High unemployment means jobs are hard to come by. But, candycat, if you are having this difficulty with a college degree, imagine how much worse the situation would be for a person with only a HS diploma and no continuous work history.
Safety net my *&+^$. Seriously. I worked for only about a year after graduating (with honors, internships, etc) before starting a family and becoming a SAHM to my special needs son and then my daughter. My marriage broke down due to my husband's mental health issues and I had to try to make it on my own. I can't get a job to save my life. I've applied to hundreds of places, literally, from coffee shop waitress positions to real "career" types of places. Not one call-back. Not one. I am professional, responsible, organized, healthy, motivated, well-spoken, educated, have about a year of grad school under my belt... Every day I'm out there looking for a job. I'm about to go on welfare at the moment because I just can't find one and I just don't have any more money.
The only two places hiring right now that I still haven't applied to are Goodwill and Walmart. In about two more weeks if I don't get a call back from SOMEwhere I'm going to take my college-educated self and beg for a checkout position while my kids are in state run daycare. Really glad I put in all that work and effort to get a degree or two. Really happy.
A continuous work history is apparently much more important than being educated. That or knowing people. If you have a network of people who can get you a job I guess you're set. I have neither, so by itself a college degree, to me, is worthless.
This may be true for you in this instance and at this time. However, because you already have an undergraduate degree, you could theeoretically finish grad school (may need a new, more employable field), perhaps doing an internship, and find yourself more employable much quicker than if you needed to finish an undergraduate degree. Obviously, there are some places in this country where there just aren't many jobs of any kind. But even in this economy, people with graduate degrees have a lower unemployment rate than those without. Clearly, there are no guarantees, ever, in life. Sometimes it is just about increasing the odds. And I worked at BJs warehouse club before I ended up with a better part-time job, and I worked for a local non-profit for minimum wage, and a few other things clearly not too glamorous and low paying. Even with a part-time job now and school, I have been tutoring as well and I have a standing summer job when I want it. I have learned to say things to employers like: can I have more responsibility? Or I want to list that I managed some employees on my resume, can you help me with that? Times change, available jobs change, clearly. But certain skills still look good on a resume. There are ways to avoid looking like you were a stay at home mom too long. My sister went back to work without any college and worked first in her son;s school cafeteria; then at a local grocery store. After just a few months, they want to train her for management. There is nothing disrespectful about working at a check-out for a while. Odds are you won't be there very long.
I'm very new here, but I'm going to post my personal experience. When I became pregnant with my first child, I was 27 years old, single and living in my mother's basement apartment. I worked part time as a waitress and was studying art history. My ex wasn't interested in being a father or being part of my life. My mother gave me an ultimatum of going back to college to get a real job or moving out. I chose to move out. I had a job and I was homeless. I was couch surfing up until the day my daughter was born. Luckily, I found a position living with an elderly woman and providing her with personal care and housework in exchange for room and board and a small stipend where I could keep my daughter with me. My step dad (he and my mom are divorced) lent me the money to go back to college and he took care of my daughter when I was in classes and clinicals. I became a LPN in less then a year. It wasn't the most glamorous or exciting job, but I could support myself and my daughter. Because I was able to find another single mother in a similar situation, we became room mates. We worked opposite shifts and watched each other's children so neither of us had to put our babies in childcare
I married a few years later and we have five kids. I was able to finish my RN degree and eventually become a massage therapist. Because my husband was in the military, we've lived in several different states. Since I have my nursing degree, I've always been able to find work with enough flexibility to home school my children. Now, that he's retired and we're settled, I've been able to build my massage therapy practice. I only work a few hours a week since my youngest is a baby. It's good to know that if something happens I can support myself and the children. It wouldn't be a job I love, but I wouldn't be homeless again.
Especially when paid for completely by student loans and you have to consider whether the job pays enough for you to live and pay back the loans. There are home-based online programs that are completely legitimate (University of Maryland has one) if the main issue is not wanting to put the kids in daycare. The local community college may have options. If you don't want to go to college, that is fine, but I believe it is important for a woman to be able to support herself and her family. You say your marriage is sound...and I don't doubt that it is, but that doesn't mean your DH couldn't be hit by a car crossing the street next year, disabled or killed...and now you need to go to work. But, I'm sure you will both live long, wonderful lives. And maybe one of your entrepreneurial schemes will take off and provide the bulk of the income for your family.
Ok, that a bit of a rude response to my own feeling that my degrees offer me a safety net. There's no way around it-good jobs are tough to find in some places now. But my guess is that the only way you could have applied for the jobs you were looking at in the first place is because you have a degree. It's true that landing a good job may require more than the degree--experience counts, specific skills count. It's just that there are doors that are closed to you without a degree, or trade specific training. Without a degree you can apply for jobs that require a HS education, but you will be out of the running for anything else. With a degree you can apply for the jobs that are out there, even if it takes longer to find something in your field. If one feels that they can make a living w/a HS education, and support their families, that's fine. And if your particular values don't include higher education, and that works for you, that's fine too. But in many places, higher education or training will be the ticket to higher pay, benefits, and financial stability.
My situation is that I have a graduate degree, specialized training, and a good deal of work experience. I have no doubt that I could make an income if our family required it.
AP Mom to 5
But it does vary widely by location. Here a higher ed degree makes finding a good job harder-you're overqualified for minimum wage and blue collar jobs and some jobs have pay scales that mean you get a higher wage which, in this economy, is NOT want employers want. My SIL has an El. Ed. degree and it's impossible for her to find a job because she's both overqualified and underqualified. She can finish her MA waiting for a job to open up (mass teacher layoffs here in IL) but schools will not hire her here with a MA because the payscale is so much higher. The only feasible way of getting her MA is getting the job and then working on the MA at the same time.
I am not quite sure about the ethical nature of this, but I have in the past dropped my BA off of applications and resumes; I can leave on the AA, depending on what I am applying for. Just as I might drop a short term job off of a resume. It helps if you keep up a couple of different level jobs and/or volunteer assignments at the same time. This year I have worked taking money at a pool gate, as a secretary and as a professional tutor while full-time in grad school and maintaining a very small on-line business. Plus I keep up some volunteer stuff. I just add and drop things off the resume as required. Never had a problem with it. I guess technically I could be fired from a cashier job because I did not disclose my total education, but would I really care? I would like to make clear that I never lie other than by omission. I don't pad the resume with fake jobs or anything... But honestly, if I am looking for a part time job as a secretary do they really care about the honors and the scholarships, etc? Nope... I can still be a great secretary.... A job is a job; no shame with any old thing that pays the bills... But when the economy picks up a bit and jobs start opening up, if you don't have that degree you will be out of the running.