Has anyone gone for their masters later in life?

E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 1,828 ■■■■■■■■■□
edited December 2020 in Colleges & Schools
Not sure if it's pandemic boredom or an upcoming mid-life crisis (just hit 40), but I just applied for the Security and Network Engineering masters program at the University of Amsterdam. I completed my bachelors in 2002 and have been working full-time ever since. 

I would like to know how others have juggled marriage, children, and a career while jumping back into higher education. 
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Comments

  • SteveLavoieSteveLavoie Member Posts: 913 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I can't tell, but I am looking to apply to a masters too.. and my main concern are about time too.. Girlfriend, 12 old daughter, a company to run etc..

    I would suggest that you talk to your wife and see what she think of that. If you want to succeed in managing your time, she have to agree on the objective

  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec, CISSP, SSCP, GSEC, EnCE, C|EH, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 12,034 Admin
    I got my Masters in my early 40's. Intensive learning doesn't get any easier the older you get, so I'm glad I went for it when I did. It would have been much more difficult for me doing so many years later. Also, the sooner you get anything the sooner you can reap the benefits from having it.
  • shochanshochan Member Posts: 955 ■■■■■■■□□□
    I guess if you wanted to be a Director of IT/Cyber for pretty much any IT corp/gov't job. I gotta stay technical, I just enjoy it more.  I agree with continue ed, keeps you from catching dementia/alzheimers, right?  Could be a myth...Could definitely help you make more money...I guess the true question is, what do you want to do?  Upper Mgmt/Director or stay technical (if that is currently your fulltime job is)?
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  • E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 1,828 ■■■■■■■■■□
    @SteveLavoie - My wife is on board so that is a non-issue. I am just curious to hear how it has been for others.

    @JDMurray - Was it hard for your 40 year old brain to focus and retain info? j/k Or was it just balancing all of the non-education obligations? 

    @shochan - A masters does not have to prevent you from keeping up with technical skills. I have numerous colleagues with masters degrees that remain in hands-on technical roles. I have always wanted my masters, but chose to focus on career. Now I see a major university has a major that compliments what I have been doing for years now and I have enough personal development budget to pay for it so why not.
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  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec, CISSP, SSCP, GSEC, EnCE, C|EH, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 12,034 Admin
    @JDMurray - Was it hard for your 40 year old brain to focus and retain info? j/k Or was it just balancing all of the non-education obligations? 

    No, my point was that schoolwork is usually easier at a younger age (e.g., 30's, 40's) than it is at an older age (e.g., 50's, 60's, etc.) brain-wise. However, the reverse can be true. I am glad that I waited until my 40's to tackle a Masters because in my 20's I was too unfocused academically to succeed at it. 

    Work/school/life balance is different for everyone because of the minute differences in everyone's situation. There are definitely a "sweet spots" in your life for doing school and times when you should be doing something else (e.g., working a career, family and raising kids, etc.).
  • E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 1,828 ■■■■■■■■■□
    @JDMurray - I think I could have handled it in my 20s, but I was ready to start earning more than an intern's income. After 15+ years of certification prep I think I have really fine-tuned my study habits so 40 year old me is better prepared for a masters than my younger self. I have a great work-life balance now which is what makes me feel it is doable, but we shall see. 
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  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec, CISSP, SSCP, GSEC, EnCE, C|EH, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 12,034 Admin
    The two differences in Master learning over certification learning is the duration and intensity. With certs, you study at your own pace and decide when you will take your cert exam. You can stop when life gets too turbulent and start again when things are quiet. You control the pace and duration of your certification journey.

    In a Masters program, you are driven by the school to complete a very large amount of coursework in a comparatively short amount of time (i.e., the length of each course) over a long duration (i.e., the length of the degree program). For anywhere from 15-36 months you are under-the-whip to learn and produce even though you might be busy with work/life issues. Yes, you can take breaks from school, but you loose momentum with your studies and the pace of doing schoolwork. It's no wonder that many people hit a wall and can't continue in a degree program.

  • E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 1,828 ■■■■■■■■■□
    JDMurray said:
    The two differences in Master learning over certification learning is the duration and intensity

    Hopefully I have what it takes lol. I'm really excited now, but time will tell. 
    Alphabet soup from (ISC)2, ISACA, GIAC, EC-Council, Microsoft, ITIL, Cisco, Scrum, and more.

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    "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." - Homer Simpson
  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,248 Mod
    I do..still in progress


    Have you looked at VU Amsterdam? their distributed computing department is world class
    Certs: GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE
    In Progress: MBA
  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,248 Mod
    For the record, I do recommend an MBA over a technical Masters.


    You can gain technical skills via experience/certs. A good MBA will broaden your horizons, but it's an expensive investment so you need to be clear on why you're doing it.
    Certs: GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE
    In Progress: MBA
  • PJ_SneakersPJ_Sneakers CompTIA, EC-Council, ISACA, Microsoft USAMember Posts: 884 ■■■■■■□□□□
    I didn't even get my BS until I was in my late 30's. Followed up with the MS and MBA within the next few years. I did WGU like many others.

    For the MS, I had to have my wife's help managing some things so I could have uninterrupted time to study or work on papers. Our kids were not too hard to work around because they were older.

    Then after the MS I got a new job. Went through a divorce while enrolled in the MBA program. That was hard. It took a lot out of me. I wanted to drop out.

    If you really want the masters do it now while you are still motivated and you have support at home to make it happen.
  • E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 1,828 ■■■■■■■■■□
    UnixGuy said:
    I do..still in progress


    Have you looked at VU Amsterdam? their distributed computing department is world class
    They only have full-time programs for the topics I am interested in. 

    @PJ_Sneakers - wow what an experience. 
    Alphabet soup from (ISC)2, ISACA, GIAC, EC-Council, Microsoft, ITIL, Cisco, Scrum, and more.

    2021 goals: AZ-303, AZ-304, maybe TOGAF and more ISACA

    "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." - Homer Simpson
  • Z0sickxZ0sickx Security+|CASP+|CISM|CISSP Member Posts: 177 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I've been holding off on master degree as i feel the value is in person...with how things have change this year not sure i can wait...my other "problem" is i am working from home and when i'm done i know I have another 3-5 hours in that same seat before i would have at least an hour or two of "rest". With that all said the WGU masters in IT management is intriguing, reading on some reviews i didn't like how people said feedback was generic, curious if thats something other WGU grads here have experienced or if its one of those one offs
  • jibtechjibtech Member Posts: 413 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited December 2020
    JDMurray said:
     I am glad that I waited until my 40's to tackle a Masters because in my 20's I was too unfocused academically to succeed at it. 
    Whew. So much this.
  • PJ_SneakersPJ_Sneakers CompTIA, EC-Council, ISACA, Microsoft USAMember Posts: 884 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Z0sickx said:
    I've been holding off on master degree as i feel the value is in person...with how things have change this year not sure i can wait...my other "problem" is i am working from home and when i'm done i know I have another 3-5 hours in that same seat before i would have at least an hour or two of "rest". With that all said the WGU masters in IT management is intriguing, reading on some reviews i didn't like how people said feedback was generic, curious if thats something other WGU grads here have experienced or if its one of those one offs
    I am not sure that it matters what the feedback is like. I either passed my assignments or I did not. WGU is usually very cut and dry. I never enrolled in WGU for someone to stroke my ego or give me an atta boy. But I will say that when I was getting divorced I got a ton of support from my assigned mentor. She talked to me for an hour one day just to make sure I was OK.

    If you need someone to sit with and gab about coursework or hang out at the library with after class, WGU is not right for you. Go to a B&M. But to be honest, most all schools are in the same kind of remote situation right now.

    And back to the topic of the thread, I was thinking about what helped me most during school. It was doing something every day. Don't go a day without doing some school related activity. If I was writing an essay, I tried to do at least a paragraph on the days I didn't feel like doing school. If I was studying for a test, I'd have related YouTube/podcasts playing on the drive to work. I finished my WGU BS in one semester and my MSCSIA in two. Just keep going and if you're in the groove try to stay there.
  • srothmansrothman Member Posts: 56 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I've just completed my first year (of a three year course) with the University of Derby. I update this every now and then, and hopefully soon with an update of me passing my third trimester subject, awarding me a PG Certificate in Cyber Security as an interim qualification as I work towards the Masters. Up next are 3 more coursework modules (that'll give me a PG Diploma), and then a 1 year research project to finish off at Master level.

    Good luck. I found myself in the same boat, having to juggle work, wife, kids, life, and and and... it's not easy, but you'll figure it out. Well done on committing.
  • balancebalance MBA,CISSP-ISSMP,CISM,CISA,CRISC,CDSPE,CASP,CEH,CSM,ITIL V3,V4 Found,Sec+,Net+,Project+, ITF+ Member Posts: 203 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I am finishing up my application packet for a DSc in Cybersecurity. I need to get it done while I have the money and the time.  I have yet  to get my wife on board with the idea. 
  • E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 1,828 ■■■■■■■■■□
    balance said:
     I have yet  to get my wife on board with the idea. 
    Are you have trouble convincing her this is the right thing to do or do you mean you still haven't told her?
    Alphabet soup from (ISC)2, ISACA, GIAC, EC-Council, Microsoft, ITIL, Cisco, Scrum, and more.

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    "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." - Homer Simpson
  • FluffyBunnyFluffyBunny CISSP, OSCP, CEH, RHCE, GCCC, Pentest+, PSM-1, alphabet soupMember Posts: 116 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited December 2020
    JDMurray said:
    The two differences in Master learning over certification learning is the duration and intensity. ... ...

    In a Masters program, you are driven by the school to complete a very large amount of coursework in a comparatively short amount of time (i.e., the length of each course) over a long duration (i.e., the length of the degree program). 
    The bolded part is exactly what's holding me back from going after a Master's myself. I feel that I can't afford to take myself out of IT certification and short-term tech studies. My current stack of certs would start dropping like flies without timely renewal and since my job description varies greatly every 1-2 years I need to have the time to change hats on very short term.

    Personally I also don't see the added value to my career to go from BSc with certs to MS. I've never been rejected from positions for not having a Master's and getting one will also not have any effects on perks and monthly income. 
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  • balancebalance MBA,CISSP-ISSMP,CISM,CISA,CRISC,CDSPE,CASP,CEH,CSM,ITIL V3,V4 Found,Sec+,Net+,Project+, ITF+ Member Posts: 203 ■■■■□□□□□□
    balance said:
     I have yet  to get my wife on board with the idea. 
    Are you have trouble convincing her this is the right thing to do or do you mean you still haven't told her?
    I have discussed it with her several times , but she feels it will be a waste of money and time.  I don't see it that way.  I feel that it will add value if I decide to go into the GS system later.
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Teradata Assc 16, Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014, CSM Member Posts: 2,609 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I believe it's better to get it earlier than later if you can.  My daughter is a senior in high school this year and I insist on her getting it right after her bachelor's.  If it makes sense.  Some masters such as CRNA require experience so in those situations you are forced to work for a year or two before reentering school.   Other degrees such as MBA's can be more beneficial for seasoned professionals who have been working for a while, especially those who are starting to dabble in management, financials, etc...   However now with the 4+1 programs (In the US), you can go from Bachelor's to Masters (MBA) with one additional year.  IMO that would time wisely spent.   In fact, it would be foolish not to take them up on that offer.  

    Engineering and Sciences make the most sense to me getting them directly after your bachelor's.  In some cases, it's really required to work, such as Pharmacy, other higher-level medical, engineering, and science professions.   Even in biology, chemistry it's hard to land a decent paying job right out of school without a master's.  

    In the world of IT it really depends.  Not a great answer but it's the truth.  I don't see a strong direct correlation between senior leadership and master's degrees.  They all have bachelor's nowadays unless they were grandfathered in and somehow obtained a lot of experience.  It really comes down to you, the fact you are asking this question tells a lot. You wouldn't find a biologist or engineer asking this question it's already a foregone conclusion of the steps required to get from A to B.  

    Utlimately it's up to you.  IMO it will be nothing more than a nice to have than a must, but that may be just enough to help you get your next role or make an additional 50 k per year.  

    To your direct question, it was very hard for me to get through my master's program in my late 30's.  I found myself not enjoying the process and material.  Most of which didn't directly affect me or my career path (even years later).  Structured training and certifications would have been wiser use of time for me.   I managed by setting a strict schedule and basically blowing my family off throughout the process.  I kept telling myself it was for the best, but in the end, it really wasn't.  This is just my personal experience others probably will disagree, my point being it was really hard for me.  I find myself having an easier time focusing on one subject for long periods of time and getting into a true synthesis state with that material.  Jumping from one course to another and never really being able to deeply learn that material never sat well with me.  

    There is also the financial piece.  Will this be subsided by a company or some other organization, or do you have to pay out of pocket and how much?  Does this affect your retirement plan, how far will this set you back?

    It really has to have a true outcome or else I wouldn't do it.   Any ambiguity that accompanies such a commitment is foolish.  
  • E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 1,828 ■■■■■■■■■□

    In the world of IT it really depends.  Not a great answer but it's the truth.  I don't see a strong direct correlation between senior leadership and master's degrees.  They all have bachelor's nowadays unless they were grandfathered in and somehow obtained a lot of experience.  It really comes down to you, the fact you are asking this question tells a lot. 

    Utlimately it's up to you.  IMO it will be nothing more than a nice to have than a must, but that may be just enough to help you get your next role or make an additional 50 k per year.   

    There is also the financial piece.  Will this be subsided by a company or some other organization, or do you have to pay out of pocket and how much?  Does this affect your retirement plan, how far will this set you back?
    Between the personal development budget that each employee receives (€1,000 annually which carries over) and department budgets (which funds SANS and other trainings every year) the financial piece is a non-factor. Taking that into consideration along with having a flexible employer that provides a great work-life balance and simply that I have always wanted it is what makes me lean strongly towards it. Only one of two things will stop me at this point: if family-work duties really do not allow it due to scheduling which I plan to discuss with the program staff soon or if I am simply not accepted into the program. 

    I appreciate everyone's feedback. I definitely wasn't looking for anyone to provide any groundbreaking information that would change my decision, but simply to see how others have managed this. This is definitely more of a nice to have than a must because I have done relatively well with only a BSc and a lot of certs. Deep down I am just a glutton for punishment. 
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  • FluffyBunnyFluffyBunny CISSP, OSCP, CEH, RHCE, GCCC, Pentest+, PSM-1, alphabet soupMember Posts: 116 ■■■■□□□□□□

    I definitely wasn't looking for anyone to provide any groundbreaking information that would change my decision, but simply to see how others have managed this. ... Deep down I am just a glutton for punishment. 
    Punishment you can certainly get out of it :) 

    Years and years back... 2007... I wanted to get out of IT, so next to my day job I did a part-time BSc to become a maths teacher. That was one full year of full time work, one night a week at school (plus travel time) and weekends plus evenings of homework. It ran me quite ragged. I loved it, it was hard work and I'm still proud of what I achieved. 
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  • E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 1,828 ■■■■■■■■■□
    ... I wanted to get out of IT,
    Blasphemy!
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  • FluffyBunnyFluffyBunny CISSP, OSCP, CEH, RHCE, GCCC, Pentest+, PSM-1, alphabet soupMember Posts: 116 ■■■■□□□□□□
    ... I wanted to get out of IT,
    Blasphemy!
    Yeah, let's just say I was in a bad place at the time. Completely burned out and without a good outlook for my career. That year away got me turned around though in many ways. It got me motivated again and it reminded me how much I enjoy teaching. 
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  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,248 Mod
    Really good answers here, I'll re-iterate my (very) personal opinion here:

    - Technical Masters: I don't see a value in those, plain and simple, you're better off getting experience/certs. Money and time are better off spent elsewhere.


    - MBA: If you can afford a highly ranked B&M school go for it. Second best option would be a good online school. This will add value that you can't get through certs and it can help you move up in management & leadership roles if that's what you want. It doesn't help one bit in technical roles.



    Certs: GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE
    In Progress: MBA
  • scascscasc Member Posts: 375 ■■■■■□□□□□
    Agree with UNIXGUY on this one. Depends what you want to get out of it. I did mine straight after my BSc 15 years ago but glad I did then and not afterwards. However there are plenty of examples of people managing work load with MS studies. Before enrolling I would think hard about why you want one - fill a void/work needed/knowledge needed/nothing left to attain etc etc. 
    MSc, BSc (Hons), AWS CSA, C-CISO, CISSP, CCSP, CCSK, CISM, CISA, CRISC, GSTRT, GSNA, GDSA, GCSA, GCCC, CEH, ECSA, CHFI, TOGAF, CISMP
  • swampratswamprat Member Posts: 76 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I did the WGU MS ITM at 37 I think (finished at 38).  Balancing it will definitely be different for everyone.  Wife knew I needed to stay engaged though, and work wwasn't doing it for me.  I'd already done some high level certs, so she was used to me spendign time at desk studying.  I definitely recommend it.  Even with my degree , I got it at time thinking I wanted to go into management (I've reconsidered and don't think I'll take that path :) ), but even with the new direction I'm taking my career with technical leadership rather than management, skills I learned in that course were valuable.  IE, project management course has been great working as a member of projects, things like risk management course help me speak to CxOs in language they understand, etc. 
  • changlinnchanglinn Member Member Posts: 38 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I like you am doing my Masters in Cyber Security, have kids and a career. I'm doing my masters for myself. I don't think it will help my career all that much, potentially more into executive, but who knows. I've worked from home 100% this year, which has actually helped. My masters is 100% online, so that has helped.
    I went with CSU.edu.au as they are local (and tie in with Australian government student loans), and gave credit for Certs I had. A full 2 subject credit for CISSP, 1 for CISM, 1 for CRISC, 1 for CEH.

    I clock off work at 5-6pm and start studying or watching lectures around 2-3 nights a week during semester. Then every second weekend roughly, I have an assignment to do, and spend the whole weekend in the home office researching and typing.
    Then end of semester I usually take a couple days annual leave, and study for and take the final exam. I've passed so far, but I'm only 3 subjects in, 3 to go.
    A+, C|EH, CISSP, CISM, CRISC, GSTRT, MCSA:Messaging, MCSE:Security
    "Brain does not meet certification requirements, please install more certifications" Me
    Currently Studying: Cyber Security masters and ISC2 CCSP.
    Security blog; http://security.morganstorey.com
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