My wife was having a work meeting and they mentioned the value of The Yellow Ribbon program. That’s a military GI Bill benefit that can be used to pay for a child’s college education. Just when I think I understand most of the military benefits there’s something new. The Yellow Ribbon program deserves its own article, but that’s not what I wanted to get into.
As I was looking at schools that supported the Yellow Ribbon program, I saw that a number of them covered graduate and law schools. As a parent of a 3 and a 4 year old, the idea of affording college itself is entering our focus. I hadn’t even considered post-undergraduate studies. I like it that way, because… well I’m the parent of a 3 and a 4 year old. It feels like the time I presumed I would be able to teach them to speak Mandarin by age 2 despite the fact that I haven’t learned a word in 40 years.
It got me thinking…
What is the value of a graduate education?
My initial reaction is that it isn’t worth much. I don’t feel like I’m using my undergraduate degrees of Computer Science and Linguistics, even though they they are highly relevant to writing online. Also, IBM is happy to hire you without a college degree. However, as I look at my closest circle of friends, there are lawyers, doctors, director-level management and more. They all advanced degrees. I would also wager they make serious money… perhaps 6-figure number that starts with a crooked digit. Clearly, a post-undergraduate education meant a lot for them.
It seems that it all depends on what you are going to do with the degree afterward. Fortunately Business Insider has the the most useful graduate degrees and the the most useless graduate degrees (I noted lots of computer science in the later).
I think life’s twists and turns will lead the way… or as some like to call it, fate. There was a time when I looked into graduate school myself. I had my eye on a very select computational linguistics program at Carnegie Mellon. I flew there to meet with the staff and they were shocked that I made it through 3 feet of snow to see them… but not shocked enough to accept my application. It could have been that I wasn’t the best interviewer. It could have been that my GRE scores were disappointing. Unfortunately Preped didn’t exist back then when I needed it. I would have loved to have an app to help me with my GREs… I’m not a book/pen/paper person.
My biggest takeaway in thinking about this is that there’s a limit to how much advanced planning you can do. That’s a fundamental paradox of saving for very large education expenses. You never know how much you’ll need, if you need anything at all. It feels like the ultimate crap shoot. College is a big enough crap shoot without trying to figure out saving for graduate school at this point. I’ll settle for being mindful about whether it could potentially be a good idea when we get there.