on school vs. work
October 18, 2010, 9:16 am
Filed under: advice, career, education, financial, life | Tags: , , ,

So I’m 24 and its about time I get my act together. I am little to no credits towards a degree because I have always been worried that If I don’t work full time I won’t be able to pay my bills. I’m really at a point in my life where I would love to work minimally and be able to dive into school full time. The problem at this point is that while I qualify for student loans, thats about all I qualify for. I know there are a ton of scholarship options I could look into but I don’t see anything being susbstantial enough to not have to take on full time work. I don’t qualify for private student loans on my own and don’t have a co signer and my federal loans are not enough.
Where should I go from here?

Wanna be educated

hey wanna be educated,

an age old question, one I have fielded many times. a tough one to be sure. the answer is not any gentler: you will probably have to keep working, or stop going to school.

if you do not have the ability to get private loans (which, by the way, I think are basically the devil incarnate and tell everyone not to get, even if it means it takes you 10 years to finish school), and no scholarships, your only option is to supplement federal loans with hard-earned cash. you can apply for grants or work study (typically you are entered for these when you fill out your FAFSA), but other than that, there isn’t much to be done. there is no real magic bullet, short of a sugar-daddy, that will pay your bills for you. if you want to go to school full time and not work, then you’ll have to find a school (and life) cheap enough that it can all be paid for with about $3500/year in stafford loans. if you find that, please let me know. I’ll be right there. otherwise, you’ll have to work.

every solution to this is a little different, depending on your situation. I’ll tell you a little about what I did to give you an idea. when I was an undergraduate, I went to school usually 3/4 time and worked part or full time. depending on when your classes are, you can sometimes find a job with flexible hours. I worked at AAA in the emergency roadside department, which is open 24/7, so I was able to work nights and weekends and save my days for classes. I have also found a surprising flexibility with employers in terms of hours (assuming it is the sort of things with shifts, such as retail or call centers) when you are going to school. now that I’m in graduate school, I supplement my loans and scholarship (which luckily, cover almost all my expenses) with petsitting and more petsitting. another nights & weekends gig, usually. check out and to find dogjobs. they also have listings for child and elder care, housekeeping, stuff like that. if those sorts of things aren’t your deal, I recommend selling your body on the streets.

so all that said, I wish I had better news for you. now is a good time to think long and hard about your long-term goals. do you need to go to college to achieve them? could you do an apprenticeship instead? college is a very expensive way to figure out what you want to do in life (just ask my student loan companies). if you’re not sure you need it, put it off for the time being. if what you really want is to not have the job you have, or the life you have, college isn’t necessarily the answer. check out my previous post, on college, to see my views on this, as an overeducated and underemployed person. a word from the wise: I am just a few months away from my MBA, and I’m pretty sure I just want to move into the woods and make crafts and have some goats after I graduate. except I have $999999999999999999 in student loans, so now I can’t. let that be a lesson to you.



on taking risks in love
October 10, 2010, 9:23 pm
Filed under: advice, life, love | Tags: , , , ,

Dear Spoonah,

I’m hesitant to ask about this because it’s somewhat of a difficult issue, but maybe you can offer some perspective. My friends have given me advice, but I can’t help but feel like their opinions are mostly subjective. I’m hoping you can help out.

I’ve been in a relationship with my partner for almost a year. I do care about her a lot, and I want this relationship to work, but…in moments when I’m being honest with myself, I notice problems. Things have been up and down for a while, we’ve been on and off for the last few months. Every time we break up, I just want to get back together with her, but every time we get back together things are only good again for a few weeks before I start to remember why we broke up before. I feel a lot of pressure to make it work. I really don’t feel like I have my shit together enough for other people to be in a relationship with me, and I’ve already invested almost a year in this, you know?

I have a friend that I’ve been hanging out with a lot recently, and I feel like maybe there are sparks there. When things happen and my relationship with my partner kind of sucks, she has been there to listen and give me advice. I don’t know what to do…maybe there is potential with her for things to be really good, but I feel so overwhelmed by what’s going on with my partner that I can’t even think about it. I don’t want to hurt her, I don’t want to hurt my partner, and I am tired of getting hurt. I want to go to a therapist but I already feel crazy, so I don’t think it’s going to really help.

What can I do? Sorry to be the debbie downer of your blog. ):

Heartbreak Hotel

dear heartbreak,

it sounds like you have two separate problems here. first, you need to deal with your current relationship. second, you need to figure out what feelings you may or may not have for your friend, and what you want to do about them.

as for your first issue, your current relationship, I think you know what you need to do. you are at a point in your relationship where it is high time to do some stock-taking. what is it about this relationship that is worth all of the pressure and stress of going back and forth? know that you can love and care about someone but not be able to have a successful relationship with them. I will refer here to the masters of all thing love: singers of rock ballads in the nineties. in the words of Don Henley and Patty Smythe:

I don’t want to lose you
I don’t want to use you
just to have somebody by my side…
…but baby sometimes love just ain’t enough.”

ask yourself, do you see yourself with this person long-term? does she light up your heart? does she support and inspire you? because it sounds like you’ve been with her long enough at this point to know what she is really like and to have a feel for what it is like to be with her. if it isn’t what you need, it is going to be best for both of you to end things before they go on much longer. you both deserve someone who is totally supportive and right for them. do yourself a favor and end things before you hurt yourself or your partner any further.

as for your other issue, your (potential) feelings for your friend. what it sounds like to me, not knowing the whole situation, is that you are feeling like you aren’t worth having a relationship that might work. that might be part of why you have stayed with a partner that you have continual problems with, and why you are so hesitant to pursue something with someone who sounds like she has your best interests in mind and really wants you to be happy. you mention that you feel like you don’t have things together to be with anyone other than your current partner, and that you’ve considered therapy. maybe it would be worth taking some time alone and trying to figure out what it is you really want in love. if what you really want might be taking a chance with your friend, give it a try. if she is a good friend, you can take things slow and see where they go. start by asking her to spend some more time together. watch a movie together (always a good bet for making a move) and try snuggling up, or holding her hand.

in both of these situations, it sounds like you know what you need to do and want to do. that’s the easy part. the hard part comes now: having the courage to go for what you need. love is all we get in life. go for it. always, always go for it.

I leave you with this:

“Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it…It really is worth fighting for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk everything, you risk even more.” – Erica Jong

good luck out there.