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February 6: Is your next degree really worth it?

Everyone I know seems to want to go back to school this year. I planned to do that too after my kids were born and all in school. But now I don’t know. I actually like bedside nursing and I’m not sure I want to leave. Plus I now have three kids and I’m questioning whether more money and time for school is actually in their or my best interest.

I’ve spent the last 28 years either in school or paying for school and now preparing for my oldest to head off to kindergarten and start this journey on his own. But really, he was growing in my belly before I finished my last degree and was nestled snug and warm (and four days late) when I passed the NCLEX. Looking back at my goals and forward at my future I realize I have some wisdom to share (that might even be VERY different than what you’ve heard before) as a woman and a working mother. So if you’re considering going back to school, please take a moment to weigh the costs.

1. It’s so much easier to go back to school when you don’t have kids.

Truth?

Maybe.

While it was nice to NOT have to take care of other humans while I was in school, my classmates with kids were far better at time management than I was. They didn’t have as much “free” or unscheduled time so they were less likely to procrastinate (did I mention we all worked in my program) and truly had a vision for why they were pursuing this degree. True, I may have done better on tests, but having kids gives you a better sense of perspective and patience.

 

That being said, truly understand and weigh whether further education is going to enhance your family or force you further from them. For me, we are currently considering whether or not a fourth baby should happen soon or at all so we can get him or her in kindergarten before mommy heads back to school (if that is even best for our family…I just don’t know!).

2. Women can have it all. 

Looking back, it wasn’t until my 4th year of my first undergrad degree when I was single with no prospects that I realized my MRS degree had set sail and I needed to do something with my life and be serious about my degree. The verdict: I would need further schooling to actually be able to use my Exercise Science degree. And as I entered my 5th year of undergrad (please read that as stupid and expensive…it was NOT a victory lap) I chose nursing as my direction.

 

But I honestly didn’t realize the cost. I barely used my first degree (and didn’t know how) because I was just biding my time until nursing school. Instead, I should have worked and worked and talked to working moms and financial advisors. I haven’t been able to stay home with my kids with the exception of 12 weeks of maternity leave.  And I don’t want to stay home because I think it will be easy. Raising these boys ain’t a walk in the park! Well I mean some days we DO walk in the park. You get it.

Really come to terms with what you  want out of life. My hasty (unwise and unadvised) decisions have cost my kids a more present mom. Truly I believe I am a mom that needs to work outside the home to keep my sanity, so PRN is in my future. And being completely honest, if you plan to breastfeed, pumping at work is no easy task. I’d rather just feed them, no mechanical parts involved.

I am a woman with great hopes and aspirations and I work very hard at everything I do.  While I love nursing, I have to pay my student loans. However if money for student loans was not an issue, I would continue to work PRN because I do love what I do and that would allow me the option to have more time at home with my boys.

So if you know you don’t want to work when/if you have a family and don’t want to feel like you are forced to so, really consider if more schooling is right for you.

3. Everyone has student loans.

NO!!! Not everyone does! And NO! NO! You shouldn’t be ok with getting them. You may have to work you butt off but you don’t have to have student loans. For the sake of your future sanity, your marriage, and your kids you should make it your (at least part-time) side hustle to find free money for school. Think about it…if you’re paying off your loans and your little family is growing do you have extra money to put aside for your kids’ education? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong, my boys will work during college because work is a part of life. It is one of the activities they will spend most of their life doing so they better be good at it.

 

What if you’re going into a degree program where you can’t work? Then you plan for it. If it’s just you, start saving. Work extra. Work as if your life depended on it because realistically if you can’t work in school your life DOES depend on it. If you are entering school with a working spouse, spend a year or two practicing the lifestyle of living on just their income and bank yours. You may find you are able be able to save enough to cover a year or two.

 

I can’t stress this point enough! Apply for all the scholarships you possibly can in the year you are saving. Make that your side hustle. You might surprise yourself with how much you make.

What if you’re already in a program and set on school in the next few months?

Sell stuff, get rid of debt you already have. Cancel your Netflix, Hulu, Cable, etc. because really those are just distractors from homework and your time is more valuable (plus you’ll save a few extra bucks to throw at your schooling). Make budgeting your priority and stick to your budget. If you need help with making a budget I am more than willing to help. See this post for more details. Or check out other budgeting blogs online like Making Sense of Cents or Thrifty Little Mom or His and Her Money or Dave Ramsey or so many others.

Understand that if you WANT school to be an investment in yourself, invest WISELY.

2 thoughts on “February 6: Is your next degree really worth it?

  1. Hey Lady, reading this post I am so proud of you and the nurse/mommy that you have become! I myself have no children, so I question whether or not I am reaching my fullest potential in my profession. However, you are absolutely right that going back to school is not without its cost and sacrifice. It is so important to weigh whether or not returning to school and getting finances in order and living the life that you envision (hopefully sans debt) is worth it. NOT having little ones at home makes me feel like I should desire to work more than the average momma bear and pursue higher education, but most days I just don’t feel like it. I would be more than satisfied working two days a week and calling it good. Being a stay at home wife seems selfish when I can be out making money, but I was most happy and satisfied spending the majority of my time at home and caring for my husband and holding down the fort while he was deployed and I was not a nurse. There are many more important things than money. If you truly feel called to be a nurse practitioner, or whatever higher level there is in your profession, I believe you will feel called to that role and you will make the sacrifices necessary to get where you feel you should be after carefully weighing the pros and cons.

    I love how you share your thoughts. I love how you are “real”. Keep it up!

    1. Thank you, Lauren! It’s good to hear from you and I really like your perspective. I wish I felt more called to be domestic so I think it’s truly a gift that you are called that direction (maybe it’s just the repetition of cleaning the horrendously messy floor and table after mealtime with three littles that makes me want to continue to work outside the home lol!). And if you google stay-at-home wife there’s actually a number of articles about it! It’s not farfetched or selfish! Nursing demands a lot of emotion and that can be draining. I hope you’re doing well these days!

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