Michael on April 28th, 2008
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I just read the results of a Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive Personal Finance Poll. The emphasis of the press release (and related media coverage) is their finding that about one-quarter of those saving for retirement had prematurely withdrawn their funds. I’m not sure this is surprising. Personally, it seems like I talk to people everyday who have taken early retirement plan distributions. To me, this finding is certainly disappointing, but it is not surprising.

Call me crazy, but I like finding things that are truly surprising or at least good blog topics.

For example, take a look at this paragraph:

Despite the decline in offering traditional pensions, over one-third of respondents with some graduate school experience expect to rely on a pension. This could be due to the type of employment that requires a graduate degree.

I’m a bit more skeptical. I’ve got a graduate degree. I’ve got plenty of friends with graduate degrees. I also know people who never contemplated college, let alone going to graduate school. Want to know what we all have in common?

We’re not getting defined benefit pensions. Now, if the statistic said that a couple of percent more graduate students believed they were going to get pensions, I wouldn’t make a big deal of this. But a third of all graduate students to rely on a pension? That’s not even close to reality. Paris Hilton has a better grasp of what’s going on in the real world.

My theory is that graduate students just haven’t looked at this “retirement planning stuff” too closely. They’re hoping that their education will make them more secure financially. The good news is that it can. The bad news is that it only does if they, like everyone else, understand the new world they live in, and take matters into their own hands.

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How about we vote? Just comment below with the following:

  • Did you attend graduate school?
  • Are you getting a defined benefit pension?

My theory is those who understand that a defined benefit pension isn’t the same as a 401(k)) already have a greater understanding and therefore long-term likelihood of reaching a successful financial future.

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9 Comments to “Does graduate school get you a pension?”

  1. Kacy says:

    I did not graduate college, let alone graduate school, and as of now, I am not receiving a define benefit plan.

  2. bethh says:

    Grad school = yes; Pension plan? heavens no.

  3. Michael says:

    I suppose I should vote too. I went to grad school and never worked at a company that provided me with a defined benefit pension plan.

    So far one trend has emerged: 0 for 3 on defined benefit pensions. Let’s see if other readers responses change our pattern. I’m skeptical.

  4. Matthew says:

    Well, I didn’t go to grad school, but I do have a defined benefit pension plan. 30 years of service for 2/3 of the average of my best 5 years of salary.
    I think the correlation between grad school and pensions is probably related to the correlation between grad school and teaching positions. Many school systems and universities still have pensions for their faculty, and often many of these people have at least some graduate school. Obviously more so for university professors. I think what a lot of grad school students (obviously excepting the MBA epidemic) expect to do is go into academia.

  5. Michael says:

    I agree – there must be a correlation between those going into teaching as a profession and those who attended grad school. But 1/3? There aren’t that many university instructors! You mention the MBA, but they’re also all the other “professional” degrees, like law school, medicine (doctors, dentists, psychologists). Comparatively few of those folks have aspirations to teach at university, let alone actually do so. Plus, their class sizes are much larger than the archeology PhD programs that lead a higher percentage to university-based employment. My thoughts anyway – thanks for the comment!

  6. boston phd says:

    Graduate degree and defined benefit plan if I hang around long enough.

  7. Wooly Woman says:

    Graduate school yes, but no pension. My husband did not go to graduate school and has a bachelor degree and a trade, and yes he will get a pension. Trades seem better for pensions, at least here in Canada.

  8. Ted says:

    Graduate degrees: Yes Pension Yes, and a defined benefit program, no less!

  9. Grad (law) school yes. Pension yes, though I\’m not yet vested in the system.

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