Today there is a good faith question of whether a master’s degree is worthwhile. The world has changed much since the advent of the internet and the dominance of Information Technology. The role of formal education has changed as has the methods and subject matter involved. For many people, and this may include most people in the US, there is a strong case that there are good reasons to save your money and not get a master’s degree.
1. The World Has Changed, the Master’s Has not Kept Pace
Prior to the Information Age, there was a consistent model for personal success in the US and most of the advanced western nations. It involved educational attainment as the foundation; the formula usually included a basic degree and an advanced degree such as a master’s degree. For most fields the master’s degree was the terminal level needed for career development; schools reserved the doctoral level for those who wished to teach or do advanced research. The evolution of the Internet and Smart Technology has changed this formula; it brought a seismic shift in the educational paradigm. Simply stated, the time spent pursuing degrees might better be spent building businesses and achieving real-world success.
2. The Clinical Studies Admission
Master’s education does not prepare students for leadership; it followed a model of a career employee. Employment by a single or even a series of employers is a rare thing today. Success depends on the ability to work as an employee, a contract employee, a contractor, and an independent business. Success also depends on the ability to acquire new skills and knowledge quickly. One can find convenient examples. Compare a bright programmer who works on an open source project that turns into Ruby on Rails with an equally able student who studies programming and Information Technology in a classroom-based setting. The open source development experience might provide far more skills, useable information, and contacts than a similar period attempting to get high grades to impress a future employer. That employer might be far more interested in the Ruby on Rails candidate. To compensate, master’s programs emphasize clinical education in real world settings. This is an admission that the value of education is far greater when done in a real world setting.
3. Education is Too Expensive
The costs of a four-year degree in the US are prohibitive for those who wish to avoid burdensome levels of debt. Once committed, the debt burden replaces other life goals and pursuits. The US educational system short circuits creative ambitions by placing graduates in the untenable position of needing to work to pay education debt rather than pursue the careers for which they trained. In many countries it is different, Germany and Finland are two nations that lead the US in educational attainment, and that offer no-cost college level education.
4. US Education Favors Financial Interests
The owners of student debt have gained a remarkable level of economic control and leverage in the US. The total of student debt has reached the sobering figure of $1.2 trillion. Control of the debt has fallen into the hands of finance companies and collection agencies that had no stake in the original loans. The default protections have removed the risk for lenders, but students cannot escape the debt burden. For some people, the accumulated interest and penalties provided by law and regulation far exceed the amounts they borrowed.
5. Success comes to the Successful
The financial news brings stories and examples of business leaders that have emerged from the seas of e-commerce, communication, social media, and other fairly recent forms of doing business spawned by the internet and information technology. Markets extend to the reach of the internet and the rewards go to those who can meet the demands of changing business relationships. Outsourcing creates opportunities for lean and agile businesses. Customer satisfaction has replaced more altruistic models of excellence, and formal education seems like a sidebar to the inviting flow of business.
6. Business Leaders Are Self-Made
Formal education was once a requirement for leadership; today corporate leadership selects educated people to follow rather than lead. They provide the corporate infrastructure for digesting data and turning it into products and services and management information. One cannot easily teach premium skills in classroom settings. Qualities in demand such as innovation and vision, seem as much to be innate and sharpened by experience as acquired by classroom study. The growth of clinical experience in education is a necessary compromise to keep formal education relevant to the needs of business.
7. Starting a Business Is Better
Micro businesses, small businesses, and IPO’s are various stages of beginning a business. Research projects lead to a formal organization to exploit the products of experiments and innovation. There are many exceptionally effective ways to begin and grow a business. The global marketplace provides opportunities not limited by geography.