Saturday, September 20, 2008

While I am Waiting to Have Money For My Masters Degree

Did I tell you I am going back to school? My first class just started.

One of the things I have been thinking about a lot over the last year is that I am really not happy with my day to day job. It has many benefits and has taken good care of me over the years, but it isn't a love of mine or a passion. We spend so much of our lives at work - I want to feel connected to what I do, to care about it. Lately I've been feeling like I am running on autopilot - barely connected to my job. I'm not willing to give up my job right now by any means, but I am moving in the direction of getting reeducated to make a complete career change. For me, this means a Masters degree.

Now, I know there are folks out there who say going back to school can be needless expense and you will not get a good return on your investment. Some experts suggest finding ways to work or volunteer in your field of interest and work your way into your dream job that way. I think that's a good idea, but I also feel it should be combined with formal education in some circumstances - particularly those circumstances where you don't stand a chance without a degree. Like mine. I want go into Library Sciences with an emphasis on Archival Studies. My background and Bachelors Degree is in Marketing.

So here I am with a resume of Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Advertising and Product Development experience, but not a lick of practical experience in my career of choice. (Unless you count online selling of used books!) I would love to volunteer somewhere and have even looked into it. Unfortunately, the places I have found that would make for good experience in my hometown want someone for day work, and with my schedule I'm just not available at this point. (It is something I will be working on in the future though.)

So, what to do? I want a Masters Degree but I have neither the time to go full time or the money to go at all. Well, if you have been reading this blog for awhile you know that I am a big one for practical research - for throwing myself in and seeing what works (and what doesn't) and for constantly digging up ideas on how I can make things happen.

First the realities - As long as all my resources and money is tied to this house my options are a bit limited. The school I want to attend is a couple hours away and it isn't cheap. Even if I were accepted and could get scholarships, I would still have this house as a monkey on my back. My feeling is that it is I need to take care of business, keep my head above water and along with making sure I can pay the mortgage, slowly work on getting the house ready to go back on the market. I am hoping that the housing crises and lending problems will be fairly resolved in the next couple of years. If so, I hope to be able to put it up for sale by June of 2011.

But what about in the meantime? What do I do while I am waiting to have the money and freedom to go back to school and get my Masters degree?

The first thing I decided to do was to head back to school at our local community college. Why? To take some courses in areas of my interest. Even though these classes won't apply towards my Masters, I am thinking about my college application. Hopefully I will be able to say, "Here is what I have been doing the last three years. Here is why I am an exceptional candidate for your school." I am also taking a class through the nonprofit board I am on that is on nonprofit administration. Since pretty much all the places that might hire me in the field I want to work will be nonprofits, it seems like a great opportunity. Plus, the community college has whole classes for about the cost of a credit hour at the university, so this is also a good way for me to dip my toe in and make sure I really do want to go back to school - without big financial risks.

I did a lot of research and already joined a couple of archivists societies, so I receive their newsletters and emailed round table discussions. I also looked on government websites for the qualification and suggested areas of study for my area. They suggested concentrations in archeology, anthropology, and art history (basically all classes that start with A!) So, I took the rebate check I got at the beginning of this year and used it to enroll in an online class on Archeology. (Coming up with next semester's payment might be harder unless I get a surprise stimulus check in the mail.)

Regardless of what happens, I am learning something new and interesting. It is making me a richer person, and besides, so far its been fun!

Articles I have found interesting:

Brip Blap - When Does Intellectual Curiosity Stop?

Gather Little By Little - Do the Work You Love to Do

PennyJobs - Do What You Love or Love What You Do?

Photo by: JustABigGeek


laura @ no more spending said...

i'm like you dawn, on autopilot at my day job, but unwilling to leave until my debts are gone.
It's important that you find a job you have passion about, life is so short.
You're right to take some classes etc in the mean time, at least then you will feel like you are taking a step in the right direction :)

Dawn said...

Thanks Laura! I had breakfast yesterday with my sister who just happens to be taking a sign language course just because she has always wanted to. She said that she is working on being a better, happier person. I guess that is part of taking this class for me as well. No matter what happens, I am having a lot of fun learning!

Budgets are Sexy. said...

Congrats on going back to school! That's always a great investment for sure :)