Posted by: chlost | September 16, 2010

What should I be when I grow up?

As I have probably mentioned way, way too often to still be interesting, I am very burned out at my current job.  I have been doing the same job, more or less for the past 25+ years. I am getting old. The job is old, depressing and feels so frustrating.

So, what does a person of my age do? I have applied for many jobs over the past several years. My experience is relatively limited within my profession. I already have one advanced degree. I am looking for a position that is not a repeat of what I am currently doing. I am of an age that my chances to be hired in a new position are pretty limited. There are a lot of young to-getters out there who have a lot more energy than I.

Tonight I went to an informational meeting for a degree program at the local university. It is a master’s program, but it is designed for people who have been out of undergraduate school for at least 10 years. No problem meeting that requirement. If I were to go full-time, I could finish in one year.

But the big catch-it would cost about $30,000. I think I am too old to do this part-time, as that would take 3 years.  I would not be able to work at my job if I decided to do the full-time option. I would have to try to take a leave of absence from my job to do it, and wouldn’t get paid.  So, not only would I have to pay for the program, I would not be making any money during the time I attend school.  Ouch!  That would be very difficult.

I do not make very much money. My husband does not make very much money. We scrape by. What money we have ever had has gone to our children to help them out when needed. There is almost no chance for any financial aid for this program.

Even with all of the negatives, I am still seriously considering this option. The informational meeting was very intriguing. I would love to be back in school. It would be wonderful to have new things to learn and to be in an environment with people who are excited about ideas.

There are several options as to what specific areas to study, and I am interested in more than one area. I am not sure which I would choose. Maybe I would just check out a few of them, to try to decide what I want to do for the rest of my career.

It seems very selfish of me to be considering going back to school for a new career at this point of my life. Most people with my current degree would consider that an exciting career in itself. Not for me at this point.  My husband wants to be able to retire in the next 10 years. Does it even make sense to do this if I retire 10 years from now?

But I feel like I need to do something.

I am really struggling with this.



  1. My wife struggled with this; but she realized that she would not earn any more money than she was already even with a Master’s degree, and we would go without the income while she would be in school.

    In the end, we opted for early retirement. She works for her daughter’s business at a schedule convenient for her and I made a documentary. Both of us went completely into new fields.

    • I wish we were in a position to retire. Not for quite a while, I’m afraid. Glad you guys have found a way to do that and that it has worked so well.

  2. I’m 32 and only just realized that I don’t want to be an office monkey for the rest of my life. I want to go back to school, but can’t afford it… looks like we’re in the same boat without a paddle!

    • If I were 32, I would be in school in a minute. You actually have a paddle, my dear.

  3. You do what you have to in order to make yourself happy. If you get bogged down in debt for the rest of your life, but are doing a new career that you enjoy and love, it will all be worth it! Go for it! Good luck!! Catch ya when I get back! 🙂

    • Still considering…..

  4. I’m a bit stuck as to what to say.

    Is there any chance you would be able to get a bit of paid teaching duty while taking the course? Any early retirement plans coming up in the near future at your place of work where they need to shed staff and would give a small golden handshake, it all helps. Any work in the University bookshop, Union shops or cafes? Just to bring in a little.

    Ultimately though I think you should do what you need to do for yourself. We do not know how long we have: you must be feeling unsettled having just lost a sister. One of my blogging friends was talking about doing things now rather than waiting for retirement and then a few weeks ago had a car accident, before she was able to pursue her dreams. Her blog is now closed down. Her husband posted what had happened and then suddenly shut down the blog, I fear the worst.

    A friend of mine died two years ago, my age, and I am actively trying to do things that really matter to me, where possible. Life is short and uncertain: my mother always said “think how you would feel on your deathbed: it will be the things you did not do rather than the things you did do that will haunt you.”

    One last thing, I took a degree late in life after years and years of illness, thinking a career was out of my reach: at age 54 they asked me to stay on afterwards and teach for that same degree. Out of the blue. Totally unexpected. You just do not know what avenues could open up for you!

    I think I would say, go for it.

    • You know, it was my sister’s death that has really made me motivated to consider all of this. She always encouraged me to make changes. I would be 57 coming out of this program. It will be a huge risk-especially for my husband, who is not a risk taker by nature.

  5. There were a number of older people in my graduate program – people who were making mid-life career changes. But no one except you can weigh the pros and cons and decide what fits. Best of luck as you sort it out.

    • Unfortunately,I am more like a career end person than a mid-career person. Thanks for the support.

  6. Tough decision, for sure. I thought about going for a masters degree several years ago, but ultimately decided not to because my debt tolerance is low (the cost would’ve stressed me out too much). Although I haven’t pursued a second degree, I do take individual classes just to gain more knowledge.

    You know your circumstances and your dreams better than anyone. If the program is what would satisfy you, then you should do it and everything else will fall into place. Good luck 🙂

    • Now that student loan payments will be capped to a percentage of ncome, that could keep you debt load more manageable. I say you should do it and everything else will fall into place!!! You seem to be at a good place in your life to tackle it all………

  7. I myself, although much younger, have just gone back to school after being out for a while and while it’s only been a week now since I’ve started and is already extremely challenging, I don’t regret it for a second. But, what I would say in response to your post and comments is this… choosing this expensive, albeit intriguing degree option or choosing to leave your current job/field are – as I see it – two separate questions. Before you decide the latter, you must decide the former. First commit to the desire to do something, then look for the best option to achieve it. When I was dealing with my question, I actually turned to a lifeCoach who i thoroughly recommend (her slogan alone helped me – be free to change). I know it doesn’t seem like a few phone calls here and there would help, but you would be amazed at what a new spin this put on my life… you can even read my testimonial ( 🙂

    Good luck!!

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