I’ve mentioned a little before about contemplating grad school for next year. Here’s a little more about what’s going on with that:
I majored in a field completely unrelated to what I now want to do. I’m strongly considering grad school for Economics in the near future. I currently work on a college campus with a one-year full-time grad program in Economics, and I’m considering applying for a Graduate Assistant position for next year and participating in that program instead of working. I am moving to Chicago in summer of 2010, so I’m trying to decide what would put me in a better position for the move. I’d like to get a job in using Economics once there – some sort of data analysis.
If I work another year and put off grad school:
Right now, I am able to put over half of my paychecks into savings. If I stay at my current job for another year, I will have a very nice cushion for when I move to Chicago. Also, I am taking undergrad classes part-time on campus, and will have enough classes for a Bachelor in Economics by May of 2010. This means I will have a second degree, this one in the field I want to work in, before I move there, free of charge, and a great emergency fund.
If I do the grad program (and if I get a grad assistantship):
Well, obviously this would give me a Master’s in Economics. A GA here doesn’t cover tuition, but it does give you about $10,000 and requires 15 hours of work each week for the department. That $10,000 could be put toward living expenses or tuition (which is roughly that amount for the program). I would need to either take out student loans for other expenses or use up my entire savings (or possibly both).
To most people, the grad program is the obvious choice – it puts you (presumably) in a more advantageous position in the job market. However, I have two main concerns.
1. If the economy stays the way it currently is or gets worse, how long will it take me to find a job? Will employers be hiring anyone with a Master’s and no work experience? Would it be better to have a Bachelor’s, since employers can hire you for less (and likely doing similar work, since I’ll have minimal job experience regardless of which degree I have – does that give them more incentive to hire the cheaper labor?).
2. I will either have student loans to pay off OR zero savings, or possibly both upon finishing graduate school and moving to Chicago. Now that I’ve gotten used to having an emergency fund, the idea of moving somewhere with no backup plan is more than a little worrisome for me.
What are your thoughts?
What would you do?
I’ll post more updates on this over the next few months as I get more straightened out!