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How to decide which path to take next? (JD, MBA, MS)

srussell09srussell09 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
edited February 2012 in Graduate School
I am an undergrad student, 3rd year in college and still have a couple years before I get my bachelors because it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do and I worked full time. I am going to obtain an MIS (Management Information Systems) degree which is something I am interested and believe is a good degree/industry.

The thing I want to start thinking about, though, is what to do after. I originally though I would get this degree and then maybe master in IT/IS or something like that but I've talked with people, advisers and people in that industry and they say the time and effort going into this may not be THAT beneficial which I tend to agree with. So then I was convinced I would graduate, go work for a couple years and then go get my MBA or even go straight into the program because I would prefer to do all of my schooling at once rather than come back later. Then I did more research and found out that getting an MBA right after undergrad isn't recommended unless you go to really good school, like top ten. Most programs want lots of relevant work experience...ect.

So recently I have been looking at a JD degree, which seems like a great option, a good degree and a decent match. My question is though, if I don't necessarily want to practice law, is this degree beneficial/helpful in other career choice other than just Law? Maybe for consulting, business, and that kind of thing. Also, which degree would be most effective on the job market, not taking the prestige of a certain school or top ten kind of program into consideration because I have no idea where I will obtain one yet. Which is better long term and short term?

Also, a less relevant point perhaps but maybe not: I have no interest in doing Math (Algebra, linear, calc, discrete, trig...ect) for a degree or a career. I am doing Business Calc for my undergrad but it's a one time thing. If I am not mistaken, the GMATs and GREs are, what, half math? Anyway, I would GREATLY appreciate anyone's thoughts, opinions, advice or anything else you can offer me. Sorry for the long thread.
Post edited by srussell09 on

Replies to: How to decide which path to take next? (JD, MBA, MS)

  • pseudoghostpseudoghost Registered User Posts: 159 Junior Member
    Don't get a degree because you can't think of anything else to do. The solution here is simple: go to work. After a few years in industry, you'll have a good idea whether or not you like your field, and how you can advance in your field.

    Only go back to school if you need a degree to continue advancing, or if you want to switch fields completely (and can't do so without a degree).

    An MBA would be an OK degree for someone like yourself. I can't see an upside to getting a JD though (unless you want to practice law).
  • floridadad55floridadad55 Registered User Posts: 2,262 Senior Member
    As a lawyer, I can tell you that I don't think it is worth spending THREE YEARS of your life, and all that money, getting a law degree unless you are 100% sure that you are actually going to be a lawyer. You seem to want to get it as a "credential".

    Further, unless you think you are well suited for the law, I would not go this route, because of the vast oversupply of lawyers out there. Further, once you hit around 32 years old, there are no more jobs for lawyers. The big law firms typically want people with 1-3 years experience, or 3-5 years experience. This is not so true in other fields.

    You seem WAY too focused on getting a graduate degree, just for the sake of getting a graduate degree. I made the same mistake when I was young. I racked up graduate degrees for "status". If you haven't decided yet whether to get a law degree or an MBA, then at least to me, this shows me that you are not ready to go to graduate school yet.
    Further, it is my understanding that like MBA schools, many law schools now like you to work for a couple years. My brother's kid just got into a top law school, after taking a year hiatus. He could have applied to law school a year sooner, but he worked for a year, because he specifically told me that this makes for a stronger law school application.

    Given the fact that you have majored in a good field, I would get a job for a couple years.

    Further, many big companies will help you pay for an MBA, which you can even get at night.

    (in my opinion, the MBA degree to a certain extent has been cheapened as well, just like law degrees, because there are so many MBA programs out there) (I also have an MBA)

    I suspect, based upon your post, that you will not take this advice, because it really does seem that you want to get a graduate degree more for reasons that it "looks good" than out of any real interest, but I urge you to think long and hard on this issue. Getting graduate degrees take time and money, and you could out in the work world, getting REAL experience.

    To me, a Wharton BBA is just about the best degree you can get, because if you get that, then you don't ever really even NEED to go to graduate school.

    In your case, since you don't seem to have a true interest in being a lawyer, I would get a job, work hard for a couple years, and then get an MBA at night. I wouldn't start on my MBA right away, because when you get a new job, you should be one thousand percent devoted to doing well at that job.
  • tenisghstenisghs Registered User Posts: 3,955 Senior Member
    ^ This is excellent advice. Graduate school will always be there for you. However, do whatever you can to make sure that you're making the right decision. If it means working a couple of years to find your true passion, then so be it. JD and MBA programs are a dime a dozen nowadays. Don't become a slave to student loan debt!

    I'll use myself as an example: I waited two years before I entered graduate school. In my first master's program, I initially wanted to study Subject A (with funding, assistantship, and option for licensure). Once I finished the program, I realized I'm more interested in Subject B. Both Subjects A and B are complimentary fields, but Subject B will involve better career advancement. A year later, I've reapplied and have been accepted to a one-year master's program to study Plan B (with funding and assistantship). Next year, I will hopefully return to the workforce at a higher salary based upon my skills/experience. Furthermore, I will get to work on what I always wanted.

    I took my time to research graduate degrees. I was not hypnotized by the JD/MBA allure. Look up fields that will help you reach your end goals. Don't collect degrees for the sake of anxiety, status and prestige.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,550 Super Moderator
    Whenever undergrads ask me for advice wrt graduate school, I always tell them to take some time off - preferably 2-5 years instead of just 1. The reason being that what you think you want at 22 is going to be different from what you really realize you love older. You've only ever been in school; presumably you've never worked full time, and you don't really know what you like first. Had I taken some time off and worked for a few years, I would've picked a slightly different field (I'm getting my PhD in social psychology and public health; I probably would've gotten my PhD in biostatistics instead).

    A lot of students also think that they HAVE to get a graduate degree in order to get a job. That's not true at all. When I look for jobs (I'll be on the job market in the fall) I see lots of jobs for BA/BS candidates with 0-2 years of experience. They give you the opportunity to learn how to work, watch the market to see what's in demand and plan your next step carefully instead of jumping into something. It also helps you save some money, which in turn can help you avoid taking out more loans than you need to.

    Then I hear people tell me that they don't want to "get old" before they finish. I laugh at that now, even though I had the same mentality when I was 22. Because 30 seems old to you then. But even if you finish your formal schooling at 30, assuming that you returen at 65, you still have 35 solid years to work anyway. ANd if your goal is a master's, you'll be done before that, even if you take 3ish years off.

    Graduate school isn't going anywhere - it's always going to be there, solid as a rock. What's going to change is you - your wants, needs, and desires. If you don't know what you want to do yet, the best thing to do is take some time to figure it out.

    Tensighs, I'm in the same boat as you, with the difference being that my program is a PhD program. Luckily my desired area (statistics) is both quite lucrative, very complementary to my first area - in that I can work in both areas simultaneously if I want to - AND there are plenty of one year master's. I could also easily complete a part-time MA in statistics in 1.5-2 years.
  • TrueAceTrueAce Registered User Posts: 33 Junior Member
    I'll just chime in briefly, although still mulling over my grad school options myself.

    I never really had an interest in law school, but I looked into just for kicks (dad wanted me to try it or something).

    From my extensive experience, I'll tell you a few things:

    1. The majority of law schools do not care whatsoever about your work experience, with the exception of Northwestern Law, which is so elite you probably already know if you even have a shot.

    2. They primarily care about LSAT score, after that GPA. They don't care about your personality or interests outside of law, really, from a strictly admissions standpoint. Just clearing that up.

    3. The JD is absolutely not versatile based on my lawyer friends' testimony (hah) and what others have told me. In fact, it often can be a negative if you attempt something non-law, because they think you're just waiting to jump on a law job.

    There's hardly enough justification to go to a non-T1 law school period, let alone going to one and having no interest in being a lawyer. That's almost absurd. A JD let's you be a lawyer. There is literally no other reason to get one.
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