You know how when you are driving somewhere, and you aren’t quite sure about how to get where you are going… and you approach an intersection and you have to sit and think for a minute about which way is the right way to go?
That’s where I’m headed right now in my life.
For the last five-to-ten years I have been coasting along, just making ends meet. I’m tired of this. I want to take things to the next level.
The question I need to answer, though, is: How?
- SITUATION: I currently have an Associate Degree in Marketing. I’ve done pretty well with this so far in life, but I know I can do better. The problem is, nobody is willing to pay me what I think I should be making with just an Associate Degree. It sucks. I have a ton of work experience in everything from Desktop Publishing to Pre-Press Graphic Design to Sales to even some management… but without that slip of paper that says “BACHELOR’S DEGREE” or even, hopefully, “MASTER’S DEGREE”, I’ll be stuck making the same amount of money for the rest of my life.
- SOLUTION: I need to go back to school. I WANT to go back to school.
- PROBLEMS: Money. Time. Current job. Current living situation.
At this point, however, I meet the intersection and need to make a decision based on the options presented to me:
- OPTION ONE: I would stay at my current job and go back to school in Chicago. I would take accelerated courses to complete a Bachelor’s degree and, eventually, a Master’s degree. I would either stay in my current apartment or find something cheaper or live with roommates to cut expenses. I would quit all chorus involvements and scale back as much as I could to concentrate on making all of this happen.
- ADVANTAGES: I would have to make a lot of sacrifices to concentrate on accomplishing this task, but at least I will still be able to have the life I am currently enjoying. And not having to leave Chicago would be the most ideal situation.
- DRAWBACKS: My current employer does not offer any type of tuition reimbursement, so I would have to figure out how to pay for all of this on my own. I would also have to completely re-work my work schedule to fit in necessary classes.
- OPTION TWO: I would move back to Wisconsin and live in Kenosha again. I would find a job and an apartment and completely change my life– but concentrate on getting my educational goals completed so I can resume living my life the way I want to live it.
- ADVANTAGES: Kenosha has a much lower cost of living than Chicago, so I could easily get a nice place to live in, still be able to go wherever I wanted to go (Chicago is only an hour away), and pursue my educational goals. I could even work in Chicago if I wanted to commute– but that would be a LONG commute.
- DRAWBACKS: Moving back to Kenosha would feel like backpedaling to me. But I’m willing to backpedal if it means a better life in the future.
- OPTION THREE: My parents are again considering moving out of their house and into a smaller apartment. They are considering selling their house– the house I grew up in– to me. I would live in the house and it would be mine. I would then find a job in the area while pursuing my educational goals while living in the house.
- ADVANTAGES: I love my family’s home. It would be great to call it home again. And in this scenario, I would actually own my own home without having to put a lot of my own money into it. The house is in really good shape. Plus there is the advantage of keeping the house in the family– none of us wants to see someone else living there. I would also be closer to my parents, who are more in need of help as they get older. The rest of the advantages match Option Two.
- DRAWBACKS: Backpedaling, but to a different degree. At least in this scenario I would actually own something. Then there are the considerations of: Taxes, assessments, repairs, maintenance… I’d have to do it all myself. Am I up for that kind of challenge?
- OPTION FOUR: I would find a new job in Chicago that offers tuition reimbursement and would be willing to pay me a little better so I can afford to pay for the schooling I would need. I would stay in my current living situation or change it if necessary. The rest of the options match Option One.
- ADVANTAGES: Same as option one, but with the added advantage of tuition reimbursement.
- DRAWBACKS: Finding a company that has this type of benefit in place that will hire me based on my current credentials.
So as you can see, there is a lot for me to consider. But whichever direction I choose, I will be taking a very important step into my future… and I am ready to do it. I just need to figure out which step is the right step.
And that’s the hard part.
What would you do in this situation?