Should I stay or should I go?
July 28, 2009 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Should I stay or should I go?

I started college a year ago. Since then, I've found two horrible jobs: one which doesn't pay me unless I fight for it, and the other, until recently, was good but due to one small mix-up has taken a turn for the worse. The second company I have a contract with. Quitting that job would result in me paying back a years worth of rent, which I can hardly afford. I can, however, move within the company, meaning that I don't have to stay at this location.

For a while before both jobs took a turn for the worse, I was contemplating moving out to the west coast (namely Seattle) and finishing college there. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy at my current school, I just think that as a computer science major with a part-time commitment to another company (therefore during the summer I have to stay in the area) I would have more opportunities on the West Coast than I would in the Chicago-Indianapolis area. After weighing the pros and the cons I thought that staying at my current school would be the best for me. I'm not the best student here, but I have myself set up for success. I am in a position where nearly every professor in the department knows and likes me, and I have quite a few contacts at companies that I would risk losing by moving.

Then the problems with my job and the college itself started. Something happened at job #2 that was one of those "it's not your fault, but we need someone to blame" issues. Now I've been hit with a level of resentment that makes it impossible to get anything done or feel any sort of comfort in my work environment. At school I found out that for the second year in a row I am being refused the right to file my FAFSA as an independent despite being one on several levels, including taxes (filing as a dependent I am not eligible for any aide, but the idea of my parents contributing to my education is rather laughable). So now I'm back where I started. I need to finish the last year of my lease, but if I decide to move I'm probably going to take the year off of college and just work. I've talked about this all with my boyfriend (he's been my substitute family since I moved out almost, so his opinion does count) and he thinks it's ludicrous that I would give up my advantages for the unknown, especially since he plans to stay here for grad school (I don't think he'll make it in, so I don't know how seriously to take that concern, but that's a different story).

Better working environment
Extensive world-wide travel (my contemporaries on the West Coast do world travel frequently)
A chance to see a new place (never been to Washington, and only Southern California)
Better chances at an internship and real part-time experience
Possibly more networking with companies
Different outlook on academics/new teaching style
Small (~$1,500) tuition decrease for out-of-state, Larger (~$5,000) if I can find a way to get in-state

Boyfriend thinks I should stay/is staying
Almost have in-state tuition
Already very well established in my current area
Highly thought of despite not being strong academically
Loan companies will probably expect me to start paying them back (since I've been out of school for 6 months)

There are more factors that play in, but those are on an emotional level. I could add them into this, but I think in the end those have to be my choices and it would be pointless to act as if it were otherwise. What do I do?
posted by semp to Education (16 answers total)
do you actually have an opening out west? or are you expecting to find one once you get there?

meet a financial aid counselor at your school, talk to them about your fafsa issues - you are definitely not the first one to be unfairly denied.

you're pretty darn lucky to have not one, but two crappy jobs while in school - many people aren't even able to get that far

. . . you should stay in school. everyone should ALWAYS stay in school.
posted by Think_Long at 8:42 AM on July 28, 2009

Response by poster: I am guaranteed an opening out West. Besides this one problem I've been a great employee. Word has gotten around far enough that one manager actually requested I move out to work for him.

I don't consider not getting paid a crappy job at this point. Actually, I hesitate even calling it a job. I've been thinking of it more as voluntary torture.
posted by semp at 8:53 AM on July 28, 2009

Stop allowing your parents to claim you a dependent on their taxes.
posted by contessa at 9:05 AM on July 28, 2009

Response by poster: My parents haven't claimed me as a dependent in 4 years now. That's not their issue with me, and that's not good enough for them. Their issue stems more from paperwork that they request then lost, then found again, then decided wasn't good enough for them. Pretty much because of my falling out on some level with my parents my chances of convincing them that I'm an independent are looking impossible.
posted by semp at 9:09 AM on July 28, 2009

This is a small point relative to the whole question, but:

Extensive world-wide travel (my contemporaries on the West Coast do world travel frequently)

This is a fact about your contemporaries and their circumstances, not about the west coast.
posted by advil at 9:13 AM on July 28, 2009

OK, I think this is what confused me: filing as a dependent I am not eligible for any aide

As for getting in-state tuition for Washington (I'm assuming Udub), you have to live in the state a year and pursue no more than 6 credits/quarter. You could still go to school and pay out of state tuition there for a year, presuming you're willing to do it on that very part time basis, and presuming you're willing to put off applying there as a degree seeking student until you have your residency firmly in hand. Keep in mind that residency encompasses a whole lot of other things aside from purely living there for a year. I trust you've looked into all the details.

I think there is one thing you have overlooked in the "cons" of moving halfway across the country - the expense of it. It adds up quickly. Not just moving your stuff physically, but the setup costs -- putting a deposit on a place, setting up your utilities, finding work if you don't have an offer in hand, etc. etc. If you are not making much money now and worried about debt, you ought to seriously consider if you can take the financial hit of a move.
posted by contessa at 9:20 AM on July 28, 2009

Will the boyfriend staying play a part in your decision or is it going to be made strictly on the pros/cons of the work situation?
posted by crankylex at 9:28 AM on July 28, 2009

My .02 cents...

It seems to me like your idea of moving to the West Coast is basically just to run away from your problems. Maybe get some career / financial counseling and start working out the kinks in your life as opposed to moving and acquiring all kinds of new kinks.

Also, its always best to finish school first. You will hit a ceiling in your employment eventually without a degree.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:39 AM on July 28, 2009

The second company I have a contract with. Quitting that job would result in me paying back a years worth of rent, which I can hardly afford.

This arrangement sounds a bit like debt peonage to me. Can you describe it a bit more so I can unclench my "human trafficking OMGWTF!!1!" instincts?

UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery

Section I, Article I:
(a) Debt bondage, that is to say, the status or condition arising from a pledge by a debtor of his personal services or of those of a person under his control as security for a debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied towards the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined
posted by Pollomacho at 12:31 PM on July 28, 2009

Response by poster: My intentions are to stay in school no matter what, and I suppose to a point I am running. But if something is making me miserable, shouldn't I leave? And my boyfriend's wishes matter to a point. As he's my only consistent form of support and pretty much my only family it would be hard to leave. At the same time, I have to do what's best for me, knowing that after a few years of long-distance we would be together again.
posted by semp at 12:33 PM on July 28, 2009

Response by poster: The debt part was from a bonus. Quitting before my contract is up with them means I have to repay the bonus. I'm pretty sure that's standard for how most bonuses with competitive companies such as this one work. I don't have to entirely, it is pro-rated to my time I've been with them, but that's still quite a bit I'd have to repay.
posted by semp at 12:35 PM on July 28, 2009

I can't speak for everybody here, but in my world a bonus is for work completed, not "it's yours unless you quit." The exception would be if it were a hiring bonus. Which one was it?
posted by contessa at 12:52 PM on July 28, 2009

Response by poster: Hiring bonus.
posted by semp at 12:58 PM on July 28, 2009

Hello fellow West Lafayette resident, and fellow student at Purdue (I'm a grad student here, did my undergrad here, too):

I did what you propose to do. I will give you my insight.

It is really expensive. Moving out there was expensive, rent was expensive, everything was expensive. I had lived in Seattle for more than a year, worked full-time, took no classes, and still could not get in-state tuition. I see you also intend to stay in school. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The likely reason you are being denied is that when it comes to the FAFSA, you are considered a dependent until you are 24 (my understanding is no ifs, ands, or buts).

Yes, West Lafayette (moreso Lafayette) is kind of a hellhole. But compared to a lot of places, it's not too bad.

I looked up current undergrad tuition for both. UW = $7692, PU = $7,850. There isn't a $5k difference for in-state. I have been on my own financially since I was 18, but still got screwed by the FAFSA. Just had to tough it out and work while in school, and take out what loans I was allowed. If you almost have in-state tuition, why would you want to start the process over?

I really enjoyed living in Seattle, and put off my undergrad for about 5 years. I had a job lined up, everything was great. Then the company downsized. Then came the medical issues. Couldn't get a job for months. I sold myself to research at the UW to make ends meet. Ended up with a lot of debt. If I could do it again, I would have finished my undergrad first. I planned on finishing school in Washington, but couldn't afford it, and had to work all the time to make ends meet anyway. I was just able to finally dig myself out of debt 3 years ago, and this was 10 years after the fact.

You say that there are other issues. Is it just being stuck in a mostly hick town? Boredom? Itching for excitement?

The CS dept. here is pretty good. I would finish your degree and then make the move. Short term "misery", long-term gain. But, this is just my opinion. You can email me if you like.
posted by bolognius maximus at 1:07 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

meet a financial aid counselor at your school, talk to them about your fafsa issues - you are definitely not the first one to be unfairly denied.

I just wanted to chime in and say that the government has made it much more difficult to file as an independent if you're under 25. This might differ by school, but at mine (I graduated in 2006), the only way you could file as an independent student was if you were married, an orphan, or a ward of the court. This wasn't the case in 1998, when my sister was in college at a different school--she just had to fill out some paper work.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:11 PM on July 28, 2009

Another Purdue CS student here. (hi!)

+1 to everything bolognius maximus said.

Check your mefimail for some more specific advice.
posted by mezamashii at 12:29 PM on August 1, 2009

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