20 people) 3-5 times a month.

    From a marketing standpoint, and what I did before, this helps a lot with investors, buyers and board directors. A lot of people fear this kind of stuff, and I absolutely have no problem with it. You know in the biz, some agents turn to stone when facing a high net worth client or "intelligent" client - I don't have that fear.

    I guess I just have to keep shooting in the pond and eventually I'll hit a fish. I at least have a previous marketing position to refer to.

    As far as getting out of insurance, check out corporate Inside Sales Jobs. You still have to make quotas and such, but at least you'll be surfing a desk with regular hours, and they usually pay a base salary. It may be a launch pad for sales director. Driving 30 miles in a storm, just to knock on a prospect's door to no answer is something I'm done with.

    Watch the 1968 documentary "Salesman" if you haven't yet. It will blow your mind that nothing really has changed.

  19. #19
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    Got MBA at age 32 while working full time as a quality engineer in the aerospace business. It was tough work but Master's is easier than undergrad and you're way more disciplined now than you were then, so it is doable.

    I'm 46 now, and it was worth it for me. Good luck.

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