Well, aren’t grants usually pretty hard to get? And how much could a grant possibly be? It still seems like alot would come out of my pocket and right now I’m more worried about getting out of the hole than spending more money, which is why school seems like a pipe dream to me at this point.
I assume by CS you mean computer science. Isn’t that just a basis for more specialized fields like programming? What can you do with just computer science? I’m not saying you can’t do anything with it, I’m just showing my ignorance.
Most college-educated programmers and software engineers have Computer Science degrees. I think that some universities offer more specialized degrees, but in general, CS is the one you want.
If you really want to go to school, go talk to the admissions department at your local university or college. There’s people who’s job is to find people like you the money to go to school. There’s lots of grants, scholarships, and loans you can get to help you go to school. The poorer you are, the more help there is.
Don’t be afraid of loans. Right now, getting $15K - $20K in debt in order to go to school probably seems incredibly stupid. However, once you have that degree, getting a job making $30K-$50K a year (starting wages, it only goes up from there) makes paying those loans back a breeze.
Of course, it’s better if you can qualify for grants and scholarships, which don’t have to be repaid. I only mention the loans as a secondary source of money. If the choice is between not going to college because you don’t want to get in debt, and getting in debt to get a degree, go in debt. Unless you’re going into a field with very low job prospects or very low pay (ie, Fine Arts, Music, etc.) the better paying job you’ll get with your degree will more than cover the money you spent to get the degree.
Dude, you can’t afford NOT to get at least a bachelor’s degree. Without one you will hit a ceiling really quickly in the job market, and you may (at your age) already have.
I’ve got about $60,000 in loans (for undergrad and law school) which I’ve consolidated at something like 3.5% for a 30 year term, which makes my payment something like $300/month. Plus, loans aren’t only for tuition and fees. I used the excess of my scholarships, grants (which were for a really small amount, like you said), and loans over my tuition and fees to live off of while I was in school. (I also worked part-time, but I think I could have gotten by without doing so, but wouldn’t have been able to drink as much).
So unless you think you can start your own business and make a load, you really should think hard about going back to school.
In this economic climate, with your formal qualifications, don’t expect $12.00 an hour. Lower your wage expectations by half and consider working at a help desk. At the same time, obtain a CS degree. Without it, you do not stand a chance against unemployed IT people who have degrees.
Going to school might be a good strategic move in general right now. Like Duckster says, your chances of landing a decent job without a degree when you’re competing with BS, MS, and PhDs is pretty slim. A few years ago I was hiring anyone who convinced me they were bright and could learn - experience was a plus and a degree was frosting. Things are different now.
You might think of it this way: Option A. Spend the next 4 number of years working shit jobs with the hope that the job market improves to the extent that employers are offering high wages to warm bodies again. Explain to those potential future employers why they should hire you with your 4 years of food service experience over the fresh grads with CS degrees.
Option B. Get a degree and be one of those fresh grads with a degree AND job experience!
Of course, it’s not clear to me that you’re really into CS. You sound like you could do it, but aren’t sure you really want to. If that’s the case, college could give you a chance to learn about alternatives, so I would still recommend it.
That’s pretty much spot on. I love computers. I’ve loved computers since I was 9 or 10 years old dialing up to BBS’s and learning something new everytime I sat down in front of my Tandy. I’m just not sure if I was to sit in a cubicle 40 hours a week taking orders from Bill Lumberg.
And I think I’m in a greater pickle than you guys realize about college money (please correct me if you guys know something I don’t.) Basically I have to work alot whether I’m in school or not to pay my bills. I’m pretty sure I can’t get any type of financial aid or grants because I live with my parents, but they can’t afford to help me either (they would if they could but my dad works in the airline industry and relies on overtime which he hasn’t gotten since 9/11, not to mention the pay cuts.) But then on the other hand I can’t move out of my parents house which, while I get along great with my parents, I would really like to get out on my own but school and shitty jobs and too many bills already hold me back from that. I just couldn’t stand myself if I was 25 or 28 or 29 like some of my friends or 41 (:eek:) like one of my uncles still living with my parents.
GAAAAHHHHHHH! Sorry if all of that was only partially coherent. All of this frustration has been building up over this situation for a long time and I didn’t expect to mention it in this thread but it does seem slightly relevant.
It’s all fine and good that everyone so far wants you to go more in hock to get a CS degree and in the long run that is what you probably should do.
But the short run is what you’re facing now, and if you are a white male, financial aid is unlikely and student loans are brutal.
Might I suggest a specialized healthcare field? My wife (who has a bachelor’s degree in biology) got out of school and didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life. So she answered an ad in the paper for Respiratory Therapy with Kaiser Permanente. Even now I still hear their ads on the radio from time to time. Basically, they paid you while you trained, and anyone could join the program (in fact, she was the ONLY one in her department with a degree). Only catch is that you have to work for them for some number of years after the trainin is over, or repay them for the training.
The pluses, of course, are that the health coverage is great, pay is good, and the work is very stable. My wife has been doing it now for 10+ years and started in the $30K+ range right off the bat. Some of the people who knew computers were seen as even more valuable because they picked up the software applications easily (you’d be surprised how many people are still computer illiterate)
Of course the minus is - at least with this field - you have to ‘suck snot’ for a living. Still, almost all of the patients are sedated so at least they don’t complain…
If you’re looking for a way to earn money and get some benefits, I’d suggest a place like Sheetz. This is a place with flexible hours and a decent wage. While it is not in the field you are interested in, it would serve its purpose to get you through your CS degree. Also, have you thought about working at a bar or even somewhere like UPS? These are just a few places with a higher paying wage with full time and health benefits.
On paying for your college. Might I suggest www.fastweb.com? While you are out of high school for some time, this web site could still be helpful to you. And don’t brush off grants just yet. Go to the school you are planning on finishing your degree at and speak to a counselor. They can help you figure out a way to pay that will be suitable for you. They can also give you information on how to fill out the necessary forms for grants and other scholarships. Just because you live with your parents doesn’t mean that you can’t get money from the government. Depending your family income, it may still be possible for some type of grant. Finally, start searching for another CS job now, for someone who has completed their CS degree. It is possible that a company would pay for part of your college in exchange for you working for them for a number of years.
I actually thought about working for UPS but they’re about 20 miles from here in the exact opposite direction of my school. I’m definately not going to school this semester though, I’ve had no money for the last month and I think it’s already too late to register anyway. The earliest I’ll go back would be fall of this year (August or September.)
Now that seems to be the Holy Grail[sup]TM[/sup] of jobs and I must admit to having searched extensively on the web and in newspapers for it but alas, it has been in vain.
PS - Please don’t think I’m whining or looking for sympathy in this thread. I’ve been in bad situations before and I know this one will pass as well. I’m just asking for advice and hoping to hear some ideas I haven’t thought of.
Well if you need to “work alot” maybe it’s time to think about trimming expenses. I am not sure with the loan/grant/scholarship scheme so somebody better qualified can help you - but why don’t you talk to somebody at a local uni/college for starters?
I’d suggest either a help desk job, or a position peripherally involved with IT. You might want to see what your local cable co. has for install jobs; installing cable modems and doing integration/troubleshooting will keep your hand in while you go to school. Oh, and GO TO SCHOOL!! If you love this stuff like you seem to, figure out how to do it. Community college, join the Reserves, whatever. You will have to make some sort of sacrifice. Think of it as an investment that will pay you dividends.