Public Service Announcement: I’m Heading Back to School!

On Friday, the entire story of how I arrived at the point of determining that I need to go back to school will be live on Anxiety Ink. The short version of it is this: I want to acquire new writing skills and eventually find a career that challenges and utilizes those skills. So I have enrolled in a professional writing certificate program specializing in marketing and public relations.

Because I work nearly full time, and I do not want to try to figure out my vacation to do the courses on campus, I am doing distance learning. I’ve never taken any online courses before so this will be interesting in itself.

My first course starts in April and I am so excited.

However, even coming to the point of enrollment, I am floored at the cost. And that’s what I want to touch on a bit today.

Right now, I work at a day job where I make just above minimum wage with a limited amount of hours I’m allowed to work. I’ve made it work, and I am on track to pay off my Canada student loan this year and then my Alberta student loan next year. I graduated in 2013 and gave myself a 5 year window to pay those suckers off.

Now, having done some minor job searching, I’m feeling underpaid and under-challenged, though I realize I’m unqualified as far as being able to head in the career direction I currently want to go in. I don’t mean for this to sound conceited, but there is not much I can’t learn. As long as it doesn’t require advanced physics or neuroscience or a non-Latin alphabet, I can learn it.

Nevertheless, people don’t want to take you on if you don’t have a piece of paper that says you’ve been educated. Because I earned my BA Honours in English, I understand the skills required and acquired in that process. I also know how those skills can be applied to a variety of jobs. Unfortunately, that opinion is in the minority as far as the job market goes.

I don’t regret earning my English degree, though I am wishing I had minored in either business or communications or something else. Anything to show people that I can excel in the workforce. It’s irritating because I can –I’ve been working since I was fourteen– but I can’t find anything long-term to suit my degree.

I love the arts. I will never not admire the arts and what they give society, but those outside of them do not value what they can bring. Heck, I’ve met people inside them who think they’re bunk.

I graduated with an astronomical amount of stress and debit with no career options. I was fortunate enough to find a job close to my house and have parents willing to let me live with them largely cost-free, but I’m ready to move on.

It’s a good thing I am an excellent saver despite my meagre earnings because this certificate is going to cost me upwards of $3500 in the end. Couple that with my outstanding debt at about $12,000, and the price of my education leaves me scratching my head.

It’s unfair, we live in a world that says we need a college education to truly advance and build a worthwhile career, but that doesn’t account for the insane costs that not many of us can handle. I’m in a better position than most, though I don’t come from an affluent family. I’m good with my money, I’m driven, but if something were to happen to one of my parents tomorrow I would have to drop out of this program because that would place an enormous financial burden on my shoulders.

We have to spend money to make money…I’m $30,000 in, where’s my cut?

I value education, I always have. But between the costs of education, the cost of living, and the availability of jobs that will pay me well to use the skills I’ve spent years developing, I’ve got a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

Learning –Should I Take the Plunge?

On the heels of my annual spring slump, which I discussed in my last post, comes my dire need to shake things up and find meaning. Post-slump, I start to get itchy in both my personal and professional lives –I feel like I should be doing more, challenging myself more… Needless to say, a lot of feelings of inadequacy come out of it.

The only answer I really know to all of my problems is learning. However.

I have no desire to get an MFA; I never have. I don’t think having a degree in Fine Arts necessarily makes you a better a writer, unless you’re looking to get into the academic politics of creative writing. I don’t have the patience or the energy for such a world. Maybe that will change, but not in my immediate future.

Neither am I at the point of wanting to go to graduate school for anything in English because I don’t have anything to add to academia at this time. I can be part of the conversation, sure, but I want to start a conversation, not merely participate.

As for going back to school to study anything else, my heart’s not in it. Not to mention I’m still carrying a swack of student debt that I don’t need to add to simply on a whim.

Thus, I’ve been leaning towards more life-applicable courses in a field I never thought I’d have any interest in: business. Even writing that down gives me the heebee jeebees. But I work for a large corporation, and there are parts of it I want to understand better, and I want to have the knowledge and skills to put my feet in other doors because there are days I feel like I could be easily walked past. Plus, being a writer nowadays is akin to owning and running your own business, so any base in that area will be a boon for me.

I love the abstractness and critical thinking that are part and parcel of academia, but those outside of that world don’t have a clue that those are the main skills cultivated, or that those skills are important and widely applicable. Thankfully I am a person who can pick up almost any skill and apply my knowledge in a lot of circumstances; but sometimes people don’t want to take the gamble with me. I’ll admit I feel a bit vulnerable in the real world sometimes.

Then of course, money is an issue. As is time. I know if push comes to shove I am a good saver and a good prioritizer. So, do I take the plunge where learning is concerned? I’m still thinking, but I do have a course in mind and I’ve been looking at my budget.