(This thread is posted with permission of the Mods–thanks!)
I am requesting donations for $1200 to help me go back to school: $200 for a fee to maintain my place in the program until my student loans come in, and $1000 to help with relocation costs.
I’m going back to school. I hope. But let me rewind a little.
Three years ago (on April Fools Day 2009, seriously), I was laid off from my job as a tech writer. I went up north and tried to make a living there.
A year ago, I fled the north and my attempt at making a living there. There was just not enough work, and I had used up the severance pay I got after I was laid off. My savings were running out. I ended up living at a friend’s house, for what I was expecting to be maybe six months. It’s now been over a year.
During the past year, I’ve had dribs and drabs of part-time work here and there, but nothing consistent or lasting. I even did a comic book last February and March, and got paid for it. But that was the high point. The part-time jobs dried up. I was on welfare (called “Ontario Works” here), and the part-time work did not even fully offset that. And then a little later I inherited $2700 from my dad’s estate, enough to pay an insurance bill and a few other bills, but also just enough to kick me off welfare after May…
I’ve been going to YorkWorks, a job-search support agency in York Region, Ontario. They helped me with my resume and all that standard stuff, and also with the more social aspects of job-hunting, things that I wasn’t truly aware of. But applications for full-time work yielded almost no responses. In a year, I’ve had five interviews, and only two of those were in person, and both of those were at a job fair, rather than being called in.
As far as I can tell, there’s no demand for technical writers who don’t have another set of skills. I’ve seen job ads for tech writers with a medical background, tech writers with a financial background, tech writers with an aerospace background, tech writers with electrical-distribution backgrounds, tech writers with software-development backgrounds, tech writers with marketing backgrounds. I have seen exactly one ad for a tech writer with an electronics background, which is what I have. And I didn’t get the job.
A New Plan
So I looked around. What things could I add to my existing set of skills? I decided that I wanted to learn more about making ebooks. I could even do my comics as ebooks. This was just before Apple’s announcement of their ebook creation software and publishing service, so it was in the news.
But ebooks are new and the whole field is still in flux. I could find no school programs specifically to reach ebook creation skills. Some research <insert link here> showed that the skills I needed for ebook design were many of the skills needed for web development. And there were many programs available for web development.
Would it be possible to go back to school to take web development?
With the assistance of my caseworker at YorkWorks, I applied to a program put on by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities called "Second Career’. It is intended to provided support for retraining people to acquire specific skills to make them more employable. My caseworker at YorkWorks and I filled out the application. We did labour-market research, worked out a budget, and included a report I had made showing the commonality of skills between ebook development and web development, based on the skills requested in job listings.
I applied to several colleges. I accepted an offer from one.
However, last week I was informed that I was not eligible for support from Second Career.
I had also applied for a standard student loan through OSAP, the Ontario Student Assistance Plan. I hadn’t heard back from OSAP, and it was only three weeks until my hypothetical not-yet-paid-for classes start.
At this point, it looked like I would not be going back to school. Unless I heard from OSAP Real Soon, I was going to have to call the college and give up my spot.
So I called the college, and, this time, got through. They informed me thai I need to file an “OSAP deferral form” at the college to hold onto my spot, and that this would cost $200. They will then accept payment when the OSAP loan arrives. So there’s still a chance!
Once I pay this, I can start looking for a place to live in the short time I have left, and hope that OSAP actually lends me money similarly to what their estimate suggested. Then I can start classes and be on a new road.
But I have no savings or anything left, and have pretty much tapped out all local friends and family members who would possibly be in a position to lend me money. Most of them are as broke as I am, but at least have steady work… and some of them have been giving me a place to live all these months.
My Request to the SDMB
So I ask the members of the SDMB, would you be able to contribute to paying these expenses, to get me over this roadblock and into classes in a new city?
I am hoping for $200 for the college fee, plus $1000 to cover travel/gas to the new city and a “last month’s rent” payment to secure a place to live.
I’m assuming $800 per month for an apartment–that’s what we budgeted for in the Second Career application after looking at online listings–but I’m really hoping to get it below that.
I’m hoping that the OSAP loan comes through by the time I actually have to pay the first month’s rent. And there’s a tax refund I’m hoping for, but who knows how long that will take? And I’ll see whether my existing five-year-old laptop will do for the course, when they recommend a newer model in the same line.