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Is this possible? Change of life/college question

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I am deeply miserable in my marriage, for many reasons. I need to leave. We have two children together (4 and 6) and although I work full-time, I don't make anywhere NEAR enough to live on my own. (I do not count on financial help from my husband, as he barely works. His current contributions are pretty much just enough to keep us from being homeless.)


I finally know what I want to be "when I grow up" and I want to go to school. (I only have my high school diploma.)  We live in the boonies, and the nearest 2 year community college is over an hour away; the nearest four-year school is 2 hours away. I can't figure out how to make it work to go to school, work full time, Mon-Fri 7:30-3:30, travel to classes, do homework, and see my children ever. (Online school is not a good option for me. I pretty much suck at things like that, and if I do this, I want to do it well. I could do an easy class or two online, but not all of them.) And with my marriage as it is, I can't depend on him to take care of the kids even a night or two a week while I go to classes, and affording daycare, especially in the evening, is out of the question.


In trying to figure out how to make it on my own, it was suggested to me that I quit work and go to school full-time, using financial aid to pay for school as well as living expenses. Is this possible? I was looking at houses for rent in one of the towns where a 4 year university is, and I could get a decent two bedroom for $400 a month. I could take classes while the kids were in school, and still be home for them in the evenings and stuff. It would mean uprooting them (and me, I'm attached to our town, too.) but would save me a horrendous commute to school.



post #2 of 17

I would look into going to school full time and maybe working part time (work study through the school) i would start by contacting the schools you would like to go to and talking to and admission and financial aid councillor and finding out what is available for single moms, you also can usually get some state help if you are going to school full time . something to think about 2 yr community colleges are cheaper to get your pre recs from and then you can transfer to a 4 year school for everything else.

post #3 of 17

Nothing is forever and you can always move back to your town if you still want to in a few years.  You can reduce the amount of time you are in school by taking summer classes when available as well.  If this career path going to earn you enough money to live on AND pay of potential student loans when you graduate?  Be sure about that.  You are probably eligible for some financial aid besides loans, but for living expenses that is what most people usually use.  2 year colleges are great start, they tend to have more empathy for difficult situations.  Are you near a state college?  That could save you a lot of money over private.  Try to find out if you are eligible for any aid for families such as food stamps or TANF.  If you are a single parent, you might have a better chance if his income is just putting you over the limit.  Also, in my experience, men tend to spend money on things that women are willing to live without like alcohol and cigs (crazy expensive habits), expensive cable tv, and more flashy cars.  So you may find yourself in a better place once you end the marriage even if your income does go down a bit.   


If there are any rumblings at work about job lay-offs, you might want to wait a bit before you make a move.  Unemployment income sometimes includes some tuition reimbursement.


Nothing is impossible, but sometimes you really have to buckle down and give up things you are attached to in order to get ahead.  You have no idea what things are waiting for you out there. 



post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you both for your responses.


If I didn't have kids, I would definitely do the 2 year school, then finish at a four year later. But I just cannot move them twice for schooling, and I would have to.


I want to be a preschool teacher. It's what I do right now, basically (I'm a para in a special ed preschool) and I LOVE it, but I don't make nearly enough money to exist on. So it will have to be a 4-5 year schooling. Ugh. I am kicking myself for not going to school out of high school when I had the chance.


Yes, my husband spends money stupidly, but even without that, I only make $900 a month, which isn't really enough to exist on, even living bare-bones. The only assistance we receive currently is reduced price lunches at school.


The things I am attached to are: spending time with my kids, and my job. My job is perfect for acheiving the first, because I take them to school in the morning, I work in the same building that they go to school in, and then I take them home after school. I feel like I'm not missing any time with them. Plus the fact that I really REALLY love my job. If I made more money, I'd totally forget about going to school and just stay where I am because I love it so much. But as the sole and only income, it's just not enough.


I garden and raise chickens, and have been trying to figure out how to turn that into extra income. Unfortunately, people aren't willing to really pay much around here for eggs or vegetables. (I've tried selling my eggs for $2 a dozen, which is only 12 cents more than Walmart's pretax price, and people won't pay it! I have to give them away for nothing just to avoid them going bad in my fridge.) I have not tried a booth at the farmer's market, however. It's very small and just getting started, but maybe it would be worth a try. (at least there is no booth rental.)


If I could find a really cheap rental situation with either a few acres or a nice big yard, in exchange for fixing up the house (I'm really good at that!) I think I could make it work on my current income, if I could sell a bit of farm produce/goods. This is what I'd REALLY want to do. I'm just not sure how to go about finding this sort of thing.


So...go to college to be a teacher, or be a farmer? I know, diverse options. lol.gif

post #5 of 17

You don't want to hear this.  But a pre-school teacher's average salary is $23000 or something like that.  I don't think farming would be much better than that...   If you are going to be a single mom you have to do better than that.  Maybe a full fledged teacher -- IF they are hiring in your area.  If you take out student loans you are really going to have trouble paying them back on that kind of salary (bearing in mind that starter salaries might be closer to $18000.  This doesn't really sound like a reasonable proposition to create a more stable future.  There have to be other options you can consider. 


I left my marriage two and a half years ago.  I went to grad school and worked hard to get a degree to get a certain kind of job with growing career prospects.  School full-time, work part-time, sometimes two part-time jobs.  Yeah, I miss seeing my kids, but this is what I have to do. I don't bake bread any more, I don't have time to garden, I don't make homemade Halloween costumes.  And next week will be my very first time off of more than two days in almost three years.  But life is still better than being married.  My kids were a bit older so it was more managable, maybe, but still tough. 


There has to be some other options.  How about pediatric nursing?  Health care pays better and you could still work with kids.  And you could start with a two year degree in some form of health care and then work your way to a four year degree. 

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

My boss is the preschool teacher in the public school preschool I work in, and she makes more like $30,000-40,000. Maybe it's because she's also in special ed?


And in any case, right now, I make less than $12,000 a year, so that would certainly be an improvement. Health care would not be a good fit for me, I am sure of that.


Ugh, there has got to be a better way. I am not willing to give up my children's childhood. I'm not willing to give up making cookies or costumes or cuddling them for hours when they are sick. I'm just not willing.

post #7 of 17

What about the marriage?  Might counseling help?  If you can manage to co-habitate peacefully for a while longer, maybe you could start taking a class or two a week in the evenings.  Even if you needed student loans for that, they'd be considerably lower than taking out loans to pay your living expenses for 4 years.  You'd need to make a lot more than $18,000/year to make a minimum of $48,000 (based on you saying that your current $12K/year isn't enough to live on) worth of student loans a worthwhile investment.  Have you considered what the monthly payment would be for such a large loan?  That's more than some people's mortgages!!


I'm not trying to discourage you, but the idea of taking on that much debt for mediocre earning potential would scare me.  Maybe you could find some grants that would help defray the cost?  And while I'm generally against welfare, if it gets you out of a toxic situation with your husband, then I'd be signing up in an instant.  Something else to consider...  Do you own your house?  If so, if/when you divorce, your DH will almost certainly have to buy you out of your half if he wants to keep it.  If you both agree to sell it, you get half of the profit (assuming you aren't underwater or there is some equity in the house). 


I hope you're able to find a solution that works for you.  It sounds like a very difficult situation to be in.

post #8 of 17

I would consider all of your options carefully and thoroughly.  Your situation is certainly not impossible.  Some things to consider: if you are actively planning/working towards getting out of a marriage, it might make it more bearable.  I spent a year contemplating and planning and picking up what I needed to outfit a new home at yard sales.  I had boxes all over the place : ).  (Someone told me while I was doing this to set aside the Christmas ornaments I wanted to take before they got put away for the year because I might not be living there next year and that was very good advice). 2. If you are so low income with your husband's salary, you will probably be able to get some aid without it: TANF, SNAP, housing benefit, etc.  If you can get any help at all right now, take it and sock away the money you would have spent on food, etc.  3.  the longer the planning period, the less stressful the transition will be.  4. pre-school teachers really don't make that much, probably would make more specializing in special ed, BUT maybe you should just go for elem ed certificate instead.  Probably would pay better and you could look for a job as a kindie teacher.  4.  don't be afraid to move your kids around.  Kids are VERY resilient as long as then feel loved and protected.  And younger kids adapt more easily than older kids.  You can make it an adventure - finding the perfect place to live by experimenting with different options.  5.  You are going to have to be prepared to possibly move to make this work.  It won't be the end of the world, you'll make new friends and get settled in a new place where your options are better.  and 6.  If you make ANY progress towards a degree while still married, it would be huge like the previous poster said, reducing student loan debt.  You are probably eligible for grants to go to school.  Maybe you can make it two years and get that part done.  Even if you take one class per semester you are still moving forward.  An hour each way isn't so bad.  They have night classes and sometimes Sat classes as well.  Do you know someone that could help you out for a couple of nights each week?  Could you prehaps even move in with your kids with a friend or relative to cut your expenses (and theirs) and get a bit of free child care (maybe in exchange for paying the cable bill or something like that?) 


Planning your new life and making goals will really and truly take the edge off of a dead relationship... 


Your situation is not impossible - but it will take a bit of time!  Once you get started you won't believe how fast the time went. 

post #9 of 17

I have the greatest respect for student moms. I was a student mom myself and I know how hard and rewarding it can be. It sounds like income potential is your main reason for returning to school but I can tell you early childhood education is not a high earning profession. If you pursue that path, I highly recommend a double major in both early childhood and elementary education. I had a girlfriend choose this path and it made her much more employable. Being a college student takes a lot of time and you will need support and help with your kids so you can attend class, complete homework assignments, write papers and study. 4 years is a long time to go with little/no income as the sole provider for your children. I don't recommend living on student loans because you can never bankrupt them in court and you're stuck paying even if you don't graduate. However, it sounds like you would probably qualify for food stamps, childcare assistance (available for students too), and Pell grants. You will probably need to work while in school so that will require more time away from your children. It's very very possible to go back to school with children but make sure it is the right choice for you.  

post #10 of 17

I don't have any good advice, but i wanted to say Good luck!

I'll be rootin' for you

post #11 of 17

Just to address the question of what preschool teachers earn... it can vary widely.  Regulations vary by state, but where I live you don't have to be licensed to teach preschool.  Teachers at private or church preschools generally aren't the best paid.  However, it's a whole different ball of wax to be a licensed early childhood teacher and work for a public school district.  In that case, being a preschool teacher is just as well paid as any other public school teacher.  But public school teacher salaries are all over the board.  I know people who work in small rural districts and make less than $30k/year teaching full time.  I also know people who have been teaching for many years in large suburban districts and make more than $60k/year.  It's important to research what salaries are like where you live.

post #12 of 17

Here in CO you only need 2 classes to become and assistant preschool teacher and 4 classes to become a lead teacher, so I would check the laws in your state before going back for a full degree

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

Just wanted to update this thread. I am going to school this fall. I am still wavering on what exactly I want to do, but I have it narrowed down more. I want to be a speech and language pathologist. I know it means getting a master's degree, which kind of sucks that it's going to take SO long, but the end result will pay off more. The other thing I may want to do is be a special ed teacher, but as it takes only one year less than speech pathology, I don't know that I'll really go that route.


We'll be living in family housing on campus. As for the marriage, I don't really know what is going on there. He wants to work on things, but I don't think it is going to work out. He may or may not come with me to school. Either way, I'm getting my education. I am BEYOND excited to start school. I wish I could start right this very minute.

post #14 of 17

Sounds like a good plan.  You might also want to look at occupational therapy.  The potential income is much higher than the pre-school teacher.  Once you get going, you'll be surprised how you will make it all work.  But it will. 



post #15 of 17
I just wanted To say, you are just awesome!
And an speech therapist you will be making more money too.
I cannot start yet, but I'm right behind you mama!
post #16 of 17
I wanted to add, like EmsMom mentioned...
I too considered speech therapist, but opted for Occupational Therapist. Almost almost sure:o
Then I will take sensory integration classes and specialize in children
Just something to think about, but speech pathology rocks too!
post #17 of 17

It’s great that you have made up your mind about what you want to be. Speech and language pathologist is an upcoming career path, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for this field is very promising, and employment is expected to grow by 23% in this decade. It will probably eat into your time with your kids right now, studying, working, and taking care of them, but getting your dream job after completing your MS will be definitely worth it! I had read student reviews and testimonials on Stevens-Henager College website – a lot of people were very satisfied and glad with their decision to return to college and complete their education. I must say you have taken a step in the right direction. Wish you all the best!

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