I'm going back to school, and I'm kind of scared.

In this thread, I asked Dopers for their opinions on whether I should go for a safe Marketing degree or a more risky Physics degree (physics being something I really love). After reading that thread and speaking to my parents, I’ve decided to go the safer route, leaving myself the option of getting the science degree later on.

So I spoke to one of the advisors today and was informed that classes start on March 4, a lot sooner than I had mentally prepared for. I hastily signed up and am enrolled, but now I’m getting nervous.

What if I spend thousands of dollars on courses just to find out I hate the major later on?

What if I complete the degree and find out I hate the job(s) it gets me?

What if the degree doesn’t open as many doors for me as I’d hoped?

How the hell am I going to pay for it all?

What will I have to sacrifice for this degree? I cherish what little free time I have.

Most importantly, what if I can’t discipline myself enough to hold my current full-time job and go to school at the same time?

I’m no stranger to school. Community college was mostly a breeze. I have good study habits and know that I’m very capable of earning mostly A’s. But that was a different situation – I was working at the school on a part-time basis (giving me study time pretty much whenever I wanted it), living at home, and the coursework was much easier.

This is a major crossroads in my life and I’m really scared I’m going to screw it up. I should have had this problem as a senior in high school, not as a 30-year-old adult.

Someone please talk me down.

First of all - deep breaths! Just about everything we fear is not nearly as bad as our over-active imaginations make it out to be.

So now - Congrats! You made the first big step and that’s committing to go.

I did BA and MBA part time while working full time. You will sacrifice some time. Sorry, but you will. Your good habits will serve you well in this area, and help you minimize the sacrifice.

Why did you choose marketing? What was it about that degree option that appealed to you? Use that knowledge to pick a job in the field, marketing by the way is a pretty broad field. Will you like the first job out of the gate? Maybe (probably) not. Will you like the second? Hell, I’m on the 5th and I still piss and moan about my job and how much I hate it. But each time, I figure out what I didn’t like and chose something different to see if I would like it better. So now I know, I like smaller companies (but they can’t be too small, cause I am in finance). Maybe you will prefer larger companies. Will you write ads? Will you do statistical analysis in marketing research? Plus, once you get into the degree, you will learn about all the different aspects, and then will have a better understanding of the career options.

I am pretty sure you can switch majors if you end up hating it.

Most importantly, you CAN do this. You are a capable, smart person and you can do both.

Thanks. I chose Marketing because I really like graphic design and the creativity involved in advertising. I used to work in the Marking department of a large company (though in an unrelated job), and I found I had a lot of good ideas that the bosses liked. I do mass communications as a favor to some of the higher-ups in my current job, and they also like what I do. I like the more relaxed atmosphere of Marketing departments. Finally, the college I’m going to doesn’t have a wide variety of majors, and Marketing seemed to suit me the best. I’d prefer to write ads over doing statistical analysis. I love math (it’ll be my minor since it can’t be my major), but I don’t care much for statistics.

If I could get a job that would have me doing a lot of international travel, that’d be great.

I don’t mean to criticize your own life choices (especially since I can’t seem to figure out my own), but if you’ve gone through five jobs in your field and hated them all, is it possible that your field just doesn’t suit you? I’m just curious.

I guess my biggest fear out of all of this is that I’m going suffer through two or more years of school, go into debt, and come out doing something I absolutely hate.

Heh - I have a crappy attitude - hence hating all my jobs! My point was really: yeah you may end up hating a job, but no job is a life sentence. Once you have the degree you will be able to better find jobs that meet your needs. I was trying to avoid the whole “hate your job - support group, its called everyone and they meet at the bar”, while still conveying that general idea.

ETA: You sure sound in this second message that you feel good about being on the right track. In the OP, you sounded very unsure of yourself. (maybe I read too much into it). Even if it doesn’t end up leading to the right job immediately, there are lots of different opportunities in marketing.

Guess I didn’t answer this: I like my field (finance). I enjoy working the numbers, I love statistics. I love creating new spreadsheet tools for others to use! I love all the “job” parts about my job. I do not care for the politics, networking etc. My dislike of those things will probably follow me everywhere, because every job has some expectation for those things. Some days (like today) those things I dislike weighs me down more than the “job” things that I like, and so I “hate” my job. Tomorrow, if I am lucky, I will be helping someone with a spreadsheet problem which is minor to me, but major to them, and I will “love” my job.

I didn’t phrase myself well, and probably caused you more concern, for which, my apologies.

It’s good for our mental health to do things that we are afraid to do.

It’s possible that all of the things that you are afraid of will happen. And it’s possible that even worse things than that will happen.

It’s also possible that some of the most exciting opportunities of your life will drop into your lap because of this decision. They may have to do with marketing or they may have to do with a trip to London as a courier because of a business man that you meet when you take a friend to the hospital.

Don’t try to write the novel of your life ahead of time.

If you know at some point that you have made a bad decision that should be changed, then you can rethink the situation. Until then, don’t ruin your life with a bad case of the “What ifs.”

If you’re going to play ‘What if…’, then what if it all plays out wonderfully?

You enjoy the course work, manage the job and schooling successfully, grow in maturity from having faced a fear, come out with a degree that leads you into a field you’ll find challenging and rewarding?

Seriously, you won’t know until you try. Remember you can’t learn to swim standing on the shore, you have to commit to jumping into the water. Stop second guessing yourself, commit to the choices you’ve made and only play, ‘what if…’, from the positive side of the fence. Manifest a little confidence in yourself, even if sometimes you have nagging fears, don’t give your fears any real estate in your brain, or they will become your undoing.

And good luck.