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Undergraduate non-traditional student in very unique dilemma.

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Re: Undergraduate non-traditional student in very unique dilemma.

Postby P.C. » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:53 am

If you are independently wealthy for life go for it. But if you leave the state system you are going into a world of hurt. 10 or 20 years without retirement, health benefits (maybe some) and no job security.
You need job security.
Seems like a disconnect here with your long term economic needs and your out of control emotional state which will lead you to a bad end.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
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Re: Undergraduate non-traditional student in very unique dilemma.

Postby Elizabeth Leo » Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:28 pm

Chris wrote:Elizabeth, I have a couple of questions from reading about your dilemma. You don't have to answer if they seem too personal. But here goes:

1) What does your husband do? If your husband is able to work, can he get benefits? If not, can the two of you get private insurance from the healthcare marketplace while you finish your degree? Good health insurance can be extremely valuable, but finishing that degree will also be very valuable to you in the long term.

2) How valuable are you at your job? A motivated hard worker like yourself would seem quite valuable - would they let you go part time or flex time in order to get these last classes out of the way?

While moving to another country could be fun and exciting, it seems like a more extreme option than you need here. Since you've established good relationships with your current teachers and boss, I would hope you can find a workaround without drastically changing your situation.


Thank you for your reply! My husband is disabled, unfortunately, so unless he is able to get a job with the Feds per the disabilities fast tract, that most likely won't happen. Believe me, we had discussed it before things with his health got bad.

I'm pretty valuable but mostly because there are now just two of us in a unit that used to be (and still receives the work volume of) four people. With budget cuts, I doubt they'd let me reduce my schedule. They've been good about flexible hours though, so I have been able to take some late afternoon classes which is splendid of them.
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Re: Undergraduate non-traditional student in very unique dilemma.

Postby Elizabeth Leo » Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:33 pm

L. B. Gage wrote:Dear Elizabeth,

I was compelled to write after I read your forum entry. You struck me as someone who is hardworking and dedicated despite all your setbacks.
One thing I noticed from your description is that you are super BUSY! You are working full time and trying to finish a degree in Molecular biology with a minor in Computer science on top of all your other extracurricular activites you mentioned. My suggestion would be to ease some of your loads and focus on what is more important to you - getting that diploma. Is it really crucial for you to have a minor in computer science at this time?
You also mention that you current job duties mostly involve data entry, so I imagine this is something that could be accomplished remotely on some occasions. Is there any way you can negotiate a few hours in the morning to sneak out and attend some of your classes and make up those hours later in the day? Given your work ethics, I dont see why would your boss deny you this opportunity.
As far as the age goes --- You are only 26!!! Please don't let the age perception get in the way of achieving your dreams. It is still considered a young age in the US. If you could secure your diploma within 1-2 years you should be in good shape, especially with your long work experience in the area.


Thank you for the encouragement! Ugh, I wish I could do telework but unfortunately the office I work in is still vastly actual paper-based (as in me doing data entry from actual, physical documents and using high resolution scanners to get them into the database when the employers actually use the forms we send them) so its not feasible. I've been keeping my eye out for positions that WOULD be more amenable to that though, so here's hoping!
They have been super flexible with my hours, letting me come in at the earliest possible time to leave in time for late afternoon classes, but I'm not sure they'd let me do the reverse (take a nine am class, come in when it finishes and stay 8 hours). I'll have to see what that could possibly look like and broach the subject.
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Re: Undergraduate non-traditional student in very unique dilemma.

Postby Elizabeth Leo » Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:37 pm

WG wrote:Elizabeth, I echo L.B. Gage's idea to look into negotiating some kind of compromise at work. If you can squeeze in a class or two during the day, you would be able to reach your goal much faster.

Now a question for you: how big is the state agency you work for? Is it a place where you could see yourself staying at (possibly in a different position) after you complete the B.S. degree? If so, you could try and make the argument (if you decide to negotiate some flexibility) that you completing this degree would be mutually beneficial since you plan on building your career there. Also since the health insurance is really good, leave the job as a last resort.

With regards to leaving the country: it can certainly be interesting but it also comes with challenges one of which is getting acclimated to the new environment. Sometimes that can also affect one's work/school performance especially if you haven't lived abroad before. So take this into consideration too. At your current institution you have already built enough momentum.

Finally, 26 is not old, it only seems that way since your sample size is currently skewed towards people in their early 20's. You still have a long life ahead of you. The important thing is to keep working towards your goals.


Thank you very much for the feedback! Yes, I don't have any plans to leave this job unless I get another state position or a federal position since healthcare is crucial for me. I realize that foreign education may be a bit of a pipe dream right now as well but sometimes it helps to explore more radical options to reassure oneself that you're making the right decision. Ideally, I'll get into another agency within the state (mine is entirely not scientific) and be able to get some kind of experience. I've been applying to anything remotely related to what I'd like to study and keeping my fingers crossed.
Thanks again for the reassurance about my age! You're right of course, skewed sample.
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Re: Undergraduate non-traditional student in very unique dilemma.

Postby Elizabeth Leo » Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:38 pm

E.K.L. wrote:Have a look at the UK working & studying immigration laws (UKCISA has the relevant information for prospective students).
From what I recall (I'm not based in UK anymore), as a degree student you should be entitled to work half-time, but with two people and unless you choose London - which is ridiculously expensive and should be visited only as a tourist - it should be doable. A student visa should also entitle you to health insurance.

EDITED TO ADD:

Actually, another EU country that you should look into is Germany. This is because, while you can work part-time in Germany on a student visa, there is an important exception to the rule: you can work full time as a scientific help ("wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft"), which would give you both healthcare insurance and relevant job experience. The healthcare system in Germany is one of the better ones in EU, in my opinion.


Thank you for the link to UKCISA and the heads up about Germany! Even if I don't end up being able to pursue it now, like I mentioned I've considered the EU for grad school so definitely bookmarking it.
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Re: Undergraduate non-traditional student in very unique dilemma.

Postby Elizabeth Leo » Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:43 pm

P.C. wrote:If you are independently wealthy for life go for it. But if you leave the state system you are going into a world of hurt. 10 or 20 years without retirement, health benefits (maybe some) and no job security.
You need job security.
Seems like a disconnect here with your long term economic needs and your out of control emotional state which will lead you to a bad end.


I'm sorry, P.C., but I believe there's been some miscommunication here. What in particular are you replying to? You seem to have the perception that I'm rushing to the immigration office right now, abandoning a very secure state position, because of my "out of control emotional state". I can assure you that is not the case. I'm not going to regale you with how practical I am because you are a stranger on the internet and I honestly don't care if you believe I'm looking out for my own interests with logic and care or some impulsive 20-something girl leaping at dreams over reality. You may however wish to re-read some of my other responses since you seem to have misinterpreted what I said quite drastically.

Then again, perhaps you are just one of those people who speaks in the most extreme, most "blunt" ways possible and to you, your reply was reasonable and cautionary. Or you are just a troll. I hope that if these replies are indicative of your current mental state and true feelings that you find some way to be happy because you seem very embittered and angry and that's quite unfortunate.
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Re: Undergraduate non-traditional student in very unique dilemma.

Postby D.X. » Thu Mar 12, 2015 4:28 am

Hi Elizabeth:

Understanding what you have wrote here, things appear difficult.

On option is to approach your boss and see what can be done (not sure if you've discuss this option).

My mother was a working mom and a State employee (very low employee grade). No health issues. She was in a similar situation many years back, trying to complete her undergraduate degree, courses at night while working during the day. At somepoint she hit a road block where some courses she needed were held during the day. Similar situation, she was in her 30's whist her class mates were..well..18 and 19 year olds.

At that point her boss went to bat for her. He was able to secure her a full-year off, with full State pay and benefits, with the acknowledgement she would return to work at a higher pay grade for a period of time - I forgot the time commitment but wasn't much, 2 years or so, but she stayed on with successive promotions until she reached a point she could retire from the State with a minimum pension at retirement age, she then moved on to the private sector). This was the State of New York that did this (health department me thinks). Obviously the State saw benefit on her development(as per her boss's argumentation) despite her very very very low pay grade and job level.

It may take you some time but try to see what can be done from that angle given your situation - you need your boss on board and he or she has to go to bat for you.

Good luck.

DX
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Re: Undergraduate non-traditional student in very unique dilemma.

Postby D.X. » Thu Mar 12, 2015 8:28 am

D.X. wrote:Hi Elizabeth:

Understanding what you have wrote here, things appear difficult.

On option is to approach your boss and see what can be done (not sure if you've discuss this option).

My mother was a working mom and a State employee (very low employee grade). No health issues. She was in a similar situation many years back, trying to complete her undergraduate degree, courses at night while working during the day. At somepoint she hit a road block where some courses she needed were held during the day. Similar situation, she was in her 30's whist her class mates were..well..18 and 19 year olds.

At that point her boss went to bat for her. He was able to secure her a full-year off, with full State pay and benefits, with the acknowledgement she would return to work at a higher pay grade for a period of time - I forgot the time commitment but wasn't much, 2 years or so, but she stayed on with successive promotions until she reached a point she could retire from the State with a minimum pension at retirement age, she then moved on to the private sector). This was the State of New York that did this (health department me thinks). Obviously the State saw benefit on her development(as per her boss's argumentation) despite her very very very low pay grade and job level.

It may take you some time but try to see what can be done from that angle given your situation - you need your boss on board and he or she has to go to bat for you.

Good luck.

DX


Didn't see a place to edit to add a note. Also as part of this arrangement the State mandated she secured a GPA of a minimum of 3.8 for this benefit which she had to report in on a semsterly basis. I remember this number clearly - it was mom's focus. I remember the stress-levels she had, nonetheless she completed the entire B.S. degree with a GPA consistent Suma Cum Laude (in other words..top to the top honors meaning she was a star even before her boss's intervention). She was not science, some health admin stuff that was uninteresting in my eyes, yet kept me proud of my mom). Of added note, the State did not pay any tuition - i.e. was not a fellow of any sort. This was pure HR managed employee benefit as part of IDP and job progression which was more than anyone could ask for to be honest - all student loans were on her. Because she went to a Private University - her re-payment burden was about 10 years, so be wary of that.
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