When I was in high school, I didn’t realize I wanted to be financially free by the time I was 35. I didn’t realize I was going to try different entrepreneurial ventures and house hack for 2.5 years. There were many reasons why I picked my major in college, which were not for financial reasons.
That being said, I would be lying to you if I didn’t look at the average salary that various majors get coming out of college: Liberal Arts majors only make $30-40k on average out of college, and Science and Engineering students make $55-65k on average out of college.
Every decision we make in the present affects our future. Luckily, I looked at post-graduation salaries, and made a great decision to major in a quantitative discipline.
In this post, I will be discussing why I picked mathematics as my major in college, how graduate school has had a tremendous effect on my ability to earn and save, and how it’s helping my pursuit of financial independence.
Earning is the First Step to Pursuing Financial Independence
If your goal is financial independence, increasing your income is crucial to your success. If you want to draw down your savings at 4% a year, and want to live a life where you are spending $80,000 a year, you will need a nest egg of $2,000,000. To get to the 2 million dollar nest egg, you will need to earn, save, and invest to get there.
If I’m making $50,000 a year and saving $15,000 of it, it will take me many, many more years to reach a $2,000,000 nest egg than if I’m making $100,000 and saving $30,000.
Going back to my days in high school and early college, I was right in picking a major that helped me grow as a person and help me build my analytical abilities.
Why I Picked Mathematics for my Major in College
I love to problem solve and create things. I love to see the connections between objects that may not have an obvious relationship. Something about numbers and following a step-by-step problem solving process just clicks with me.
My senior year of high school, I took AP Calculus BC and fell in love with it. I really enjoyed every bit of it – especially the time series expansion of a function – where the majority of my classmates struggled with the concepts. I studied and studied and earned a 5 on the AP test, and was able to skip over the first 2 courses in college.
Finding a Job with a Math Major
Since I was able to pass over the first 2 calculus classes, this put me on the fast track to graduating. I came in as a sophomore because of my credits and was set to graduate in 3 years. As a 20 year old math major, with little to no applied knowledge, I knew I needed to get some more education.
I applied and was successful in getting into a Master’s of Financial Math program to further my education. At the same time, I wanted to test the job market. I was working as a bookkeeper at a hotel and restaurant management company making $16 an hour. At the very least, maybe I could increase my wage to $20-25 an hour and gain some additional skills.
When I was interviewing, I was a little bit disappointed. Many of the jobs for a mathematics undergrad paid in the $40-45k range, and were not all that interesting. Looking back, a computer science degree may have been the way to go, but I didn’t go with that.
I continued to work as a bookkeeper and started the Master’s program. A year later, I started interviewing again and successfully secured an offer at a highly reputable financial firm. My starting pay? $63,000 salary and a 8% bonus ($5k). In just 2 years of additional school, I’d increased my income by $20,000. I’d say that worked out to my advantage!
Fast Forward to 2018
Making money and increasing my income are 2 of my overarching goals at this stage in my life. With more money, I can put more money to work via investments. With more money in investments, I will grow my net worth. Then, with a growing net worth, in the future, I’ll have more options. And with more options, I’ll be able to do anything.
But that’s not why I want to share my successes with you. I want you to be able to achieve the same success as me – that’s why I write at The Mastermind Within.
I’d built a reputation as a high performer at work, and received solid raises over the past few years. My knowledge is meaningless unless I share it with you.
As I wrote in my post, How I Earned Over $105,000 at Age 25, I earned over $88,000 from my day job. This year, I should earn closer to $100,000 from my day job, as my salary and bonus approach that number.
Without this advanced education, I don’t think I would have been able to grow my salary so quickly from $16 an hour to $63,000 a year + an 8% bonus to $88,000 a year + a 10% bonus!
Why You Should Consider an Advanced Level of Education
By now, you probably know all the reasons not to go to grad school. If, after a bachelor’s degree, you are still “searching for yourself” or desperately avoiding the terror of the real-world job hunt, it may be better to read more of my posts and assess your goals 🙂
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t good reasons to go to grad school.
A graduate-level education can enhance your lifestyle in a number of ways – especially if you now how to take advantage of advanced education.
Here are the major benefits of master degrees (and above) and a how-to guide for those who are possibly interested in higher education:
Big Benefits of Grad School
Graduate degrees are quite valuable, for both personal development and career enrichment. By obtaining a graduate degree, you can expect the following:
- Personal growth.
- You should grow intellectually, but through your experiences you might also enhance your emotional capabilities.
- On average – across employment fields and U.S. state lines – Graduate degree-holders earn about 30 percent more than workers with merely a bachelor’s degree. (I was able to increase my salary $20,000 through my graduates studies!)
- Professional networking opportunities abound in graduate programs, but social connections are also common. Many people meet their lifelong friends and loved ones in grad school.
- Those with graduate degrees often enjoy higher social status than others. Master degrees and Ph.D.s are prestigious and earn praise and respect as a result.
Simple Steps to Grad School
If you are interested in going on to graduate school at some point, you can do so with the aid of the following tips:
Depending on where you hope to direct your career, the institution that provides your graduate degree may or may not matter. If you want to remain in academia, you should strive to obtain a degree from the highest-ranking school. Otherwise, if you intend to enter industry, then the knowledge and skills you gain – as well as the connections you make – are far more important.
Every school’s applications will vary, but in almost all situations, you will submit a resume (or CV) and a personal statement. You should channel most of your energy into this latter document because a memorable and well-written personal statement can forgive all sorts of mistakes in your education and work history.
Finally, you should start the applications process early, months before any deadlines. This ensures you relax and refine your application materials – and it lowers the likelihood of you skipping or forgetting any important elements, like exams or letters of recommendation.
Grad school is expensive – even more expensive than undergrad. Thus, unless you want to spend the rest of your life paying off student loans, you should seek alternative sources of funding wherever possible.
Scholarships and grants are widely offered for all sorts of grad programs. Additionally, you can reduce the price of applications by taking advantage of short-term deals, like a GMAT waiver for an MBA which eliminates the costs of studying and taking the entry exam.
Likely, you will need to find part-time employment to afford rent and groceries; you should start by looking for paying positions in your graduate program. Professors are often looking for aids or assistants to help instruct classes, grade papers, administer exams, or perform research.
I worked as a bookkeeper for 3 years during my undergrad and graduate studies. I was making between $12-16 an hour, and this helped me be able to leave school with only $8,000 in student loan debt.
Many of the skills you will cultivate to survive and thrive in grad school are applicable to your career after you complete your education. For example, it is vital that you gain excellent time management skills, which will help you juggle your studies with your work, your social life, and your other obligations. Additionally, you will need to acquire organization skills to keep your notes and assignments in order.
While grad school will be difficult, it can also be quite rewarding. As long as you balance your studies with other fun and fulfilling activities, you will come out of school in a much better spot than before: more valuable and with more skills than before.
Getting my Master’s degree allowed me to increase my income by $20,000 in 2 years, and then after being in the workplace for 3 years, another $30,000!
I’m not saying it’s necessary to go to grad school.
My point is learning doesn’t stop at high school or college.
Continuing your education through reading books or blog, going to grad school, or taking courses online can push you along on your path to achieving your goals.
Readers: what do you think about advanced education? Do you have a success story you’d like to share from more education?
Thanks for reading!
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