Musing About the Value of a Master’s Degree…

So, about a week ago, I paid off the last of my undergraduate loan (woohoo!) It was painful, considering I had no idea that I’d spent the past 5 years paying off mere interest ONLY, so Chuck and I made the decision to hit it hard and just pay it off in large chunks and eliminate the principle altogether. It stung, but at least it’s over with, and we can enjoy being officially debt-free.

But of course, now I’m thinking more than ever about my “next steps” in higher education. A master’s degree is increasingly becoming the new status quo, and I do feel the need for one, and even the desire (my own ego is at stake here, ha!) I enjoyed school, I’m more focused now, and I would like to expand my knowledge base and work my brain again. Also, any halfway decent jobs I find in this area “prefer” masters degrees (oddly enough), so I honestly think it would make me look more appealing, regardless of how much actual work experience I’ve had.

At the same time, I’m still as fuzzy as ever in knowing what to do with my life, and how much I value a big fancy career, as opposed to just working and being productive and finding happiness outside of work. As discussed before, military life makes this exponentially more difficult. If I go back to the basics (“What do you like?”), my academic interests still lie in foreign affairs, international studies, and the news. I still love that shiz! I could see myself in the CIA, or at the State Department, or at USAID… doing communications, management, planning, or policy.

But of course, those tracks require being in DC, for the most part. Otherwise, they will require travel to all kinds of “exotic” locations that are certainly not compatible with the demands of my husband’s career (you can’t have two tricky ones!!) I may not want to travel like a maniac to far corners of the earth in my 30’s anyway…

So, I’m thinking MBA lately. It may be cliche, but it’s versatile. I can use it if I go back to consulting, and I could use it if I get into hospital or university management (two things I honestly think I would enjoy, and take around with me.) It wouldn’t interest me as much as a variety of other degrees would, but it’s functional, and let’s face it – practicality trumps all at this point! It fits well into the resume I already have, and I’m sure I could use it in a government setting as well.

The other issue is COST. Ugh. I hate the idea of going back into debt – bleeding money instead of making it. School is so freaking expensive these days. I was looking at one program that charges $1500 per CREDIT HOUR. No freaking way. It was a pretty reputable school, but seriously… how low do I have to stoop so I can afford to go? Even the lower ranked schools cost a small fortune 😦

Anyways, as always – just trying to figure out and balance what I want vs. what I need vs. what I should do vs. what Icando vs. what I actually care and don’t care about.  I don’t know why I still try so hard to have a life plan – I should probably just continue to wing it – throw caution to the wind and trust that I’m smart and will get by no matter what winds come our way. Life doesn’t always have to be so by the book…

I mean hey, it’s worked so far, right?

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