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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 01-31-2012, 04:28 PM
beanandpumpkin's Avatar
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I was one of those "most likely to succeed" kids in high school... you know, National Honor Society, top 10% of the class, high score on the SATs. I was accepted with a big scholarship to a private college, and everyone was horrified and shocked when I decided to defer for a year. They said, "you'll never go back!" And they were right... after that year, I did not go back; I got a job as a dental assistant, took the radiology class/test, moved out of my parents' house, got married, started having babies. In the midst of all of that, I did get some credits at the local community college. In general, though, I did not do the "go to college so you can be successful" thing.

I'm living the dream, though... my dream, that is! I homeschool the kids, we live in paradise (or as close as you can get... southwest Florida about 15 miles from the Gulf of Mexico), I work on my lanai in my pajamas year round, at whatever time of day I want to (okay, sometimes I'm dressed). I work maybe 10 hours per week. DH heads out to work at about 9:30 or 10:00, comes home for an hour for lunch every day, and is usually home by 5:30 or 6:00 pm. Our bills are paid, we travel, etc. Success? Maybe some would say no, because we drive oldish cars and don't have a huge house, and we choose not to spend our money on name brand clothes and expensive dishes and things like that... we prefer to travel to different areas of our country, and we'll be taking our second trip to Europe with the kids in 2013.

Everyone's idea of success is different, and I think that most people don't "get" that at 20. Or 30, and sometimes not even 40 or 50. Think about what you want. If you want a career that requires a college degree, or if you want to be in a field that you think might be easier to crack if you have a degree, then pay your dues and finish your degree. If you are going only because you want to live up to someone else's idea of "successful," then I think you need to think long and hard about what is important to YOU.

Remember that no matter what you decide, you can always change your mind. You can always go back to school later (though it is harder once you are married with children, if you choose to go that route). If you only have a year and a half or so until you finish, it might be worth it to just do it... maybe even take courses over the summer to get it done more quickly.

Good luck with your decision! Looking back, I don't think I'd have done anything differently... but ymmv.
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  #12 (permalink)  
Old 01-31-2012, 04:36 PM
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Honestly, your digital portfolio is going to be much more important than a college degree. And this program isn't going to cut it since there is a big emphasis on print. In other words, I don't think you need to continue college just to get a piece of paper to do web design, especially from this program.

I would do the absolute minimum number of credits to avoid repaying financial aid. Change the grading basis on all of the classes you're struggling in to Pass/NoPass instead of a letter grade. Finish the semester out and then call it a day. Or hang on until the day after financial aid doesn't need to be repaid and then drop.

In the future, you should really follow your gut and drop classes early, like during the first two weeks so you can get a refund and not have to worry about financial aid.

Another concern is whether you are using financial aid to meet basic living expenses. Can you pay all the bills every month if you didn't go to school and had no access to financial aid? It's a very bad idea to use school to bridge an income gap when the right way to fix this is to get a second job.
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:39 PM
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Wow, I really appreciate all the feedback so far. After considering this advice and advice from another person via PM, I think I'm going to stick it out. Sure, it might suck at this very moment, but it's true. No matter what, having a degree is a GOOD THING and MAKES ME STAND OUT.

It's not like I have to take out the loans in order to pay for my schooling because my grant covers it, but I take out the loans because I can't really survive without them. I'm tired of having a job that tells me your job is more important, so I don't want to go that route. So, I opted for freelancing and I'm digging it.

I think my main problem is juggling it all. I'm trying to make enough money to pay my bills and find the time to study and do all the things that are required of me in school. I just get down sometimes and it seems like there is never a light in this forever dark tunnel.

Wow, again ... I truly appreciate everyone's input and thoughts. It's made me optimistic about my future. Not to say my feelings won't change, because they will most likely will, but I always know I can come to this forum and get me a pick-me-up when I totally need it.

I love you guys!!!
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  #14 (permalink)  
Old 01-31-2012, 05:01 PM
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I believe you're making the right decision by sticking it out. Many employers want to see that piece of paper proving that you received a college education. That will make you more marketable for sure. Although my B.A.in Italian has no relevance to any of the jobs I've had, that piece of paper enabled me to get decent positions that would otherwise have been unavailable to me. You won't regret getting that degree.
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:41 PM
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Not sure that I have too many specifics for you, but I'll relay my story.
Went to college immediately after high school and then started grad school one semester after finishing college. Could not have imagined NOT going to college at that stage of my life, being bookwormish, "academic-oriented", etc. essentially thinking, "if college is not for me, who is it for?" Changed my major numerous times (and actually transferred schools twice). Refused to take courses I didn't enjoy, etc. Interned at a law firm after my freshman year of college and was in shock that while I was enjoying the last year of my life couldn't possibly imagine that an office worker there (my exact same age) spent every day going to the same place and working Went to grad sch. after college because I still wasn't ready for full time work (I did work part time, though, throughout both college and grad sch.) Essentially, I was "waiting around" for my now-husband to finish college so I could start a family! Do I regret college? No. Could I have learned the same and more on my own without any student loan debt? Absolutely.

Then when I was at home with an infant and interested in working from home I spent more $$ learning medical transcription to work at an MT (which I disliked tremendously). So, I'm at a point now where I would never "pay" (in the form of student loan debt or high tuition) to learn something, and that actually includes even if it were completely "free." If someone said, here's $$$$, complete your Ph.D., I'd still have to SPEND a lot of time pursuing it, and that time is not something I'd want to waste. Because, like you, I enjoy the work I'm doing now (burgeoning indy game developer) and I'm learning and working simultaneously. If you get more heavily involved with programming (you mentioned JavaScript, etc.), you're going to be just as well off self taught vs. getting a degree. Technologies change so rapidly, and you have to be on top of things. Isolated professors aren't always the best teachers of emerging technologies especially when they're often immersed in many less practical areas of comp sci.

BUT the $5,000 you're so worried about? Getting a degree LATER means it's going to cost more since the rate of tuition keeps outpacing inflation.
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:16 PM
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I don't have any advice for you, but your dilemma reminded me of the following:

8 Steps to Getting What You Want… Without Formal Credentials

It's a lengthy read, but I think you'll find it rather interesting.

Good luck to in whatever you decide to do.
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  #17 (permalink)  
Old 01-31-2012, 07:56 PM
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Remember that you won't always be able to work in a job for which you have a degree. Although I'm getting my fourth (yes, really) degree, I haven't ever worked in any of those fields. Related fields, yes, but the exact field, no.

The thing is, that degree was (back 40 years ago) worth $15,000 per year more (and at the end of my work career, the difference between no degree and my Masters' degree was $50,000/year.) We were very poor when we first married, so I consider every penny spent getting me those degrees (which let me get better jobs) was well worth the time and trouble.

Start thinking ahead -- where do you want to be in five years, and how do you see yourself getting there? Then go for it!
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  #18 (permalink)  
Old 01-31-2012, 07:56 PM
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Just my two cents about going for an art degree...

Make sure you love it, because it's only going to get more expensive, both in time and money. I have a degree in Interior Design, and boy, were all those art supplies expensive. And since you're majoring in Graphic Design, I believe you will be using Prismacolor markers, which are $2-$3 EACH. That's just one example. And then regarding time...when I was in college, I envied all my friends who were done by noon. By my Senior year, I was in class from 8 to 5pm, with 1 hr break for lunch. It was like a full-time job!

Then after you graduate, you have to constantly update your portfolio. Every interview, you need not only that resume, but also a portfolio. A lot of my friends and family are surprised by this. Why is that? It's a visual field, you need to prove yourself through your work.

Oh, by the way, at least for Interior Design, what you do in the real world is nowhere like what they taught you in school. Okay, so maybe some. The foundations are there. But it was vastly different. Because in the real world, money speaks. You are much more limited in what you can do with your resources (including time). When I was in school, they encouraged conceptual thinking. Money was no object. Schools really should include a class that takes budget into consideration.

I think all art fields are ones where you have to LOVE what you are doing, because it's so time consuming and costly. I'm fortunate that I do love what I do, but if I didn't, that would have been a very expensive mistake. If your main objective now is to get a degree for degree's sake, I would recommend getting a degree in something more versatile, like business, and possibly minor in the Visual Communications/Graphic Design (although you would still be spending a lot of time and money). If the Visual Communications/Graphic Design isn't the type of things you were hoping to learn (too much print stuff), then enroll in the class that does teach you what you want to learn, even if you have to transfer to another school. You are not only investing a lot of money, but also a lot of time. You don't want to waste it. However, if you enjoy what you are learning, then go for it!

Last edited by aewtx; 01-31-2012 at 08:01 PM.
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  #19 (permalink)  
Old 01-31-2012, 08:20 PM
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There is nothing wrong with changing your mind. But, I'd love to encourage you to still get a degree in something. The way things are now you need a Bachelors to get a job at Burger King. While I don't technically use all my education (I have a Masters in Human Environmental Sciences with a specialization in Interactive Technology and a BS in Business) I will NEVER regret doing it, even with the debt I have from doing it.

I love what I do now but I also see myself teaching at a community college at some point and am going to get an MBA too in the next two years. A lot of times you study so many things that are so boring and below what you really want to learn. In the Masters it's more zeroed in on a specialty but it's still theory until you put it into action. For a long time, even after I got my degree, I was not sure what the point was either in terms of jobs, but it has made me a more well rounded person and I use my education every single day in my business.

My advice is don't stop, but perhaps seriously consider studying what you love. I love business and technology so that's what I study although I make most of my money writing at this point. There are so many choices in what to get a degree in both online and off. The university of Alabama offers many online degrees as do a lot of other state schools for the same price regardless of if you're in state or out of state.

There is a website stateonlinedegrees.com it's not mine, and in some cases some of the stuff is out of date, but it gives you information about state schools that have online degrees so you don't have to just say with what you're doing. You can go online almost anyplace for almost the same price now days and financial aid will pay for it. No private school charges. Another really good online fully accredited program which is a private school is Western Governors University.. wgu.edu, and it's very inexpensive only about 6K a YEAR unlimited units.

Oh, and pretty much every semester out of all my schooling through my AA, through my BS through my MS I wanted to quit. But when I got that diploma it was ALL worth it! Just so you know I have a daughter your age, so if I sound like a mom that's not on purpose, it's just that I didn't get my BS until my oldest daughter graduated high school in 2005 and I really, really wish I would have done it younger.
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Old 02-01-2012, 05:57 AM
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I'll throw this out there from a slightly different perspective.

My sister in law paid $50k to earn her degree in art. She loved art, her dreams were of owning an art gallery. Into the second year, she started really hating college but stuck with it because she'd already spent so much money. (Even our community college costs $15k a year here.).

She graduated and had her degree in art and by that point hated art. Saddled with $50k in student loans, she couldn't find a job that used her art degree that made her happy. After bouncing from one job to another, she finally took a job in fast food simply because of the hours.

Fast forward 10 years, she still owes that money. She has creditors hounding her because she wasn't earning enough to pay off the full extent of the student loans she'd taken out, especially when the economy tanked. She's gotten heavily into Buddhism and ancient Asian healing arts in the past three years and decided since finances were already way out of whack, she dropped everything, returned to school to become a massage therapist. This added another $8k to her debt, however, she LOVES what she's doing now. She wishes she'd followed her gut years ago and stopped studying art and dabbled in a number of things before settling on a major.

We've made it clear to our son that if he starts his college career off not LOVING what he's doing, it's better to stop and reexamine things before spending all that money. The engineering colleges he's looking at are upwards of $40k a year. He's put in for grants and scholarships and we have our fingers crossed. He's got a 4.37 GPA, highest scores in his school on the ACT/33 and SAT/2120, but we're learning that merit-based scholarships are not very common in our area and as he's white male and we're not low income, so there's not much out there that he qualifies for when it comes to funding. If he doesn't love what he's doing, it's pointless to rack up that kind of debt.
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