Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity. ~ Aristotle
One night last summer, I decided to click on one of those ubiquitous dating website banner ads. I appropriately selected each required search criterion, clicked search, and I was on my way. Truth be told, I never officially signed up with the site but simply opted for the course of least resistance; the just-try-it-out-with-no-commitment route. As I scanned through the profiles of results my search had yielded, one profile characteristic kept leaping out at me: Most of the women had obtained graduate degrees. At that moment I felt a deep sense of educational inferiority.
My malaise eventually dissipated. After all, higher learning institutions do not possess a monopoly on the entire spectrum of educations life has to offer. The totality that makes each of us who we are far exceeds the mere response to highest educational level attained. Yet, that feeling that I needed to challenge myself educationally and pursue a secondary degree remained entrenched in my consciousness.
Last summer the N.Y. Times printed an article, “What’s a Master’s Degree Worth”? The article elicited 791 comments, some more illuminating than others. If you had taken the time to read through many of the responses, you would have been inevitably let down if your search pinned its hopes on discovering a conclusive verdict. What this illustrates is that there really is no correct answer to how much a master’s degree is really worth. We each possess varying motivations and desires to pursue those missing pieces we believe will properly fill voids in the mosaic that makes up who we wish to be in life. It’s not so much a question of the worth of a master’s degree but rather the value it bestows to the student.
Pursuing a master’s degree – or any degree – through a rigorous course-by-course approach, in a methodical and comprehensive manner, within dictated time schedules and stringent parameters, is a pursuit that truly conveys to the participant that he or she is absolutely immersed in an endeavor that is gratifying on an intellectual and an educational level. If one’s motivations are genuine, on a personal level, the value of a master’s degree will almost certainly exceed its cost. But caveat emptor, unlike a dating website, this is one process that demands unyielding commitment, has many strings attached, and cheaters will not receive a second chance.
John Brigantino is a graduate student in the Master of Science in Business Management & Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. He enjoys writing, non-fiction books, traveling and the many cultural and leisure experiences Manhattan has to offer.