Your Opinions, Please

On some nights I drive two hours to The Big City so I can sit in a class for two hours and listen to almost-teachers (my classmates, although not all are on the road to teaching, which is encouraging) avow that they will NEVER do exams in their composition classes EVER.

I laugh to myself, but I do keep it to myself, because the class is actually quite interesting.

One of the things we talked about recently was how difficult the cultural/social/mental shift from high school to college is. And I was thinking, on my two hour drive back from The Big City, that the same can be said for the shift from college to university (aka: undergrad to graduate programs). Because, guys, I am overwhelmed.

So Hubs and I have been pondering some alternatives. And I though I’d like your opinions. I have recently discovered that my ideal cognitive environment is one that involves dialogue, which necessarily includes opinions from other people (see, I really am learning).

Here are some options. What do you think?

1. Continue with the current weekly schedule: 40 hours at work, 8 hours commuting, 6 hours in class, 10 hours homework. This is how people are supposed to do post-grad work. It’s supposed to hurt and I’m supposed to have deep bouts of depression because of the constant stress and anxiety born of not enough time and too much to do. That’s why I get to say I earned that Master’s degree.

2. Chill out with the school. Next semester I can either drop down to one class or switch from English program (my one true love, no lie) that’s two hours away to an Education program (settling, most def NOT my true love) here in town. IE: the sensible option

3. Throw caution to the wind and knock the job out of the park while I buckle down and focus entirely on school. And when I say school I mean Master’s degree quickly, perhaps followed by a doctorate. (This was initially Hubs’ suggestion, so I don’t have to deal with that pesky super-layer of guilt. He’s so fine.)

So, for me, option one means certain death, probably preceded by chronic psychiatric morbidity. Option two is kind of a bummer in the Grand Scheme of Things, but would keep me content, which counts for a lot (also doesn’t involve certain death and DOES still involve a chunky income). Option three means shooting for the moon, chasing the dream, etc, etc. It also involves extreme, long-term belt-tightening and a new set of stresses/anxieties as we try to figure out (monthly) how to make ends meet.

Please vote on the sidebar. (update: voting CLOSED. Read about my decision HERE.) Then tell me why you voted that way in the comments. I need to know WHY (your personal experiences, perhaps, with a similar decision?)

Also, please know this is all purely conjecture and I’ll probably change my mind five million times before we ever actually make a decision on any of it.

Also, please know that, much as I value your opinion, Hubs get extreme ultimate awesome veto rights over everything. Because he’s the best. At everything. (Except saying no to me BWAHAHAHAH!)



17 thoughts on “Your Opinions, Please”

  1. I know this post is older but I'll offer my advice anyways.

    I vote shoot for the moon, if it is a viable option, which it sounds like it could be. Being in a PhD program myself, and having it be my only thing, is amazing. I can take days to work on assignment and don't have to feel guilty about it. I know I'm putting my best foot forward and enjoying it. I like that I can think of my grad program as my job, not something extra. I think a grad program takes that much work.

    If for some reason it isn't a viable option, I say drop a class. I think taking it slower but still being able to do things well is a good alternative to being crazy stressed and sad all the time.

    Miss you! Come back to Philly, please.

  2. 1. Short term, get out of the crazy making situation.
    2. General thought: if you are going to do masters/doctorate, do it in something you really enjoy. Or absolutely know is the field in which you will work. Preferably both. Because the workload is insane. Doing it in a major you are “meh” about is a prescription for “C” – bad way to build resume.
    3. Long term: move close to school/school, get job close to school/school, home/home. Commute = bad/crazy/insane/life-sucking.

  3. Have you considered …
    continue working (NOT more work), and less school? Priorities would be “How manageable is my life? Am I available to enjoy my life right now?” …

    I. When Hubs is home, can I get away from my other responsibilities and just chill with him?
    (love, balance, safety, treasure, confirmation, refreshing)

    II. Can I 'work' here, at this time?
    (giving something valuable while interacting with the challenges & victories of real folk, & receiving some monetary gain)
    Even a crappy job now may be just the foundation needed for that amazing career around the corner (so long as you don't park yourself in aimless crap). In the most frustrating situations, I still have learned something valuable about myself and others.

    III. Do I have that balance of 'school' in my life to make learning enjoyable, but not burdensome?
    (creativity, growth)
    You gotta be sparking those neurons, or they develop cobwebs, and your life becomes grey and monotone 😦

    Just some thoughts I was kicking around, 'cause ultimately,
    you need all of them.
    … or so DOE's have told me 😉

    … brilliant, insightful, caring replies.
    You have amazing friends!!!

  4. Ooops. Looks like my vote just broke the tie. My vote? Follow your passion. Rae, I'm 52 years old. What seems like a million years ago, I took a comfortable job that I liked just fine, and my husband, daughter and I lived a “comfortable” life for many years. “Comfortable” meant we could pay the bills, buy the groceries and a few extras…a vacation every couple of years, dance classes, dinner out once in a while. But for the last 10 years, probably more, I walked into work liking it some, but wondering…is this it? It this all there is to life? I was doing a fine job, but not, not, not fulfilling my potential, or doing work that engaged me passionately.

    Sadly, I would have continued that path for a longer time, if circumstances didn't dictate otherwise, and thank God they did. Since my job went away, I have been an active participant in my life, and I can tell you the difference is extraordinary. Yes, money is now an issue. Yes, I worry about it at night. I bite my fingernails wondering how we will pay for our daughter's college next year.

    But then I complete a freelance writing job and my client is happy, or I work at my part-time job and sell a product I truly believe in, or write a blog post, and understand that I'm doing the best work I know how, living my life the way it should be lived. I knew for many years what I wanted to do, but failed to make the move to get there until the move was made for me.

    Please, please don't wait until someday. You have a supportive husband who has offered you this opportunity. You may have short-term struggles, but that's what they'll be: short-term.

    Rae, think about the thing that lurkes in the back of your mind…the thing that you know will fulfill you, when you get to it someday…and then choose for someday to be now.

  5. I say option 3.
    You have the rest of your life to work. Unless you have some huge mortgage back home plus expenses here to pay, (like someone I happen to know…)I say tighten down on the spending and achieve the shoot for the stars dream. Don't postpone the education or take any longer than necessary to get it finished. Then, whenever possible, enjoy the extra non-work time with your man.

  6. I would love to tell you to shoot for the moon, but I also know how hard it is to be in a tough financial spot. I don't know that you should keep things as they are, though, and that may have a lot to do with the cat with the machine gun.

    So, I say… shoot for the moon if you can reasonably make it happen. If you will get ulcers and start fighting with your spouse… slow your arse down. You'll get there.

  7. I say Option #2. I agree with Wym!! You're happy with your job and you love helping people so don't quit. Just take less classes and don't let it stress you out. It seems like you're not enjoying the path to your Masters so take it slow and you'll probably like it a lot more. Don't rush Hope this helps 🙂

  8. Option 4: move or find a school closer. Maybe I'm spoiled by the density of the northeast but the issue is the commute. It kills energy, money and time. Driving 2 hours for less classes is an epic waste. But I also have 3 Ivy leagues schools within 2 hours of me. Nevermind a crap ton of good state schools.

    Based on your choices quit you job and find work closer to school. Make the commute more worth it.

    Grad School is supposed to make you crazy. That is unavoidable.

  9. I vote for Door #2a. Mostly because it's the opposite of what I did.
    Money is better than a degree in the short term. A viable resume is better than a degree in the long term.
    #1 (as you have pointed out) is a recipe for insanity, which you do not need with your genetic baggage.
    #3 will make you poor, and overall will be as stressful as #1. It only seems romantic if you end up rich because of your choice, which is unlikely.
    The second part of #2 is optional. If the ultimate end of the whole masters/doctorate thing is to teach, then go for it. Otherwise, don't bother, because it takes just as much effort to “settle” as to do something you actually want to do, and unless it's a sure avenue to a lucrative career (teaching =NOT) why waste time? You seem to enjoy your job even though it makes you crazy, so concentrate on that until you formulate a satisfying Plan A. Work on art. Volunteer a couple of hours a week. Have dinner with hubs more often.
    That's allthe wisdom I have.

  10. Oh, that is a tough decision. The situation as it is really does sound too much – it seriously puts you in the risk zone for burnout.

    I put my vote on the middle alternative but I have to add: I'm not sure. If you feel quite sure about what it is you really want, it might be worth some struggle to achieve it.

    I honestly still can't work out whether I made the right or the wrong choices through life myself. I certainly did not end up where I wanted, but I will never know how much that had to do with my own choices vs just “circumstances”.

    It is not a good thing to wear oneself out (I know about that). It is also not a good thing in the long run to have to struggle each month to make ends meet (I know about that too).

    It IS a good thing to be able to enjoy whatever it is that one is doing, whether it is work or study. (Yes, I know a bit about that as well.)

    It also matters a lot what people one has in one's life, both at work and outside work. Friends matter!

    There is no possibility, I suppose (since you have not included it in your options) to cut down a bit on both work and studies and just continue at a slower pace…?

  11. I did not vote because I got confused. I majored in education instead of English even though I love English and not-so-much education because that major was easier, faster, and cheaper. So if I were to vote (which you know I didn't), I guess I'd vote for 2. Knowing that my opinion is probably useless and not worth warm spit, I hesitate to offer any firm solution. I'm major chicken to even approach the quit work choice. I hate belt tightening probably because I have a fat middle.

  12. 1. You have good connections and enjoy your job. Don't quit.

    2. I have been a teacher and you most Def don't want to go that route with no other options. Teaching and education classes are boring and brainless. Teaching the same class 20+ times a year to people that don't want to learn sucks too.

    3. Are you in a hurry? I say drop to one class next semester and keep going. lesson learned.

    Your Welcome

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