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Thread: friend wants exact same degree

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    #1

    friend wants exact same degree

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    I have a good friend that DH and I hang out with regularly. She's had a lot of trouble figuring out what she wants to do in life. She recently decided she wants an MPH degree in environmental health & toxicology. Now I love my field, but there is basically no future for this degree. Hence why I currently work in ethics and clinical research. I've tried very hard to find more environmental jobs, but it's very, very hard. Many corporations want an MS degree instead, and most academic/non-profits have very few openings and want a PhD. I started my degree 2.5 years ago in a transition program for a PhD but they stopped offering it the semester I started because its just not a growing field. My adviser lost nearly all her funding the 2 years I had classes with her.

    so, should I advise my friend NOT to get this same degree? Its not an easy field to succeed in and MPH degrees get very little funding (meaning she'd need to get even more student loans-- my degree cost over 40K JUST for tuition alone) but she feels like she's found her life focus and passion. I hate to be a total Debbie downer. What should I say to her?
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    #2
    Well, if you're in the field already, I'd think she would appreciate hearing what the reality is. Especially if you're able to suggest another similar degree.

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    #3
    I wouldn't tell her not to get the degree, but you could say something like "Oh that's great that you're getting this degree! Here's some stuff I wish I had known when I was getting mine:" and then tell her your experiences. If you frame it as sharing your knowledge to help her I don't think it would go over bad or rub her the wrong way or anything. More like just a heads-up of some of the challenges of that particular field.
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by rocket_lizz View Post
    I have a good friend that DH and I hang out with regularly. She's had a lot of trouble figuring out what she wants to do in life. She recently decided she wants an MPH degree in environmental health & toxicology. Now I love my field, but there is basically no future for this degree. Hence why I currently work in ethics and clinical research. I've tried very hard to find more environmental jobs, but it's very, very hard. Many corporations want an MS degree instead, and most academic/non-profits have very few openings and want a PhD. I started my degree 2.5 years ago in a transition program for a PhD but they stopped offering it the semester I started because its just not a growing field. My adviser lost nearly all her funding the 2 years I had classes with her.

    so, should I advise my friend NOT to get this same degree? Its not an easy field to succeed in and MPH degrees get very little funding (meaning she'd need to get even more student loans-- my degree cost over 40K JUST for tuition alone) but she feels like she's found her life focus and passion. I hate to be a total Debbie downer. What should I say to her?
    I'd tell her your experience and give her a warning that she might want to approach the field differently.

    I find it weird that you've seen the degree become such a dead end. In my college the EOH people seem to be getting the most grants and they usually have the highest salaries of the MPH concentrations.

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    #5
    Personally, I would want someone to give me a heads up. If I were about to pursue a degree and someone IN that degree came and told me that they would suggest otherwise, I'd take that into consideration and try to figure out an alternative route to go.
    I agree with Tojai in part, don't frame it as "dont go for this degree," but I kinda think you need to be a bit more forward than just sharing your experience. When I was in undergrad, I wanted to do Marine Biology. But that degree leads to jobs different than what marbies (marine bio majors) perceive. They are rudely awakened to find that MARB doesn't lead to doing dolphin rescues or animal husbandry, but instead leads to a lot of field work/research/etc. Once I found out that the degree wasn't what I wanted (conservation efforts, policy, etc), I changed majors. I thought MARB was my calling... but it wasn't. And I was grateful for the people who told me "I suggest you reevaluate your interests and consider the jobs that this leads to."

    In your situation, OP, I think you should be clear and tell her that its more of a struggle to go anywhere after completing this degree. Advise her to maybe look at job postings of what she wants to do, and work backwards.
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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Tojai View Post
    I wouldn't tell her not to get the degree, but you could say something like "Oh that's great that you're getting this degree! Here's some stuff I wish I had known when I was getting mine:" and then tell her your experiences. If you frame it as sharing your knowledge to help her I don't think it would go over bad or rub her the wrong way or anything. More like just a heads-up of some of the challenges of that particular field.
  7. MilitarySOS Jewel
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by #luci View Post
    Personally, I would want someone to give me a heads up. If I were about to pursue a degree and someone IN that degree came and told me that they would suggest otherwise, I'd take that into consideration and try to figure out an alternative route to go.
    I agree with Tojai in part, don't frame it as "dont go for this degree," but I kinda think you need to be a bit more forward than just sharing your experience. When I was in undergrad, I wanted to do Marine Biology. But that degree leads to jobs different than what marbies (marine bio majors) perceive. They are rudely awakened to find that MARB doesn't lead to doing dolphin rescues or animal husbandry, but instead leads to a lot of field work/research/etc. Once I found out that the degree wasn't what I wanted (conservation efforts, policy, etc), I changed majors. I thought MARB was my calling... but it wasn't. And I was grateful for the people who told me "I suggest you reevaluate your interests and consider the jobs that this leads to."

    In your situation, OP, I think you should be clear and tell her that its more of a struggle to go anywhere after completing this degree. Advise her to maybe look at job postings of what she wants to do, and work backwards.

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    #8
    Are you still in contact with that professor you had? You could offer to introduce them via email and so she can talk to someone in the field without the friendship stuff mixed in.
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    #9
    As someone who has a Master of Public Policy and has seen government opportunities vanish with the recession, I suggest getting a degree that has good job outcomes. Paying month after month for a degree you aren't entirely using is a tough pill to swallow. Don't get me wrong, I love my degree and my job is great, it's just not exactly as a "policy analyst." I use my degree everyday, but because my job doesn't explicitly require such training, I am not rewarded for it. Lots of my classmates got good jobs in my field and are making 20K more than me, but if I was to do it again, I'd try and find something with a professional designation.
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    #10
    Thanks everyone!

    I hung out with her last night and we talked about it a lot. Apparently she didn't know there were tons of other MPH career paths, so I explained some of the others and she was very interested in some other ones like epidemiology or health education. So yeah, I told her about how tough it's been to find a job in my actual field and told her about what kind of classes I had to take, and recommended some people for her to talk to.

    We discussed a lot about funding issues. She actually doesn't have any loans from her B.A., so she's willing to take on some debt if necessary. She specifically wants to work in gov't so one of the other MPH paths would probably be better for her.

    Also, Ashley, my degree programs separates EOH & Toxicology into 2 separate paths. I picked the wrong one The EOH people do indeed have an easy time finding positions. The trouble with my toxicology focus is that actual toxicologist positions require an MS instead, because they are more laboratory based.
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