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Monday, March 5, 2012

Question 7

Dear Readers,

A while ago I expressed a wish to get more questions from younger readers to balance the ones coming  from those of use who are what we might call mature. Now because my book is being used as an assigned reading in a class on The Ethics Of Making Money being give at Hiram College, I have received a number of such letters from students in that class. Here is one of them. I will be sending more from time to time.

Dear Dr. T.,

I am reading your book about money and happiness. As a graduating college student I am trying to make the decision of whether or not to take on debt to attend graduate school.  I would really like to attend a master's program, and I believe that I will be able to work at a more enjoyable job if I attend graduate school. In weak economic times, should I risk taking on debt to achieve a more enjoyable job? Or, should I be more cautious and risk my happiness for more financial security?

Confused Graduate

Dear Confused Graduate,

            This is a very good and pertinent question in these economic times. First of all keep in mind that the economy is cyclical. It won't always be bad, but employment does seem to be the last to recover this time around. Also, different kind of skills will be in demand at different times so, if you are considering taking on significant debt to go to graduate school, it would be wise to do some research to get an idea what professions will be in demand in the future and what they might pay. I think the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics might be a good place to start. Also, speak to people working in the field in which you are interested, to see what they think, not only about future employability but also future earning capacity and what it is really like working in the area you are considering. Some jobs are not all they are cracked up to be. Some have a very high burn out rate. That being said, happiness at work is a very valuable commodity. You will spend 40 to 50 hours a week or more at work for a big chunk of your life. So, if you are sure you will really like what you will be doing, and are disciplined enough to pay off debt over time (are you disciplined about spending now?), going for the education may well be your best investment.

Dr. T.

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