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Dilemma


archer
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Hello everyone,

I'm feeling completely unsure of what to do right now.

Brief summary: A string of disasters and underemployment has resulted in my mom losing pretty much all of her savings. She's been living paycheck to paycheck these last few years. My sister and brother-in-law have steady jobs, but they spend money like it's going out of style. They have no savings, and whenever they need money to repair the car or buy groceries they turn to my mom. On top of that, I recently graduated and have been unable to find work (I'm applying EVERYWHERE), so I'm just adding to her financial burden. Long story short, we are a huge financial strain on my mother.

I am completely torn on what to do. Grad school is something I have been working towards for as long as I can remember, and researching/teaching history at a college level is pretty much the only thing I can imagine myself doing and being happy. BUT, of course, it's a huge financial risk. There's no guarantee of financial job security... I just have visions of another disaster and being unable to help my mother and family out. Or, worse, BEING the financial disaster and putting more strain on my mom. She should be saving for retirement, and instead she's taking care of us and barely scraping by herself.

I know I could get my teaching certification and get a stable job teaching high school social sciences, but that choice also makes my heart sink.

I know I'm probably not the only one in this situation. How are you all dealing with it/making these decisions?

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Whatever you do to make enough money to get by right now, it's not something that you're locked into forever.

Maybe you can find something that has employability in your area, for which the certification or training process is very quick. I'm thinking of something in the medical fields, like EMT or certified nursing assistant, but I live in a healthcare-heavy area, and I don't know if those are also employable fields in your area. Get your certification, get a job that will hold you over until you're in a grad program, and then go with that.

You might also consider freelance tutoring (or something like freelance editing). You can charge fairly heavy fees for that.

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I think this is an extreme alternative, but...

I am in the field of higher education, and I know a number of people who pursued a grad degree in this area specifically so they could get a free education in something else.

There is a ton of funding in higher education, so most people end up not paying, but being paid to get the degree. Once they get the degree, they are able to find a decent job at a university. Then, they are able to go to school for free as an employee of the university. I know someone who is working as a residence hall director and has her Masters in higher ed, but is taking part time classes at the university to obtain a Maters in agriculture. I know someone else who is getting law school paid for the same way.

I'm not saying I advocate this, but it is an interesting alternative. I do think in order for you not to be miserable, you would have to have at least some interest in higher ed/ working with students.

Interestingly enough, a lot of people in this field were history undergrads...

Keep your chin up, friend! I was in the same situation as you. I graduated in journalism, the dying profession! I applied to so many jobs, and didn't get one call. Luckily I eventually found a decent paying job working in the financial sector - imagine that. I ended up being so bored, I realized how much I missed my experience as a resident adviser and the students during my undergrad, and decided to go to grad school for higher education. I am now getting paid to go to school, and receiving free room and board on top of that, so I'm not going to be a financial burden on my parents anymore!

I would say to try to get a job outside of your field if you have to - broaden your horizons. After you get your job, research grad schools/programs, and see what you can find in the ways of funding/fellowships.

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I just wanted to add to this: I worked part-time in an administrative position at my university and received partial tuition remission (I combined this with scholarships and took on very little debt during my MA). The full time admin jobs all came with 100% tuition remission and many of my friends held these jobs and graduated with their MA debt free. Other universities offer this benefit and it's definitely worth looking into.

I think this is an extreme alternative, but...

I am in the field of higher education, and I know a number of people who pursued a grad degree in this area specifically so they could get a free education in something else.

There is a ton of funding in higher education, so most people end up not paying, but being paid to get the degree. Once they get the degree, they are able to find a decent job at a university. Then, they are able to go to school for free as an employee of the university. I know someone who is working as a residence hall director and has her Masters in higher ed, but is taking part time classes at the university to obtain a Maters in agriculture. I know someone else who is getting law school paid for the same way.

I'm not saying I advocate this, but it is an interesting alternative. I do think in order for you not to be miserable, you would have to have at least some interest in higher ed/ working with students.

Interestingly enough, a lot of people in this field were history undergrads...

Keep your chin up, friend! I was in the same situation as you. I graduated in journalism, the dying profession! I applied to so many jobs, and didn't get one call. Luckily I eventually found a decent paying job working in the financial sector - imagine that. I ended up being so bored, I realized how much I missed my experience as a resident adviser and the students during my undergrad, and decided to go to grad school for higher education. I am now getting paid to go to school, and receiving free room and board on top of that, so I'm not going to be a financial burden on my parents anymore!

I would say to try to get a job outside of your field if you have to - broaden your horizons. After you get your job, research grad schools/programs, and see what you can find in the ways of funding/fellowships.

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If you have not yet been accepted to grad school (I wasn't quite sure from your post), you could take a year off to build a nest egg. Real estate, depending on your area, often has a lot of opportunity. I know someone who works with people who have declared bankruptcy and are in danger of losing their houses; he negotiates with their creditors to try to prevent this and while he works 60+ hours a week, he makes a lot of money. Finance and banking could also give you a solid income, and while I know people who weren't trained in those fields and got jobs in them, that was before the recession. But it is something to check out.

And let me just say that I hear you on the inconsiderate siblings issue. My sympathies.

If you are worried about paying for Master's programs, don't apply to terminal Master's programs unless there is a chance for outside funding. You might try doing a few Americorps jobs - a friend of mine has had some great experiences doing public history and archives work in national parks, and other perks like loan forgiveness are part of those programs. Also consider Canadian programs: the state of funding for higher education is a bit better than for US schools.

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Thanks for the input everyone. I get a bit panicked about the whole money issue, but I've calmed down a bit. :)

And I was offered a job this morning - part-time, but better than nothing! - so I'll be able to start contributing/saving somewhat.

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Thanks for the input everyone. I get a bit panicked about the whole money issue, but I've calmed down a bit. :)

And I was offered a job this morning - part-time, but better than nothing! - so I'll be able to start contributing/saving somewhat.

Congrats on the job offer!

The most important thing - you should not give up your dream! There is always a way to overcome difficulties.

You are saying that your sister and brother-in-law have steady jobs. That means you have no obligation to support them financially. As for your mother - I am sure you will be able to support her. It will probably be more difficult inicially and you will have to give up some things - but hey, it's your dream that you are moving towards! And if you work hard and stay true to your dream, I am sure you will be able to both make your dream come true and support your mother. What we do, what we are is all in our hands.

Good luck!! :)

Edited by Strangefox
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You are saying that your sister and brother-in-law have steady jobs. That means you have no obligation to support them financially.

And neither does your mom. Please, for her sake, help her learn to say no to them.

I also agree that you should look into what another poster recommended, and see if you can get a job in higher education. My sister does admin work for a Major State University and got free tuition for her master's that way. (She had meant to go down a different career path once she graduated, but the people in her department depend on her so much that, every time she tries to quit, they offer her a raise...)

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I was going to say the same thing as UnlikelyGrad. We have someone like that in my family (ironically, it's my mom) and you HAVE to learn to say no to them. They will only keep asking as long as you keep giving. Once you learn how to say "no" every time they ask, the requests will dwindle down to nothing. And I know it's hard - I mean, my mother birthed me, I feel bad for turning her down. But she asks to 'borrow' large sums of money for ridiculous purchases and is the kind of person who will, for example, take a trip to Puerto Rico but forget to pay her car note.

Your mom has the ability to use the guilt trip. "How do you expect me to lend you grocery money? You have a steady job and my job sucks, and you know I had to use my savings." Or she can use the *shrug* "Sorry, I don't have it" excuse. That's never a lie because even if she does technically have the money, it could be earmarked for something else. And then she can wedge in suggestions that your brother and sister begin saving money for rainy days. They're grown people, they need to join the world of the rest of us and learn how to spend within their means.

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Have you told your sister that she is basically bankrupting your mother? Have you talked to your mom about saying no?

Hopefully you can find a program with funding. Then you can pursue your goals without being a financial burden

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