Work or Further My Studies

I have been thinking whether I should work or further my studies.

The thought of being able to pack my bags and go to some far off country to study always excites me. However, it simply does not make financial sense and the allowance will be too little for my family to survive.

I was thinking whether I stood any chance for getting one of those A*STAR scholarships.

Anyone has any idea how difficult it is to get in. I only have a 2nd uppers.


  1. FF,

    what is your major?
    Also... what is the rationale for further studies?

  2. Only if the additional degree will help you get the job you really want and if you family is supportive of this decision.

    I went overseas to do a masters degree and still think it's one of the best decisions of my life - both for personal and professional development. But I was 25, married but with no mortgage and no children. Financially it was tough, living like a student again (think cheap food, cramp housing) but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything else.

  3. What is the cost of an oversea master degree like?

  4. be careful if it is used as a form of escapism from reality. you'll still need your earned income. the long you delay, the more painful it is.

  5. createwealth8888: I'm assuming you are asking me in my previous comment. The fees alone was Euro 40k for a 16-months program. Living expenses were roughly Euro 800 on a tight budget.

  6. 40k Euro... 100k SGD....

    A masters student can probably earn 100k in a year. But how long will it take him to save 100k?

    Not forgetting the opportunity cost of earning income during that 16 mths...

  7. You only live once and decisions to go overseas to study are best made when you are in your 20s, compared to when you are 30s. FF, only you can make this call, weighing the opportunity costs against the gains (a career change perhaps, better career fulfillment, etc), which may be difficult to quantity in $. It's a diffcult call because you have a mortgage and you also have a child. But bearing in mind you are looking at a scholarship, so at least most of your costs will be covered.

    For the record, because my masters degree enabled me to make a career change into investment banking, then into the buy-side, I repaid my study loans within the 1st year and saved 100k and more by the 2nd year. In my 4th year, my total salary was around 500k. Of course, it could have gone the other way. When we graduated (we, as in my husband and me did the same masters degree), we were poor, with around 2k left in our combined bank account and wondering how long we can live in London before we get a job. But we were young and were willing to take risks. Now, we cannot imagine how our lives might have been if we had remained in Singpapore following the same career path we did when we graduated (both from local U).

    Did we have skeptics? yes. Did our friends think we were stupid? yes. Did our families think we were irresponsible? yes. Were we scared? yes. Did we regret? no. We were young (me 25, him 29) and perhaps a bit crazy.

    Having said that, are we back in the rat race? hell, yes at an even higher level :-) Do I work crazy hours? yes. Do I love my job? no but it allows me to perhaps retire in a few years.

    So FF, ask yourself why do you want another degree? Is it escapism or something else?

  8. My course mate had an A-star scholarship. He was 2nd class honours and is currently a phd serving his bond in one of the institutions.

    Did he regret taking it? Yes...because it's a highly paid lab technician. I suspect you'll find the same grinding as your previous job.

    Still, some pple had dreams of being a phd/masters, so why not? You live only once. Just live responsibly for that one time :)

  9. Hi Anonymous,

    not everyone gets to be an investment banker. You are a top income earner, I think we can't be using you as a gauge cos a masters does not guarantee a job.

    My colleague has a masters. On top of that, he has an MBA. I come from a local uni and have no masters. However, I am on par with my colleague but he is 4 years older than me. You do the math.

    Like you, I work in the financial industry too. I might not be making 500k but my field within the financial instituition allows me to command a decent pay. Unlike you, I like what I am doing.

    I suppose it depends on every individual. Its great that you are doing very well in life. I'm sure you are the envy of most.

    By the way, if you do need an assistant, i'm available. 150k per annum will do. Thanks


  10. I took more than 1 year thinking so hard to invest in MBA or stocks and I choose stocks. May be I am just too lazy to study.

  11. Hi Gohsip,

    Thanks for your reply. I'm glad you like your job. It goes to show $ cannot buy happiness :-) 500K may be a lot to some but in my job/ field, it's on the lower rung, so it's all relative.

    Sure, it could have turned out the other way. We could still be paying off study loans after 5 years and holding perhaps just a slightly better job than before. But the overseas experience, living in a few countries, making new friends , etc were happy memories that we will still reflect upon for many many years to come. Those were times when we were poor money-wise but rich in the "mind", if that's the right way to describe it. You don't know what opportunities are out there unless you put yourself out there. It's high risk and takes you out of your comfort zone. Like everything to do with high risks, rewards, especially the monetary ones, are not guaranteed.

    I guess I've already said too much. Being on medical leave (which explains why I'm so free) makes me a bit reflective. I don't normally leave comments but felt compelled to leave some on this particular post. I've only recently started to read this blog, which I find interesting and obviously this FF had done something quite unconventional as a Singaporean.

  12. Hi Anonymous and Goship,

    may I know the working hours for you in the financial industry?

  13. JW - are you going to compute a wage/hour?

    TBH, I can't really answer that question. I do what it takes to finish the task or project. The deadline is always yesterday :-)

  14. Hi, both your answers were LOL-grade...

    For me, engineering job + tutoring job, together with my own portfolio management and spending time with gf leaves me with 5 hrs for sleep everyday :(

    But at the moment, for me who graduated in 2008, I can still rake in about 80k per year inclusive of CPF...

  15. Scientists Finding Out What Losing Sleep Does to a Body

  16. Hey FF,

    if I had the money i would want to do a masters. But unfortunately, I don't. =p

  17. Wow. Did not realise there was a buzz of activity going on around this post. I guess it is because most of us have thought about furthering our studies at some point in our lives.

    All your comments are the very thoughts that are going through my head right now. Should I spent all my hard earned savings just to buy an experience that I will never be able to get? Or should I just use my money wisely and invest it?

    The fact of the matter is that I majored in engineering but did not really do anything related to engineering. So that by itself is an obstacle in itself for furthering my studies.

    I am going to be 30 soon and it will be impossible to uproot my entire family then. (Okay, possible yet with lots of challenges)

    Going on a scholarship with an allowance might not be enough for me to survive.

    500k a year is a lot. Any openings at where you are working? =)

  18. Only if the additional degree will help you get the job you really want and if you family is supportive of this decision.


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