I'm no Rodney Dangerfield...
July 26, 2005 2:02 PM   Subscribe

I want to quit my job and go to school.

I make a high salary for someone my age, which allows me to pay rent, make payments on my new car, eat, and pay for 1 or 2 university classes each semester. But all I really want to do is quit my job and finish out my degree, and then maybe go on to grad school. So far, I have a high GPA which should net me some scholarship money. Even so, how would I pay my other bills? Do I have to take out a bunch of loans, sell my car and move in to a tiny, tiny apartment?
posted by anonymous to Education (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Even so, how would I pay my other bills?

Uh, how every other college student in the world pays their bills? You'd have a job and go to school; so, basically, you'd be doing what you're doing know, except the proportions of time would switch.

I don't know, anonymous, sounds like you have a pretty good deal, and it doesn't sound like you want to have to sacrifice the nice things to go to school full-time (nothing wrong with that!), so why bother?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:12 PM on July 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

How old are you? And where are you located? If you're in the USA, and can make it through your mid-20s, scholarship money is a lot easier to get... I'm in a similar situation and got a good package of grants and loans, and work part-time and it's all working out. I don't have a car, though, and I could see that making a difference.
posted by jtron at 2:13 PM on July 26, 2005

It's not as instant gratification as you may be hoping for, but one option is to buckle down and save like CRAZY for a year or two (while trimming back expenses at the same time) so that you can build yourself a good buffer for school.

You could start there and then rely on loans and some part-time employment to cover living expenses while you're out of the full-time workforce.

Scholarship money is dandy, but unless you're talking full ride you're going to have to have some cash either coming in or saved up ahead of time.

How much do you need your car? How much do you need your NEW car? If it's a necessity, factor it in, but if you have it just because you CAN, you may want to consider ditching it for a beater or even a bicycle. Cars eat money. It's what they do.
posted by cortex at 2:17 PM on July 26, 2005

Not to sound snarky, but I do not understand the question--since you have a high paying job and a high GPA what is it you are asking that you do not already know the answer(s)--please clarify or it is reasonable to assume you question was essentially rhetorical
posted by rmhsinc at 2:18 PM on July 26, 2005

please clarify or it is reasonable to assume you question was essentially rhetorical

I don't think it's reasonable, but I do think the question was poorly worded. My suggested interpretation:

I'm a professional, into my career, doing well financially and living a high quality of life. I want to go back to school full time for a short while to finish my degree, but I want to keep the same lifestyle I live now. Financially, how can I make this happen?

(And I don't have an answer, but I'm trying to find the answer to a similar question myself!)
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:24 PM on July 26, 2005

NotMyselfRightNow: I'm a professional, into my career, doing well financially and living a high quality of life. I want to go back to school full time for a short while to finish my degree, but I want to keep the same lifestyle I live now. Financially, how can I make this happen?

And the answer is: you can't.

So you have to choose, do you value the lifestyle more, or the education.

I chose the education several years ago and as time went buy I realised I had utter disdain for the lifestyle. So far I have never gone back to being financially well off, and I feel pretty good about it.
posted by Chuckles at 2:37 PM on July 26, 2005

you may also want to think about whether going back to school full-time is worth the opportunity cost of quitting work. What is your payback time to recoup the investment that you will make into finishing your degree? And the dollars of salary lost, as you get those letters behind your name?

this question is not only applicable to MBA candidates ;) but also to anyone else who is making more money than they would expect at their age

essentially, I wonder about your motivation here - are you thinking of returning back to school full time because you want to finish your studies? to increase your income? to return to the safe and predictable environment of school (where rewards are given every trimester with final grades for each course that you take)? to assuage the questions from family, who may be wondering when you will finish your degree?

so many angles.

as for scholarships, they are not overly generous - unless you are a star athlete in the 'right' degree. even so, they may only cover essentials such as tuition costs and some living expenses - you probably cannot expect a 1:1 relationship with your current salary.

a personal anecdote:

I was in your shoes some years ago when I returned to grad school to do an MBA in 2002. I did big things and little things to ease the transition. I saved a sizeable proportion of my salary in the years prior. I forwent a vacation the year before, which would have seen me travel the Arctic. I unsubscribed from all magazine subs in the mail. Said goodbye to eating in local restaurants a few times a week. Didn't buy "this year's" clothes while at school.

Graduated in 2003, realizing that many of the things I was paying for, before returning to school, were things I never missed when they were gone. And, returning back to school 'later' in life than in my teens had its advantages as well. It was fun to be back, because I *wanted* to return.

My motivation was purely selfish - I wanted to fill in the gaps in my personal education, and add more value to the problems that I was solving for my clients. And the tuition has paid itself back. I consulted on the side while working - so I didn't lose out too much.

So it was a good break, and the worries that I had about 'student poverty' were unfounded.

So, in summary - save now, don't count on scholarships too much, frugalize your life a little, and enjoy your time in school. All the best to you.
posted by seawallrunner at 2:38 PM on July 26, 2005

Quit and go for it. Education is wasted on youth. I know you can answer this, but I wonder if what you want to get your degree in is related to your job. If it isn't, I'd say go for it harder.
posted by corpse at 2:48 PM on July 26, 2005

Is the major your studying in the field you're currently working in? Your current job may have resources for cash - paying for books per semester, for example - to help you out, as well as be willing to allow switching around your work schedule to accomodate your schooling (as long as, probably, you sign yourself up for x number of years to stay with the company after you finish your degree).
posted by itchie at 3:25 PM on July 26, 2005

It's not totally clear to me if anonymous is talking about grad school or finishing an undergrad degree (sounds like the latter). If you're in a professional career already and the grad school degree is an important credential, often an employer will cover some of it and likely there will be part-time programs for professionals (for degrees like MBA or MSW, not for a doctorate or a law degree, for example) If you are talking about college, well it sounds like you are slowly getting there class by class. So rebalance and take more classes to get there faster. Or as someone said, save up and go back full time, but figure that you will be working harder rather than taking it easier, making an investment in your career, and likely will have to keep on earning income during the f/t school thing. High GPAs don't often bring much scholarship money for college unless you are an entering freshman of exceptional talent, a national merit scholar, or very accomplished in science. Most undergraduate scholarship aid is based on financial need (or sports), so you might want to look into how your current high income is going to be represented in your financial aid applications if you expect it to end when you begin school.

It is a mistake to view "going back to school" as dropping out of the rat race for a leisurely life of the mind. Chances are you'll work harder than you do now to keep the grades up and some income flowing.
posted by realcountrymusic at 5:20 PM on July 26, 2005

lol, but Chuckles should get the little check mark next to his answer. If you want to maintain your quality of life and school full-time, the answer is you can't.

Except in the situation where you've got a sugar momma/daddy, that is.

Ditch the car (if you can), move into a cheaper apartment, save, save, save, and take out a few loans.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:38 PM on July 26, 2005

Sorry, forgot - I have a friend in quite a similar situation (although his car is paid for already) - he dropped out his first time around at the undergrad thing, worked his way up (and his ass off) to a decent paying job, wants to go back to school so he won't have to work with his hands anymore. I've been digging around trying to find grants/scholarships for him, but in the end he wasn't willing to sacrifice his quality of life to go back to the economics of being a student.

If anonymous has the physical requirements, 'dancing' or 'modeling' can be a high-profit part-time job, as are other more physical commercial exchanges that have helped a lot of students maintain a high quality of life while going through post-secondary education.

posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:44 PM on July 26, 2005

I just gave my notice on Monday. I'm going back full-time. Financial aid is your friend, but "one or two classes" will not qualify you. If you're going back, go back full-time (12 credit-hours). Otherwise, just keep working. (Apologies if I misread your question).

Student loans are not so bad; the interest can be tax-deductible.

Good luck; perhaps we'll pass one another in the hallowed halls of academia.
posted by Eideteker at 12:53 AM on July 27, 2005

Excuse me for reading between the lines, but: Take the hit, cut back on your stuff, and go for it. Cool cars wear out, swanky apartments make landlord's rich, and neat-o trinkets wear out over time. An education, on the other hand, has a way of sticking with you, putting you in a better position for even cooler cars, swankier digs and neat-o-er trinkets for putting up with the sacrifice.

You'll get some crappy part time job, drive some crappy car and live in some crappy dump, and right about the time you get so used to it you don't even think of it as anything but a norm you'll graduate. You'll re-start a career track and within a couple of years be even better off than you are now, wondering how you ever ate so much peanut butter.

Note that the academic track gets easier over time. As a grad student you'll get to study more what you're interested in and on-campus work programs are more readily available.

But mostly just take the hit and go for it. If you don't you'll regret it later, and 10 years from now when your career's topped out because you didn't go back you'll realize what a mistake you made, and it'll be even harder to rectify then.
posted by Elvis at 7:35 AM on July 27, 2005

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