Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Glimmer Of Hope

So I'm still flirting with the idea of going back to school for my Masters degree. Some days I say "screw it!" and what's the point of taking on student loans? And other days, I really want to go for it and open up new career horizons for myself down the road. There are days when I wonder if I'm pursuing a pipe dream and there won't be many (any) jobs available for the subject I most want to teach: marketing and general business classes at the high school level. It's not like there are dozens of those teachers at each school. More like one or maybe two. I need to research this more before I commit, but my gut tells me it's not the subject most in demand for teachers.

Anyhoo, Mr. Chick took both kids again this morning, giving me several hours all to myself. I decided to take that quiet, uninterrupted time and take a sample test. There are a couple of tests that a prospective teacher must take in order to be admitted to a grad program: the Praxis I or CBEST (at least in my state). So I took the sample CBEST this morning.

The CBEST is broken down into 3 areas: reading, mathmatics, and writing. You need a passing score of 41 in each area. You can get as low as 37 in one area and still pass the whole thing if you total score is at least 123 (I think that's the way it goes). Also, you don't have to take all three areas at the same time. So, with all of that in mind, and no previous prep AT ALL, I took the sample reading and mathmatics tests since those can be "scored" online immediately vs. the writing, which is more open to interpretation and therefore cannot be scored in the practice test. Of the two areas, reading is my stronger suit.

Or so I thought.

I took the reading test first. There were 50 questions in total, several questions per reading sample. I missed 7 questions. If my understanding of the scoring is correct, I would have received a 43 on that section and PASSED. Yay me! Then I moved onto the math section. Maybe it's because I was now warmed up after the reading section, but I scored a 46 on math. That's right: I did BETTER on math than reading. Total shocker. I think it's because I prefer to read off paper, not a computer screen, so that was harder for me. I found I was working the math problems out on paper - old school - so maybe that helped me. Also, I assumed it was OK to use a calculator during the test. I did maybe half the problems with a calculator and half on paper, chicken-scratch style. Oh algebra, how I used to enjoy you! Solve for y? Yes! Would you like me to show my work? I totally will! y-2 + 3y = 10. So to isolate y you first add 2 to each side of the equation, resulting in y + 3y = 12. Then consolidate y into 4y = 12. Divide each side by 4: y = 3. Voila!

I didn't even attempt the writing section of the test. Didn't even look at it. I have no idea what they would ask me to write about. Explain and expand and all that. Cripes.

There is an informational meeting at a local university on January 10th. They offer a part-time program at night that would take 20 months to complete (5 semesters). It would cost us $22k + in tuition and books. That's almost as much as we had to take in student loans for Mr. Chick to go to law school for 3 years full-time! That's the difference between a public and private university, I suppose. Anyway, I'm planning on going to the meeting and finding out more about the program and my options. The deadline for application to the program is in June. That would give me 6 months to get my shit together and take the tests, get my transcripts and recommendations, etc. I have no idea if there are any prerequisite classes for admission - guess I'll find out. If I do this and start in the fall, then I would be done in 2 years, which is right when Lauren would be starting kindergarten. Her starting kindergarten is when I'll be freed up to begin working at some level without the massive juggling act of childcare. So the timing is good. And maybe I just end up being a substitute for several years - part time work. I don't know.

All I do know is that I did decently on the sample CBEST test stone cold, which gives me a glimmer of hope that I haven't lost ALL my brain cells since being on the "mommy track", and makes me believe that maybe I can pull it off without having to go through Herculean efforts. Because study time these days? Is very, very hard to come by.

In my state, as long as you have a 4 year degree in any subject aera, you can substitute. It might be worth looking into before you enroll. I'm looking to get my masters too. I was a teacher, and I don't want to go back to that although I believe it is an honorable profession. I finally have all undegrad. loans paid for. Like you, I wonder if I really want to take on all that again!
Great job on those tests! I want to get my masters someday (in nursing) so I'll eventually have to take those grad school entrance tests. I am going right now to a community college. I'd have loved to do the accelerated bachelor of nursing program at the state U but it was $25K. Yikes. I am not a fan of getting loans for that kind of money. Is there not a cheaper school near you??? I know my sister in law is doing a private college nursing degree and will have over $40K in loans to pay of. I would consider being a substitute for a while to make sure it is what you will really love to do the rest of your career, then you know the money will be well worth it. And you can get a sub. certification pretty quickly I believe with a previous degree. And if there are pre-reqs you need you could start taking those at a cheaper college, if there is a community college near you. Good luck. School is hard work with kids, but I love the challenge, even tho at times I ask myself WHY am I doing this to myself!!! I have to study daily to keep my grades up, so my days are filled and I'm up late almost daily. My daughter will be in 1st grade when I graduate so hopefully that will work out well with minimal child care while I work part time.
Hi MB,

I was in a similar situation - sahm, wanting to go back to school. I decided the state school route, as I couldn't justify a huge tuition bill - esp. since I will have to pay for four children in the future!

My suggestion is to really think about your job prospects when you graduate. Is all that money worth it if you can't get a job? Are there other things that interest you that have more flexibility and availability? What about a reading specialist? Guidance counseling?
I know math teachers are in demand around here, as well as science. Math wouldn't be too bad to teach, grading wouldn't be too bad. Maybe you could call around and try to see if there is any need for the type of teacher you want to be???
Many programs offer assitantships (both research and teaching)which pay you and waive tuition. These can be quite competitive, but oh-so-wonderful because you get experience and a free education. Research your options thoroughly and you may not have to pay a dime to get your masters. This is what I am doing in an English program and I'm getting valuable teaching experience, a paycheck, and free tuition. I love it!! Good luck to you & go for it!
When would you have to do student teaching? Would you do it after Lauren started kindergarten.

And, law school only cost 22K for three years? Or do you mean you only had to borrow 22K???
The CBEST was a snap, don't let yourself get freaked out. The writing was really easy, topic-wise, and you are already a good writer, which is more than half the battle. You could BS and still pass on the writing, but you won't have to, it's that easy.
I made the choice to return for my Master's degree in education, am now almost $40,000 in debt (for 6 terms of schooling at PSU) BUT I do have a job now, and I am sooooo happy for it. Good luck as you make the decision!
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