Author Topic: thinking through a commute  (Read 5754 times)

Jill the Pill

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thinking through a commute
« on: January 16, 2013, 10:45:50 AM »
I currently attend a university 60 miles from my house.  No, don't choke on your bulk discount coffee -- I attend tuition-free and receive a stipend, so it is my job.  I usually can manage my schedule to make the 90-minute commute only once or twice a week.  Each roundtrip costs me about $20.  (I have applied to switch to a university 3 miles from home, but we have to see if they accept me.)

This semester, I have the option to take a required course online.  Scandalously, this involves a $2000 online fee, which is not waived in my tuition waiver (those dirty scoundrels).  Or I can drive up there and take it in person.  Here are the issues:

I will need to get to campus one early morning a week (leave 7:30 am) for my teaching duties.  I can arrange that to be the same day as the in-person class, which meets 2-4.  This would make for one trip per week, one very long day (7:30-6, by the time I pick up the kids), no time for a real dinner (evening family sports activity 6:30-8:15 that can't be moved and represents both family time and commitment to health/fitness).  Furthermore, I promised my youngest that she wouldn't have to do afterschool this term ($12 per session), and there is no afterschool at the middle school, so I'd have to give the older kids some money to sit, snack, and do homework at a nearby deli until I arrive.  In other words, 14 weeks of American Rat Race Mondays. 

Paying the $2000 ($143/week) doesn't save me the cost of a commute or the wasted driving time because I will still have to get up there one early morning each week.  I could, however leave at noon, and be home for the kids, cook dinner, and generally live more calmly. 

I should also mention that $2000 is 20% of my stipend, and therefore a seriously heavy expense.  We can technically afford it, but it will hit hard.  Taking this class (in whatever format) will put me in an excellent position at the end of the term, allowing me to apply for jobs earlier, so putting the course off is not a good option.  I'd have to replace it with something rather dopey and useless.

Well, what would you do?

Jill the Pill

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2013, 10:48:16 AM »
I should mention that the one day the in-person course meets is the one very long day my wonderfully helpful domestic partner spends at his job (a train commute -- he's gone 9am to 10pm).  All of the other days, he can be home for the kids.

SunshineGirl

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2013, 10:59:56 AM »
Can you take the required course at the university three miles from your house and then transfer the credits to your college?

Otherwise, I guess I'd opt for the online course - only because your kids are pretty young to have both parents so far away. If you could hire someone for four afternoon hours, then I'd probably do the on-campus course.

RoseRelish

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2013, 11:17:19 AM »
You're already making the trip once a week, so just deal with the "long day" and figure out a way to survive the semester.

The $2,000 extra cost just adds to the argument to deal with the in-person arrangement. Start the 14 week countdown now.

unpolloloco

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2013, 11:43:20 AM »
So the only additional monetary cost here is 14 days of paying someone for a few hours of after-school care.  So, the math for this situation is $2000 minus the cost of 14 days of after-school care = x. If it is worth X dollars to save you the hassle and spend a bit more time with the kids and you can afford X, spend the 2k and take the course online.  Otherwise, take it in-person.

Jill the Pill

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2013, 07:58:30 PM »
Quote
"The $2,000 extra cost just adds to the argument to deal with the in-person arrangement. Start the 14 week countdown now."

Yeah, I know.  I did the 14 week countdown last semester, got my mother to come down, pick up kids, make them dinner.  It was a lot to ask, and I can't ask it again. I did the 14-week countdown the semester before that when I took an adjunct teaching job on the side.  I'm sick of heroic efforts, I hate asking the kids to do it yet again, and I don't like urging months of my life to be over! 

Quote
"Can you take the required course at the university three miles from your house and then transfer the credits to your college?" 

This is exactly the kind of solution I was hoping you guys would come up with.  Thanks for the good thinking, Sunshine.  Alas, the fancypants school nearby would charge $5400 for the course, if they even offered something like it. 

I am currently trying to finagle a way around the requirement.  I am also researching some outside scholarships to cover it.  We'll see. 


bogart

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2013, 08:36:48 PM »

Well, what would you do?

Since you ask, I would suck it up, do the one really long day 14 times, and get it done with (saving the money).  I'd probably also come up with some absurdly simple "every Monday this semester we will do ___________ for dinner," where __________ = eat store-bought fried chicken, order pizza, or whatever is the simplest thing imaginable that gets you and your family through that day.  And I would do it over and over again until the semester is done, because variety is better saved for different contexts (i.e. days with more free time).

RoseRelish

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2013, 05:46:55 AM »
+1 to bogart

Nudelkopf

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2013, 05:40:57 PM »
Furthermore, I promised my youngest that she wouldn't have to do afterschool this term ($12 per session), and there is no afterschool at the middle school, so I'd have to give the older kids some money to sit, snack, and do homework at a nearby deli until I arrive.  In other words, 14 weeks of American Rat Race Mondays.
If she's the youngest, how old is the oldest? Can they learn to cook dinner that night? Or at least to microwave a dinner for the rest of them?

happy

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2013, 02:44:22 AM »
+1 to Bogart. Bribe the youngest with the promise of junk food for dinner. Its a Monday, so commit part of Sunday to every bit of preparation you can. Is there anything you can cook and take that they will eat cold? Even if you do do junk for dinner, at least go through the exercise of the cheapest options.

Its only 14 weeks: @2000k that $142/week....you should be able to clear ?$100 /week even with junk for tea.

To get it into perspective I just spent 4.5 years doing a course part-time that required a much longer day and some complex childcare - didn't get home til 10.30pm one night a week, in my fifties... you can do it!

prosaic

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2013, 06:50:01 AM »
How old are the kids? Because if you have middle-school-age kids and the youngest is in elementary school, why not have them all go home and the middleschoolers watch their younger sibling? 12-14 is a perfectly respectable age to watch younger kids.

Unless they have a really contentious relationship or the older ones have special needs that rule out being responsible enough to be in charge of a younger child, perhaps this could be win-win. I watched my siblings from age 11 on, and currently have my own middle schooler who watches his younger siblings for 1-2 hours at a time.

Jill the Pill

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2013, 09:51:57 AM »
Hi guys,

I wanted to follow up & let you know how this all turned out.  I have been accepted into the school down the road for next fall (tuition waiver & stipend), so I no longer care about meeting the requirements at the current place.  I am taking neither the expensive online course nor its inconvenient twin.

It will be so nice to figure out the combination of bus, bike, and hike to replace that long commute.  Hip hip hooray!

RoseRelish

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2013, 10:46:18 AM »
Congrats on it working out.

SunshineGirl

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Re: thinking through a commute
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2013, 12:57:40 PM »
Yay!!