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Good Job now vs. TA position and Master's

  1. Apr 1, 2009 #1
    I'm really stuck here and trying to find some advice here. I am graduating on May 1st with my BSEE from a good engineering school. I have a 3 job offers and I also have a TA offer. I had originally planned to attend graduate school to achieve at least my Master's degree with a desire to go for a PhD if feasible with a focus in digital signal processing and array processing.

    The TA offer is from my current school and includes an entire tuition waiver plus a small stipend. Out of my my 3 job offers, I got my top choice which is in the field of interest to me and what I wanted to study in graduate school. The pay is very good and they also will pay for tuition and books for me to attend part time graduate school up to a PhD (distance learning or at the local university). The local university is small and obscure but has a good department in ECE due to the area (high tech area and large military base supporting the area).

    Also I am a finalist for a national SMART fellowship (which would be my top choice obviously). ASEE and SMART have not announced awards yet and I have to make a decision soon. If I receive this I will take this clearly, but I am assuming I will not because I don't want to get stuck without a plan.

    So I guess what I am wondering and stuck on is how do I choose what to do. If the economy didn't suck so bad right now I would be very inclined to go with grad school but I am worried about how available jobs will be in 1-1.5 years due to budget issues. On that same note, if I take the job will it be cut in 1-1.5 years. I feel that this job will not be cut because this company treats their employees very well (I interned there for a summer).

    I already have about $20k in student loans and a small amount of debt so finances are an issue too. Plus, I was active duty in the military so I am also older and that effects my decision as well. I do not ever want to be stuck in a position like I was in the military though where my lack of education was holding opportunities from me.

    I know that spending 1-1.5 years I can get a Master's which equals an approximate starting salary of about $10k more than what I have seen so far on average. I would probably have to get another $10k in loans to pay for that much time too though.

    I don't know and I have to decide within a week for the job offer. Has anyone made a decision like this in the past few years? I can't talk to the professors because they just tell me to go to grad school, my friends in industry say go to work, and my family tells me to do what I want! I guess it is just the engineer in me trying to optimize my position and make the best decision :tongue2: Thanks in advance for any advice, words of wisdom and even just listening to me!
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 1, 2009 #2


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    The good news is that it seems like you've positioned yourself into a stituation where you have to choose between multiple good options.

    1-1.5 years for finishing a master's degree seems a little optimistic. You may want to nudge this up to at least 2 in your decision. (It is possible to finish earlier, but I wouldn't count on it.)

    In the long run, if your goal is to get a Ph.D., I would opt for graduate school. If on the other hand, you want a graduate degree to earn a little more money, I would take the job and pursue the master's degree part time. The Ph.D. avenue will always be open although, it will be harder to pursue it once you're used to real world pay.
  4. Apr 2, 2009 #3
    I am just about to finish a part time MS in Quant Finance. It took me 3 years since I took one semester off, and I had to take two semesters (one class per semester, though) of "leveling" courses since my undergrad and previous grad degrees were in mathematics, not finance/business. The part time MS is not a bad deal at all, IMO.

    However, heed what Choppy says about the PhD path. I'd love to do a PhD right now, but with a GTA stipend, I'd take an 80% pay cut. Not something I really want to do with a wife and kiddo at home. I'm considering the part time PhD thing, but I know that's really discouraged.
  5. Apr 2, 2009 #4
    Thanks for the input!

    Also, I just read my previous post and want to apologize for how bad the grammar was in that post. I guess that is what happens when can't sleep and post on the internet at 3AM.

    Anyways, I made my decision and am going to go with the TA position. I got the actual offer and the stipend was $20k and it included health benefits instead of the $12k I was told originally. This was much better than I planned and made my financial responsibilities much more manageable.

    I planned for 1-1.5 years because my school has a dual-enrollment graduate program. So I have already taken 6 credits of graduate classes that counted towards my BSEE and my graduate studies.
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