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Go for a second Bachelors or get a Masters...or J.D... so many options :( ?

Rand15Rand15 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
I recently graduated with a double-major in Government and Spanish. I graduated in three years from a Top 50 school with a 3.5 GPA. Because I had a family waiting for me back in Houston, Texas, I wanted to graduate early and continue my education closer to home.

Originally I was set on getting a J.D. I was admitted to begin attending the University of Houston Law School this Fall of 2014. However, I am unsure if I should attend law school because:
- I would have to take out more than 100k in loans because I received no financial aid
- I would be unable to work for three years
- I keep reading that there are too many lawyers, not enough well-paying jobs, and a lot of lawyers hate their jobs <-- this scares me the most!

Because of this, I began to consider a Masters in Public Administration, Public Policy, or Political Science instead. However, I ran into more problems. For starters, I need to remain in Texas because of my family. While some universities (such as Texas A&M and UT Austin) rank in the 20s and 30s for the programs I mentioned above, I am worried that this rank is not high enough. Second, I have searched for jobs in these fields (for someone with a masters) to see what type of jobs/how much these jobs pay, but jobs in these fields are scarce and usually require a lot of work experience. Those that do not require much work experience (but still require about 2 years) still pay only around 40k-50k. It got me thinking if it would even be worth getting a masters if jobs pay almost the same as a bachelors.

The fields I received my first bachelors in do not seem very practical, so I have began to consider pursuing a second bachelor's degree in Computer Science. My reasons for considering this are the following:
- A second bachelors is cheaper than pursuing a master's
- Computer Science seems more practical if I plan to remain in Texas
- If I pursue a Comp Sci degree, I plan on working 25-40 hours (since FAFSA does not grant financial aid to post-bacc students)
- Comp Sci is something that I would have loved to do but felt that I would not have been good at since I didn't have any background working with computers

Honestly, I just want some feedback. Not necessarily a "yes, definitely do this!" but "Well, I think...". I want to get more opinions than just my own. Many thanks in advance.

Replies to: Go for a second Bachelors or get a Masters...or J.D... so many options :( ?

  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,550 Super Moderator
    My personal opinion is that you (the general "you") shouldn't go to graduate school unless you have a plan for the degree. It's not so much "get the degree, figure it out later" like undergrad is. You really need to know what your next steps are. Otherwise, you have the same problem - except just more debt. This goes for the MA, MPP, and MPA. Why would you get any one of these degrees? What do you want to do? It's not universally true that you have to have lots of work experience - while work experience is definitely preferred, my friend had an MPA and one year of work experience post-college and got hired to work for a consulting firm (and she is definitely making more than $50K). So you should get some, but don't go thinking you need 10+ years of the most stellar work experience.

    It's not uncommon for future lawyers to borrow $100K+ for the cost of their degree. Many lawyers hate their jobs - but I would suspect that's either 1) because they thought that law was completely different than it actually is or 2) they ended up in a different part of law than they originally wanted to enter (partially because of debt). Some people love being lawyers. The other thing to remember, though, is that many legal jobs do not pay enough for you to be able to easily repay $100K+ in debt. The median lawyer salary is $113,530, but the range is huge - the lowest earning 10 percent earned less than $54K (and the top 10 percent, more than $187K).

    On the other hand - don't run and get a second bachelor's in computer science just because it seems practical. It's very possible that you have wide-ranging interests, but I find it curious that you have a BA in government, all of the other graduate degrees you are considering are social sciency (MPA, JD, political science, MPP) and then...computer science. Sure, CS has become a more pre-professional field and there's a boom right now, but there's no point in acquiring the skills and knowledge to do a career that doesn't interest you, just because it seems secure. There are tons of other careers out there aside from technical ones. If you do really love it, by all means - but I suggest that you do some informational interviews with people working in the field first.

    The other thing is I wouldn't do a second bachelor's. It's not necessarily cheaper than a master's, and the thing is if you already have a BA, you could probably take some prerequisites and apply to some CS master's (not pure CS, but some more applied ones).

    Anyway, what I think you should do is just try to find a job with your BA. There's no point in going into more debt/spending more money if you're not sure. But working for a few years will give you an idea of what you really want to do, and let you know what kind of graduate degree you want and need to get to get there.
  • shelhernandezshelhernandez Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    edited June 2014
  • shelhernandezshelhernandez Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    edited June 2014
    ^ sorry!
  • Rand15Rand15 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    @Juillet thanks for all that advice! I am definitely going to take a year off (possibly more) to just work and see what fields I enjoy. Right now I am pretty lost because I have no idea what I can do with a social science degree or what masters are similar to what I enjoy doing. There are a lot of options and I am (clearly) getting overwhelmed haha. It has not been too bad finding a job with my majors (honestly it is just because I stalk job sites, apply to everything I think I qualify for, have some small work experience because I worked while pursuing my bachelors, and fortunately speak a foreign language that is valuable in Houston. I loved my majors, but because I have a child to take care of I get really worried about pursuing a MPA/MPP/etc. and then being unable to find a job once I graduate. I do enjoy the social sciences though. Anyway, thank you so much. I truly do appreciate it!

This discussion has been closed.