Wanting advice on going back to school

I’ve had trouble with work and am planning to go back to college. I graduated with a BA in History, and did actually have a pretty good run, but my work has become unstable (very short hours) and I just can’t live on it. So I’m planning to go back to school.

I’m thinking about several things. Business degree, Law, or maybe Psych/Soc. Right now, I really need something MARKETABLE. I need money enough to live on my own, because my current job has failed to get me that, despite being theretically 40 hours a week. I honestly don’t know if I want to practice law, but I thik the degree would be very helpful in getting a good position somewhere. If I study Psych, I’d probably go with treating depression. I know what it’s like I would enjoy helping people deal with it. Business would be very practical and I do need money; since I have good work experience I might well be able to get an MBA and find some corporate employment, and I want to make good money in my life.

I’ve been living at home since graduating from college three years ago. My father died, and then mom started going away on business trips (so someone needs to watch the place and I may as well). My brother is away at college now. What do ya’all think? Any tips?

Par of wants to go work for a game development house, but I can’t seemt o get anything. I’ve applied numerous times for anything, including your basic game tester position, or even for low-ranking journalist jobs at game magazines (I have experience), but nada. There isn’t anyting in my town anymore, and it’s really hard to come by these jobs if you don’t know someone, and my netowrk of contacts, to put it kindly, doesn’t help much.

Oh, I forgot to ad: one thing I do not want is to wind up spending 67 hour weeks at the office so that my marriage (which I do not yet have) winds up in a bitter, protracted divorce which is eased only by the fact that my wife can’t actually remember what I look like. My personal philosophy is that under normal circumstances, if you’re spending huge amounts of time in the office, there’s something wrong with the business. It shouldn’t be in constant crisis mode requiring massive overtime.

I don’t know much about law school. I thought about applying, and was set to take my LSATs, but there was something not right about it. I think if my life situation was different (not married and a young child) I might feel a little better about it, but when I can work full time and get the Masters degree I’m interested in, I felt that would be better than spending so much time in law school. For you, that situation seems different, and that may be well worth looking into.

The big thing about Psych./Soc is that you have to know exactly what you are wanting, and be ready to wait a while. I speak of this through my wife’s experience. Her BA is in Sociology. They offer social sciences and sociology as separate BA’s here, but my old roommate has Social Science and she is working for Walmart - without much hope for other work. My wife got her BA and started working on a MA in Criminology. She is pretty much accepting of the fact that the career she is wanting comes with a PhD, not an easy task. So far, she is working full-time in the mental health field, which she has become rather jaded about. Luckily, there is a chance she can move to something else soon.

As far as going back to school, yes, it is important to pick something marketable. Unfortunately, it is just as important to pick something you really enjoy. I know that my BA in English will not get me a dream job, but I have enjoyed it immensely and it will provide me with skills that I can use while getting my Masters (which will qualify me for the career I want). As far as the game development goes, it is a growing field. One of my good friends is majoring in game design and our college is working to add a new studio for design and video game work. Like I said, in my experience, it is best to go into what you enjoy, or get a few ideas of what you enjoy, then pick what is practical from that.

Brendon Small

Psychology seems to be a pretty crowded Liberal Arts major. I’d stay away from it if you want something marketable.

I’m 35. I got a master’s in English in 1997, then worked a couple of office jobs. I had a pretty good job, but was getting bored, so I went to law school. I graduated in May, and will take the Tennessee bar exam this week.

If you’re not 100% sure, don’t go to law school. The law is an all-consuming world; it’s been a real struggle for me to maintain contacts and friendships with non-law people. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the hell out of law school. It wasn’t as hard as I’d been led to believe, and most of it was intensely interesting.

For what it’s worth, there’s a law school testimonial. If you have more questions, feel free to e-mail; it’s in my profile.

Worth repeating.

Can you move to another city with a better job market? Honestly, it sounds like more work experience will benefit you more than another degree, you already have the pre-req BA to get your foot in the door. I also think working would be a better way to figure out what you want to do next. Larger metro areas will have more continuing ed programs for working adults, you can take classes and not have to be a starving student.

You probably still have access to your school’s placement office, that and the alumni office might be a good place to start.

I agree with sugar and spice about experience. If you enjoy the work you do now, don’t change because you need more money. You only have 3 years under your belt. Few careers will drop you into a high paying job 3 years out of college.

Let me just echo, if you don’t want to work long hours, DON’T study law. There is no such thing as a regular 9-5 as a lawyer, unless you luck into some cushy in-house position (and those normally only go to lawyers with at least some private practice experience)!

Also worth repeating.

/Psych '04
//Deal cards for a living.

Thanks for the advice then. Truth be told, I neither enjoy my current job (I loved my last one but couldn’t make it pay) nor get enough money to continue. And my BA isn’t getting my foot in the door. Bachelors are dime-a-dozen, and no one even looks at my resume twice IF I can even find a job. I have good skills in several areas and lots of computer experience, but the job market just isn’t geared to corporate or high-tech sectors here.

I wouldn’t mind moving too much, although it would mean losing all my friends here, but I don’t know anyone or anyplace else. Where would I go? Plus, I’d prefer not to have to since family is important to me. I don’t want to wind up seeing my family once every blue moon; I don’t have enough left as-is. But I could move if I need to.

Hmm, in that case, what’s hot? I almost don’t care anymore. I just need to make some money so I’m not a loser living at home when I turn 30.

There is a lot of truth to the saying that the trick is to figure out what you love doing & find a way to get paid for doing it. Just looking for what other people think is hot, or what brings in the bucks will not yield a fulfilling life. I have had “jobs” as part of my career. I can tell the difference between a “job” and a career move by the length of time it takes me to notice how long I have worked for a company. If the time flies by, it is a career move.

My advice to you is to do some real soul searching on what YOU want first. Then take some classes at a community college in that field to see if you really like it. Then, if everything is good still, go for it heart & soul. After that, invest the 70 hour work weeks in the beginning to get your credentials. You will be happier for it later.

I want to write and I want to make video games. I’m slowly moving into the former and have had a rough time getting into the biz on the latter. Jobs like that don’t pop up every day (even grunt-work, which I’d be happy to do) and they get a lot of applications.

Maybe I should just mail some of my gaming books to the video game makers? Coldn’t hurt. They look nice, at least.

I’d have to agree with dottygumdrop… the people at my law school who are just doing it because “law pays well” are pretty miserable. If you have no inherent interest or love of the law, I’d avoid shelling out $100,000 and wasting 3 years of your life on something you’re bound to hate.

If you have good writing and organizational skills, and suspect you might be interested in law, consider trying work as a paralegal.

The downside to the “do what you love and the money will follow” theory proposed by ASAKMOTSD is that sometimes, when you do something you love for a living, you start to hate the thing you used to love. Some loves are truly more enjoyable as hobbies, unburdened by profit margins, clients, and deadlines. Doing the thing day in, day out sometimes just sucks all the pleasure right out of it.

MBA is a great option. I looked for people who studied history, because it meant that they could recognize trends and stay ahead of the curve.

Hear, hear. I’ve gotten jobs doing things I loved before, and I always noticed that, instead of loving my job, I ended up hating my hobby.

What does public school and high school teaching pay in the US of A? Up here in Kanuistan, thanks to heavy unionisation, it pays well enough (very roughly, from $35,000 to $80,000 per year, depending on seniority). Unless you live in a major urban area, that is a lot of money. If you live in a major urban area, it is still better than most folks make. Teachers here get every statutory holiday on the books, a few professional development days off during the year, extended Christmas and March Break holidays, and summers off (alhtough some do course work during their summers), and although preparing lessons and grading takes some time after school, when you consider how short the school day is, it really is no big deal, particularly for teachers with some experience under their belts. If you like kids, it’s a very good career up here. Is it the same in the States?

That’s why I went from being an English and Outdoor Recreation university prof to being a lawyer. Dealing with students who were not keeners (either not studying enough for English, or not having enough drive to handle hucking waterfalls) took the fun out of it for me. Needless to say, now all my clients are highly motivated, so working with them is usually pretty rewarding, and when I am away from work and drop down into my hammock to read a novel, or climb into my boat to drop down a river, I have a heck of a lot more fun than I used to.

It always comes down to balance. How much energy do you put into each of the many dimensions of your life, so as to find the optimal balance that gives you the greatest satisfaction over-all.

'Cause if that doesn’t send you screaming from the room, nothing will. :wink: (Paralegals and clerks get the drudge work, get the insane deadlines, and get to suffer under emotionally unballanced lawyers).

If you like being a paralegal, then consider law school. It’s a good way to test the waters before diving in (and it can make it easier to get into the schoold of your choice). Also, getting a good first job as a bouncing baby lawyer can be tough unless you are the pick of the litter. Having experience as a paralegal with a good letter of reference will make you much more employable, for you will be running at a profit right out of the gate, wheras most new lawyers are not particularly profitable in their first few months. The learning curve for new lawyers is very steep, so previous paralegal experience will significantly smooth out that curve.

MBAs can also be a dime a dozen. They aren’t an automatic foot in the door unless yours comes from certain schools. (Regionally, there will be favorites and of course the national B-Schools).

There are some sub specialties - Tax for instance. Few people like Tax, so getting an MBT rather than an MBA usually means employability.