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"Nobody cares where you went to college"
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Atheist
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Apr 21, 2019, 10:33 AM
 
I've always felt that it's a waste of money to go to an expensive school. My own personal experience is that I went to a small liberal arts college for a year in the early 80s and dropped out. I've been able to succeed in my career without a degree and am totally self-taught.

My husband is pursuing his Master of Social Work and is deciding whether to go to a local well regarded university here in Northern Virginia or a (fully accredited) online university for half the cost. I'm trying to not let my personal bias influence him too much and am curious what others think.

Expensive local school or cheaper online alternative.
     
Thorzdad
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Apr 21, 2019, 12:07 PM
 
Here's what the missus (MFT) has to say...
As far as getting the Masters, it really doesn't matter much where it comes from. Yes, there will always be employers who go for the name schools in a resume, but, all things considered, as long as the online school is properly accredited, it really doesn't matter.

Her big caveat is this: As soon as your husband gets the MSW, he needs to get licensed asap. Like, immediately. Without licensing, his chance of getting hired anywhere is close to zilch.
( Last edited by Thorzdad; Apr 21, 2019 at 01:15 PM. )
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andi*pandi
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Apr 21, 2019, 12:58 PM
 
it may depend on the college and degree. At many job interviews my college has been influential in my hiring. ( bosses also went there)
     
Doc HM
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Apr 21, 2019, 02:48 PM
 
I'm sure there was someone on this forum a while back with plenty of experience in college education. Something about his nephew and a law degree?

I think a degree always helps even later in your career people take note of it. Unless the university is first rate I'm not sure the place matters as much (ie yes Cambridge, Edinburgh, Kent or Sussex not so much - insert US eq here).

I wish I had a degree instead of my diploma it would make a huge difference with jobs I could apply for, for example all teaching is out.
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subego
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Apr 22, 2019, 01:46 AM
 
My ex is an LPC.

Her take is people won’t look at an online degree seriously.
     
OreoCookie
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Apr 22, 2019, 03:27 AM
 
I think that hugely depends on the field, the circumstances and the precise universities you are talking about. Let me give you an example: if you are studying engineering, my alma mater has a crap ton of collaborations with various industry partners. That gives those partners (think Airbus, BMW, GE and others) access to a huge pool of students who are enrolled in one of Germany's top engineering programs. You better believe that it makes a huge difference — especially if your dream is to work for one of these companies after graduation. It also makes a difference for other areas where a degree and/or a license is a non-negotiable pre-requisite such as medicine or law.

In fields where you don't need formal education (like programming or business), you have other ways of entering the job market that is not tied to formal education. Here, it matters much less.

There is a third aspect, and that are social networks: just by accident I met someone who graduated from Berkeley in a subway in Munich, and I told him I spent four months there during my PhD. He gave me his business card and told me I could call him in case I am looking for a job. This can be worth money.

In my line of work, academia, the places you have been to and who you have worked with makes a supreme difference. Statistically speaking, in most countries there are a few universities that produce the next generation of professors, usually the Ivy League and perhaps Baby Ivys, so there are cases where people are actively discouraged to go to really good professor A because they are at a mid-level university. That happened to a friend of mine: we spent two years in Toronto and this professor told him point-blank: “You can come here, I'd be happy to work with you, but it might hurt your career.” 

There are tons of universities in every country and name recognition outside of a handful is decreasing rapidly. I'm at a baby Ivy here in Japan now, but even if you are in academia, you probably wouldn't know the name. Brand recognition may be different locally, though.

Lastly, let me say that there is a special issue in the US (and perhaps the UK) with regards to tuition fees. Their growth has far outpaced inflation, which in turn makes studying at university a less financially sensible proposition. And there seem to be predatory “universities” whose diplomas are as valuable as toilet paper. The situation is very different in countries where universities are either free or cheaper, because whether something is “worth it” is not necessarily a financial question.
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Laminar
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Apr 22, 2019, 08:11 AM
 
Both of my post-college jobs came about as a result of social connections I made in college. My degree and GPA and knowledge and skills don't matter if I don't get that first foot in the door.
     
Chongo
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Apr 22, 2019, 11:03 AM
 
Where I work, I’ve seen people with zero experience and HS diplomas get technician and supervisor jobs over people with college degrees and years of experience. Your education and experience matter only if you plan on leaving and going to another company. Neither matter if you are tagged as indispensable to the production line.
     
mindwaves
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Apr 22, 2019, 11:24 AM
 
In general fresh out of college, your university and degree matters most. 10 years out, connections matter more, but college degrees may matter a bit, not a lot.

Edit: my sister chimed in and said her degree doesn’t matter much, but where she went to school matters a lot. She works for a large nutrition and infant formula company.
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ghporter
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Apr 22, 2019, 08:43 PM
 
The one time a "name" school can make a difference is when that school has a markedly higher success rate for graduates - percent who pass certification board exams, percent who get licensed within x months, etc.

SOME employers still think of online schools as "diploma mills" and don't take them seriously. That is a mistake most of the time. Almost all of the post-professional programs in Occupational Therapy are online; anywhere from 90% to 99% online collaboration, research, research publication, papers, etc. Here we are talking about doctoral programs where the student already knows a bunch about the subject, but now needs to develop skills to utilize, perform, and document effective academic and health care research that truly "adds to human knowledge" in a unique way. That doesn't sound much like something a "diploma mill" might be able to handle...

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OreoCookie
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Apr 22, 2019, 09:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chongo View Post
Where I work, I’ve seen people with zero experience and HS diplomas get technician and supervisor jobs over people with college degrees and years of experience. Your education and experience matter only if you plan on leaving and going to another company. Neither matter if you are tagged as indispensable to the production line.
I am not sure this is representative of good hiring practice: people with experience and/or degrees are more expensive, and a lot of companies try to get away with banking on enthusiasm rather than knowledge and/or experience.
Originally Posted by mindwaves View Post
In general fresh out of college, your university and degree matters most. 10 years out, connections matter more, but college degrees may matter a bit, not a lot.
That's a good point, and IMHO quite reflective of what I see. A degree will help you get a foot in the door, and therefore might be a good option if you want to change careers.
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Atheist  (op)
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Apr 22, 2019, 09:34 PM
 
Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses. This is very helpful. My husband is disadvantaged a bit since he was 44 years old when we finally returned to the U.S. and he was able to start his career. He's playing a bit of catch-up and will be 50 when he gets his MSW. His undergrad degrees (B.S. in Computer Science / B.S. in Psychology) are from University of Maryland University College. Thankfully, no prospective employer has intimated his degrees were from a "diploma mill". He's presently working in the behavioral health field but can't advance far without a Master's. I'm encouraging him to consult his coworkers for advice since they all have MSWs or PhDs.
     
ghporter
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Apr 23, 2019, 09:29 PM
 
I received my MOT a couple months after my 50th birthday. In a profession that takes people skills, being “not a kid anymore” is actually an advantage, no matter how old one’s colleagues are.

Life experience is essential to success in behavioral health. Occupational therapy is a psychosocial profession; we started out helping veterans of the First World War heal both their bodies and their minds, and I have had more than a little experience using that psychosocial expertise along the way.

Personal life experience, which allows one to connect with a variety of clients in their space, understanding their histories and life challenges has allowed me to use my academic and clinical training to make a real difference in their lives.

Your husband’s variety of experiences will (and probably already have) serve him well, and between that experience and his degree, any good employer will see him as a great addition to their team.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
subego
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Apr 24, 2019, 11:44 PM
 
One added bit...

If your husband is going the LSW/LCSW route, and it’s anything like the LPC/LCPC system, he should brace himself for a starting salary which works out to minimum wage.

I’m sure he expects low pay, but it starts out insultingly low.
     
Atheist  (op)
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Apr 27, 2019, 09:28 AM
 
Actually, I was wrong... it's not an MSW, it's a BCBA program. Since we returned to the U.S. he's been trying to immerse himself in as many areas of mental health as possible. He's worked in a mental institution, done direct clinical care and management at an independent living facility, and now is in crisis intervention/jail diversion at the emergency services department of the county community services board. He's changed jobs 3 times now which may be perceived negatively but he's desperate to make up lost time. Salaries in behavior analysis seem pretty good but ultimately that's not his primary concern.
     
   
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