General chatter - Looking for advice re: education

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12-05-2006, 05:27 PM
Haven't been here in a few weeks because of some major non-diet related stress that has ended in me totally bailing on the diet. I'll deal with the diet later.

I know a lot of people here have mentioned the fact that they're college students. Maybe another student can give me some support. I've been in school for five years. I spent two of those years... um... not going to class, and getting into all manner of things I shouldn't have been getting into. So, I've got about two years left. Last week I set up an appointment to meet with my academic advisor and inform him of the decision that I had made to drop out. Seriously: seven years to get a damn B.A.? In ENGLISH? Come on. As far as I can tell it wouldn't be worth it in the long run (judging by the number of people I know with English degrees who are waitresses). I have a job working as a secretary that I don't hate, and I can't imagine what I'll do with an English degree anyway. Of course, my advisor (and my roommate, and my parents) freaked out when I told everyone about deciding to drop out. So I'm back in.

Here's my question: does it sound like it's worth it? That's seven years to a B.A. and those are consecutive years, not like I dropped out and came back. I feel like a complete idiot and total disappointment. At what point is it appropriate to give up?

12-05-2006, 05:35 PM
It took me 6 years to get my BS, but I did it. I don't use my degree much (Organizational Communication) in any of the jobs I've held BUT I have the satisfaction as knowing that I did graduate and I have a degree. IMO having a degree is worth all the work and time it took to get it.

12-05-2006, 05:40 PM
My answer to your last question is: Never. Why give up now? Apparently you are working full time? If so, how do you expect to manage more classes at night when you're tired and starving. You must stop beating yourself up and feeling badly about this. Life is a journey and there is nothing wrong with taking your time through school. However, I TRULY think you should get your BA. While there is nothing wrong with being a secretary (as I was for 7 years before going to law school), you may want to do something else in your life that requires a degree. You want to have that option, plus college grads tend to earn more money over their lives. Keep in mind that most employers really dont give a rats behind about the actual major, they just want someone with a degree, so your English degree is just fine (I did political science, which wasn't exactly going to get me anywhere either). After years of working as a secretary and believing I could never do what the "boss" was doing, my parents pushed me to go to law school. Best decision I every made but wouldn't have been able to go if I hadn't finished my BA. Here is my advice: find a part time job (about 25 hours a week), take down a student loan (use the federal guaranteed student loan program), and FINISH THAT DEGREE ASAP. At age 28 and living on my own, I went from earning a full time income to working part time while attending law school. With the added cash from the loan, I ended up with about the same money as I was making on my full-time job. If you go summers too, you will finish in less than 1 1/2 years. Forget the past, that you may have partied too much or had other, less goal oriented, priorities. We are all entitled to "screw up" a bit, but now its time to get with the program!

12-05-2006, 05:50 PM
A degree is NEVER EVER a waste of time!! It doesn't matter if you never earn a penny from your education. What matters is completing something you started, getting the satisfaction from doing something good for yourself and becoming more educated. You are still sooo young and later on something MAY very well come up that you'll wish you had your degree and you can use it!

My BS took me several years - changing majors, two surgeries, death of a parent but I never gave up! And yes it took me several years after graduation to land in a field where I use my degree, but it did happen. Even if you cannot see it now.

12-05-2006, 06:59 PM
There are a number of studies that have shown that people with a college degree earn significantly more than people without a degrees, regardless of what the degree is in. Most professional/white college jobs absolutely require a college degree; if you don't finish your degree, you severely limit your employment opportunities. And an English major is an excellent degree to have. It helps you develop core skills in writing, problem solving, and communication that will serve you well in whatever career path you choose. I was an English major; my first job out of college was as a file clerk, my second was as a secretary, but now I am the Executive Director of a 7,000-member professional association. I know a lot of very successful people that were English majors in college; I don't know any that ended up as waitresses for their entire lives. Just the other day I was talking with two other women that had majored in English; one is the director of a certification program in our industry and the other heads up HR for a small firm.

Get that degree now, while you are young. The older I get, the less discipline I have for studying. If I didn't already have my degree, it would be so much harder for me to go back and get it now than it was for me to get it back when I was in my 20's. And while it's true that my extensive knowledge of Emily Dickinson or Herman Melville doesn't come in all that handy, the writing, communication, and problem-solving skills that I developed in college have been a huge asset in my career.

12-05-2006, 07:16 PM
Thanks for the quick responses, I really appreciate it.

I know it's important to get a degree, but the longer I work on it the more impossible it seems. Plus, I keep running into super-successful people my age who have been out of school for more than a year. Plus, every time I see my family they all ask me when I'm graduating, and "eventually" isn't such a good answer. For the first time in my life I feel like a failure.

If it was just school, it would be okay. Dealing with one problem at a time is easy. But dealing with school, my nonexistant personal life, money problems, weight issues, family problems... I keep waiting for it to get easier, but it seems like every day is slightly worse than the day before. That's not how it's supposed to be.

Planning on calling my dad tomorrow and discussing the education issue at length with him. Would taking a semester off make any difference? It might lower my stress levels but I wonder if I'd ever go back. Going part-time at the job isn't an option, and I can't afford to not work here. The pay is excellent and the people are fantastic, and jobs like that are impossible to find here.

All this is sounding an awful lot like whining/feeling sorry for myself, but I don't have anyone here I can talk to (the roommate's reaction to me explaning this whole mess is to tell me that I'm "melodramatic" and "full of myself" and that isn't helpful at all). Again: thanks so much.

12-06-2006, 05:39 PM

You stated "every day is slightly worse than the day before. That's not how it's supposed to be."

Who says? I think kids are told (or falsely believe) how much better things will be when they get older. It's a myth. Life is hard. Unless you are one of the lucky few, financial, emotional, physical, social, and familial problems do not just magically go away. However, as you age, your response to those problems (hopefully) changes, so you can allow the trivial issues to roll off your back and really concentrate on what is important (less “melodrama” so to speak). For example, who cares what your friends have accomplished? That shouldn't truly affect your decision whether or not to finish college. There is no grand competition in life, with a huge first prize at the end. You need to focus on what you want in life and the decisions necessary to meet that goal.

It took me over 10 years, 3 universities, and 2 completely different states, to get my degree. I obviously had many semesters "off." Taking a break is not a bad decision, as long as you know/have the desire to complete the degree. From what you wrote, it doesn't sound like you have that desire right now. With two years left, your degree is within reach, as long as you have the desire to work for it. If you don't have that fire, are you just wasting your time and money?

I'm not a huge proponent of encouraging everyone to get a degree, as I don't think it is the right decision for many. However, everything that was written above I highly agree with. You don't know where you will be, what choices will be presented to you, or how your life is going to change, in the future. A degree, even if it isn't in your "field", gets you in the door at many places.

Part-time jobs come and go. Start looking beyond that to something that can sustain you. You probably have at least 35 more working years. What is going to make you happy?

My apologies if this came across rude or sharp. That is not my intention whatsoever. I spent many years floundering, waiting for my life to happen, waiting for the perfect opportunity/decision/job to come to me. Just like weight-loss, there is no magical pill to get you through…it is a commitment to the process.

12-09-2006, 05:18 PM
I know I'm a little late to the thread but wanted to add that I agree with all of the previous posters, especially LindaT, BluetoBlue and AliceEep. My undergraduate degree is in psychology, which is another one (like English) that does not lead to a specific career and a lot of money, but it offers a fantastic starting point for just about any career you can imagine. I graduated with my BS exactly 10 years after I first enrolled, and I can say without any reservation that it was worth it! It was worth every penny and every second. As the others have said, a college degree is associated with higher earnings throughout your career, and no matter how long it took to earn, you can be proud of yourself for completing what you started. It is also a sign to others that you are able to follow through with goals. I did take 2 breaks (once for 4 years and once for 1 year) but I always made it back. In the end, I decided to quit my job (which was just a job, not a career, since I had no degree and no direction), live frugally on student loans and take as many classes as possible to graduate. I did, worked full time for a year and now I'm about to begin my last semester of graduate school. I am getting a graduate degree in something I never imagined I would ever study. Even if you're happy in your job now, you never know when you may want to transition into something offering more challenge or better pay, and a degree is the most important thing you can have to ensure you will be able to make that transition when you're ready.

12-10-2006, 11:26 AM
You can drop out and not give up. I really don't know why people here think that quitting school is equivalent to giving up. I personally would never recommend that a person stay in school when they feel that it is pointless or feel that they couldn't get anywhere with a degree.
Get out and live - if that is what you need, then do it. Find out your passion, learn who you are, and then try school again when you are ready. People endlessly pushed into college when they are OBVIOUSLY not ready for it, and then have no appreciation for their education because they didn't even have to pay for it (mommy and daddy expected them to go so they foot the bill... college shouldn't be handed to anyone, it needs to be earned).
I have a hard time understanding why people want degrees in English, as there isn't alot that can be done - especially if you live in a rural area. One of my good friends started as an English major... she graduates this month and will also have a bachelor's in education and a certificate in communication. Where we live, the only options for an English major ARE education or continuing on to grad school.
If I were you, I would try to find something that I like that I wouldn't have much difficulty finding a job in. I'm graduating in May with a bachelor's in nursing, so of course, I think nursing is the optimal field with its endless variety of jobs and the nursing shortage is almost universal, so it is very easy to secure a job.
I understand being sick of school... OH BELIEVE ME! I'M THERE ALREADY!
I think that instead of thinking of it as quitting school, you should look at it as taking a break to figure your life out. Only you can decide what is and isn't worth your time. Certainly, college is worth your time, but only you can decide if your major is worth it or it needs to be changed.

12-10-2006, 06:16 PM

I agree with you. I think people have overestimated what a college degree means. It depends on what your intentions are. If you want it to help find a job, then a four year degree in English might be a poor investment. I have my Master's in Gerontology, and it was a very poor financial investment. I insisted both my sons attend college, and now I think it was a mistake. One of them will use it to launch his career. The other would have done just as well monetarily without a degree. I think it can be very smart to take some time to figure out what you really want out of life.

My bf son limped along for 9 years to finally earn his bachelor's in psychology. What a waste. He doesn't have a job, doesn't want a job-basically a bum IMO. The family put years and years of money into college for him with no return on investment. He would have been much better off earning a living in the real world. It is possible he would have decided on his own the real value of education for himself.

12-10-2006, 06:54 PM
My bf son limped along for 9 years to finally earn his bachelor's in psychology. What a waste. He doesn't have a job, doesn't want a job-basically a bum IMO. The family put years and years of money into college for him with no return on investment. He would have been much better off earning a living in the real world. It is possible he would have decided on his own the real value of education for himself.

I think you made a great point about him deciding the value of education for himself. I also have a bachelor's in psychology but I paid for it myself and I am using it. I don't think the degree was a waste, but he decided to waste it...sounds like he had that attitude before the degree. I think having a family to pay for college vs. paying for it yourself can make a HUGE difference for some people regarding their work ethic and motivation.

It is true that college is not a requirement for a decent salary, but I have never met a single person who regretted earning a degree. That said, I think it can also be valuable to take a break if you need it to reevaluate goals.

12-10-2006, 08:52 PM
You can put me in the category of a person who regrets getting a degree. My Master's was just a complete waste of time and money. I just didn't know what I really wanted to do so I chose something. That wasn't it.

I don't regret my B.S.-not that I've ever used it for job purposes.

12-11-2006, 10:41 AM
This is my perspective.

There are a couple reasons to get a degree:

1) Self satisfaction of getting the degree. You did the hard work, you earned it.

2) Study something they are interested in. Some people study a certain major because they have true interest in that major.

3) To get a foot in the door in certain job fields. Some fields like engineering and the sciences are really helpful in getting your foot in the door of jobs. Liberal arts degrees are more open ended.

I have known many people who have succeeded without a degree through hard work and even some self learning. From my experience within my company, it is very hard to succeed without any college degree. I have known a few people that don't have degrees that work with my company and they get paid less and they aren't promoted as easily. Luckily, my company does offer tuition reimbursement so I've known many people who were tired of feeling they were held back because their lack of college degree, so they went back to college and had the company pay for it. Of course those people also told me it was very difficult to go back to college while working and even having a family life. I'm in a Masters program myself and it is hard but when I'm done, I know it will only help me in my career.

One thing I would say to you and others out there is that having a college degree does not mean working in your field of study nor does it mean you will get a good paying job afterwards. The job you get after college, really depends on your interests and your pursuits as well as the job market. I know someone who got a college degree and she thought that instantly she'd be making $20/hour at least. She was very disappointed when job offers were more around the $12/hour range. Mostly because of the career she was interested in wasn't a very high paying field and the fact that she needed experience first.

Lastly, Are all college degrees worth it? Not necessarily. I've known people who went to college, got into extensive debt from student loans and then had more debt than they could really afford due to it. Personally, I'm struggling with the idea of getting another Masters degree, not in a field I plan to work in but one I'd like to study. Unfortunately, it would cost me about $60k to do so. I may do it one day but I have other things I'd like to pursue before I study a degree for the pursuit of knowledge.

12-13-2006, 06:08 AM

It's two years. Just do it and if you don't use it for work then you lose nothing. It's nice to have a degree because it still means a lot to people in the society we live in. You will be judged by this one day, doors will open or close because of your level of education. Youa re lucky to have the opportunity so take it.

I'm a recruitment consultant. I find candidates to fill vacancies in big companies. From my persepctive, any unfinished degrees look bad on your CV, and any qualificatiosn earned, whether they are useless for the job or not, are like gold stars. Anyone with a degree is looked upon way more favourably.

Finishing something you started may matter to you far more in the future. You don't know what's going to happen in the future. How will you feel if you can't get your dream job at the UN in three years time because you never finished your degree? How about one day years from now when your daughter, so clever and bright wants to drop out and says " well, you didn't finish either".

You know, I read this fantastic thing recently. It's called 10-10-10 you use it for making big decisions. You ask yourself what the consequences of your actions will be in 10 minutes time, 10 months time and 10 years time. I do this and if it still looks equally bad at every turn, I just flip a coin when I have a tough decision to make.

Good luck.


Tara D
12-13-2006, 09:09 AM
If you have the ability and the access to finish your degree, then do it. For some people it is just impossible whether due to ability, access, or desire. However, remember that by not having a college degree you may lose out certain opportunities, but you don't lose out on opportunites by having one -- you can only gain them. It depends on what you want for yourself.

My brother was always the smartest kid in the class. Everyone always raved about how intelligent he was. People were always shocked by his knowledge. He had the opportunity to go to college, but 12 years, and several tries later he still hasn't been able to graduate (he hasn't been in school for several years now). He's living from paycheck to paycheck and not utilizing his true abilities. Some of this is due to motivation, but had he finished, I think he would have had a degree in a very marketable field that he would have enjoyed.