Tuesday, 25 November 2008

To Postgrad Or Not To Postgrad, That Is The Question.

(Apologies to Bill Shakespeare for my paraphrasing.)

I've just completed an Executive Certificate in Marketing Management through work, which I really enjoyed (especially as work paid for it in both course costs and actually running the course on site during work hours – sweet!)

It’s got me thinking about continuing my studies. I had commenced an undergrad before this opportunity presented itself, but my course through work was at a post grad/MBA level and I did OK, well even.

I’d really like to go after a Masters in Marketing, as I think the next few steps of my career will require tertiary education as well as experience, so it’s now or never really.

I've got myself booked in to an information evening next month to find out more about it from lecturers and speak to current and recently graduated students about what the workload is like, as I’ll be working full time as well as studying.

The big question though is the cost. I’d be looking at approx $2,588 a subject, and I’d have to complete 11 subjects (as I've already completed one subject), so that’s $28,468 over the life of the Masters or $9,490 a year (assuming two subjects a semester and two semesters a year).

That’s $791 a month I’d need to find in my budget each month to pay for it upfront.

Alternatively, I can pay a 20% surcharge and have 8% of my salary deducted each month (the joy of HECS/Fee-HELP) until the total amount is paid off. 20% equates to $5,694 though, which is a lot of surcharge, so I’m leaning towards paying upfront.

The other two things with paying upfront are:

  • I can ask work to contribute up to $3,000 per calendar year, which could reduce my outgoings by $9,000 over the life of the course, and would mean I’d only need to find $541 a month in the budget.
  • The other is the course fees are tax deductible, which could also help pay for things as my annual taxable salary would be effectively reduced by $6,490 (after the $3,000 I’d get back from work) which would push me down a tax bracket.

I was in a meeting with our ad agency yesterday and they showed us reports that MBA applications have gone through the roof, which is an unforeseen side effect of the global financial crisis.

People are investing in themselves rather than the stock market it seems.

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  1. Keep in mind those "information meetings" are sales pitches, and they're not going to show you the guy who spent all the money on the degree and is still in your same job.

    You need to talk to people whose opinions matter: people who are senior to you in your field, your mentors, anyone who will listen. In some fields, degrees like that matter, in some they don't. In some they might if your other quals are iffy. This is a big decision, and you need more data than an information meeting. You need data specific to *you*!

  2. I say go for it. Education is always useful. Other options include paying some subjects upfront and using HECS for other subjects. There is a 10% bonus for paying extra lump sums of $500 towards HECS. ie, you pay lump sum $500, and $550 comes off the HECS debt.

  3. I'm big on investing in yourself, it gives you more choices in the long run and education or experience can never be taken away from you. If it's something you enjoy doing then it's moving you towards more satisfying work, check out a few similar courses so you can compare, but I reckon go for it!

    personally I'd put it on HECS, one reason I chose to do it that way is that if anything happens to me my family don't get left with a debt to pay off, and the repayment rate is very reasonable, unlike most loans.

  4. I agree with the commenters who support investing in your education. I especially think a Masters in Marketing should post some pretty good returns -- that is, you can definitely market a MA in marketing. And if you are certain that it is something you are interested in, there is no sense in waiting!

  5. I believe that an investment in education has to be viewed from more than just a dollars and cents vantage point. Education expands and enriches life far more than the bottom line might sometimes indicate, and it offers insurance of other benefits as well. Yeah, the school is selling their program to you, but view every aspect of it... beyond the calculator and the pretty brochure.
    Good luck!