Making School Worth It

I’ve written about how one of my big financial and personal goals is to go back to school in 2014.

I already have a honours and a masters, but for the past three years I’ve been thinking (re: worrying/obsessing/compulsively researching) a lot about going back to school. Specifically whether or not a return to school- with the up-front costs, opportunity costs and time away from the workforce- would be worth it for me; would it provide me with more job opportunities, more growth opportunities and command a higher salary.

Despite my perhaps maladaptive research patterns- the decision to go back to school is also a very personal one. You shouldn’t just be considering cost, but instead interest in the field, lifestyle, the opportunities it will provide you or your family. So what I’m saying is try not to be like me and hope to find the big answers to life at the end of a 4-10 hour Google search on ‘job prospects in x field’, but know also that a little bit of research is a very good call.

I came across a very interesting tool to help with this research through the great folks at Lifehacker. Learnvest has a Grad School Calculator!

This was posted in 2012, so perhaps its a little off, but in general it helps you look at the difference in lifetime salary between your current job and debt levels, and a future potential salary and added debt if you were to go back to school. I think it’s compelling because it does take future student loans into account, which I think sometimes is very easy to forget when people talk about entering a professional program such as law or medicine.

With the Grad School Calculator for example:

Graduate School

  • 2 year program
  • $10,000 tuition and books, paid for with my savings
  • Work part-time during school, est. $22,000/year
  • Estimate first job after school at $60,000/year
  • Lifetime potential salary: $2, 176,011
  • Minimum debt payments $477/month for three years to be debt-free

VS Current salary

  • $42,000/year
  • irregular raises
  • Lifetime potential salary: $1,634,188
  • Same debt payments 

This estimates my lifetime salary will be $541,823 more going to grad school.

Medical School

  • Three year program
  • Estimate $45,000 tuition and books, plus living expenses of estimate $20,000/ year for three years
  • Estimate first job after graduation: $100,000/year with regular raises (this would be a low-ball of a non-resident salary, although this doesn’t take into account the 2-5 years residency training where you are on average paid $50-80,000/year)
  • Lifetime potential salary: $2,800,199
  • Minimum debt payments: $1,313 for ten years to clear all student debt

VS Current salary

  • $42,000/year
  • irregular raises
  • Lifetime potential salary: $1,634,188
  • Minimum debt payments: $477/year for three years to clear all student debt

This estimates my lifetime salary will be $1,166,011 more by going to medical school. 

Interesting food for thought.

Check it out if you are thinking about going back to school!

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