Different degrees lead to varying jobs, financial outcomes

Abbey Serena and Abbey Serena

Despite the fact that just last year I was a senior in high school, I have started to fret about what is going to happen three years from now, when I accept my diploma.

I am certain that I’m just like every other person who has ever pursued a career, instead of going straight into the workforce. Just this morning, one of my teachers gave the class a jarring explanation about how risky it is to further pursue a degree because, even after you become as advanced as you want to be, a career still isn’t guaranteed.

This made me question the worth of returning to college after being handed one diploma. Would taking the next step up be more beneficial? And if not at first, over time?

Because I do not know much about anything outside of the Master’s of Fine Arts. I’m going narrow down my focus to this one specific degree and talk about the facts and opinions that I have picked up on throughout my college career.

With any higher degree, there is the obvious statement that the skills in that certain area are going to be improved upon. Through the extra time spent developing these abilities, the individual will be around many different kinds of people who might be able to help him or her network or even connect him or her with an agent, if this is applicable. This last fact comes as a very rare instance and typically only happens at major universities and maybe not even then.

Another thing that any advanced degree has in common with the rest is that each of them is as unpredictable as the next. Whether with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, a Master’s of Science or a Bachelor’s of Business Administration, no career is guaranteed.

To get a position, you have to put in the work to the individual company’s standards and prove yourself to them, instead of waving around a piece of paper as if that is going to win the company over. The only thing that a diploma is going to do is make them consider you long enough so that you can make yourself stand out to a company which has likely seen hundreds of applicants through its doors since its opening.

An MFA can either be something that impresses every employer you go to — depending on whether or not your talents back up what your diploma states — or it can be a waste of your time and money. Although most MFA degrees will pay you if you choose to teach, the amount of money doesn’t add up to a penny more than what you will need to live on. And after you finish teaching, you will have a heaping pile of debt.

Often times, an MFA also doesn’t count for much of anything if you are dealing with aesthetics instead of what you’d find in careers like business or science — how much experience you have in the field. If you have an MFA and are trying to sell your writing to a publisher, you can still lose out to someone with only a BFA or not even that, if the publisher simply finds their writing to be more intriguing.

On the other hand, if you are choosing a job that does deal with how much experience you have — such as a publishing or editing job — that MFA is going to be your greatest ally, as a person with an MFA will likely have spent more time in internships and fieldwork, compared to a person with a BFA.

As I’ve heard time and again, where you want your degree to end depends on where you want your career to start.

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