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College Options

RhinoRhino TheRhinLOLRegistered User regular
edited May 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
It's always been my life long dream to goto college. I'm going part time now, but I mean my dream is to go full time were I can really focus on my studies without all the stress of my job. The problem is every time I try to go back work gets in the way. Currently I'm making 6 figures, so it becomes really difficult to walk away from that, specially in this economy. All my friends say I'm dumb for wanting to go to college since I'm already have a good job. To be clear, my desire to go back is not to increase my "marketability" or job prospects or whatever, but just to learn for the joy of learning new things. In fact, going back I think it would hurt my career in the long run. So, not a very pragmatic dream :(

Money wise I have a mortgage on an house. Best case is I could rent it out to pay mortgage or sell it for what it's worth. No other debt.

What would I do about health/dental/eye insurance for me and my wife? We are both in good health, but seems dangerousness living without it. Can you get it though the school?

In non-retirement accounts I have about ~$60-90K saved/invested (before tax, most are stocks/bonds). If I want to cash out my 401K (which my accountant says is even worst idea), I could get an additional $160K before taxes/fees/plenties, etc. I probably won't touch my 401k, so that non-retirement funds would need to last me (and wife) ~2+ years of undergrad + masters + rent and living expenses.

My wife doesn't work, she would be willing to get a job but doesn't have a career so probably only around minimum wage, if anything. She has no experience, so doubt she'll get many offers/interviews.

The schools website is $22,948 per year or ~$45,896 for 2 years.
Masters is $38,042 per year or $76,084 for 2 years.
total tuition would be ~$121,980 without room/board. :(

The college offers room/board cheap, but doesn't look like my wife could stay there.

I've "maxed out" the courses I can take at community college, so not really a cheaper option available unless I goto a different cheaper public school. This school is by my family and is known as the "best" public school for the degree/subjects I want to study. It seems reasonably priced compared to other schools I've looked at.

What are my options here? Student loans? I heard the new Obama bill caps repayment at 10% of wage? Is there a cap on amount of loans you can take out?

Every year I look at it and I say "well, once I save up a bit more". But every year I just keep getting older and older. I think sub consciously I'd wish they would fire me just so I'd have no other choice but to goto college.

Rhino on


  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    If you're already making 6 figures and don't absolutely hate it - keep going part time. There is no incentive to go full time for you now. You won't get "the college experience" now that you're older and more responsible as well (since getting blackout drunk on a tuesday probably isn't in the cards).
    You say you want to learn new things - you won't learn many new things full time vs. part time. Just keep taking classes regardless and never stop learning.

    schuss on
  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I doubt you're going to get any real benefit from any kind of student loan repayment cap if you're capable of making 6 figures WITHOUT a college degree.

    Anyway, the tuitions you listed seem very very very high. What college are you looking at?

    Jasconius on
  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2011
    If you're making a good wage in this economy, I'd say that you should put it off unless there's a school that allows non-consecutive semesters. In that case, you could see if you can get yearly leaves to pursue your degree over the course of eight or so years.

    Bagginses on
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Why the fuck are you doing this? If you want personal enrichment just take classes at an extension, or take a sabbatical from your job. If you cynically need/want a credential do an online university. There's no way you increase your income short of getting an MBA or an engineering degree, and even then it's not a given.

    kaliyama on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited May 2011
    You're never to old to go back.

    Look, you have a great job, you're saving money, and doing well. You have right now what sounds to me like an AWESOME plan for something to do in your retirement.

    If you really want to do this, there are things to try. I don't know how much is left on your mortgage, how big your house is, or if you have kids, but selling your house and buying a smaller and cheaper house (assuming that would fit your needs) might give you the room you need to do this. Another option is to dump a bunch of extra money into your mortgage every month with your monthly payment until your mortgage is paid off, save up a little bit more once you don't have to worry about mortgage, and then go. You'll probably have to get insurance privately, so that will be very expensive.

    Honestly though, I think you should just go part-time at the school you want to go to, at least for the moment. It's not a great time to be jumping around all over the place, and you do not want to give up that kind of job if you don't have to. You can still probably downsize the material stuff (house and so forth) in your life to save more and it will do you all kinds of favors, but keep your job if you possibly can.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • BobbleBobble Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    If you're really truly interested in it for the sake of learning (and the degree doesn't even matter), have you looked into auditing courses? I'll join the chorus that it's not a great idea to drop a career in this situation, but if money's a concern and the degree itself isn't, then some professors might be understanding (and even encouraged) to just have an eager student in a class that isn't already crowded.

    Bobble on
  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    What is it you think going to college full time will provide you? Are you looking for the college experience? living on college, mingling with fellow college people, joining a fraternity, getting wasted on home coming weekend?

    Unless you are 18, like schuss says, that ship has largely sailed. Your experience as a full time student will be very similar to your current experience as a part time student.

    I Admire your desire to learn, for the sake of learning. But, unless you believe you will be in a better position on the the other end of exercising your dream, like perusing a career you love. you should seriously consider what you will be giving up.

    I think Ceres is onto something with the whole Something to do in retirement thing.

    Maybe work hard to get to a place where you can retire early and then pursue your dream. Otherwise, you will always have the knowledge that you have to go back to "real life" hanging over your head.

    Thundyrkatz on
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu PIGEON Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I'm going to join the chorus in the echo chamber and advise you to keep going part time. I graduate college tomorrow after having spent 4 years as a full time student, and although I definitely valued the opportunity to devote lots of time to my studies, it's not like you learn different things or take different classes when you're a full time student. You just take more classes. I've worked at a couple jobs throughout my time here, both of which together add up to about 35 hours a week, and that's definitely time I could have spent studying, but you can learn stuff without studying 24/7. Heck, most people at college spend most of their time trying not to learn anything more than they have to learn, and as a part-timer who actually gives a shit you're going to learn more than a lot of full time students who are there to get drunk and get a degree.

    I'll be the first person to praise learning and stuff (and I'm off to get a PhD where I will spend almost all my time devoted to studying) but there's nothing magic about quitting your job that is going to make studying easier, aside from the obvious "but I'll have more time" thing, which will only increase the quantity rather than the quality of your learning.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Go part time. Giving up your life just so you can take 6 extra credits a semester is just absolutely stupid. No offense.

    Most of the students I see every day have to work full time to go to school now anyway, and they aren't making NEAR 6 figures. They are making minimum wage at Starbucks. So, look, just keep doing what you are doing. You're learning, which is your goal, but you aren't fucking up your life and by extension your wife's life to do it.

    Sentry on
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • rockmonkeyrockmonkey Little RockRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    How much vacation do you get a year? How much additional time w/o pay could you take at once. Depending on the type of job you have my idea may, or may not work.

    Look into summer semesters, you could probably use your 2 weeks vacation plus some additional leave w/o pay (if your bosses are cool with it) and just take off from work for the 4-5 weeks and take two classes in a summer semester. You'd have nothing to focus on but your classes and learning, and with how intense these micro semester can be, that's likely all you SHOULD be doing if taking 2 of them. You could see how it goes.

    Like others, I'm a little confused to what it is exactly you're looking for by quitting a great job and going to college full time.

    Do you have a thirst for knowledge and just want to completely submerge yourself in classes and learning new things? I don't see how taking one or two classes at a time and still working deprives you of this.

    Maybe restructure you free time, how many hours do you work a week? Have you been mainly taking online classes, night classes? Have you been able to take any regular classes during regular school hours? Believe it or not the students in night classes are much more encouraging to be around than traditional students tend to be.
    Traditional students have other places they'd rather be, skip class, do the bare minimum, etc. Whereas night classes have lot of non-traditional students who are at a different point in their lives and WANT to be there and are enthusiastic about learning.

    I would heavily advise against quitting a 6 figure job for this. The cost is too great and the benefit is perceptive.

    Shooting for an early retirement and then becoming a full-time student in retirement might be a good idea.
    Put more towards retirement, you don't really need that much liquidity, unless you already have it invested, just not in retirement accounts.
    Scale back your house and expenses to live more modestly and put the extra cash back for retirement. Press hard and retire before 50.

    rockmonkey on
  • RhinoRhino TheRhinLOL Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    To answer some questions; I do IT project management. I want to study Math and CS so it's not like I'm pursuing a complete dead end. Just no guarantee I'll be able to make what I'm making now.

    I already do goto school part time. I typically take one class online and one class on campus per semester (only 1 during summer session). I get around Bs in everything and have a 3.6 GPA.

    I've tried other "learning sources" as some have suggested. books, tutors, video courses (great courses are nice), etc. I just tend to like college classes the best. You get typically get a nice book and good structure/lesson plan.

    The reason I want to go back is to learn in a stress free way, the stress is killing me. I really love studying and learning. My gf says I'm weird cause I'd rather do math on Friday night. The real problem here though is stress.

    At work we had a huge "crunch period" during finals. That means I was working 60+ hours a day (and completely stressed) while trying to study for finals on top of that. There is only so much a person can "take" before they just need to veg out and stop caring. The school part doesn't stress me, it's what I enjoy. The job part is what gets me.

    It isn't a conductive learning environment. It's also a kill joy. I don't feel like I'm learning a lot, but just maintaining. I get good marks, but feels like I'm missing a lot since it has to come after everything else.

    Maybe better stress management would help, but still there is a time factor.

    My wife is supportive, but some times it can strain the relationship because at times we go awhile without spending quality time together cause I'm so busy.

    TLDR; I'd like to go back to school because I feel my learning is limited by a) stress of my job b) lack of quality time.

    Rhino on
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu PIGEON Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I see exactly where you're coming from, but honestly I think the stress attached to a full time job + part time classes beats the stress attached to full time studying but zero income. It's not easy to work all the time and then put more work into school, but it's also not easy to give up a well-paying job when your spouse isn't going to be able to support you and when you're already doing fairly well in the school that you do attend.

    When the bills start piling up (insurance especially) and you're at school full time while your wife has to work a crummy minimum wage job, I'm not sure how far the ability to devote yourself to your studies is going to get you, stress-wise.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Yeah, you'll be way more stressed watching your savings dwindle and worrying about something happening. Perhaps audit some courses, or ask professors if you can just sit in on the classes, but bounce on the occasional homework or test?
    Your stated goal is learning, so you can probably do a mix of real class/sit-in to manage your stress level while accomplishing your goals of learning more. You should also talk to your work about possibly reconfiguring your schedule to have some times during the day free to take classes if needed, as given your job I'm sure you're available nights & weekends quite often anyway.

    schuss on
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Dude, keep going to work. Save up a shitload of money in your retirement account. Retire at 45. Then go to school.

    In the mean time, audit courses, or look at the courses that a lot of major universities have put online. Literally the only difference is going to be you won't have a piece of paper saying you took the course when you're done.

    You're completely insane to quit an awesome job like that in order to fuck yourself for the rest of your life.

    Thanatos on
  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    If you wanted to go to school to get a degree that would allow you to pursue your dream job in x number of years. I would say, definitely do it. Save up some cash, have a plan and make it happen.

    However it sounds like you want to quit your job and become a full time student.. for... ever? I mean what is the end game here?

    Its hard to rationalize this kind of dream.

    I mean, its always been my dream to sit around the house doing nothing in my underwear all day. I could quit my job and make that happen, but before long the bank, and my credit card companies are going to lose there sense of humor, and I will have to abandon that dream again and get a job.

    Whats your goal?

    Thundyrkatz on
  • rockmonkeyrockmonkey Little RockRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    It's never too young to seriously persue retirement. I'm 28 and I think about it all the time and have since I got out of college. I play to retire before 55, but given enough constraint and motivation could shoot for earlier.

    I have spreadsheet that maps out principle payments and compound interest and I can play with the numbers and get best/worst case scenerios. I make deductions after I retire and see how long my money lasts at a much lower % rate (less risk adverse investments). I factor in pay increases and college savings for my daughter. I then speculate on ending income then what % of that I'll need in retirement. What my wife's pension would pay out, and what SS would possibly contribute (this is icing, because who knows what'll happen between now and then). I factor in what I'll need in certain accounts/investments to bridge the gap between when I retire early and when I can access 401k/traditional IRA funds sans penalties, etc.

    Sure it's all conjecture and ultimately incorrect with no chance, but I can see where I need to make adjustments NOW to try and ensure my early retirement later.

    rockmonkey on
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