opinions on grad school?

Hi- been reading this NG looking for a FAQ or posting guidelines, but haven't noticed one, so hope this doesn't violate local etiquette. I'm 3/4
done with BS in ME. Considering grad school in either materials or metallurgy. Hoping to get some opinions from a few who've done this already... My options are, 1) grad, FE,work, pay off loans, *then* do MS. 2) grad, FE, do grad school nights (if possible) while working. 3) stay in school and rack up even more debt but be (possibly) more employable when done. thanks, if you feel like replying. Of course there are a lot of factors weighing into my decision...but experienced opinions can only help the process. I don't have to decide for another half a year at least, but it's on my mind anyway. -k.Wallace
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Dear karinne:

3/4
possible)
but
Definitely not 3. Slim chance that you will be "more employable", but good chance that the working world will be a big shock.
Probably not 1. By the time you pay off your loans, you will have forgotten much of what you knew whan the loans were at maximum.
Somewhere between 2 and 1, but get the job, and couple of years of experience.
My two bits.
David A. Smith
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N:dlzc D:aol T:com (dlzc) wrote:

1.5-2 years for a master's degree won't make much difference as far as 'big shock' goes. Shock will be there either way.

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good
Not for me, luckily. I'm the 'non-traditional' eng student. Had a career (manufacturing mgmt & auditing), company folded, didn't really like the job that much anyway, had math degree, went back to school (shortest synopsis I could do). I have lots of workplace experience. On the down side, if it is one (which I doubt, actually), I'm about 12 years older than most grads will be. On the up side, since my first BS, I've owned a small business, worked in industry and manufacturing, in both production and management. I have the feeling those will be positives to any prospective employer. Re. the MS, honestly, it's more that I'm fascinated with materials- with How Stuff Breaks and Why - as much as for the added 'employability'. School is more expensive this time around, though, and I am going into a good deal of debt, so I do want my best return on my edu dollar. thanks for replies, karinne

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N:dlzc D:aol T:com (dlzc) wrote:

Is there any evidence that an MS in your chosen field will increase your employability?
Reason I ask is that in Australia each year of further education after your basic engineering degree costs you about 1-2% of starting salary.
Which, since your cohort will be seeing their wages increasing at 2% (roughly) pa, is quite a disadvantage.
YMMV
Cheers
Greg
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Dear Greg Locock:

good
Absolutely not. Neither is my field of study "materials or metallurgy", where I would *guess* that an advanced degree might present more value to an employer. Machine designers (my degree) don't seem to advance...

It is way more than that in the USA now. So they are encourgaing us to not go to school, because it doesn't pay off.

Ayefirmative.
David A. Smith
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message <snip>

In Materials, the MS would certainly help employability, but if your desired goal is "to advance" you may want to look at an MBA, especially if you can find one that is geared toward technical management. (paid for by your employer of course)
Jeff
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Jeff Lowe wrote:

Management isn't the only way to advance. Becoming a technical expert is another option that may be available.
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karinne wrote:

Trying to work then quit and go back to grad school can be difficult. Doing grad school at night will be difficult as well, but less so. Night school will take more time to complete.

I stayed in school and worked on my master's. My funding ran out before I finished my thesis so I took a job and finished it. I've also taken a few night classes to learn and keep my skills sharp.
I suggest you try to stay in school and get a master's degree. You should be able to get an assistanceship to pay tuition and help elsewhere.
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Jeff Finlayson wrote:

A masters degree is likely to be overwhelmed by events in option 1.
Option 2 will be easier if you do not quit going to school. Take one class per semester the first year to see how it goes. Some employers will pay for additional training, and even allow you to flex your schedule if only day classes are available.
If you choose option 3, do try to get an assistantship to help pay the bills.
Some schools offer a Masters of Engineering, which is a combination of class work and work experience (kind of like a co-op grad degree).
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Eric Pederson wrote:

Nice echo..

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3/4
but
have
Start working. Has several benefits right off. First, you'll have an income and will not lose out on salary increases. Having real world experience would, in my opinion, be a help while learning the theory--Then there is the likely chance that your company will pay for the after hours school, so no further increase in debt. A company, like GE, has a program that allows you to go to school on their time plus attend in-house classes with their own instructors; all leading to a Masters---- It isn't easy and generally requires about 24 homework hours a week. In many cases, the two years of experience pays off more than having the advanced degree. MLD
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At least here in the US, the vast majority of people that go to grad school full-time don't actually pay for it. Some combination of research and teaching assistantships should pay your tuition and a stipend to live on. You won't be eating at fancy restaurants on the stipend, but you won't starve either.
That said, a couple years experience before you go back to grad school would be a good thing.

3/4
but
have
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3/4
possible)
but
have
Unless you have a specific goal for that MS degree I would say go straight to work. Most employers are looking for experience, not advanced degrees and even the one's looking for advanced degrees are often looking more for managers than additional technical acumen.
When you look at the expense vs the expected payoff, graduate degrees can be difficult to justify. If you want that degree, go ahead and earn it, but do not seek that MS thinking it will open the door to riches. In most cases it won't
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I notice you say "FE" in your three options.
Why not substitute "PE" for the Master's?
In my current line of work (working for the State), a PE goes a long, long way more than a Master's in engineering. A senior engineer at work told me he got a Master's in Civil Engineering (Water Treatment) basically just to help him study for the (Chemical) PE. He wouldn't have received any special treatment at work for simply holding a Master's...
Get the FE out of the way ASAP. Find work. Then go for the PE. (You need about 2 years of work experience anyway before you can take the PE.)
*Then* think about grad school.
All the best,
Mike
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the value of a PE depends a great deal on your discipline-- for me, in medical instruments, it would have essentially zero value. Not only have I never had the need to stamp a drawing, I've never even SEEN one that had been stamped.

3/4
possible)
but
have
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"Michael" top-posted & wrote:

Similarly, a PE is not a requirement in Aerospace.
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3/4
possible)
but
have
I am absolutely going to go for my PE. From what I've been told (by an academic advisor, in my freshman year, so taken w/a grain of salt) is that credit hours towards a master's also count as PDH's. The option of 'just' staying in school is the least likely. I need to get to work as soon as I can. I think, in my discipline (mech e major) and the fields I'd *like* to work in (industry, manufacturing, automation) that the PE will be more "useful" to me, but I would also like, at some point, to go for a master's in the specific fields that really interest me. thanks, karinne
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<snipped>

Great, glad to hear it!

Going to work soon is also a great idea... provides you with $$$ to pay back the student loans...
In all likelihood, once you finish your undergrad work, you will be so mind-numbingly bored you will automatically gravitate towards grad school (or at least towards learning something new)... at least for me, the transition from the "learn-this-or-die" mind-set to the working world was akin to a sudden decrease in cabin pressure at 30,000 feet...

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k.Wallace wrote:

Whilst there may be some personal benefit in obtaining a PE (a lot of PEs seem to think that it is some step up, which given its 'tick the box, follow the rules' academic requirements seems a bit odd (I am less cynical about the strict 4 year EIT requirement, but that gets waived quite frequently now)), those three fields are exactly those where a PE is unnecessary. Companies in those areas tend to operate under the industry exemption - where stuff is not built to code for direct consumption by the public.
Oh, and unless your academic advisor has ever had a real job I wouldn't take his career advice too seriously, unless you intend to become an academic yourself.
Cheers
Greg Locock
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