Teachers: Does it make sense to go back to school?

I teach Music, and like it, but I am frustrated with the lack of job oppurtunities for me. I’d like to teach in a bigger city, but I feel my job qualifications keep me from getting employment.

I was thinking of going back to school to get another major say in a science and French (I live in Canada). Does that sound like a good idea? Do you think I will become more desireable? I wouldn’t mind doing this as I would go to a University out east and take some more music lessons on the side as well.

I’m single and 26, nows the time right?

A former colleague in her mid-20’s was not completely satisfied with the direction of her career. So she asked me about going back to school. I replied as follows: Two or three years from now, you will either be in exactly the same position as you are today asking the same question, or you can have that additional schooling for a better job. Two years later she called me when she graduated with her new degree and thanked me for nudging her back to school. Today she is thriving in her new career. Your situation may be different, but think about what I said.

I am absolutely going back to school, if you don’t mind me asking though what career did she take?

This is how I approach my career. I like it, but perhaps don’t love it. I like the kids, I think the pay is okay. Part of me wants to try something crazy like pharmacy. I’m trying to sort it out because I want to back to school in one year from now.

She went back to school for an MBA and graduated in two years. It was not easy for her because she did not have the business background, but she persevered. She went into retail merchandising.

Now is indeed the time, especially with some real world experience under your belt, although don’t worry about time that much, at least until you’re married and the idea of children appears on the horizon. I did a stint in the army, got married, and graduated from a tech institute before going back to “real” school.

Now I am curious about your field of study vs. career goals. Are you still planning to teach music to the same age group? If so, why the science major? Do you want to get into French literature, language, and history enough to do an entire major around it? Or do you just want to learn French, in which case, a course at a language institute might be enough?

I’m asking this, because I find myself wishing I’d asked these questions of myself years ago. For instance, had I thought things through, I would have just skipped the tech institute and gone straight into library school for my MLS. Or if I had really thought things out, I might have skipped both and just gone for my masters in education, which is what I’m going for now. You will save yourself a lot of time, money, and hassle if you take a couple of weeks and think through those questions now. Find out what you want, what you need, and what you can get, and then go from there. But definitely have a specific idea of what you want to do before you put down your money. Don’t just take the first thing that comes along.

Best of luck. I wouldn’t say that it’s never too late anymore, but you’re definitely ahead of the curve.

Amongst all my ramblings on the dope about career goals. One thing keeps sticking in my mind.

Last summer I took an MBTI and SII personality test. I was in doubt about where my career was headed. I am a music educator. As the test reports I have a high interest in music, however my personality was not very strongly suited to Education and even lower was my suitability to become a performer of music as a career.

Now I must take these results and filter them through my life experience and expectations from my job, but for the most part I find it very accurate. I love performing, but not as a source of income. I’d rather do it at my leisure. I also find I enjoy teaching kids, but the work environment somewhat frustrates me, and I get a sense that most people don’t take what I do seriously.

The result of the test indicated my interests lie in investigative fields. I’ve filtered through what I might like to do for both my personal interest and for finances. The top picks were Medicine, Science, and so forth. As for careers which suit my personality, Engineering was near the top.

I agree with these results, I’ve always wanted to help people, and I’ve always really been a nerd who likes science. When I went into music I really loved it too, but I think it’s where I first found one of my passions, without realizing I have other passions too.

So now I wonder if another career isn’t more apt for me? I always want to keep my music on the go. It’s fun, and I have to emphasize again, I LOVE performing. But I know dentists who are unbelievable musicians. I see no need to go for more music schooling and educations seems to me a dead end. I don’t want to become a principal so why bother getting a masters in ed?

What does seem appealing to me is to go for a science career. If it works out I might have a whole new career I might enjoy. And if it doesnt? Well I will be amongst the most qualified teachers around with a slew of science classes behind me. I don’t think hireabiltiy would be a problem for me after taking a couple of years of science classes.

Now I think being a doctor is out, too much time involved and I don’t think I have strong enough drive. But I’ve been looking at pharmacy (high on my interests, average on enjoyability, good pay and respectable hours) or engineering (Somewhat high on my interests, perhaps above average work environment for my personality, good pay, decent hours) . Both those careers have a reasonable time frame for me to get a degree and get working.

The bonus is I would go back to school in a big city and take some music lessons on the side. A huge dream of mine.

So this is what I am mulling. I want to figure out my plans by the end of Sept so I can get moving forward for the following school year.

Oh and I want to learn French because It interests me, and I want to live in Montreal for awhile. Also it would be another good subject for me to teach.

I’m probably a better musician than I am an engineer, and I certainly enjoy making music more than I enjoy engineering, but I would never swap a career for music for my current career in engineering. I get paid well enough that I can take music lessons on the side, and my working conditions are good enough that I can spend time doing music on the side. I find this much more satisfactory than working at music and maybe, er, reading math books on the side, and I suspect I also enjoy music a lot more as a hobby than if I had to do it to feed myself.

Another question you might ask yourself: What sort of people would you rather be around? I think scientists are awesome, and I love rational people like anything. Music people are awfully nice, but they also have the propensity to drive me up the wall. I think because of that I’d last about five minutes in a music career.

Oh God, how you’ve summed up so much of my life in that post! Musicians drive me up the freaking wall!

Let me tell you something as an old guy, you’re only young once.

You can lose all your money, you can go bankrupt you can do a lot of things and you know what you can start over again in life. BUT you are ONLY YOUNG ONCE.

Go for it. Even if it doesn’t work out, so what? You just dust yourself off and start over and 20 years later you’ll have a nice memory.

Seriously I don’t have much now, but I travel a LOT in my 20s and I don’t regret it.

I packed up and moved to the Florida Keys on the spur of the moment, I didn’t really like it. Acutally the Keys are heaven IF you have a lot, and I mean A LOT of money. Otherwise they’re a pain. I only stayed a year and then left. But I’m still glad I went. So it didn’t turn out like I wanted. Big deal.

Life should be an adventure for you at age 26, stop being afraid and do it.

And if it isn’t working well? Big deal, just quit and go back to where you came from with a nice story to tell everyone. Including us here.

I am going back to school, but basically I’m just trying to make the best decision possible about it. It’s a year a way for me at the earliest. I tried the teaching thing and well it’s worked out all right but I want to go for somethng better. I have some goals I want to finish by the end of this year (I really want that concert guitar)

When I go back, it will be in a big city, because thats where I want to be. Talking on here really helps me sort some things out.

Taking music certainly wasn’t reccomended to me, but hey I did it and now a fairly good musician. I like the skill I have. I’m getting closer to my answer but it takes some sorting out.

The advice “Follow your bliss” might be good advice for you. If I had it to do all over again, I would choose to do the work which absorbs my interest the most – the area in which I become so absorbed that time just speeds by before I look up at the clock. Money is not nearly so important as loving your work. (So I would probably teach again but in an atmosphere where creativity is not smothered.)

Sounds like you need to make up your mind whether you want to teach in a classroom environment or not.

Learning French as a way to make you employable in French-speaking areas is a completely different animal from learning it to teach it. The first takes years, the second decades.

My suggestion is, first decide whether you want to teach or not; only then can you decide whether you need more university or not. And in any case, learn French so you’re more easily employable in Montreal.

Heh. Yeah. A couple (rather more minor) things I thought of that you might want to consider:

-One problem I do have is that I sometimes feel a little inferior when I compare myself to my friends who really love what they do (a couple of my friends who are doctors, one who started his own business)-- I love my job, and I like what I do, but it’s not like I wake up every morning and can’t wait to go to work. On the other hand, all the people I know who are like that work more than 80 hours a week…

-My husband’s professor once told him something that he was very struck by: “Don’t pick a subject based on what you think you will enjoy. Pick it based on how well you’ll be able to deal with the irritating parts. If you can’t stand the idea of beating your head against intractable integrals, don’t go into theoretical physics. If you can’t stand the idea of beating your head against malfunctioning equipment, don’t go into experimental physics.” Obviously he was talking about physics in particular, but I think it’s a good general tactic.

-If you’re going to go for a technical/science degree, unless it’s a life science I really, really recommend that you have really good math skills.

-If you decide to go for a technical degree, I highly, highly recommend (if possible-- I don’t know how Canadian schools work) taking at least some courses from a lot of different technical departments (e.g., if you go for engineering, take physics, math, applied math, CS courses; I don’t know about pharmeceuticals, but presumably you might want to take biology, maybe chemistry/applied chemistry). You meet interesting people and gain a wide array of interesting perspectives.

-I don’t know if you’re male or female, or if you’re single. I would never say to pick a career based on the M/F ratio, but I must say that the M/F ratio in physics was a perk for me, especially since I have a taste for dorky geeks. One of which I married. (There were very occasionally also negatives, like the professor who basically ignored all the girls in the class, but these were really very few.) Though now that I am married I kind of wish there were more women around!

Thanks for all the advice guys.

It’s very difficult for me to decide. I don’t hate teaching. I like teaching and I like music. There are also days I don’t like it. However a part of me thinks I could really excel at something else. I’m the kind of guy who really believes in hard work over talent. I was good at Math in High School, not great but good.

But I do want to go to school if only to increase my employability as a teacher. Band is a niche area. I’d like to be able to live where I want to live. If I can teach science my employability will greatly increase.

What do people here think about improving my credentials in the science areas? I’d love to be able to have that option as a teacher.

McGill has a cool general engineering year. I wouldn’t have to commit to a discipline but I would take math classes and physics classes. I could maybe test the waters with that, and if it didn’t work out I would have an improved teaching resume.

I’m also a nerd :slight_smile: I used to own the Star Trek technical manual.

Have you posted this before? I’m getting a serious deja vu thing going here.