Diminishing returns on education?

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alohabear
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Diminishing returns on education?

Postby alohabear » Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:12 pm

I'm trying to work out a cost-benefit analysis for going back to school. I've already completed an undergrad and graduate degree, but am thinking of going back for more. For those who do a lot of hiring, at what point does a candidate's education level become less relevant in your decision to hire or promote someone? Are there diminishing returns on formal education when it comes to career advancement? At what point does number of years of experience trump additional education?

jdmartin
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Re: Diminishing returns on education?

Postby jdmartin » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:58 am

Great question. I've hired a lot of people but no one with more education than me (I'm ABD in my doctorate, and should be done in a few months).

My experience hiring people is that beyond a graduate degree is going to be marginally useful unless the field is heavy research or education. Outside of that, if you're talking corporate world, I doubt you have much to gain (finance-wise) by getting a higher degree. If you're just doing it for your own purposes, however, I never believe education is wasted. I spent almost half my life in school, most of it while also holding down full-time work, and I've never regretted any of it.

For professional jobs, once you have the "membership card" of the required degree, experience almost always trumps a little higher degree.
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brad
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Re: Diminishing returns on education?

Postby brad » Tue Sep 02, 2014 6:45 am

jdmartin wrote:For professional jobs, once you have the "membership card" of the required degree, experience almost always trumps a little higher degree.


I agree. It really depends on what field you're in: some fields place a lot of value on advanced degrees, while others place little. I only have a B.A. but I've been hired over people with PhDs and Master's degrees, and I earn more than many people in my company with more advanced degrees. But that's because I have 25 years of experience in my field.

The main thing to research is whether people in your field with more advanced degrees get paid more or get offered better positions. If so, it could be worth it. But in most places I've worked, credentials count much less than factors like personality, experience, and good references. Personally I wouldn't want to work for an organization that requires an advanced degree, because it seems so short-sighted and rigid, unless it's a university (universities are of course in the business of perpetuating demand for advanced degrees, so it's in their best interest to require them for jobs).

alohabear
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Re: Diminishing returns on education?

Postby alohabear » Tue Sep 02, 2014 11:42 am

Thanks for the feedback. I'm in a bit of a bind with respect to advancement at work. I moved up very quickly in the early part of my career and now hold a position where my peers are 15+ years senior, which means I'm now competing for promotions with people who have 15+ years more experience. I know the advancement will come with time and more experience; however, I'm just looking for additional things to fill that time with to gain a more competitive edge.

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Re: Diminishing returns on education?

Postby brad » Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:13 am

alohabear wrote: I know the advancement will come with time and more experience; however, I'm just looking for additional things to fill that time with to gain a more competitive edge.


If it were me, I'd find something less costly to "fill that time with" that still gains you a more competitive edge. Is there an outside or freelance project you could take on? Papers you could research, write, and publish? Could you volunteer for new roles in your current job?

Another thing to consider is that not all of your colleagues with 15 years of experience may want to advance vertically in their careers: they may be happy where they are. That's certainly true in my case: I've successfully resisted all efforts to promote me for the past 15 years and have remained in my current position while just getting better at it and growing laterally. The worst possible thing that could happen to me would be a promotion; I'd be miserable in the next rung up the ladder. There might be people like that where you work too, who don't want to move up, so just because they have more experience than you doesn't mean they'll automatically be chosen over you.

But still, especially if you plan to stay in your current company or organization a long time, I think experience speaks louder than degrees -- see if you can take on new projects or additional work that you can bring to bear when asking for a promotion.

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Re: Diminishing returns on education?

Postby sadi » Thu Sep 04, 2014 3:59 am

I shouldnt be so misserable.. (im not THAT misserable) I have well paying job, saving $50.000 each year ( living in Western Europe ), but, the jobs not what I want to do my entire life, and it feels like Im never finnishing school. Hard enough to know Im 6-7 years older then most of my class mates now.. it would be 8-9 if I get accepted into the new course. Its not like Im 20 again and would be interested in dating any of them..
sadia

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Re: Diminishing returns on education?

Postby DoingHomework » Sat Sep 13, 2014 2:35 am

AB: I have a collection of degrees and also do a lot of hiring. I find your question hard to answer. I have a PhD. I understand the meaning and the value of that degree better than most people who might interview me. As elitist as it sounds, it=n my experience people have a bias against those with less education or experience than them.

I've been lucky enough not to experience it personally but have seen it with others.

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Re: Diminishing returns on education?

Postby jdmartin » Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:16 pm

DoingHomework wrote:AB: I have a collection of degrees and also do a lot of hiring. I find your question hard to answer. I have a PhD. I understand the meaning and the value of that degree better than most people who might interview me. As elitist as it sounds, it=n my experience people have a bias against those with less education or experience than them.

I've been lucky enough not to experience it personally but have seen it with others.


As someone who is wrapping up a doctorate, I agree. I like to call mine my "membership card". I teach adjunct at a major university, but until I get my "membership card" I'll never be considered for a full-time position (something I'd like to do when I retire in a few years) despite the fact that I've been teaching graduate classes for almost a decade.
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RayinPenn
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Re: Diminishing returns on education?

Postby RayinPenn » Sat Sep 20, 2014 8:03 am

I can tell without question I was hired because I have an MBA and an MS; the hiring manager was impressed. The uber educated are looked at very differently.

When asked how I managed to get two masters going to school at night. "persistence and dedication kept me going to class and intelligence made it all very doable."

Perhaps they felt those are not bad character traits to have in a potential employee.
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jdmartin
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Re: Diminishing returns on education?

Postby jdmartin » Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:20 pm

RayinPenn wrote:I can tell without question I was hired because I have an MBA and an MS; the hiring manager was impressed. The uber educated are looked at very differently.

When asked how I managed to get two masters going to school at night. "persistence and dedication kept me going to class and intelligence made it all very doable."

Perhaps they felt those are not bad character traits to have in a potential employee.


As well they should be, at least to some extent. Having completed 9+ years of college education and earned a BA, MPA, and about to receive my doctorate, all while being married, holding down full time jobs and supporting a family, it takes a hell of a lot of perseverance and dedication to come home and go to a 3 hour night class after working all day, or to stay up half the night writing term papers and then roll to work on a couple of hours of sleep. Not to complain, but just to make a point. An employee that focused is definitely someone I'd consider hiring; I'd rather hire someone that always looks to better themselves, even at the risk they'll find a better job, than someone who doesn't care to learn anything new.
"Money is better than poverty, for financial reasons" - Woody Allen

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Re: Diminishing returns on education?

Postby dumplump » Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:21 pm

alohabear wrote:I'm trying to work out a cost-benefit analysis for going back to school. I've already completed an undergrad and graduate degree, but am thinking of going back for more. For those who do a lot of hiring, at what point does a candidate's education level become less relevant in your decision to hire or promote someone? Are there diminishing returns on formal education when it comes to career advancement? At what point does number of years of experience trump additional education?


First of all from the responses I have read, none of them asked what you are trying to major in. Most majors that do not have a strong mathematical/Science foundation are worthless to spend any money on. Things like hyphenated american studies, women studies, philosophy, history, psychology, sociology, and etc. are not worth the money. For degrees that are stem related, they will have a long term benefit. I would stay away from environmental engineering, biology, and anthropology because they appear to fulfill the stem requirement, but for career prospects they are horrible. The other majors I listed are what people call BS degrees.
People forget the traditional purpose of college; it was to further one's education. There was a reason why colleges used to only be for the wealthy; they had more time than anyone else. Also back then it was more about enlightenment, not the employment mantra that has taken over today's education system. For example, there was a time when people could just take the CPA exam without all the 4 year degree BS.

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Re: Diminishing returns on education?

Postby partgypsy » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:23 pm

I think it really depends on your particular job and what the superiors are looking for regarding promotions, etc. Maybe a particular degree does factor in it, maybe it does not. I also think there are diminishing returns on investing on education when you are older (late 40's, 50), simply because you have less time for that degree to impact earnings.
I do agree supervisors do like people who are self-motivated. That could mean volunteering at work, getting certifications in your area, taking a writing course to improve writing skills, becoming a member in the society of the type of professionals you are, and attending seminars/conferences with colleagues, to both increase skill and also improve networking. Except for joining a society I have done all of those, but lately I've been a bit of a slacker and just sticking to my job.
ps I disagree with lumping in psychology with the degrees that do not have a strong science/math component. I have an advanced degree in experimental psychology; the fundamentals are all about the scientific method, research design, learning statistics, as well as often programming. Not a "lite" major. In addition I was given job offers after grad school simply from my writing ability, as one does a lot of scientific/research paper writing for this degree.


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