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"Should I pursue an advanced degree?"

In a message dated 11/6/2009 1:21:39 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,  a student writes:

Dr. Bill,
Recently someone suggested that after I get my bachelors degree that I should consider going for an MA or Doctoral degree.
To be completely honest I was not even planning to go to college after High School.  I wanted to go to a technical trade school for Automotive. But luckily my ex-girlfriend's family convinced me to try out a year at the university and I have been loving it ever since. As an interpreter are there any advantages of getting an MA or doctoral degree in Deaf Studies?
-- Name on file

Dear Student,

As a terp? No there isn't a strong benefit to holding a masters or doctoral degree.
Looking 25 years down the road--when your arms wear out--yes it is nice to have a few letters after your name.

However, advanced degrees may be totally worthless to you and a waste of time. (Really, I'm being serious here.)

If you are financially disciplined as a terp and set up your own 401K and other retirement planning so that when your arms wear out you will have already amassed sufficient resources on which to retire, then you have no need for advanced degrees.

If you get a chance borrow the book "The Millionaire Next Door" from the library, if you aren't into reading that kind of thing you order an audio version from You will see from that book that realistically, a degree is not necessarily the answer. (

Ask yourself if there are any "causes" you plan on fighting for during your life. If so, an advanced degree can help you "fight harder" in some ways. Then again, chasing a degree and "failing" to get it can mean two or three wasted years of your life (financially) and can leave you wracked with debt $30K and up, not to mention the opportunity cost of lost wages that you could have been earning instead studying.

Thus for you I'd recommend going for advanced degrees if:
1. You need a place to "hang out" prior to deciding what you want to "really" do with your life.
2. You can get into a free program (scholarships, grants) without excessive loans.
3. You don't think you can discipline yourself to save for retirement as a freelance terp.
4. You like the idea of teaching and the schedule of an educator appeals to you.
5. Your social network is something you can put on hold. (Will you lose a girlfriend who is a "keeper" and could have been "the one"? Will your parents die while you are off chasing a degree?)
6. You enjoy studying.
Dr. V




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