free advice needed, preferably worth more than 2 cents

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by wannaJD, Mar 30, 2003.

  1. wannaJD

    wannaJD New Member

    I've had the pleasure of input from many on this board about my desire to get a law degree.

    Many folks here tactfully asked why on earth I want a law degree if I'm currently trying to get qualified as a tax specialist/estate planner and or CPA. I thank you (I can think of Nosborne, Homer, David Boyd, Michael Lloyd, and marty right off the top of my head) for that thoughtful prodding.

    I've had the time to do some soul searching and deal with the contradictions life is handing me. Since my current background is software development, I responded to someone on the IT board here at degreeinfo about the potential of IT careers. Whether it is real or not, my perception of the current environs is that IT is not the place to be now or in the next ten years.

    So I'm forced to make a career change, and part of that is finding a school to help me qualify for another career.

    • I eventually want to be self-employed, I would like to pursue those degrees that might help in that regard
    • I need a mental challenge
    • I'm scatterbrained and not focussed without a significant challenge in my life.
    My current grad school in accounting and finance is certainly NOT challenging. Does this mean it would not be a good career choice? No. It *does* mean I will have a difficult time sticking with these studies.

    Should I add law studies on top of accounting grad school? Given the time constraints to qualify for the California bar, I probably do not have the mental capacity.

    So. Now I'm in the midst of deciding whether to just quit my accounting/finance studies because of my need for challenge and need to seriously focus on something that will get me out of corporate America.

    More challenging studies for me would include
    1. mathematics (perhaps that is overboard given my lack of talent in this area, and there is no potential for self-employment), although I admit this would satisfy my ego and curious nature such that I would be willing to dive head on into this subject that might only qualify me to be an entry level actuary
    2. psychology (my undergrad degree is in Psych, but is this really all that challenging?)
    3. MSCompSci (no future in this field in software development, as far as I can see, but definitely challenging)
    4. Law -- challenging -- fun -- self-employment potential, but hideously expensive to qualify for the "club". Thus, the distance learning aspect, which I really do not believe will hamper me, even after a month of intensive reading, research, and cogitation on potential that I will still be a broke schmuck after 4 years of study.
    5. A combo of an ABET accredited degree in Comp Sci and the DL law degree for intellectual property specialty -- at least 15 - 30 more undergrad semester hours for the ABET qualification. Perhaps this would add an additional two years to the goal.

    I'm open to suggestions, specifically directions for exploration, not necessarily solid career/school advice. In fact, I respect the opinions of so many of you here in my short time on this board, that I beg of you to put in your dollar's worth of free advice/thought/musings. Keep in mind that I'm a 35 year old single woman with no real responsibilities.

    Feel free to laugh at me, flame me, but do not suggest a career counselor. I've already gone down that road, and they all suggest I become an accountant. Go figure!

    P.S. I've put a lot of thought into this post so please don't leave me hanging. It is very difficult to admit that I'm lost and confused and believe me, anything you have to say is useful.

  2. wannaJD

    wannaJD New Member

    Awright, 12 views. No response.

    Who do you know that is a lawyer? Do they all suck? Who do you know doing CPA work for their own company?

    Do psychologists actually make money outside of government jobs? Can one make a living at it in their own shop with a DL degree?

    Who do you know that majored in math?
    Who do you know that is an actuary? Are they bored?

    I'm getting desperate. I'm tired of waiting for "the answer", so I thought I should be proactive.

    This mental state is awful. I just want to move in a direction and stay on that track for awhile, dagnabbit!
  3. Guest

    Guest Guest

    i) I know some lawyers who greatly enjoy what they do. One is an Estate Lawyer, one is a Judge (Family Court), and one is a public lawyer who advocates for kids. All ethical people. Yes, I have met some who are basically commissioned salesman who go around ambulance chasing and suing to get cash. You have to make the choice. I have also heard of unemployed lawyers who did not graduate from well known law schools and perhaps did not do that well academically. I know a couple of CPA's both in private sector. The one whose wife I know says he really enjoys what he does and he gets to play a lot of golf. He is an ethical guy.

    ii) Psychology. We have a couple here who are far more qualified to answer than I am. I know that when I was in grad school and reading the APA Monitor it sounded tough. There was an article by a depressed woman who was a PhD in Psychology who said thank God her husband had a job. Managed care has put a crunch on things and I have heard that often they perfer Masters level because they cost less. On the other hand Masters level are having to piece together practices (eg group therapy at night, teaching, private practice, contract work). The other thing when considering DL is that most of the APA job adverts wanted people with APA PhD's/internships.

    iii) I know one math major that managed to find a job teaching at a state university far from home. He competed with lots of folks to get the job.

    As an aside, when I was in the army I met a PhD in History who was a SSG in the ID card section & an adjunct faculty member at the state university. I know of an Episcopal Priest who is a PhD in Physics and gave it up to be a Priest. His wife is also a PhD.

    I know a Psychiatrist who gave it up to do carpentry.

    Not much help but good luck. Life is too short. I need a couple more to try out all of the careers I have considered.

  4. Nosborne

    Nosborne New Member

    I love doing law!

    Nosborne, JD
  5. wannaJD

    wannaJD New Member

    Cool. What is your specialty?
  6. Gary Rients

    Gary Rients New Member

    Personally, since you're single and "have no real responsibilities," I don't think that you should limit yourself to DL options unless you have a compelling reason to do so. If I were single and without children I'd probably be enrolled full-time in a residential PhD program somewhere with a cruddy assistanship/fellowship to pay my tuition and bills. You just need to decide what you want to do and go for it.

    I think that you're being overly negative about prospects in the IT field. It doesn't seem nearly as bad as you've been portraying it. As I see it, the people who may have significant trouble replacing their jobs are those who switched careers during the latest IT boom and trained specifically to perform certain relatively easy technical tasks (web design, etc). For a while companies were so desperate for warm bodies that they were recruiting kids still in high school for jobs that would have normally required a BSCS, if that tells you anything about the qualifications of some of the people who lost IT jobs and can't seem to replace them. That really skews the results of studies/surveys that look at the number of "IT professionals" who are unemployed. Those with relevant education and skills don't seem to be hurt by the current recession any more than the average person in most professions. The "IT" job market has always been very cyclical, but even at the worst there's still generally a pretty steady need for qualified people. It's just that when the market is slow the definition of "qualified" often changes to only include people who have relevant education and experience.

    So I guess my point is that I disagree with your perception of the IT job market and the value of getting a CS degree. With an MSCS your job prospects should be pretty good, even at the entry level, so if it's something that you really feel you'd enjoy then go for it. You would be a step ahead of most applicants with respect to education, anyway. Combine this with some relevant experience (and maybe some certifications for good measure, though I don't think it's a necessity), and your prospects should still be better than many (and possibly most) fields.

    If you want to study something that's pretty much guaranteed to result in a decent paying job, with almost no chance of unemployment, then maybe you should think about a field like pharmacy. From what I understand a pharmacist starts at $70-80k straight out of school, and there's an increasing number of unfilled jobs in the field. That's a career that seems relatively lucrative and recession-proof, if you're willing to spend 4 years to get a PharmD.

    Something to bear in mind is that you may love or hate studying something, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you will also love or hate practicing in that field. Sometimes they can be almost entirely unrelated experiences, if that makes any sense. For example, I have a friend who loves studying law. He's really good at it, and graduated toward the top of his class (top 5 or higher, if I remember correctly) from Berkeley's law school. However, he discovered that he hates practicing law. Go figure. So, just because you don't like studying finance/accounting and don't find the courses challenging, doesn't mean that you wouldn't enjoy practicing in that area. The impression that I get from people in those fields is that though the academic portion may be dry, in practice it can really be dynamic, depending upon the type of job that you pursue and how you approach it.

    Anyway, that's just my perspective, take it or leave it.
  7. wannaJD

    wannaJD New Member

    You bring up some excellent points, Gary. Thank you.

  8. Michael Lloyd

    Michael Lloyd New Member

    Speaking as someone who was a pharmacy pre-major before switching to chemistry (long story), most PharmD programs in the USA these days are a minimum of five years in length. And I am told that most pharmacy students actually go to school for six years, unless they go to school in the summer or take a larger number of credits than usual per quarter. And the competition to get into pharmacy schools these days is intense. I am told that 30 to 50 applicants per open slot is not uncommon, and these numbers may be a conservative estimate for the more popular schools.

    Starting salaries are high, however, with some of the retail jobs starting at $ 80K per year in some locations.

    Interesting comments you have on the dire outlook for IT jobs. I do not work in that field, and it was a revelation for me. Certainly, up here in the Seattle area, there have been massive layoffs and closures in the IT and dot com areas. Sad to see that our Seattle experience is not unique.


    Michael Lloyd
    Mill Creek, Washington USA
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2003
  9. Gary Rients

    Gary Rients New Member

    I'm not sure where you got the impression that I've been shielded. In fact, I returned to school in order be more competitive in the current market. However, I've been around long enough to realize that things really aren't any worse right now than they were during the last recession. Many professions have been affected, it's just that the demand and pay rates for IT workers were totally out of whack for a while, so the rebound to recession-level normalcy is a pretty drastic adjustment.
    You'll have no trouble finding anecdotal moans and groans from people in many other professions, either. It's the nature of a recession, and is not specific to IT. Due to the incredible short-term demand, many people were making twice as much (or more) as a historically good salary, and now they're depressed and upset that they can't command those salaries, or switch jobs at will. It's unfortunate for them, but it doesn't spell the end of the world, and when the market cycles back up (which it inevitably will), people will once again be able to rake in the money. It's happened repeatedly ever since there was an "IT" market, and it will continue to happen. Heck, I know someone with an unaccredited associates degree and just a few years of experience who is making around $100k/yr at a large company. If she gets layed off there's no way she'll be able to replace that job, but in reality $50k/yr would not be an unreasonable salary, given her qualifications. That doesn't mean that the industry is going to hell, it just means that things have adjusted. Yes, many jobs are going overseas, but there is also still a reasonable demand, and overall the (long-term) demand should still increase for the foreseeable future.

    Anyway, you should pursue a field that you feel comfortable with, and good luck in whatever you decide to do.
  10. wannaJD

    wannaJD New Member

    So, Gary, it would seem then that you do not believe that the IT job market has gone the way of the auto industry.....?

    Do you know where your bank's IT department is located? I'm going to guess that it is in India.

    True, the sky is not falling, and I never said it was. But now that some industry experts are predicting the obsolescence of software engineering (in the US, at least) and that the majority of those positions will be outsourced because software development is overhead...I am REQUIRED to look for a back up career.

    Otherwise, I have only myself to blame if I am caught out in the cold in 4 or 5 years.
  11. Gary Rients

    Gary Rients New Member

    The admissions numbers for the PharmD program at UT Austin (a competitive school) aren't anywhere near that bad. In fact, the most recent numbers they've published show that almost 50% of state residents who completed applications were accepted. For someone who already has a degree in another field, they just need to complete the specific background courses before applying to the 4-year PharmD program. A new student would first complete a 2-year pre-pharmacy program, which does make it 6 years when starting from scratch.

    Bear in mind that not everyone in the IT field (myself included) agrees with that perspective. Many people adopt this attitude when the market cycles down or when there is an economic recession. It just happens that right now both have occured simultaneously. Some areas have been hit much harder than others, of course, and it may be very difficult to find good employment for people who don't want to relocate and are living in an area that has been hit especially hard.
  12. Michael Lloyd

    Michael Lloyd New Member

    Interesting data from Texas. I have read of some pharmacy schools on the East Coast that have a very large number of applicants for every slot. Here in Seattle, the University of Washington's school of pharmacy has about 80 slots per year with about 400-500 applicants total. Of note, up until a couple of years ago, they used to have around 300 applicants for each entering class.

    I wonder if the reports of 30-50 applicants per slot at some schools is a true trend, cherrypicking data for a particular year or inaccurate as a whole?


    Michael Lloyd
    Mill Creek, Washington USA
  13. Han

    Han New Member

    wannaJD - You and I seem alike - I finished my Undergrad in marketing, then started my MBA - in the middle, I wanted to start a law degree.

    I got in (with scholarship) to a local school, and was going to commute 1 1/2 hours, along with doing my Master's via distance. I have decided now to wait a year, and I am glad I did.

    I love law, math, science, business, you name it. The financial side seems to boring (sorry to the accountants) and I love marketing, but don't like the hard sell arena, which makes the decent salaries.

    I finish in July - I am deciding now too - go for the PhD in Business (so I can teach, but no schools in the area offer such a degree), Law School, or an Undergrad in Engineering..... That is what I love about life, too many decisions.

    I started marking down my decision each day - pick one time of the day. After 30 I am going to see which wins out......... to be continued.
  14. Michael Lloyd

    Michael Lloyd New Member

    To put the final nail in the coffin of the numbers for competitive admission in pharmacy schools, the 30-50 applicants per slot came from an article in the Seattle Times several months ago about the job market for pharmacists. I now think that number is clearly in error, at least for the overall population of schools of pharmacy.

    I did some research and found this: This is a report from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. They note that for the overall pool of classes starting in fall 2002, there were 3.7 applicants for each slot. In the class starting in fall 2001, there were 2.9 applicants for each slot.

    So I now wonder if an extra 'zero' somehow snuck into the '30-50' figure cited in the article. 3-5 applicants per slot sounds like a far more realistic number. Bearing in mind of course that some schools may well have a far greater number of applicants per slot.

    I was also very interested to read on several websites that one's chances of admission are far greater if one already has a BS or MS degree in a hard science, and that at some schools, it is almost impossible to be admitted by just doing the two years of pre-reqs and then applying for admission to the PharmD program.


    Michael Lloyd
    Mill Creek, Washington USA
  15. Denver

    Denver Member

    As the only BSJ, BS, BS, MBA, MURP, MSA, MPA, CPA and DBA candidate on the board who completed all of my education part-time/evening/accelerated programs I can offer the following:

    1. Education is like mechanic’s tools – you never know when you are going to need it and when you have the right tool everything works.
    2. The most fun I have had so far is pursuing my doctorate in business administration (part-time/distance at ESC Grenoble). If you have a variety of interests that don’t fit into one area a European research doctorate offers an excellent alternative to the U.S. model.
    3. With each degree I have obtained I have seen an increase in income – as far as I am concerned there is no such thing as too much education.
    4. Dr. Bear’s books are excellent. When I purchased the first one in 1983 I didn’t have a degree and wasn’t sure how I could work and go to school – a year later I had my first degree, four years later I had my first graduate degree and four years after that I was at Harvard.
  16. Gary Rients

    Gary Rients New Member

    What way is that? Toyota will be building a facility in San Antonio that will create 2,000 new jobs in this area. When I lived in Indiana I worked for about 6 months at the newly built (this was around 1990) Subaru-Isuzu plant in Lafayette. This plant also created many area jobs. Sure, some areas (parts of Michigan come to mind) got hit really hard by American auto makers closing up shop, but are there really fewer Americans employed in the auto industry today than there were say 30 years ago, or are they just in different locations working for different companies doing jobs that have evolved due to new technology and manufacturing techniques and/or shifted to different aspects of the industry (e.g. parts production vs. assembly)? Re-distribution and change in an industry don't necessarily constitute a decline, though short-term negative repercussions seem inevitable during periods of flux, especially when compounded by economic recessions. The IT market in the US is cycling (again, magnified by the economic recession) and evolving, not drying up.

    I think that you've made a good point, though perhaps inadvertently - a snapshot perception of an industry may not be a good indicator of its long-term outlook. This is especially true when talking about a field, such as IT, where demand can be very cyclical. A relevant analogy could be drawn from a person with a polar affective disorder. An emotional state that would be normal for most people might actually feel very bad to someone who is coming down from a manic episode. Everything is relative, and sharp contrast can make things seem worse than they really are.

    Again, that's just my perspective, feel free to disagree.
  17. Lola Nickson

    Lola Nickson New Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2020
  18. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Active Member

    Assume that spelling and grammar checks are an upsell option?
  19. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    It's a sad thing but Lola had to leave us. Based on her composition I think we're all better off for her departure.
  20. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    LOL. That was pathetic.

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