Wondering if I should go back to college
August 4, 2013 7:27 PM   Subscribe

I had a talk with my gf who recently dumped me. She told me that she needed to be with someone with similar life experiences as hers. School is a big part of her life, and she is working toward a degree in medicine as well as an MBA (she already has another master's in biology). I'm 28, and at one point in my life I was very bent on finishing college, but till now I haven't been able to because of circumstances in my life. What she said made me think about my decision to postpone college for now. I have a writing business that is just now getting off the ground. I haven't even earned a two-year degree, but it hasn't stopped me from utilizing my writing talents to make a living. On the other hand though, going back to school would help me a lot in the long run to gain expertise and credibility in the fields i write in.

Also, I won't lie. I still love my ex and I want to prove that I can be a contribution to her life and not just a drain. For the two years we've known each other I have been struggling financially while she has worked two jobs and even saved enough money to buy a house, though she's only 25. It could be the despair and depression talking, but if I went back to school now, a year from now she could see me in a new light.

I'd just like to get other people's opinion on this. Please don't feel like you have to insult me to get your point across. I understand plain English. Thanks everyone.
posted by Cybria to Education (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Go back to school for yourself. It might lead your ex to see you in a different light, and it might not. But either way it will be good for you and for your career.
posted by number9dream at 7:30 PM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

You don't sound compatible. If she's 25, already has a masters, and is getting both an MBA and an MD, and you have not, at 28, even acquired a bachelor's, she sounds far more ambitious than you.

Whether that is fair is beside the point. Whether the accumulation of multiple degree is a good proxy for ambition, I don't know.

But, if you go back to school go back because you want to go back, not because you think that going back will make her look at you more favorably.
posted by dfriedman at 7:32 PM on August 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

Going back to college may or may not be the best thing for you. But don't do it to try and win back your ex; it's a lot of money and time to spend for what is quite likely a futile goal. Only go back for your own personal and/or professional goals. If she was out of the picture completely, would you still go back?
posted by lwb at 7:34 PM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

No matter what choice you make, whether to go back to college, whatever: it should be 100% for you. Make this decision with a clear head and assume that no matter what you do you will never get your ex back. No one can predict the future, so you shouldn't bank on it.

To me, it sounds like her reason, that she needs to be with someone with similar life experience, was just an excuse to let you down easier. Breaking up is hard on both sides, and sometimes in difficult moments we say half-truths to cushion the blow, because "I just don't want to date you anymore" is tough to hear and to say.
posted by phunniemee at 7:34 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are you going to be mentioning your ex-girlfriend in cover letters once you're out of school? That is a spectacularly shoddy reason to pursue an education.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:35 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you got your bachelor's degree, and she was still like, "meh. What's a bachelor's worth anyway?" would you resent having gone to the trouble?

If you got your bachelor's degree and found out she was already married to someone else, meaning you never ever had a chance again, would you resent having gone to the trouble?

Many degrees have probably been accomplished out of spite and "I'll show you!" so it's probably not the Worst Idea Ever. But you most likely shouldn't go back to school until you know you'll be happy about it, even if she falls off the face of the earth or marries someone who has a 6th grade education.
posted by like_a_friend at 7:36 PM on August 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

Also, it's kind of crappy of her to give this as a reason. 1) It's probably a drastic oversimplification of the real reason and 2) It's shitty false hope.

But people say stupid and unintentionally wrong things when they're trying to break up with someone. (God, I am so so so mortified when I think of things I've said when ending relationships.) Try to take her comment as a badly phrased version of "we're just too different for this to work."
posted by like_a_friend at 7:41 PM on August 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

I guess it stings the most because I had just got to a point where I was okay with not going back to school right now. I mean I just recently took a huge sigh and said "Okay, I don't need a degree right now" for the first time ever. And then she broke up with me....I guess getting your ex back isn't a very good reason for going back to school. I will go back at some point in the future. But this whole situation has caused old insecurities to arise again.
posted by Cybria at 7:42 PM on August 4, 2013

I had originally written quite a bit more but considered, it's simple:

If you want go to to school to further your career, then go.

If you want to go to school to strengthen your relationship, then don't.

FWIW I have a MA from a top school. My boyfriend has a BS from a much, much lower school. I just quit my job, but he was earning 3x as much as I was. Point? Credentials are not everything.

Ambition may not be the problem. It may be field. It may be the person. It may be the goal.
posted by sm1tten at 7:43 PM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Taking a look at your life, making improvements, modifying behaviors and setting goals is a really healthy thing. Just make sure nobody else is doing it for you. You have to become accountable for this process in order to weather this storm, as well as the ones that are ahead of you. It's all totally normal and part of growing up.

The things people say on their way out, coupled with the vacuum they leave behind, that stuff can be really suffocating. But it's just an opinion. How you feel about yourself is more important. Despair and depression in times like this stem from over-pinning our self-esteem on what other people think of us. I suggest doing something nice for yourself, like taking a vacation. Sort it out on a Hawaiian beach.
posted by phaedon at 7:44 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

i think it would be best to go back to school if it's right for you but not for anyone else. just know that there are many successful people who never went to or finished college. steve jobs is one i can think of off the top.
posted by wildflower at 7:49 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I went back to school at age 28 to finish my bachelor's degree, and it was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself. I say go back to school - just don't do it for the sole reason of trying to win back your ex.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:05 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't go to school to impress someone else who dumped you anyway. There is no guarantee that your getting a degree will get her back. Only go to school if you want to go and she has nothing to do with it.

A friend of mine spent 9 years(!) or so applying to snooty grad schools that she didn't have the grades for while trying to impress an ex. Don't use school for that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:21 PM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

You have to want to do it for yourself. I can just tell you I'm trying to go back now and even the bureaucratic hassles are tempting me to say "Fuck THIS shit" and go on with my life and classes haven't even started yet. If I was doing it trying to impress some ex, I can't even imagine it'd be worth the hassle.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:38 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Even had you a guarantee of her enthusiastically jumping into your arms on completion of a degree, I honestly don't know why you'd bother; if the success of your relationship is dependant upon your following an educational or career path you don't desire in order to earn her pleasure or admiration, you don't have a relationship built on mutual understanding and respect anyway.
posted by Nibiru at 4:32 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I promise you, your ex left for a lot of reasons, the degree thing is a red herring.

I think it's a good idea to get a degree. Mostly because in business today, it's the bare minium to gain access to jobs. But it's not essential to a great life.

Don't go back unless you can pay for it without loans, and you really want to get the degree for yoursel.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:44 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hmm, I feel both ways on this one.

On the one hand, I went to grad school almost 100% for my mother. It meant a lot to her that I get a higher degree before life caught up with me. I am very academically oriented and I love school but I had just finished a grueling senior year with thesis and I wanted to take a break. I jumped into a Masters program to make her happy and I was miserable. Totally miserable. And sick. I developed not one, but two stress-related conditions.

On the other hand, my current job, which I love, requires a Masters. I could not be doing what I currently do without having gone to grad school. And it galls me to say that my mother was right, but I am glad in the end that I went through with all that stress.

So I think I'm saying it depends on your goals.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:27 AM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I agree with Ruthless Bunny regarding student loan debt. I have a degree and an enormous amount of student loan debt. My husband, on the other hand, has a degree from a community college and makes 4 times as much as I do in an I. T. field. People telling you that a degree is the only way to go are misinformed. Do not go back to school for anyone else, do it for yourself if you REALLY feel like you need to. Personally I think you sound like you are doing well.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 12:57 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

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