Bad economy: a good time or bad time to return to graduate school?

This may be more appropriate for IMHO but I’ll let the mods decide.

I am trying to sell my house, which in spite of the dismal housing market I have some reason to be optimistic (good price, good location, etc.), so hopefully…

I’ve also been toying with the idea of returning to graduate school. I have a MLIS (library science degree) so I’m able to find work as a librarian- it’s a nice safety net- but I’d really like to pursue grad work- at least a master’s- in history. While a MA or even a Ph.D. in history is not a license to print money by any means,

1- I’d really rather teach history than be a librarian in a few years
2- I LOVE doing historical research
3- My career as a librarian is a bit limited until I receive a second masters

What I’ve tried to do is work at institutions where I can take courses free of charge, but this has many problems. The education aspect will always be secondary to work of course, and most of the time I’ve simply been too busy to take a course.

So, I’ve considered, when my house sells, banking the money (there’s a decent equity, at least a year and a half of my present salary), seeking a good financial aid package somewhere, and going to school for about a year, possibly two, to complete my second masters and even possibly enter the Ph.D. path.
I’ll be 42 in a few weeks, which is an age that’s young enough that I can have a career as a historian, but old enough that I don’t really want to waste a lot more time in getting a second degree.

This plan was devised before the economy tanked of course.

I can see doing this anyway as both a good thing and a bad thing:


I’ll emerge more employable than I am now. A lot of the better paying librarian jobs require, or at least strongly prefer, a second masters, so it’ll boost me professionally.


It might not be a great idea to remove myself from a paying job when so much of academia will no doubt be experiencing budget cuts in the next few years.

Any opinions?

You’re already a librarian, and you want to get another degree? My entire family is jealous. To us, you’ve already reached the pinnacle of possible careers!! It’s like a doctor saying s/he wants to be a lawyer or something. :stuck_out_tongue:

But seriously, to sort of answer your question, if you’re floundering during poor economic times, financial aid and the relief from not having to slave at a job can be very nice. I always found college to be a relaxing vacation from work.

I think you need to worry primarily about whether grad school is the right thing for you to do right now before you start thinking too much about the economy. Once you’ve decided to go, yeah, the funding situation is something to think about. Have you seen this graph?

Universities tend to be somewhat counter-cyclical in their business model, so it seems that plenty of people do return to school in times when business is tough.

While the graph makes a good point, I think it’s still fair to at least look at this flowchart.