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I’m Unemployed With a Lot of Debt. Is Going Back to School a Good Option?

unemployed for months degree seems to be worthless , with lot of debt, companies checking credit score doesnt help…is grad school worth it?

i have lot of debt, i graduate from college i couldnt find a job i lived off credit cards, then my student loans started kicking…still cant find a job my degree has depreciated…is going back to college a good option? if so how can i do it?

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  • been there

    I wouldn’t jump back into school w/o a means to pay for it. cold calling & submitting resumes is a tough way to get hired. you need to network & pursue leads from friends & family. most people get hired because they know someone that recommends them to the company. get to know your local, state & federal politicians, YES, REALLY. work a phone bank, etc. then ask for a favor, maybe the person next to you can help or knows someone that can. once hired prove yourself & the company may pay for further education or a masters degree w/ an obligation to work for a few yrs after getting the degree. networking w/ friends from college/military worked for both of my grown children 

  • Sarah S.

    I think you should get a job, (almost) any job.  You need some work experience not more ‘paper qualifications’, after all you have a Bachelors – you now need to get a job – don’t be choosy.  In most cases, minimum wage is still better than no wage. 

  • Donna

    In our darkest hour, with a bankruptcy in progress because of a failed business that we signed for personally, 3 small children, after hurricane Andrew, I chose to take a student loan and go back to graduate school.  Within two years of graduation my salary was increased by 40,000.00  I went back to the active army reserve program on monthly duty while I also worked full time so we had health insurance benefits.  Where there is a will there is a way.  Have you considered your local Workforce program that you can wowrk with and possibly get a grant for additional education in your county and they will assist you in finding a potential employer? Best of luck  inside every dark cloud is a RAINBOW.  god speed.

  • Kathleenkinney

    I work in education, and strongly believe in it as a way to change lives for the better, yet like everyone else here, I vote resoundingly for NO! Here’s a couple of reasons why I think your pursuing a grad degree right now would be the wrong move.

     1) Many of us complete college with the ink still wet on our diplomas and believe we’ll step right into a position where we can start earning decent money.  The reality is that after graduation, the work of getting that critical first job is just beginning.  It can take months, and a lot of networking to get that toe-in-the-door position.  You might just be in that lull, especially if you’re in a low-demand area.  It might be that you need to relocate, volunteer, build up a resume. 

    2) The `model’ for education used to be one of graduating from high school, going straight to college, completing your undergrad degree, going on for a grad degree, and then stepping into a professional position.  That’s changed.  The current advice for today’s economy is to take your education in chunks: get a certificate/associates/bachelors degree and then go to work.  Find out whether you love what you do enough to want to spend your life doing it, and then tweak.  Get further education (sometimes subsidized by your employer!) that will allow you to fine-tune yourself for a job market in which you already have experience. That way you can pay as you go.

    3) I’ve seen this scenario turn into an absolute nightmare.  A friend attended a private college, and had to take two runs at it before she graduated $40K in debt.  Deferred payments (but not interest) and then decided to get a graduate degree through a very large private university with a very active marketing scheme.  She finished her grad degree at the same time that she lost her job, and has not worked full-time in her field since.  She’s now up to $100K in debt, and may not pay it off in her lifetime.  You do NOT want to go there.

    4) If you feel you must go back to school, find a way to do it without going deeper into debt.  Work part time (on campus with a student job if you can’t find anything else), go to school part time.  Or try plugging into a military program like National Guard or ROTC for academic funding.  Just don’t dig the hole any deeper.

    5) Advice I frequently give is that it’s not enough to have a profession; you need to have a skill as well.  Learn some marketable schtick that will let you walk into a strange town and have a job by nightfall: walk dogs, change oil, cut hair, sling hash.  These are skills that will not require months of professional interviews and reference checking.  If someone’s got an empty barber chair and a talented and certified worker can fill it, they’re not going to delay the hiring process any longer than necessary.  Having this on-the-side thing happening can keep you from going deeper into debt while you wait for an entry-level break in your professional field. You might not make as much as you’d wish, but you can live simply on less while you’re looking for the other job.  It’s especially wise to try to get this related to the field in which you’re looking for work.  If you’re looking for work as a teacher, take a job in a day-care center; if you hope to go to med school some day, get an EMT2 cert and drive ambulance for the present. If your degree is in construction engineering, go dig ditches.  You may be surprised to find that this experience teaches you as much as your best classes did. You will have a better rapport with (and more respect for) the wage-workers once you are in a position to supervise people doing that kind of work.  And, it will clear the rent and groceries for the time being. 

    6) Finally, a very good reason NOT to get a grad degree is that you’ll price yourself out of the market before you have experience to offer.  Many firms are looking for entry level newbies because they’re cheaper to hire.  That graduate degree in combination with no work experience can actually backfire for this reason.

    Okay, this is a bit tough-love, but when I’m looking for advice, I prefer people give it to me straight.  I offer this in hope that you feel the same way, understand that my intent is to help, not to be disrespectful, and certainly not to kick you while you’re down.   Here goes: the first thing that struck me about your post is that you don’t write
    like an educated person.
    Many people are more informal in posts like
    this, and only you know if that is the case for you, or if this is an area where you could stand to improve. Your post had
    several errors in punctuation and usage, enough so that they interfere with the message and made a negative impression.  If you know that formal writing is a weakness, I urge you to work on this.  No one may say this to your face, but it can still cost you opportunities.  There are plenty of free and cheap resources out there to help with this.

    Good luck.  I know what it’s like to wake up Monday morning full of hope that the phone is going to ring, and dread the end of the work day on Friday because you know you won’t get that call over the weekend–and then to repeat that cycle week after week.  In a word or two, it sucks!  Comfort yourself with the thought that another word for this is `paying dues’, and most of us have been there.  Stay the course!

    • Excellent advice!

    • LB_Sue

      Wow. I agree–very good advice. 
      I work in the education field, and I would encourage you to think very carefully about going back to school. As some of the other commenters have shared, graduate school does help with your earning potential, but it can be expensive. And there is the expectation that you will have to live “very modestly” while going to school. I know that can be more difficult if you are married, older, have other responsibilities or expenses that can’t get put on hold for your studies. Also, keep in mind that there are more people thinking the exact same thing–so graduate programs are getting more expensive and more competitive and acceptance rates and criteria reflect this trend.

      What I would consider is maybe looking into an internship or entry-level position in a field that you really want to get into. If nothing else, it will better prepare you for getting into a program later on. If your student loans just started kicking in, I’m guessing that you’re a recent grad. Interning somewhere, while it may not pay much, is better than PAYING someone else and not getting much in terms of experience. I got my first great paying job as a result of a 3-month summer internship after grad school. There are more and more businesses looking to internships now as a cost-effective way to build their future workforce. Be reasonable, though, about how much you’re willing to work for free.

      Another option that I might suggest is looking at a certificate program at a community college that would compliment what you already have in terms of a degree. I see a lot of my students that get a certificate, and teach overseas for a while–or add some experience/specialization to their resumes.

      Kathleenkinney makes an excellent point about the formal writing skills as well–practice writing and speaking well at all times. It makes drafting resumes, cover letters, and (if you choose to continue your education), future applications far more appealing.

  • Lorraine

    This seemed like the right option for me when I was in the same situation not too long ago. The way I am approaching it is to start grad school off with a clean slate… and try to get rid of as much debt as you can before going into bigger debt. Student Loans will stay with you forever. It will give you peace of mind to enter into school with as little debt as possible, at least in my eyes.

  • AlmostAnything00

    I’m thinking of the same thing my only fear is not getting a job even with a higher degree. Good Luck !

  • Nliley

    Right now I would concentrate on getting some money in the door anyway you can.  There are not sure things of a pot of gold after you finish the additional schooling.  Get everything moving in a positive direction with any job you can.  Good Luck.

  • ERoberts Sonora

    Please remember that a college degree NEVER depreciates. You are the investment..your mind, the way you think, and the type of problems you can solve are all assets. Value yourself. I highly recommend a book by Dick Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute. The library will have it. I first read the book when I was 23 and exactly in your position. a few years ago I recieved the great gift of working with Dick personally at one of his workshops. He advises us to find and celebrate our own unique combination of talents and interests, do the inside work and the networking to find your niche. Currently he suggests looking at jobs with smaller companies of less than 50 employees. I kept plugging through some underemployed positions and gigs that used other skills I have like sewing and design. Bit by bit you can put the debt in it’s place as you learn what else life might have for you. Keep putting yourself out there.

  • NO it is not just no you are just setting yourself up for more debt trust me I did it and regret it. Yes I have a new career but it doesnt really matter at this point because I have accumulated more debt since I had to take out more loans. I would say look at all your options before you go back to school

  • Msullivan

    Great question! Research shows that on average people with graduate degrees earn more than people with undergraduate degrees. Holding a graduate degree makes it possible to apply for a new group of jobs not open to others. I have two graduate degrees and they have made a huge impact on my life. And yet my answer is a resounding “no.”

    Graduate school (or any school ) costs a lot. Attending school may well affect your income while in school. Since you apparently have no cash you will increase your debt load significantly and job opportunities are really not that great in most professional fields. Even lawyers are suing their law schools for making false promises about employment opportunities!

    So unless you are assured of a credential such as a CPA or nursing license that virtually guarantees employment, I would suggest focusing on improving your current situation without taking on more debt. And if you decide to ignore my advice do not attend a proprietary college. Find a state university.

    Good luck!

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