Is A Master’s Degree Worth It?

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Before My MBA

When I was 10 years old, I wanted to be in the NBA. This is a pretty common dream for a lot of boys around the world. As I got older, I started to understand the odds of making a living playing professional basketball were against me. Then I wanted to skateboard for a living but I just liked wearing the clothes more than skating. You’ll frequently see me with DC Shoes.

Up until the week before I graduated from college, I was unsure about what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be.

I spent a year wandering the wasteland of the Midwest and asking a lot of questions. My parents got to the point where they finally said I needed to go to India and find myself or pursue a master’s degree.

A master’s degree? Me?

I’m the guy in high school who would turn off computers but turn up the speakers to full volume. I’m the guy in college who would give a fake name (Zach Rost) to RAs when I ditched chapel. I’m the guy who pretended to not speak English for a whole semester so I didn’t have to participate in class.

Going For It

Time continued to slip away and I decided to pursue an MBA. I kept getting spam emails from Wright State University and Urbana University about their MBA programs. I just needed a final push to apply. There were a few deciding factors that led me to the academic gates:

  • I watched a Jenna Marbles video where she hugged her master’s degree. If she could do it, so could I.
  • My dad started on his MBA in the 80s but couldn’t finish because we moved to Ohio.
  • I spent a lot of time watching the Office, and David Wallace is my favorite character. He also has an MBA (I understand he is a fictional character).
  • As an introvert, it’s a lot harder to make friends when you aren’t forced to play sports or see the same people every day.

I want to be extremely clear; I knew nothing about business. Wright State University was close, cheap, and well praised for its MBA program. Business is also a general field that can be applied to everything. So I filled out an application and took the GMAT (it’s an entrance exam that requires a minimum score for entry into business school).

I submitted my materials and completely forgot about it until I received an acceptance letter. I was ready to move and start a new life somewhere else, but now I had to go back to school, right?

Surprisingly, I had an adviser who told me I would never finish the MBA program in one year without previously having any undergraduate business classes. I don’t want to throw him under the bus, but let’s just say when I graduated one year later… he had not been employed there for months.

The professors were incredibly engaging and really seemed to care about what we thought instead of telling us what to think. They all understood we either had other classes and full-time jobs.

Does It Help?

What most people are wondering is if having an MBA actually helps improve job prospects or internal promotion?

Yes and no. I had a few forces working against me that most MBA graduates did not. I was young, inexperienced, and not at an Ivy League school.

There are very few companies that will let a young postgraduate direct, lead, or innovate their company. Even though I was employed as a substitute teacher while I finished my studies, showing responsibility is hard to do on a resume.

I laugh when I see entry-level job postings that require five years of experience. FIVE YEARS? At that time, five years earlier would’ve meant that I was learning how to do the laundry. And for a lot of people who obtained their MBA while employed, the employers wanted them to work a few more years until they were promoted (a promotion they would probably get regardless of a master’s degree).

Please, don’t expect to get a big job offer or signing bonus because you have an MBA. Unless you’re a genius with economics or graduated with top honors from Harvard or Penn, there’s a good chance you’ll still have to get a job only making $30,000/year.

What It Did For Me

It’s hard to say anything without sounding cheesy or cliché. Besides people being extremely impressed, it didn’t do anything for me at first. Either employers rejected me because I was inexperienced or over-qualified. Yes, that’s a real thing. Some of the managers at the lower-level positions thought I would work there until I found something better.

Well, they were right so good call.

Now, I can’t stop reading and staying current on markets and business trends. I work a job that allows me to put my skills to good use, and sometimes it still impresses people… just not my wife. She frequently catches me talking to pizza hot pockets before I pop them in the microwave.

Verdict

I’m glad I decided to attend graduate school when I did. I was young (still am) and really couldn’t do much with my master’s degree, but now I just feel old and tired (here comes the groans from everyone older than me).

I do not suggest getting a master’s degree if you’re bored or looking for friends. There are much more fun and cheap ways to do that. For me, business ended up being a passion of mine, but not everyone is lucky. I love learning about economics, supply chain, management theory, and accounting.

An MBA could increase your earnings, and in the long run probably will, but not right away. A master’s is an investment, not a magic wand. While my degree makes a fancy food tray, the experience is everything you choose to get out of it. Get to know your professors and take advantage of all the free resources. Network and build relationships!

I’m finally pursuing what I want to do: working from home for myself. Having an MBA has definitely helped in my endeavor and hopefully I can use it to help others, too.

So I didn’t make the X-Games or the NBA, but I received a new passion and an MBA.

4 thoughts on “Is A Master’s Degree Worth It?

    • Thanks, CJ! Honestly, it feels like we were the last generation who were told “you have to go to college.” Today, I would’ve waited for undergrad, but I’m glad I got my master’s when I did.

  1. Pingback: What To Know Before You Start Your MBA | Eric Chisholm

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