Why getting a masters degree may be an answer to a problem that does not exist

I fully expect that some of you will see this title and read this post and vehemently disagree with me.  That is ok.  My intent is to help some of you think more clearly about why an advanced degree is of value and when it may not be as valuable.  My opinions are my own and the last time I checked we lived in a country where free speech was still the law.  With this premise in mind, here goes.

You first need to know that I not only have one masters degree, but I have two.  I obtained my MBA in 1987 and my M.Ed. in 1996.  My BS was earned in 1981.  I give you the dates because it will figure into my assumptions as I move through this discussion.

If you can handle basic math you will first notice that there were 6 years between my first degree and my first masters degree.  During that six year period I worked full time and attended graduate school during the evening.  This is not the only method to obtain a MBA degree, but it was the one I took.  By doing so I not only gained knowledge and some wisdom from those in the classroom and my professors, but I also had something to offer from my experience.

My second masters degree was earned in 1996.  That too was earned in the evening and on the weekends, except for one class.  My classmates were primarily like me, people who worked full time and who attended schools because they were motivated, and crazy, like me. Smile  We learned so much from our professors, not only because they possessed a Ph.D., but also because many of them consulted regularly with firms across the country and across the globe.  We had the unique opportunity to see what academics wrote in a textbook and then contrasted and compared that to our real world experiences.  This was an exhilarating and challenging time, but one I will never forget because I learned so much that I still draw upon today.

Even though my work is primarily in the executive search world, I often help young graduates network for their first job.  I enjoy the energy they bring and hope that my experience in doing some things right, and many things wrong, can be of value to them.  Quite often the question comes up about going directly into a masters program from an undergraduate program.  My answer is one that some of you will agree with and some of you may not, but it is my answer and I think there is logic in my thinking.  I advice any young person to work at least five years before they pursue any masters degree program.  Many of the young people I am talking with are being “sold” on the value of a masters degree right after their undergraduate degree.  As a former HR executive and hiring manager, I rarely saw the value in someone with that advanced degree and no relevant experience.  As I mentioned earlier, when I was in graduate school I learned so much from my classmates because they brought context into the classroom from their work experiences.  There is little or no context from a young person who has no real world work experience.  They are not bad people, they just do not have a context to pin their learning on.

I am extremely happy to have three degrees, with two of them being masters degrees.  I am more happy to know that was part of a cooperative learning environment in graduate school where I had the opportunity to gain insight not only from an academic sharing textbook information with me, but that I also had my own knowledge and experiences to share as well as learning from my peers in the classroom.

Timing is everything in learning.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Don’t be hasty and try to find the teacher before the right time arrives.

I am curious to hear your feedback on this topic.

Please let me know what you think.

My next post will talk more about why many graduating students do not have a very good concept of finding their first job.

I suspect a few of you will take issue with me there also.