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Posted: 3/23/2006 3:04:24 AM EDT
I am coming up on the last year of my Mech. Engineering undergrad degree. For those of you that attended grad school, did you go right after college or work first? If you had it to do over again would you do the same? Any advice would be appreciated.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 4:27:26 AM EDT
Do it now while you are still used to having no money, and have no serious complications in your life; i.e. job, wife, children, mortgage, etc.

The only exception to this is if your new employer will pay for a degree program.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 4:43:22 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/23/2006 4:57:20 AM EDT by PBIR]
My wife worked for a year as a tech in the field she was going into before she went to grad school. It gave her an advantage b/c she was already familiar with a good percentage of info covered on the application side and some on the theory side. If you have an opportunity like that it couldn't hurt.


ETA: I did not consider your degree field. With something like ME I agree with the others that going now would be a better idea.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 4:46:40 AM EDT
my dad got his ME degree, and wanted to go for his master's; however, marriage and divorce prevented him from going back.

get it now - if you can.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 4:50:07 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/23/2006 4:50:53 AM EDT by Usafwolfe]
I'm a ME, and yes I recommend going to Grad School now while it is all still fresh in your mind. I have waited four years and have just started back at Grad School, it is tough to recall all the details that you have forgotten over the years.

Good luck in whatever you decide.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 4:51:38 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/23/2006 4:52:11 AM EDT by HardShell]

Originally Posted By Chas:
Do it now while you are still used to having no money, and have no serious complications in your life; i.e. job, wife, children, mortgage, etc...



+1


Originally Posted By Chas:
... The only exception to this is if your new employer will pay for a degree program.



My Dad is VP/Regional Mgr. of a very large consulting engineering firm, which pays for its engineers to get their Masters. He still encourages them to do it early on and get it behind them.

FWIW, I have two Master's degrees (neither in engineering) and I did them both while working full time, but before I had a child. (Then my son came along and put my PhD on "indefinite hold." )
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 4:57:10 AM EDT
I'm a ME. I went directly from graduation to business school for my MBA. No break. If I would have taken a break, I likely would not have gone back at all.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 5:05:22 AM EDT
I worked two years, then went back part-time to get my MA. It took four years of work part-time to get it done. At the end of the process I got married, which made it even more difficult to finish. With children, I'd have never finished for sure. Do it now if you can...while things are still fresh from your undergrad work. The other thing I noticed after having worked for a few years, was that the academic environment no longer seemed very "real" to me...kinda mickey mouse. Made it more difficult to take school seriously.

dvo
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 5:20:05 AM EDT
I'm a first year married grad student in a PhD program and I have a mortgage. Not trying to toot my own horn but it can be done. It took me 6 years to get through undergrad with all of the major changes and school transfers I had. Then I took a year off to get an internship in my area of study. I personally think that I am much better prepared than my peers who came straight out of undergrad. I think part of it is maturity and part of it is the extra experience I acquired in the internship. If no internships are available you should probably go straight in or as others have mentioned get a job where the employer will pay for your schooling. I personally feel that in the not too distant future a Masters degree will be required for certain areas in order to get a job and it is better to be prepared going in.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 6:42:58 AM EDT
I'd probably do it now. It is so much easier to do the workload required to get a MS now. The only thing that would stop me is if the job market in your field is really hot and you can make big money going to work right now.

Definitely get a Masters in engineering. I am not sure how much sense a PhD makes unless there is a good indiustry application for the degree. Universities are highly into PC and they would much rather hire a minority or woman for professor jobs.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 6:46:03 AM EDT
3 years out of college and I'm just now going back to grad school. I recommend you do it right after.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 7:13:13 AM EDT
It depends on the type of grad school.

If it's a technical field like engineering, then there's probably a lot to be said for doing it sooner after your undergrad, so the technical knowledge is still fresh in your mind.

For degrees like MBA's however, schools tend to prefer at least 3-5 years of work experience in the students they admit, and it really makes a difference to have some real-world experience before coming back for a degree like that.

For a Ph.D., I'd definitely recommend going straight through, because I cannot imagine giving up a good income to become an impovrished student for another five to six years.



But, different people do different things, and what works for some will be impossible for other.

Link Posted: 3/23/2006 9:37:42 AM EDT
Thanks for the info guys. Now all I need is a better GPA
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 9:41:05 AM EDT

Originally Posted By JasonD:
Thanks for the info guys. Now all I need is a better GPA



Same here, Computer Engineering @ UIllinois is destroying my morale.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 10:05:29 AM EDT
I received my degree in Electrical Engineering got a job and immediately started working on my MBA, witch they paid for. As soon as I finished my MBA I started studying for my PE licence. I would recommend getting everything as soon as possible because you are used to the school thing and do not have to get back into the routine of studding and working on reports.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 10:31:06 AM EDT

Originally Posted By AUBURN_ENGINEER:
I received my degree in Electrical Engineering got a job and immediately started working on my MBA, witch they paid for.



Engineering + MBA is a great combination.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 10:33:19 AM EDT

Originally Posted By JasonD:
I am coming up on the last year of my Mech. Engineering undergrad degree. For those of you that attended grad school, did you go right after college or work first? If you had it to do over again would you do the same? Any advice would be appreciated.



There are advantages and disadvantages.

Going now:

You don't have the worry of work, family, mortgage, etc on your head. You don't have as many demands on your time from family. Persuing an advanced degree combined with the pressures of work and family is no picnic.

Going after you are working:

You have more money available and may have some practical experience that might prove valuable in helping you get through the program.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 10:38:06 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/23/2006 10:38:48 AM EDT by DK-Prof]

Originally Posted By John_Wayne777:

Originally Posted By JasonD:
I am coming up on the last year of my Mech. Engineering undergrad degree. For those of you that attended grad school, did you go right after college or work first? If you had it to do over again would you do the same? Any advice would be appreciated.



There are advantages and disadvantages.

Going now:

You don't have the worry of work, family, mortgage, etc on your head. You don't have as many demands on your time from family. Persuing an advanced degree combined with the pressures of work and family is no picnic.

Going after you are working:

You have more money available and may have some practical experience that might prove valuable in helping you get through the program.



Also a slight thing to consider, for those than are considering MBA degrees (I mentioned it briefly above), but wanted to make sure I was clear.

Most of the highly ranked (say top 20) MBA programs in the country will not really seriously consider applications from people with less than 3 years work experience (for a variety of reasons). Granted, some programs are having trouble attracting MBA students in the same numbers they could just a few years ago, so they are being less selective - so they might be willing to be a little more flexible.

But still, as a general rule - if you want to get into a nationally ranked top MBA program, you pretty much must have some work experience.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 6:20:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Chas:
Do it now while you are still used to having no money, and have no serious complications in your life; i.e. job, wife, children, mortgage, etc.

The only exception to this is if your new employer will pay for a degree program.



+1
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 6:30:20 PM EDT
Go to grad school right away for the reasons listed above. Just one bit of advice - when you choose an advisor, make sure to let them know what your intentions are. If you want to go into industry, make sure you pick a project with practical applications.

I made sure to let my advisor know up front, did an internship and got a job in industry doing exactly what I wanted to do, making good money. Had a friend who wanted to get through grad school as fast as possible in order to get "Dr." in front of their name and so they did a mathematical modeling project of some obscure process and to date, this person's only work experience has been in a retail clothing store as a sales associate. Talk about a waste of a degree....
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 8:28:21 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/23/2006 8:29:14 PM EDT by HuskerTanker]
Get some work experience before grad school if you're going for an MBA. I did, and the work experience helped me get accepted at Kellogg. Today my salary is 2.6 times higher than my pre-MBA days working an a manufacturing engineer.

Work experience gives you an edge in the job market as well. I've hired @ 16 software or electrical engineers and those that had work experience and a master's degree got better offer packages. One candidate that had an MS degree but no work experience turned down an offer - guess that person felt we didn't offer enough $.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 8:42:34 PM EDT
I really want to get my technical graduate degree but by the time I got my B.S. I was burnt out on school, and had a great paying job offer. I'm trying to decide what to do next with my life now, it's been a year.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 8:51:08 PM EDT
Just beware the "been to grad school so I now know everything" attitude when it comes time for a job. Credibility is not something that an engineer can obtain from a classroom.



Link Posted: 3/24/2006 4:58:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By HuskerTanker:
Get some work experience before grad school if you're going for an MBA. I did, and the work experience helped me get accepted at Kellogg. Today my salary is 2.6 times higher than my pre-MBA days working an a manufacturing engineer.



You went to Kellogg? Kick ass! When were you there?
Link Posted: 3/24/2006 5:02:43 AM EDT
I'm in grad school.

Best part: Tutoring/Dating cute fully legal undergrads while I'm still not old enough to be 'the creepy guy'....

Worst part: getting fat and slow. In my program (Int'l Security), you have three things to do in your waking hours: read, read some more, and write. I planned on going into the military after grad school, but I think the only uniform I'll fit into when I'm done is a college mascot's. I try and hit gym once a day, but when it comes down to reading some more or working out, I gotta read some more. Grad school is expensive, and I'm making teh most of it.

You gotta do a cost benifit analysis. Where I'm headed (either intel or defense analysis) without either mil expierience or a grad degree, it's hard to get ahead.
Link Posted: 3/24/2006 6:02:40 AM EDT
I was there from January 1999 through June 2001 - TMP program
Link Posted: 3/24/2006 9:35:49 AM EDT
I left in 1998, so we didn't quite overlap.

Link Posted: 3/24/2006 9:46:28 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/24/2006 9:46:58 AM EDT by jthuang]

Originally Posted By Chas:
Do it now while you are still used to having no money, and have no serious complications in your life; i.e. job, wife, children, mortgage, etc.

The only exception to this is if your new employer will pay for a degree program.



Yep ... I went straight through. Spouse, mortgage, job and kids will take up a ton of your time. That time could be spent on schoolwork.

1990 High School
1994 BS EE and BS Econ
1997 JD

The only thing that sucks is the mountain of debt (if you finance the whole thing thru loans, like I did) when you finally graduate!
Link Posted: 3/24/2006 10:10:56 AM EDT
Question for DK-Prof: how good or bad would you rate the Maryland MBA program?
Link Posted: 3/24/2006 1:49:28 PM EDT

Particularly with a good degree like engineering, go work first. You might even find a company that will pay some or all of your tuition to earn a Master's later on.

Jim
Link Posted: 3/24/2006 3:41:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By GunLvrPHD:
Question for DK-Prof: how good or bad would you rate the Maryland MBA program?



Off the top of my head, I don't remember where they are in the various rankings (like Business Week, Financial Times, etc.), but I consider Maryland to be one of the better MBA programs. It's one of those really really good schools that will probably never make it into the Top 10 of MBA programs, but is solidly in the top 25-30.

The MBA rankings (particularly Business week) are a little quirky, since there are always some schools that dominate the top 5-10 spots, like Kellogg, Harvard, Michigan, Wharton and Chicago - and then there's a whole host of really good schools that bounce around in the 10-30 range, and Maryland definitely seems to be among those. Often, it's pretty hard to tell the difference between a school ranked 18 and a school ranked 27, for example - and schools can "bounce" around in the group quite a bit from year to year.

I know that Maryland got a new dean back around 1998 or so, and it really seems to have been a good development for the school, and has allowed them to focus their strategy and try to develop more of a niche market.

Overall, I'd definitely say that Maryland's MBA is among the better ones in the country, no doubt.

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