Ladies, I need help/advice/opinions/words of encouragement RE: future and finances

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I posted awhile back a thread titled "Is education even worth it!?" and I have to revisit the ideas in that thread.
I am stressed and borderline terrified at this point.
I just calculated my total loans, as well as what my monthly payments will look like 6 mos post grad. I am three years away from graduating once I am done this semester, and that is if I go full time. Part time could take about 4-5 years.

I am frustrated with what I'm studying, and to be honest don't even want to really be doing it. Of all faculties I could choose if I were forced to go to university, this is what it would be, but I am not excited or passionate about any of it. I am doing it because I know in the future I will need some type of security in my life - retirement, house, potential divorce/death/illness and what have you. Right now I'm just gritting my teeth and doing it, hoping that it pays off down the line.

I feel like if I carry on and do the next three years, I will be crippled by debt and stuck in a cyclical pattern. If I don't, I fear for my future.

Right now, I can't even pay the tuition that is owing for this semester, but in order to even have a chance of getting in to my faculty in September, I need to do it. I applied for loans to pay for that, but was denied because they say I make "too much money" ($10K per year AT BEST). I can appeal it, and then what? Add to my debt?

I am getting stressed beyond belief here.
The reason I had even looked up the repayment amount was because I am considering a major move, (I have been considering this move for 5+ years, but never had the courage) and was creating a budget for that potential scenario. It's still POSSIBLE, but would be really tight, and I don't know how to justify going into debt for something that I don't continue. But I also don't know how to justify continuing to fall deeper in the hole and feel completely stagnant in life and like I'm wasting away. The thing that would make me most happy, as illogical as it might be, is to go with the move and figure it out as I go. But I worry for what my 40's, 50's and beyond hold for me in this case.

I feel like I am in such a mess and just beating myself up for waiting to go back to school 7 years after high school, and for not making that move ages ago when it was feasible, and for being such a soul that needs to change and be excited by things that don't follow society's social clocks. I need some advice from my curly ladies
"Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”

Last edited by Narnia; 01-13-2013 at 10:58 PM.
Narnia, i'm the worst person to give anyone advice because i didn't manage to get my life sorted out until i was *well* into my 40s.

but the one thing i do know is that you shouldn't pursue a course of study that you don't feel passionate about just because it will offer you a "secure" future. i've had SO many jobs in my life and i can tell you with absolute certainty that spending 7+ hours a day doing something you don't even *like* - much less love - is completely soul-destroying.

the other thing i've learned in the years since the world got into this financial mess is that there are VERY few jobs where you would be guaranteed for "life". one of the reasons i wanted to get out of going to Revenue Canada with my coworkers when they were transferring over (besides the fact that i HATED retail sales tax work), was that their jobs were only guaranteed for 2 years. my sister works for the federal gov't Employee Assistance Program and the proposed cuts to the civil service have meant that her office is dealing with double the workload of panicked calls from people about to lose their jobs.

i've only moved within Ontario - packing up and going from Toronto to Ottawa and then going from Ottawa to London with only 2 weeks' notice. nothing gives you a kick to DO something like having to move 700 km away in a hurry.

i don't know if this helps at all, but that's my experience.

good luck!
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I know it's hard, but you have to go with your head and not your heart! Can you tell us what this major move might be? It is important in being happy and fulfilled in what you do; however, can you survive? Get the secure job you can possibly put up with for awhile and have something on the side, maybe?
i know how you feel. i already got my first degree and have 40k in loans. i so want to go back and become a vet. but their is no job guarantee and the money i will owe back scares the beejeebus out of me. i am considering getting a masters in animal science. or some sort of science, since i love science.

i will say this, go with what you have a passion for. why waste time, money , and effort when at the end of it all you will regret it and wish you never did it? at times i do bang my head on the desk and wish i went to a trade school and learned a trade or soemthing like that. but i love science and love the oportunies. i hate the job market, but have high hopes it will get better and i can get a better paying job.

if you dont want to do what you are doing, you really should change your plan. dotn get sucked in and 20 years from now you are trying to figur out ways to hang yourself with your mouse at your desk. or if death by autoclave or centrifuge is less painful.
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The past is the past, don't beat yourself up over it. All you can do is think about what you can do NOW so you'll be happier now and later.

I think one of the major problems with people going to school is people getting a degree "because they like something". I believe all education should be viewed more like we view a trade school--how is it going to get you a better job? Of course this isn't 100% (I mean, an occasional class on folklore or something equally as useless to the job market isn't going to hurt you and may just make you a more interesting person).

For example, Thelio mentioned getting a masters' in science--this is the type of thing that I, personally, would only suggest if either 1) money is not an object, or 2) you KNOW the path you plan to take with the degree, and it requires the degree.


OP, I think you need to sit down and think about what makes you happy. Be honest with yourself. Years ago I was thinking about my career, and I realized that as amazing as it sounds in theory to move to Africa and work to eradicate diseases (one of my career possibilities at the time), and as happy as it would make me to be able to come home and talk about all the amazing work I was doing...living without hot water and always wearing comfortable shoes and constantly moving around are just not for me. I wanted money and stability. I wanted to be able to paint my own walls, and wear cute shoes, and sit at an air conditioned bar drinking a martini. Yeah, my job doesn't sound exciting, by my couple business-class flights to Europe every year for work just suit me much better than flying coach to third world countries to "save the world".
"I don't know! I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I enjoyed it, and I don't know why I'll do it again!" -BART SIMPSON
Narnia, you may have already supplied this information, but please do so again to clarify:

What are you studying and does it lead to a job?

What sort of job/career do you want?

Can you get any free career counseling at your school?

What exactly is the career path you are on now (do you need additional schooling - how many years - how much money)?

There are some excellent books available on career choices and no doubt some good info on line. I never found "What color is your parachute" helpful but there are some other good ones out there. There is one that tests you (paper/pencil) to see what you are good at. You have to find a combination of what you like and what you are good at.

Also, I highly recommend the US Occupational Outlook guideline. It lists every possible job, pay scales, how many openings are expected in the next 10 years, etc.

I have a close girlfriend who tried absolutely everything until she hit her 40's. Then she went to school for Physical Therapy Assistant. She is making straight A's and has "found" herself. I don't believe in forcing yourself to spend most of your life doing something you hate.

Hope some of this rambling is helpful!
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Narnia, you may have already supplied this information, but please do so again to clarify:

What are you studying and does it lead to a job?

What sort of job/career do you want?

Can you get any free career counseling at your school?

What exactly is the career path you are on now (do you need additional schooling - how many years - how much money)?

There are some excellent books available on career choices and no doubt some good info on line. I never found "What color is your parachute" helpful but there are some other good ones out there. There is one that tests you (paper/pencil) to see what you are good at. You have to find a combination of what you like and what you are good at.

Also, I highly recommend the US Occupational Outlook guideline. It lists every possible job, pay scales, how many openings are expected in the next 10 years, etc.

I have a close girlfriend who tried absolutely everything until she hit her 40's. Then she went to school for Physical Therapy Assistant. She is making straight A's and has "found" herself. I don't believe in forcing yourself to spend most of your life doing something you hate.

Hope some of this rambling is helpful!
Originally Posted by curlypearl
I am studying Social Work, so yes it would lead to a job.
Dream job --> flight attendant. What I'm studying was switched from nursing because I hate science but love helping people/different things everyday/social welfare policy etc.
I can get career counseling at my school, I did before when I wanted out of nursing.
Career path I'm on now? Social work I guess? So yea, I need 3-5 more years of school.

If I made the move, yes, I would be able to find A job (or two) for a bit of time while I explored the market and figured out what's out there.

No one seemed to touch on the debt issue which is my main cause for breakdown. So is that to say money isn't something to worry about if I like what I'm doing?
Right now the idea of $340 a month payments to pay back my debt are scary, but will be much scarier if I do another 3 years in school. $600 a month payments? Uhhhheerrrr.
"Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”
I was making $500 a month payments when I got out of school. I wasn't paying rent, so that's how I managed. But then, I'm sure you'll make far more than the $7/hour I made as an extern and the $9/$9.50 I made once I was hired. Right now I've paid off two loans and have two more to go. Even though I desperately want to be back in NY, I'll probably try to stay at Seaport for the next few years because I can pay off the remainder of my loans in about three years with what I'm currently making. I never thought I'd be so close to freedom from debt at this point.
So, it's doable if you just keep plugging away at those payments.
greenjumper likes this.
Are you a fulltime student? Do you already have a degree or a job?

What type of social work are you planning to do - private counseling vs city casework vs organizational vs administrative?

Will this be an MSW or a BSW? And will you be pursuing a LISW?

Is there some reason you can't work fulltime for a employer who will reimburse for education? Or can you work and pay as you go?

SW isn't exactly the most lucrative field (usually) so yes, a $600/month student loan payment is steep.

Are you still planning to move abroad? Are you in Canada?
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i can tell you that, at least from the point of view of *this* province, our Ministry of Social Services down-sized drastically over the past couple of years. depending where in the country you wish to move, you may find the same thing, so an MSW degree may not guarantee you anything.

where were you thinking of relocating? Toronto and anything further west of you will be $$$... Ottawa and Québec are out unless you speak French. living expenses will have to figure in to your debt repayment.
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Maybe I missed something, but what's the point of going in debt or going to school for something you don't love to do or is worth it financially. You said you want stability, you can definitely find stability in a job without having a degree and having to go in debt. I'm not that familiar with social work but from what I understand the pay is very low and it doesnt seem wise to take out loans for that type of career. Unless it really is something you are passionate about and willing to make sacrifices(live in a cheaper city, with parents, multiple roomates, etc) to pay off that debt later. It is definitely possible but obviously not fun or easy. The payoff is that you really love what you do for work. Personally I am a work to live gal, not live to work. I dont have to love what I do but I do like it generally.
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Dream job --> flight attendant.
Originally Posted by Narnia
So, why aren't you attempting to become a flight attendant? Serious question. I think if anyone actually has a dream job they should be doing it.

However, I think sometimes we don't think about what exactly makes something a dream job. Really break it down. Not some fantasy idea of what the job is but the ACTUAL day-to-day of what the job is.
"I don't know! I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I enjoyed it, and I don't know why I'll do it again!" -BART SIMPSON
Maybe I missed something, but what's the point of going in debt or going to school for something you don't love to do or is worth it financially. You said you want stability, you can definitely find stability in a job without having a degree and having to go in debt. I'm not that familiar with social work but from what I understand the pay is very low and it doesnt seem wise to take out loans for that type of career. Unless it really is something you are passionate about and willing to make sacrifices(live in a cheaper city, with parents, multiple roomates, etc) to pay off that debt later. It is definitely possible but obviously not fun or easy. The payoff is that you really love what you do for work. Personally I am a work to live gal, not live to work. I dont have to love what I do but I do like it generally.
Originally Posted by Josephine

I completely agree. If you're going to struggle though school for something you don't really love, you should at least be doing it in a field that's going to make you good money at the end of it.
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"I don't know! I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I enjoyed it, and I don't know why I'll do it again!" -BART SIMPSON
Dream job --> flight attendant.
Originally Posted by Narnia
So, why aren't you attempting to become a flight attendant? Serious question. I think if anyone actually has a dream job they should be doing it.

However, I think sometimes we don't think about what exactly makes something a dream job. Really break it down. Not some fantasy idea of what the job is but the ACTUAL day-to-day of what the job is.
Originally Posted by Who Me?
I was going to ask this also. I have an old friend who got a job being a flight attendant with delta a couple of years ago. According to fb her life seems glamorous and fun. She's been all over the world. I think she's in Japan now. Not sure how the money is though and how long she wants to do it. I'm assuming she could move into other areas of the industry if she doesn't want to be flying forever.
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Last edited by Josephine; 01-14-2013 at 09:39 AM.
Yeah, I was wondering why you don't go for flight attendant. It's not an unrealistic goal.
if you are not going to enjoy it, i dont think its worth it to rake up a lot of debt. flight attendents are not paid very well starting off and it can be a very stressful job. but if its what you would prefer doing over social work, which can also be a low paying stressful job i would go for it. at least you can travel for free (not that you would get a lot of time to sight see while working).

i dont think everyone needs to go to college to find a carreer. maybe you should take a semester off until you know for sure what you want to do.
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Why would you go that far into debt to do something you're not passionate about, when you could quit school now and put that energy into getting a job as a flight attendant? I don't mean that in a snarky way at all. It's really something to ask yourself.

I know things are different in Canada, so perhaps the salaries are better for social workers up there? Down here, you have to be 100% passionate about the field because it is a high burnout job that doesn't pay much. I think you'd be hard pressed to make enough to pay back your loans in a reasonable amount of time.

If you were one or two semesters from graduating, I'd advise you to finish. However, you have so much school left and you're at this crossroads. I think you should look into what you'd need to do to qualify to be a flight attendant and go for that. Then really think about what you want to do longterm.
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My daughter and her husband were both flight attendants. That's how they met. It doesn't pay very much unless you have seniority. Plus the hours aren't guaranteed. You may 1st fill in for others who can't or don't want to do a particular flight. They really did love doing it. My daughter misses it. She loved traveling. They still get very good discounts and some flights for them is free, so there is that benefit.

It's pretty easy to become a flight attendant. You will probably have to start out at a smaller airline, but can work up to the larger ones. Good luck in whatever you decide.
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I know things are different in Canada, so perhaps the salaries are better for social workers up there? Down here, you have to be 100% passionate about the field because it is a high burnout job that doesn't pay much. I think you'd be hard pressed to make enough to pay back your loans in a reasonable amount of time.
Originally Posted by mrspoppers
these are the starting annual salaries in the social work field for the Government of Ontario:

Social Work Assistant: $50,200
Social Worker Level 1: $52,360
Level 2: $59,850

i don't know if that covers people who work in that field for hospitals here, but i don't think it would cover those who work for municipalities or police forces.
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Last edited by rouquinne; 01-14-2013 at 10:24 AM.
You have gotten good advice here.

Do you know of anyone that is currently a flight attendent? If you do, maybe you can ask them to sit down with you and give you an idea of what the day to day is like, pros & cons of the career?
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