Education while working full time
June 2, 2013 9:03 PM   Subscribe

I'm a part time college student who studies Computer Science and works full time as a junior mobile developer in New York City for an air travel company. I am currently half way through my undergraduate degree due to family issues and simply because I work the whole week. Even so, courses at Brooklyn College where I go to have the worst schedules for some of the major classes. It seems as if college is for the person with a family backbone and I'm struggling a bit as I do not have such support. Are there any resources available for me so that way I won't delay with college so much while being able to work full time?
posted by antgly to Education (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you visited the Center for Academic Advisement and Student Success (CAASS) and asked for their assistance? That would be my first step.

You probably also have someone in an advisory role within your own major; find out who that is and ask them what you can do. You may be able to set up some independent studies that fulfill requirements otherwise necessitating a daytime course enrollment.

It is also possible to take courses at other institutions and have them transfer. You definitely want to make 100% sure they will transfer before paying for those courses, but that's also an option.

And, of course, you could take out more student loans and move to part-time, or if you think it would be considered you could ask your manager for flex work or different hours at the air travel company.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:49 PM on June 2, 2013

Can you be more specific about the kind of "resources" you need? If the classes you need for your degree are only offered during times that are difficult to schedule around work-wise, well, you will either need a very understanding employer, a very flexible work schedule, or an alternative course that you can complete online. Clearly, none of the three are easy or guaranteed foolproof. If you're short rent or have to skimp on groceries, well, that's a whole different set of "resources." Does you school have awful advising and overextended student services? If not, check with them first, because you're undoubtedly not the first person to have an unusual work-life-family situation they've had to work with.
posted by Nomyte at 9:50 PM on June 2, 2013

Can you shift your work schedule, or find a job with a different schedule?

I worked a swing shift, from noon until 9 pm. It was great for attending school early in the morning and then going to work during the day.

Also, look into on-line classes or weekend classes, especially for core courses. I did pre-requisite accounting classes at a community college at night, while doing my MBA during the weekends.

Yeah, it was kind of hard, but it's only a couple of years and now I have my degree. (for what it's worth.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:09 AM on June 3, 2013

I'm not sure what kind of help you're asking for - the crappy scheduling and the lack of family support are two totally different issues, unless I'm just missing the connection. Have you looked into whether you can fill the hard to schedule Brooklyn College credits with credits from a community college or different NYC college with better scheduling, or with online credits?
posted by DarlingBri at 5:33 AM on June 3, 2013

I'm getting the impression you need help with child care, maybe you can elaborate on what you are needing for family backbone.

As a first step in getting help with what you need, try making a list of specific things you would need that you feel someone with a family backbone would have.
posted by yohko at 7:53 AM on June 3, 2013

I'm not sure what kind of help you're asking for - the crappy scheduling and the lack of family support are two totally different issues, unless I'm just missing the connection.

I took it to mean the poster is envious of fellow students whose parents financially support their entire education and college experience such that they don't have to work if they don't want to and certainly not full-time. Which I was/am also envious of.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:43 AM on June 3, 2013

I am not a family backbone and I live pretty far away, but if you need someone to chat with, send me Memail. I worked 45-50 hours a week and went to school full-time for my undergrad degree. At the very least, know you are not alone.
posted by Silvertree at 9:08 AM on June 3, 2013

Is the problem that classes are scheduled when you can't attend due to work or childcare issues? Meet with your advisor and department head for options - including taking some courses at another school with a more flexible schedule.

Before you meet, get crisp on what you need. If you need to take the required courses at a different time, be prepared to ask for that specifically.
posted by 26.2 at 9:36 AM on June 3, 2013

Response by poster: By family backbone, I mean that I don't have the support system that someone who lives with family has... I pay my own rent and pay for all my expenses.

My immediate family is religious and unaccepting of me for a number of reasons (I've mentioned things like that in my earlier Ask MeFi posts) and the rest of the family has little money and tries to leech out of me the money that I do have (I left my grandpa's place over him trying to take hold of my finances as he wanted to borrow money out of my college loan money and look at all my banks statements even though he makes enough money and he wanted to buy iPhones and other things as gifts out of that money while I would never ask him for money and he would always claim to be broke. I said no and was told Friday you are out of here to which I said "fine" and moved to a cheap rent place I found.)
posted by antgly at 12:40 PM on June 3, 2013

Okay, this is a solvable problem and you've already taken a ton of steps in the correct direction. Good on you! You need to do two things:

Secure your money. Make sure no bank statements, checks, anything go to your family. If they ask, say that you are broke since all your LOANS went to paying for school. You need to pay this money back and keep stressing that these are loans. Family knows how to guilt you, but don't cave in to their demands. It's your loan. Grandpa's name isn't on the non-dischargeable debt - yours is.

Create a better support network. You aren't going to get what you need from your family. It's a raw deal, but sometimes that happens. You need to fill your life with people who DO respect your educational goals. Make friends with people in your school. Set up counseling appointment with your advisor. Find someone in your field to be your mentor. Let people know that you're breaking new ground here and you need support and encouragement. Set a target - find five people you can call for encouragement and sanity checks.

Your family's attitudes don't need to define you. You have a job, a place to live and a clear goal. You are well on your way here. Look back at all the steps you've taken (applied to school, applied for financial aid, started your studies). You have already accomplished a ton. Don't let anyone steal that progress from you.
posted by 26.2 at 2:06 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I now attend Brooklyn College as a grad student. In my experience, they are not flexible at all with scheduling. In order to apply, I had to take some undergraduate courses at other schools. City College worked out well for me, with online and summer classes. It's the same CUNY tuition. Can you check with your advisor to see how many credits they would accept from other schools?
posted by the twistinside at 7:50 PM on June 3, 2013

If it's too expensive to live in NYC and go to school there, you can always transfer to somewhere cheaper.

Also, get declared independent for financial aid purposes, and you might be able to get grants.
posted by yohko at 4:42 PM on June 5, 2013

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