Sunday, July 27, 2008

Paying for School

Making the decision to return to school full-time was not an easy one for me.  After getting married at 19 and catching pregnant on our honeymoon (THANK YOU birth control pills + antibiotics!) I was not the average student on campus at my local community college.  Officially I am - I think it's in my file somewhere - a "non-traditional student".  Standing in line with a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds to see the advisors was a humbling experience.  And in some of my classes I've had classmates only a couple years older than my daughter because they are Running Start students and are only in high school.  Everyone at the school has been wonderful though and I am getting an amazing education.

So the hard part?  Spending all that money on myself.  My tuition for community college ran about $900 per quarter plus books which were anywhere from $175 to $500 per quarter depending on the classes.  We've been lucky enough to be able to pay as we go and last year I won a scholarship that paid for $1200 of tuition over the whole year which also helped immensely.  However 4 year universities are much more expensive, even the state schools.  So I will be meeting with a financial aid counselor to find out what I need to do to get a loan.  We don't qualify for financial aid but these counselors are great about helping students figure out how to get their education paid for and I will be taking full advantage of their expertise.  But I have been dragging my feet to make the appointment and trying to figure out what my problem is with the whole concept.  It came to me last night...spending all that money on ME.

My brain is fully on board with the fact that this is money well spent.  I will come out the other end of the education chute with a degree and job potential far and away better than what I entered it with.  I can return to work full-time and my husband can scale back his construction business to have time for his passions instead of working so hard to be the sole support of our family.  I want him to be able to relax and enjoy himself because he has spent so many years working his butt off for us.

But my emotions/heart/whatever...not so happy with spending that much money on me.  Funny how I don't have any issue with the idea of paying for (or at least helping) with our kids college educations.  My daughter wants to spend a year in Australia as an exchange student in high school and I'm all over that opportunity for her even though it will be expensive.  The boys have dreams of acting and M.I.T. so a large portion of our earnings will go towards helping them make those dreams come true.  Spending money on myself though?  This much money?  It's hard and I don't know why, especially since I know it is the absolutely best thing for our whole family.  My husband is more than supportive, he encourages me at every turn and does the lions share of the housework and cooking when I am up to my eyeballs in mid-terms and finals and stressing out about school.  The kids pitch in and we all do our homework together, they're learning about college from my example and even get to come to classes with me.  So I have some work to do on my emotional/heart/whatever side...

I have to be selfish.  I have to make this dream of mine, to become a high school history teacher who passes along a passion for history and the lessons we can learn from the past to her students, a reality.  I have to focus on myself more than I am used to.  I have to say no to a lot of the volunteering opportunities that I love to help with.  I have to ask for more help from my family in caring for my kids and my Grandmother.

I have an appointment with the financial aid counselor on Wednesday.


SuburbanCorrespondent said...

You're setting a great example for your kids! Although I, too, would hesitate on spending the money on myself - but that isn't right.

Thanks for stopping by MCMM!

Shelly... said...

I don't think going back to school and spending the money to achieve that goal is selfish. In fact, I think it's rather selfless because you are sacrificing a lot to atten school and make life better for your kids and husband. If you were selfish you wouldn't go back to school and then Abdi would have to work years longer and you wouldn't be able to help out the kids financially with school. I admire what you are doing actually. So go see that financial aid counselor and don't give another thought to spending the money because it's not like it will be wasted! BTW, even though we are 1,200 miles away let us know how we can help out to ease the load!

The Girl Next Door said...

Go For it!! I returned to school when my twins were in first grade to fulfill my lifelong dream of a law degree. It has so many paybacks - independence for me, self esteem, showing the kids "you're never too old to learn" showing the kids that GRADES MATTER, and so much more. Yeah, I insisted on paying for it "myself" and took out the loans to do it (and gladly took them in the divorce to pay off myself). Your kids will benefit!! Kudos to you for doing it.

Found you on a comment from Suburban Correspondent - looking forward to more from you!

EmBee said...

Katy, think of going to school not so much for the monetary return for your family, even though that may be at the forefront of your decision... But more importantly think of the personal growth you will achieve from such an endeavor. Don't minimize YOUR worth. You want your kids to go to college and get educated, why not YOU? Yes it's money, but it's an investment in YOU and you're worth it!... I don't KNOW you personally, but I do KNOW one should never stop learning!

general_koopatrol said...
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