Should I quit my job in order to better focus on my academics?
posted by Scientist to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So I'm a university student, 26 years old, second semester as a Freshman, and back in school for the second time around. I'm doing well and I love everything about my life, except for my job.
I've been working the same job for the last two years or so, about a year longer than I've been back at school. It's a fairly lame service-sector job, but it's been relatively easy and stress-free up 'til now and I've been able to balance it against my academics to prevent it from unduly affecting my grades. Recently, things have changed a bit.
First, this semester is a little harder than the previous one. Classes are mostly still pretty smooth, but I'm taking a significantly heavier credit load (16 instead of 12) and the work is a bit more technical. It requires more of my time, and I'm starting to find that my need to study and do homework is butting up a bit against my need to pay the bills. Next semester will be significantly more serious – more on that later.
Second, work has gotten more stressful. I've recently moved into more of a managerial position and it pays a little better but not much. There's more responsibility though, and I find that I worry more about work when I'm not working. Also I'm responsible for the heaviest shifts, which means I'm there every Friday and Saturday night, usually until at least 2AM. Overall I find that this combines to make me feel tired and anxious about work, which is not something that I really need from that part of my life.
I don't think that there's a lot of wiggle room to try to create a compromise. Things at the shop are a little tight overall and in my recent conversations with my boss I've gotten the impression that there's not a lot of room for me to cut hours or rejigger my schedule. Cutting hours would mean not paying my bills, in any case. So I feel like if I can't maintain the status quo, I need to quit.
Now, I was planning on quitting fairly soon anyway. As I said above next semester is going to be significantly more serious, and I want to move from my current job to a work-study position (hopefully a non-technical position in a lab, such as washing dishes) and from there into a technical lab position in the summer after I've gotten some more lab experience under my belt. Classes will be more difficult, the credit load will be heavier again, and I just don't think that my current employment will be sustainable. So I was already planning on transitioning out of my current job in a couple of months. My question is about whether I should push that schedule up and give my two weeks notice sometime in the next week or so.
The only thing that worries me is the obvious: if I quit, how am I going to get money? I don't have a lot of savings. Between tuition, fees, rent, bills, food, gas, etc I pretty much use all the money I make in a given month. I'm not starving mind you, but I have to scrape a little occasionally. I'd say my minimum expenses are probably about $1500 a month.
I do have some money (about $8000) stashed away in a mutual fund, the remains of my college fund which my parents were kind enough to turn over to me after my first failed attempt at school, lo these many moons ago. It will be used up regardless by the end of my academic career, but I could pull from it now to cover my expenses for the next few months.
I could also apply for loans – my church offers a low-interest loan of about $2500 which I could probably get pretty quickly, and there may be other options which would be available in the short term (if you know of any, I'd love to hear about it here). I'm not crazy about the idea of going into debt, but it's something that I've come to terms with somewhat and I was fully expecting to have to do it eventually – just not for another semester or two.
In the longer term I intend to get more agressive about applying for grants and scholarships (I currently get a pell grant of a couple of grand which helps a lot with tuition, and I have some AmeriCorps money available as well, again about a couple grand) as well as the aforementioned work study and eventual lab work. So I don't intend to be living entirely off of loan money, except for these next few months in the event that I quit my job right away.
I must confess, the idea of being able to focus 100% on school is very attractive. I love my classes and the work that I'm doing in them, and I'd like to be able to have time to properly devote myself, which I don't think I'm fully doing right now. I'd like to be able to have a steady sleep schedule instead of having to stay up until two or three in the morning every weekend and spend the first part of my school week feeling tired and hungover, recovering only in time to begin the next work week. I'd like to be free of the stress and anxiety about a job which is essentially irrelevant to my long-term success.
So, should I take the plunge? If so, what's the best way to go about managing the next few months and transitioning into the next semester? If not, what might I do instead to make the next few months more bearable? I don't think I'm headed for a major breakdown or anything, but I think that I could be doing better than I am.
Thank you all for your time and for the considerate and thoughtful answers that this community is so famous for. I look forward to reading your replies.