Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Life Ramblings

My sister just called and we were having a lovely chat until her cell phone battery died. The topic? Going back to school. We're both flirting with the idea.

The four of us sisters are all bright (if I do say so myself) and each of us have bachelor degrees. But my middle two sisters? Those girls are wicked-smart. They attended top universities (Notre Dame and Northwestern, respectively) and earned engineering degrees. Aeronautical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, for chrissakes. On full scholarships, no less. Of course, their scholarships were from the Navy, so they each had to serve 4 years in the service, as officers, after graduation. But still - ! Not a bad deal at all, considering. My sister Katie served as an instructor at the Navy Nuclear Power School (jeez!) and while there earned her masters degree in something like Industrial Management from some random Florida school, all on the Navy's dime. She's the only one of us (so far) to go for an advanced degree. Both of those sisters currently work for Intel as managers.

So Maureen, who is the last of us sisters to remain single, is considering going back to school for her MBA. She previously considered pursuing a degree in genetics (she's the Biomed major, so that fits), but it's super-competitive and all-in-all, doesn't pay as much as you'd think. Maureen has MS, so she has to think long-term about her future, and needs to earn as much money as she can, anticipating the day she can no longer work because of her disease. Sad, but true. I don't even like thinking about that - bah! So that idea is banging around her head because Intel will pay for it. So does she stay local and take classes part time on Intel's dime, or does she go full-tilt at a top program (because you KNOW she'd get in, Miss Smarty Pants), take loads of student loans, and bank on fat signing bonuses and lush paychecks to cover the debt she'd incur? Choices, choices. Tough call.

And myself, I keep thinking I want/need to go back to school, too. For my Masters in Education. Why education? Because it's one of the most family-friendly professions AND I think I'd kick ass as a teacher. Do I love teaching? No. Not especially. But I think I'd be damn good at it, and having a job that is flexible for my family is more important to me. But what to teach? No way I could be an elementary school teacher. Not interested in the little kids. I envision teaching high school - maybe even middle school. My background is in marketing, and my favorite classes in high school (and college - it was one of my majors) were the marketing classes. I was even the king-sized dork who was a member (president, even!) of the school DECA* group and competed - twice - at the national level. I love marketing - what can I say? So that's what I'd ultimately love to teach: marketing. Or general business classes. The problem? There aren't exactly plenty of available jobs teaching that subject available. They're rather hard to come by, from what I understand. So would it really be worth me taking on student loans on the heels of Mr. Chick's student loans and investing all that time to go for a job that could take years to become available? Tricky.

* DECA stands for Distributed Education Clubs of America. The business/marketing club in high school. Geek!

The other area I'd be interested in teaching? Math. That's right, math. (stop laughing!) But only up to the algebra level. Beyond that I'm hopeless. Sure, I passed calculus and statistics in college, but only just barely and only with the help of a tutor. I couldn't solve a calculus problem today if my childrens life depended on it. But algebra? I think algebra can be fun and useful. The problem with me pursuing this line of teaching is that they expect math teachers to know how to do the really hard and complicated math, like calculus and beyond. You can't just know algebra really well and call it a day. So that's a HUGE roadblock to my becoming a math teacher. Damn.

And so the quest continues. Because I feel the pull to figure out what I'm going to do with myself once the kids are in school full-time. And at this point the notion of going back to work full-time in a gray cubical, one of a thousand identical drones living life in a cubical, doesn't appeal to me in the slightest. Do I go back to school or not? I simply do not know. It's a big commitment. Perhaps it's time to consider trying to find a job on the other side of marketing communications and work for an agency (I've always worked on the client side representing the Company). I don't know. I also don't know why I'm feeling the pressure to try to figure it out, but I do. I can't see myself staying home once the kids are in school, but I don't have a vision for what I'll be doing then either. It's like a big blank wall I can't see past.

What do I want to be when I grow up? What do YOU want to be when you grow up? Or, at least, what do any of my fellow SAHM's want to do once your kids are in school? How many of you know? How many of you plan to return to work at all? Is anyone else feeling stuck like me?

I have a bachelor degree in chemical engineering and worked as an engineer for 6 years before staying home with my 2 kids. I am in school now to become a nurse. A flexible job, I can work odd hours (less time in daycare for the kids), I'll be done with school the year my youngest goes to 1st grade. I plan to work part time until the kids are older. I would love to work every other weekend and maybe one other shift a week. I love all the options that come with nursing, and the demand is high in my area of the country. Nurses get paid well and get overtime for weekends and nights. That is what my plan is, and I also can't imagine staying home full time after my kids are in school. I have heard that math teachers are very in demand. But I have a friend who looked into it and you'd have to take some really high level math classes. I personally love math and if I were to ever teach would for sure go for math. I think science teachers are in demand also. YOu could also look into being a substitute teacher. I think there is a certification class you have to take but it isn't too long. They make good money and you could try it out in different subjects. Good luck on your quest to find the perfect career!
I think there are some kind of teacher certification classes you can take to become a full time teacher. My sister in CA did it. Here in Idaho you can take some test if you already have a bachelors degree to become certified, it is expensive but not as much as classes. I know Oregon needs teachers, we have family that live in a city near you. Good luck!
First let me say how much I enjoy reading your blog! If time and money were not an issue and I had better math skills I would go back to school to become either a chiropractor or naturopathic doctor. I am very mindful of vitamins and interested alternative medicine. Since I do not have unlimited time and money and I am busy SAHM with two children (2 ½ & 4), someday I do intend to return to school to finish my undergraduate degree. If I had to choose right now it would either be early childhood education or English. I have wanted it for a long time but could never decide what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” I think learning is life long. Way to go to you and your sisters for having your undergraduate degrees and wanting to continue learning! What a great example to your children. I can understand your hesitance with taking our more student loans on the “heels of Mr. Chick.” Good luck on your decision!
Along the lines of Jen, I too have gone back to school for nursing. I realized after the birth of child #3 I wanted to go back to work, but I needed a family friendly, well-paying, large job market job and I was truly unskilled for anything. Lots of degrees, but unskilled.

Here I am about 65% of the way done. I graduate in May of '07 with my nursing degree and can start working next summer. I also have plans to go back again for my MSN next fall.

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