Friday, May 14, 2010

So I've got a masters degree in Technology and you're doing what?

In my previous post, I talked about all my journeys in education, and how I got a degree in English, started a masters degree in English, but ended up with a degree in Technology. I enjoyed working as a technical writer and as a computer trainer. I did. I got my masters degree in Technology (with an emphasis on Training and Development and Project Management) because I thought it would help me get another job in Training, if I chose to leave the University some day.

I started my graduate degree when Jelly Bean was just a little baby. By the time she turned 1, I just felt like I was missing my kids' childhood (Flower was 3.) They were spending all day at a daycare center, and then 2 or 3 nights a week, Mr. Simple was watching them while I was at class. So I asked my boss if I could go to part-time. He said, Sure. I don't want to lose you. We'll give someone else the supervisory duties and you can go back to just teaching a couple classes. It was great. I spent the mornings with the kids, dropped the kids off at friends house in the afternoon and the kids napped while I went to work for a few hours. Did I say it was great? It was. It was close to perfect.

And then nine months after the perfect job set up, it was over. The university laid off tons of part-time people due to state educational budget cuts. My boss said it wasn't personal. (Sure felt personal to me.) He'd do his best to get me back in at the university. Soon.

I was laid off in 2003. And except for a short stint of working part-time evenings in 2006-2007, I haven't worked outside of the home since I was laid off. A couple of times over the years, I've really tried to get a full-time job in training/project management. I applied to all the large companies in the area. I registered with a couple of technical contract companies in the area. I sent out tons of resumes. I put my profile up on Monster, HotJobs, etc. Over the years, I've had 3 interviews. And since I was laid off, I've never been offered a job in my field.

But of course, I wasn't Not Working either. Since 2003, I've been teaching preschool. It started out as a fluke, and then turned into something that I love. In 2008, I started doing daycare too, and now I earn a fair amount from the daycare. Since 2008 until just now, I have had more daycare children than I have had preschool only children. In 2004, I had another child. In 2008, I started homeschooling. I had wanted to for a couple years before that. I am busy. And I've been able to teach all my children in preschool here at my home. I've been able to homeschool my children the past two years. I've been able to really be with my children. I can say that I haven't missed their childhood. And while it has been hard (really hard sometimes) financially over the years, I would say that I still was grateful that I was able to be home with my children these past 7 years. And of course, I was able to finish that masters degree too.

But lately, the huge amount of money that I owe on my student loan is haunting me. (It is currently in deferment, but it can't stay there forever.) It keeps me up at night. Part of why the amount is so large is because I had recently lost my job and we couldn't live off just Mr. Simple's salary. We should have planned for the possibility, but we didn't. Part of the reason that the amount is so large is because when I started the program, the university was paying my tuition, but when I lost my job, obviously, they weren't paying it anymore. We should have planned for the possibility, but we didn't.

As of this fall, two out of the three of my children plan on returning to public school, at least for a year. As of this fall, I will only have one homeschooler (Jelly Bean), one preschooler, one toddler, and one infant. It makes me feel that now that things are changing at home, that maybe it is time for me to change too. Maybe it is time for me to try harder to get a full-time job outside of my home. Maybe I should try harder to get a job in a field that I have a degree in. Maybe it is time for me to get another part-time evening job.

Mr. Simple and I have spent the last 3 years paying a fairly big chunk of $$ on getting out of other debt. In one more year, the only debt we will have is the mortgage on the house. In one more year, we could put that money towards my student loan. It would take longer than 4 years to pay off the student loan debt. Not to mention, something just feels wrong about paying on a degree (did I mention it was a lot of money?) when I am not working in the field? When at least right now, I don't want to go back to work full-time in that field? When most of that money that would be paid by Mr. Simple? I mean, obviously it has to be paid. I'm not saying that I shouldn't pay for the debt back.

We felt like it was the right thing for me to finish my degree. It still feels like it was the right thing. Maybe one day, I'll understand why, but maybe, I'll never know why. But I really wish that I could have finished without having to go into debt to do it.

And what I really wish is that I could have it all. I wish I could find some job - designing curriculum or doing occasional training sessions - where most of my work was able to be done at home, and that I could do that work in evenings and weekends. It would give me enough money to pay off the loan in 5-7 years and be able to also contribute to our family. But that I would still have time to be able to homeschool my children, and that I could also have 2-3 preschool only children to teach, not for money, but because I love it.

But I usually don't get "it all." I know that the job scenario I described above is not realistic. I'm going to have to figure out a solution. I keep thinking about it. I've thought of some possibilities besides just going back to work full-time in my field or just staying home and using part of Mr. Simple's paycheck to pay it off. I've made some pro/con lists. But I haven't figured out the solution yet. Yet. I'm still working on it though.

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