One of the first things people do during a slow economy is consider hiding out in the academic world. Of course they don’t consider it hiding out. They apply to and are accepted to work on a graduate degree in the hopes that the additional degree will give them better career opportunities and that by the time they complete the degree the economy will have turned around. Graduate degrees are not always the answer. Sometimes they are a poor financial investment.
There are some occupations, psychology is one, that without an advanced degree, you can’t really work in the field in the manner you want. To be a licensed psychologist, for example, you have to have a doctorate. Even to be a licensed counselor will require a master’s degree. Careers like this, those that require a terminal degree, are not the ones in question.
The careers in question are often technology and business careers. A bachelor’s degree in computers, and then hands on, real world, experience is far more valuable than a master’s degree with no work history. Business degrees have a similar problem. One of the biggest financial mistakes you can make is to set your business career aside and work full time towards your M.B.A. Business careers cannot be successfully put on hold. While an M.B.A. is certainly desirable, get it while you are working. This allows you to continue adding to your real world knowledge and keep up your networking while furthering your academic credentials.
Before setting aside the time and placing yourself into debt for a graduate degree, make sure that it’s worth it in the long run.