2 answers

Is it possible to go back to school when I'm already in debt?

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I'm going back to school. The problem is, I already hold a bachelor's degree that's only good for working in a dying industry that no longer pays what it once did, and it's difficult to get #financialaid when you've already graduated once. I'm applying for every scholarship I'm eligible for. Is this crazy? Do you have any advice that might help?

2 answers

Kim’s Answer

Updated

Kristen,

Thanks for the additional information. I am in Texas, not Arkansas, so am providing information from Texas, as that is what I am familiar with. Arkansas should have similar information.


First, you are correct about the flat wages. That is because the unemployment rate in your area has not come down enough to drive wages up. Second, I note that you say you have connections in the medical field. However, they have thus far not been able to get you in the door. Be careful about thinking they will be able to do so once you get more education.


Now, if you want to pursue another field, look at what is called the "targeted demand occupations." This information lets you know where the experts predict the growth will be - the best opportunities for a decent paying job, educational requirements, and average salaries. Sadly, this information is depressing. I believe it is difficult to live on less than $15/hr. Yet, most of these occupations in the healthcare industry post an "average" salary of less than $18/hr. This is the average salary for experienced workers - not the entry level salary!! https://www.netxworkforce.org/129/Target-Occupations


Look at the link. Click on the number to the left of "respiratory therapist." It will give you a detailed report, as far as how many there are, how many will leave the profession, how many others are needed due to growth, experience and education levels, entry level salary ($42,000), etc.


If you are going to go to school, please do this type of research first. Prior to completing your schooling, please try to get some experience in healthcare. This would be through internships, or, even through volunteering. Volunteer experience can be listed on the resume. If you want to continue trying to get a job in healthcare right now, I encourage you to look towards dietary or "patient transporter" positions in hospitals. If you can get a position in a hospital, ANY position, even housekeeping, it is possible they have tuition assistance programs you will be able to take advantage of. This may be more cost effective than taking out more loans.


Hopefully, some of this helps you as you continue to try to think this through. I'm happy to help if you have more questions.

Kim

Kim’s Answer

Updated

Kristen,

Please give us some more information. What is your degree in, and when did you receive it? Briefly summarize your work experience. What is it you want to study if you go back to school?


Many degrees, and work histories, are transferable into other areas. It sometimes takes some outside help to see how to pursue this. I know this isn't the question you asked, but I'm happy to try to help you find a less costly alternative.


Yes, my friend got loans to go to school again. I don't think they are student loans though. I think the interest rate is higher. I think taking a lower-level "get your foot in the door" position, along with the current degree, can lead to good things. I've met a lot of people who simply don't want the lower paying positions, so they keep going to school. When they finally do enter the job market, they still end up taking a lower paying position.


I encourage you to reevaluate this decision, hopefully with the help of a trained career counselor.


Kim

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I have a degree in philosophy, because I was good at it, and I was told to just pick something. "Nobody uses their major anyway, and employers just want to see that you can finish something." I've spent 8 yrs. in print and digital media, and I work at one of only two such employers in my town. I want out of the industry for personal and ethical reasons. Local employers won't look twice if you don't have a degree, certification or 5+ years of experience in the job they're hiring for—even if it's entry-level, barely-above-minimum-wage. (No one trains employees anymore.)
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Our biggest industries with the most job security are medical services and manufacturing. I want to help people, so I'm looking for the right fit in the medical field. I have family members who work at local hospitals and pharmacies, so I can get my foot in the door. I just need to know I'll be making more money in a couple of years. Local wages are stagnant: I know many local businesses who have barely given raises in five years (My own company hasn't increased wages in over 10 years and gives me $23 as a Christmas bonus.), so I have to make my own raises to support my family in the future. I can't relocate to find a job. I have to make myself fit into a new job so employers will give me a chance. (I've been actively seeking employment elsewhere for over two years, with no offers.)