4 Reasons Getting a Masters Was the Biggest Mistake Ever

By Kyle Milligan / February 22, 2016

On paper, I am the ideal employee. I did all the right things. I went to a good school and received an undergraduate degree. I even went back and got my master’s in accounting. Then I went on to pass all four parts of the CPA Exam – while working full-time! Unfortunately I discovered shortly after graduating that I hated my job. I hated my superiors. I hated my life and I would get wasted every Sunday night and surf Facebook while I melted into an anxiety stew spiced with melancholy over the upcoming Monday.

That was my life for a while.

How did I wind up there? Simple, I chose the path that society labeled as both “successful” and “safe:” A stable field with a solid degree.

If you have something you are passionate about, pursue it instead.

I’m not anti-college or anti-education, per se, but I caution you to consider your option to pursue higher education wisely. Personally, these are the 4 reasons why getting my Masters was the biggest mistake ever:


Before I even get into numbers or empirical items, let’s talk about my self esteem, which in business school was crushed at every turn. I will never forget this one example – I was at a PwC meet and greet and we had been instructed for Deloitte, Grant Thornton, and every other firm, to meet our interviewers and develop a relationship with them before our interviews at school. At Ernst and Young’s meet and greet, the recruiter sought me out to introduce me to the partner who would be my interviewer and we got along GREAT! But not PwC. I’ll never forget it. It was this lady named Stephanie. We were standing at the chocolate fountain and I asked her who my interviewer was and she looked at me like I had just grabbed her ass. “THAT IS SO UNPROFESSIONAL.” I thought she was kidding. She wasn’t. She complained on me and I was called into the MAC program director’s office. I felt terrible and embarrassed. I didn’t know any better. Fuck her. I hope some day someone forwards this to her. Stephanie of PwC- Fuck you.

That’s just one example. There are other examples, tons, of me making mistakes here and there, and then being made to feel stupid for them. It actually got worse when I started working.

My first Senior had it out for me from day one and she made my life hell. On my first day I told her I would be the best Staff Accountant she had ever had. I was stoked and I wanted our team to be the best. She took umbrage with my “arrogance” and, to put me in my place, refused to ever give me straight answers to any of my inquiries on the job. She would tell me to request documents from clients or to ask them questions even I didn’t understand, then FOLLOW ME, then belittle me in front of them when I inevitably messed up. Just to show me who’s boss! Witnesses of this behavior complained on her but for me the damage was done. I felt so embarrassed and stressed at work I rarely asked for help from anyone when I didn’t know what to do. When I did ask for help I was so stressed and defensive I couldn’t retain the information. My enthusiasm drained, I was eventually terminated for poor performance. Fuck ’em. I make more in sales anyways.

Student Loan Debt

Obviously debt. I remember it dawning on me as I sat in Corporate Finance. We were learning about interest and time value of money when all of a sudden it hit me – I was fucked. As we worked through problem after problem I plugged in my personal numbers and started sweating. At the time I signed my loan agreements I was young and naive. I had no idea what I was getting into. Once I graduated I had to make payments in excess of $800 for student loans. That is just insane, I don’t care how much money you make. I fought furiously to pay off some of the debt as quickly as possible. All while dealing with a hostile work environment, studying for the CPA, and getting drunk every Sunday night. Even after paying down about $10,000 worth of student debt and restructuring, I still managed to spend over $3,100 in just INTEREST in 2015. Not principle. Just interest. Thanks, System. Fuck you, too.

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It took a year of my life to go through the MAC program and about another year and a half of worriment for me to admit I wasn’t built to be an accountant. It will take me 20 years to pay off the debt. I’m 27 now. If I had went straight from high school into sales I would have started at age 17. With ten years of sales experience I would just be stupid loaded right now. Even if I had went into sales straight out of undergrad I would be much better off. I would be making more because of the extra time spent in the field, instead of dawdling around for over a year in a “safer” career, and I wouldn’t have had so much debt. I’ll never get that time back. And as a result I bust ass to break even. Even when I make insane commission checks at work, I never see any of the money. I don’t think the people around me understand the misery of that. Fuck it.

…I liked my sales colleagues, though. 🙂

It Wasn’t My Dream

This is the most important lesson that I learned the hard way. My dream has always been to own my own business, be my own boss. When I justified a master’s in accounting to myself, it always came from a place of: “What better way to learn how to operate my own business than learning the language of business?” You might be nodding your head, and it’s a pretty convincing position, but ultimately there is a better way…

The best way to learn how to operate your own business is to OPERATE YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

BE DIRECT. Go after what you want. I said it here – “The best way to work on your passion is to work on your passion.

I took the easy way- the safe way. I figured at the very least I could have a valuable degree and skill set in my back pocket lest I should ever need work. The problem was, and still is, being an accountant isn’t my dream. And because I have a clear vision of what my dream looks like, I will always resent doing anything else besides my dream.

Everything else is a distraction.

I could have easily went for my dream out of undergrad or even high school and learned accounting on the side from books. I didn’t need to climb debt-mountain to do so.

Again, I’m not anti-education or anti-college, I am anti-pussyfooting. If you want to be a NURSE, of course you must go to school.

Just BE DIRECT. Boldly go after exactly what you want. Be unapologetic and don’t listen to naysayers. Life is too short for all that.

And fuck pussyfooting.

About the author

Kyle Milligan

I'm Kyle Milligan. I really enjoy writing. I wrote a couple novels (The Hang-Ups and Hangovers series) and now I blog frequently on a bunch of different websites. I also enjoy lifting heavy things and and writing about it.

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