I am the picture of the American economy. Need life advice.

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by emissary, Feb 2, 2010.

  1. emissary

    emissary New Member

    I want to say first of all that this is going to be a loooong post. I also want to ask the reader in advance to pardon me for the rambling nature of this text; it reflects, and is a symptom of, my currently uncoordinated mind. Maybe one or two of you will take the time to read my story, and perhaps someone will provide me with the magic key to the kingdom. Who knows? So with that said, let me begin...
    First, about me: 28yo male working in a dead-end job. Wife, 2 kids, love my family above all else. Breezed through high school, never had any problems. SAT 1380 ACT 32 composite, both with no prep work. After high school, enrolled in an electrical engineering degree program at UT-Arlington. Met a girl, became disillusioned with my college professors (or that's the excuse I fabricated at the time), dropped out in my first semester, and moved in with said girl. Went to work for a health insurance company, dabbled with a couple of classes here and there, basicly stagnated for a while, but I thought I was happy just earning a living and living life. Wound up making that woman my bride, and we had a baby.
    When the baby arrived, I decided it was time to finally do something with my life. Quit from the insurance company, went back to school at a private university full time working toward a Biology degree, with plans to enroll in the local Doctor of Physical Therapy program when I was done. Worked full time while I was taking 15-18 hours per semester with lots of labwork. Very busy, hectic, chaotic, and trying time. I handled it ok, the family did not. Grades were mostly good. But it was just too much time away from home for us at the time. Finally had to make a decision - quit school or no more family. So I quit, with about 4 weeks left in that semester.
    Got into the auto retail business, made a ton of money, had a lot of fun, life was good. I have now spent a little over 4 years in this business (sales, finance, and management), and even before the economy turned sour I became unhappy with this line of work(as dirty as you think it is, it's way worse). Started looking for a career change around mid-2008, then the economy happened. And now that's where I am: a 28 year old man that is severely defaulted on 37k of student loan debt and feeding his family of 4 on the minimum wage that my dealership is legally obligated to pay me.
    Due to reasons that I won't go into here, I am geographically restricted to this general area of Texas for the next 5 years. And I have to find a job (in a severely economically depressed region) that will actually leave me in the black every month; right now I'm waaaayyyyy in the red, and were it not for family support we would be on the street.
    OK, the good news starts here: I have an offer to have my education paid for to finish out my Bachelors. So herein lies my quandry. What do I pursue? I cannot attend a b&m campus because if I get a job 60 miles away I would just have to drop out again. So I know I must choose a degree program that is 100% completeable online. Do I attend a state university (UT, A&M, Texas Tech, etc...) for the name recognition value, or do I CLEP out of everything and get my Excelsior degree? I believe my response is somewhere in the middle, but that's why I'm here right now. Do I go through TECU and get the Biology or Natural Sciences degree, or would that degree be worth the paper it's written on (please, no offense intended to anyone, I am simply not well read on these yet)? I would also be open to a b&m campus in another state, as long as the out of state tuition didn't knock my head off. All I know is that I would like to have a degree that doesn't throw any red flags on a resume, would be relevant to some viable industry in central Texas, would increase my marketability, lend itself to entrance into a MBA/MS/PhD later down the road, and can be completed in a year or so. The strongest field I know of around here is energy (i.e. natural gas, oil, wind), but what degree would best enable me to break into that? I had thought about just finishing out in general studies and getting my teaching certificate, but the defaulted student loans preclude me from holding just about any professional license in the state of Texas. They also are a serious knock on my marketability to any company that cares about such things (and I know many do), but as long as my family is a hair away from starving there is simply nothing I can do about them.
    As far as the question of what do I want to do, well, what I want to do is irrelevant. Doing what you love is a great concept, and I know several people who do exactly that. But my reality is that I have to provide stable, sufficient income for my family, regardless of the field or work involved. I love the world of academia, and hate that I have been mostly removed from it for such a long time. If given the opportunity, I would be a life-long student. But as far as practicality, I need something that will put me in a stable position as quickly as possible. And I have now discovered (admitted) that my lack of education is solely attributable to the fact that I didn't learn to study at a young age, and that I lacked the drive to finish the task.
    .....If you're still reading..... So I'm open to any and all suggestions. Got a degree-career track that you think would work? I want your input. Do you think an Excelsior-esque approach is my best bet? Please tell me why. My hunch is that a degree from a state university that also offers a 100% online completion program would be more beneficial to me, but none of those provide the scheduling flexibility that I want, and then there is the issue of how many credits can I transfer. I love self-paced study for the fact that I can knock out a class as quickly as I am capable, and so that if my kid has the swine flu I can spend the week tending to him. Being in the business that I am in has dulled my wit somewhat, but I still believe that once I enmesh myself in the academic world, the old synapses will brush the dust off and get me rolling right along. I'm not scared of the coursework (though the thought of jumping back into Organic Chem 2 with no refresher is a little intimidating), and don't want to give up the opportunity to actually learn something in this process. But the bottom line is this - I need to improve my station in life, and it needs to happen right now. Questions/comments/concerns, bring 'em on.
    I am posting this here because after 2 days of trolling, I believe there are genuinely intelligent, helpful, and accomplished people on here, and that I can learn alot by asking for input. I believe there are probably a couple of people on here that have been in my shoes, and I will be encouraged to know that others have walked this path. I don't mean to come across as whiny or ego-centered; I am simply trying to put all relevant info out there, and I am a little "raw" by nature. Thank you for listening to my story, and thank you to those that make this site available. Transcript following:
    ENGI ---- (don't remember the course number, was intro to electrical engineering) C 3.00
    ENGL1301 Eng Comp and Rhet A 3.00
    ENGL1302 Eng Comp and Rhet A 3.00
    BUSI 1301 Intro to Business A 3.00
    ECON 2301 Prin of Econ-Macro B 3.00
    BIOL 2402 Anatomy/Physiol B 4.00
    ENGL2326 Rdg in Amer Lit A 3.00
    GOVT 2305 American Govt A 3.00
    SOCI 1301 Prin of Sociology A 3.00
    COMM 1310 Priniciples of Comm A 3.00
    ENG 2312 Survey British Lit II A 3.00
    HF 1210 Fitness for Living A 2.00
    HIST 1320 World Civ since 1500 A 3.00
    REL1330 Intro to Christianity A 3.00
    BIOL 1401 Prin of Biology A 4.00
    CORE 1300 Ethics B 3.00
    BIOL 3440 Comp Anatomy B 4.00
    CHEM 1410 Gen Chem C 4.00
    CORE 2300 Persons/Commun A 3.00
    PHIL 2350 Intro to Philosophy A 3.00
    BIOL1403 Zoology A 4.00
    CSC 1325 Fund of Comp Sci B 3.00
    CHEM 1420 Gen Chem II B 4.00
    FA 2310 Survey of Fine Arts A 3.00
    BIOL 3350 Cell Biology A 3.00
    BIOL 3460 Genetics B 4.00
    CHEM 3410 Organic Chem I A 4.00
    PSYC 1340 Intro to Psychology A 3.00
    BIOL3430 Human Physiology C 4.00
    =95hours completed. Plus in 2000, I took the AP Calculus I test and scored a 5, so I guess I count that as 3 hours? = 98. As mentioned above, I have dropped out of school twice, so I also have the following F's:
    PHYS 1401 Intro to Physics F 4.00
    MATH 3340 CAL 2 F 3.00 (might have been a 4 hour)
    CHEM 3420 Organic Chem 2 F 4.00
    MATH 3351 Statistics F 3.00
    PSYC 4300 Abnormal Psych F 3.00
    So you can see that I also have a mediocre GPA, and therefore do probably need a certain amount of actual course work so that I can drive the GPA back up (I hope to attain higher degrees when possible). But I must balance this need with the time and money constraints I am under right now. Again, thanks for sharing!
  2. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    There are a few basic choices you'll have to make and I don't think that anyone can make them for you. If you want a totally self-paced degree program then you'll be limiting yourself to the subject areas that are offered by those schools. I don't think there are that many totally self-paced programs. If you want a specific subject area like Biology then you'll be restricting yourself to the few schools that offer that particular degree. Again, I don't think there are that many. Finally, you'll have to decide how much money you can devote to your schooling. If you're like me then cheaper = better. If a school crosses a specific cost threshold then it's off my list regardless of how attractive it might be otherwise. I'm sure other will weigh in with their opinions. Good luck.
  3. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

    My recommendation to most folks is that if you don't know what you want to do then get a business degree. The degree will have applicability in almost any sector. Secondly, get the degree from the most recognizable, not necessarily the highest ranked school, that is in the area you intend to reside in. I also recommend that you consider the following: If you are only going to get one degree what do you want the diploma to reflect. Don't get a bachelors from a school or take a program because it is easier. State schools have lots of alumni and in many cases a network of employment.

    In addition to continuing your education look in to government internships, you could get paid to complete your degree and in some instances perhaps get some of the student loan paid.

    Best wishes and I hope your life circumstances improve.
  4. RollaMissouri

    RollaMissouri New Member

    Enlistment? At 28 years of age, intelligent, and looking at an opportunity to start fresh, you might consider discussing opportunities in military service. There have been some very generous GI bill options, free educational benefits while serving and benefits for the family. Of course there are drawbacks and danger, and you'd have to leave your geographic area, but it is an option if you have a desire to serve your country and have your family's needs met. Just a thought....
    Good luck
  5. Lindagerr

    Lindagerr New Member

    You can be a good student

    From looking at your transcript it is obvious you are comfortable with Science i know from personal experience an A in Organic Chem is not easy. For the courses you failed like Physics was it that you did not learn the subject or that you did not do the work? If it is the latter do you think you could do a little study and pass an exam? ( I have a son who got 1350 on SAt but has failed community college english 3 times he doesn't do the work)

    Taking all the above into account I will again suggest TESC that does stand for Thomas Edison State College and it is part of the NJ state college system. One of the reasons I recommend it is they will probably take all your prior credits, there is no residency requirement, you could probably test out of the rest of your degree if you wanted to, they only report your GPA for the courses you take there and they have biology and Natural science & Mathematics degrees.

    You could send your transcripts and get an unofficial evaluation for $75 then you could fill out most of what you still need with exams and just enroll in time to take one 12 week course (for a GPA) and graduate all in 5 -6 months or less if you work at it.

    If you really like acadamia you could go back in a couple of years when things are better, get your Masters and become a college professor. A couple of years experience in some type of lab plus a science Masters should get you a decent job.
  6. sandraeli

    sandraeli New Member

    Wow--first and foremost, hang in there.

    With that being said, if you choose the 'quick and done' route, it looks as though you are nearly finished with a bachelor's in Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Thomas Edison State College.

    Of the 25 credits you need to reach 120 (and depending on how many of your science courses are considered upper level), one option would be to pick up six hours of lower level math courses with ALEKS to push your upper-level courses into the major and then to fill the remaining Free Electives portion with FEMA or other low-cost credits. If you should need more upper-level science courses, Western Washington University offers some interesting self-paced courses in environmental science.

    Have you considered the possibility of pursuing alternative licensure to teach science or math at the secondary school level? You mentioned a Doctor of Physical Therapy program; what about becoming an EMT as an entry into the medical field? My son's father first became an EMT, then paramedic, and has added more certifications since then, and he always has more job offers and more shifts available than he can possibly manage.

    Best wishes in finding the right path for you and your family.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 3, 2010
  7. emissary

    emissary New Member

    Sorry to dump on you guys yesterday. Just one of those days. Anyway, as far as my grades were concerned, all the C's and F's are from the two dropouts (except for Gen Chem I, I'll admit I was just lazy on that one). I am confident that with a little bit of self study, I can perform well on the CLEP/GRE/DANTES exams. I just struggle with the concept of the Big 3. My belief is that if one can demonstrate proficiency through excelling in standardized tests, then one has gained the requisite knowledge to have a degree. But I know that there are naysayers out there, and I know that many of those people are college admissions board members and hiring directors. Let's say I were to get my BA in Natural Sciences & Mathematics and two years down the road decided to go for my MBA or MS at a "name-brand" school (i.e. UT, A&M, etc...). Will the TESC or Excelsior name on my diploma present me with an uphill battle in gaining entrance into such an institution?

    As far as the alternative teaching cert, I have researched it thoroughly, and it is a great fit for me. The problem is that because I am defaulted on my student loans, I am ineligible to obtain the license itself. There is actually a bit of interesting theory in this situation for those interested in social science and economic policy. I myself have very emotionally charged arguments against the current manifestation of the student lending administration and its lack of consumer protections, but that is an argument for another forum.

    Thanks again for everybody's input. I'm not looking for someone to make my choices for me; it's just helpful to have a sounding board comprised of educated and mostly like-minded people.

    If anyone else has the Quixote-like tenacity that it takes to read my entire post, I salute you, and appreciate any input you may have.
  8. Y-rag

    Y-rag Guest

    Tesc might be your best bet.. check this out
    You have room to add 27 electives where you can stash some of your extra credits OR do FEMA courses..

    Here's the Natural Science/Math degree program..

    You might want the Lib Arts degree if your not sure which way your heading.

    An Excelsior College Bach of Liberal Studies degree might also work

    Don't waste time whatever you do. The sooner you get started, the less stress you'll have in your life. Your obviously very smart, you can definitely do this if you have the finances. Good luck whatever you decide! Give em both a call. TESC has bad customer service, supposedly getting better. Problem is, if you describe your situation in detail, shortened version of course, my guess is they'll be heartless and want $75.00 to review your records. BUT, they may be your best option, especially w/the 27 electives you get to use. ACT NOW whatever you do!
  9. Y-rag

    Y-rag Guest

    BTW emissary, if your not certain about FEMA courses, ALEK's, Straighterline, etc, do searches on this site to get familiar w/the info available. THERE IS NO QUICKER, CHEAPER, EASIER way to get your degree than using this site or Instantcert (just don't take too liberal a political stance on that site or your butt will be banned). Don't be like some of us on here that waited later in life to get the "paper", life will become simpler w/it. If your not sure of something on here, ask! You need a jump start, this site is your good battery. We're positive!
  10. emissary

    emissary New Member

    Thanks Y-rag (fist bump). I'm very fortunate to have found this great forum, and love the hands-on experience that is tappable around these threads. Have done a little reading on CLEP/GRE/DSST and am quickly learning how much I don't know about the testing logistics. Will continue to learn though. I'm hesitant to pursue a Liberal Arts/Multidisciplinary/General Studies degree because even though I hope to obtain my MS/MBA in the next few years, I do know that one can not predict the future and I would hate to have such a generic degree as my terminal.

    **side note: Looking at instantcert. Is this a prep site only, or is there more to it than that. Also, they advertise $20/month; is this the true cost, and if not, what does it actually run?
  11. Y-rag

    Y-rag Guest

    I agree that Lib Studies are generic degrees, I've always had the same feeling. That being said, it got me and others a decent job. IMO, you sound like you just need to git er done. Once the Bachelor's is done you can move on from there. Don't keep spinnin yer wheels in the dirt, get on the pavement and cruise! With the battles you fought in the past, I'd focus on just getting done. Your clothes are tattered, no rubber on the sneakers, holes in the socks, dirty underwear.......you've faced the beatdown. If that was me, I'd be saying "I've had enuff, how do I get out of this place"? Success is closer than you think!
  12. Y-rag

    Y-rag Guest

    Think of Instantcert as pull-ups as this site is to Fruit of the Looms. Instantcert forum, like here, is free, you pay for certain features they provide.
    Don't waste your time discussing politics on the other site! If you lean liberal, your going against the grain. You will eventually be silenced. They don't take too kindly to stances that support our President, as I do!
  13. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly

    My Bachelor's from Charter Oak State College, which I assembled from a lot of transfer credit from half a dozen institutions, 12 credits from an IT certification, and 27 credits worth of CLEP. With it I got into a top tier school for my Master's, and since then have also had staff positions at two different universities and an adjunct teaching gig at a third school.

    You're wise to ask questions, but don't overlook the opportunity the Big Three offer from misplaced fear. If you have a good cumulative GPA and good GREs (and it sounds like the latter will be easy for you) then a Bachelor's degree from TESC, Excelsior, or COSC should get you into a decent graduate school for further study, whether in Biology or whatever.

    Good luck!

  14. Lindagerr

    Lindagerr New Member

    Don't put it off too long

    I know it seems like a lot to explore, but you can get too involved in the looking and not get to the doing.

    As for Instancert, the forum is free and has lots of good info about testing. Once you are ready to test you can decide if you want to join or not. I personally have found it to be an excellent resource. The true cost is just $20/month the specific exam feedback comes with that and can be as valuable as the flashcards.
  15. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

    Lots of good advise given so far - but thought I'd weigh in also:

    1. If a masters degree is a relatively short term goal of yours - then I would apply to all 3 of the Big 3 schools (TESC, Charter Oak, Excelsior) and see what your fastest ticket is to any BA/BS. Once you have the BA/BS, you should be eligible for admission to many masters programs. Many posters are correct, the Big 3 is your fastest ticket. Then do the masters from a UT school if possible, for the networking that is involved.

    2. If a masters is a bit in the horizon (or not at all), I think you look at a couple of DL options in the state of TX in addition to the Big 3. What you will need to weigh out is the speed of a Big 3 degree vs. the networking (and possibly lower cost) of a degree in your home state.

    IMHO, you can't make those decisions until you start applying for schools; and since you indicated that funding for your education is not an issue, then start the application and credit evaluation process, and then once you have the info, then you can make a decision.

    Good luck!
  16. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    Like Steve I earned a BS from Excelsior based on courses taken from a dozen colleges in the USA and the UK plus one CLEP exam. I had no problem getting enrolled in two masters programs.
  17. Y-rag

    Y-rag Guest

  18. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

  19. emissary

    emissary New Member

    After all the great advice I've found on this forum, I believe I have overcome my mental block on the whole online bit. I believe I will submit my info to the three, and see how it goes. My only concern now is GPA. Haven't put the calculator on it, but I believe it comes out to a 2.9 or so (uck...), so I need to explore options on driving that up a bit, but I'm sure I'm capable of figuring out a way to do that. I want to say thank you to everybody who listened to my story, and not flaying me alive when I bared my mediocrity. Looking forward to continued discussions on this worthy forum...
  20. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    I just calculated your grade point average and it comes out to be 3.527 -- that is pretty good. :)
    (The big three don't count failed courses and may not give a grade for CLEP exams).
    The 91 units I counted puts you on a fast track to a big three degree - you only need 29 units and many of them might be obtainable thru CLEP and DSST exams.

    Given your self described history I bet you could pass this DSST exam easily for elective units: http://www.getcollegecredit.com/downloads/factsheets/Personal%20Finance_20080509.pdf
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2010

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