Author Topic: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?  (Read 6363 times)

determined

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I'm going to try and keep this short, but please feel free to ask questions for clarification. I need some help turning my financial life around. I am asking strangers on a forum because I come from a family that is terrible with money and have been trying to DIY my way through with little success.

I am a 30-year-old female who graduated from a top university that was very expensive with a bachelor's degree in communications back in 2008 (right when the recession hit) and had some personal things happening that took an emotional toll on me being able to fully take inventory on my financial situation (8 year abusive relationship). 

When I first graduated, I took the first job came my way after several months of searching and it paid $32k/year. After a year there, I went back to get my master's in journalism (also at a top and very expensive university) in 2011. I currently have $150k in student loan debt and am working on prerequisites (at a community college) for a career shift into medicine (not doctor, school would be 2 years for me once I finish the prereqs). By the time I finish school I'd be making between $80k to $120k/year in the new career and will have $200k -$250k in student loan debt.

My question is...is it worth it to make this career shift and have more debt but for a much faster route to ~ $100k salary? Or should I just work on paying back the $150k on basically $40 - $50k salaries I'm often offered these days in my field (I have had a very hard time in the corporate world as a less structured person who does better with working with empathy and people, abstract creative ideas (writing, music, dance) and science (health, biochemistry etc) that don't require sitting at a desk all day so an office job might be hard to sustain) and keep trying to work towards a higher salary or my own thing perhaps? Here are some things I want:
- I want to have a family (current bf is in finance, but I don't want him to be responsible for my debts if we do get married)
- I want to travel
- I want to live in California
- To live to live and not to work (to actually enjoy what I do)

Help. Thank you.

ltt

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2017, 06:27:23 PM »
If I'm correct, you will be 34 when you finish school with $350k-400k debt for school with the potential to make upwards of $100k per year in the health field.  You know, the health field is never going to go away.  I'm not sure what area you are planning on going in, but I never really see very many people in health care getting laid off and, if they do, they usually have no problem getting another job.  Hospitals always seem to be expanding and not many close. 

I guess the question is--what other debt do you have?  Mortgage payment, car payment, credit card payment?  And if you are thinking about starting a family around that time, there will be the additional expense of getting married and children along with living in the pretty expensive state of California.  Travel is expensive. 

Just looking at it from a broad perspective, there would seem to be tremendous amount of debt to be taken on with all of your dreams.  Not saying what you want to do is bad, just will cost a tremendous amount of money.  After taxes, your $100k job will probably net you $75k or so. 


crispy

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2017, 06:43:00 PM »
You need to find another way to increase your income. More debt just creates a bigger hole. What type of medical job are you looking at? Maybe some people here can give you some ideas about the outlook and pay.

jmwagner5

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2017, 06:53:42 PM »
Debt could really limit some of the things that you want to do.  It is one thing to have $200K in debt total between cars, mortgage, student loans, credit cards, etc.  It is a whole different story when that $200K is entirely focused on student loans.  Not saying that you shouldn't take the chance if it is something that you really want in your life, but I think it might make all of the travel and living arrangements you have planned far more difficult to manage. 

determined

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2017, 07:21:00 PM »
Hi there,

My debt will be about 200k to 250k when I finish the career shift. I am working towards becoming a Physician Assistant. I still have $150k from undergraduate and my other grad degree. It is taking a lot of work to make this shift happen...it's really hard, but I think it will be worth it. I will admit money is something I am just learning how to manage.


11ducks

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2017, 09:07:19 PM »
You've jumped from communications to journalism to medicine; I worry that you may finish the course and decide the career isn't for you- and be even deeper in the hole. Are you working in medicine at the moment- medical admin or coding or entry level hospital work? Do you have experience
In the field? I'd consider finding a job in the health field for a year before you take on expensive courses. Make sure you really understand the realities of working in the health field. I imagine as a physicians assistant you'll have to do your fair share of medical filing/transcription/following boring government regulation following anyway- I'd really consider taking a year (even at crappy pay) to ensure that spending $150k is a sensible move for you

determined

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2017, 09:52:51 PM »
@simplified, Oh wow, this personal anecdote was super helpful and made me less fearful of getting it done and raising a family! I feel a bit of relief to know that both the payments and the family can be done. Student loan debt a credit card from books in undergrad (literally just books...my goodness) and a car payment are the only things I'm paying on now. I will keep my debts to this and maintain my current lifestyle.

If you have any mustachian articles you'd recommend let me know. I am just starting to dive into the archives.

Also,  If you don't mind me asking, is your wife a PA?


Thanks!
« Last Edit: January 09, 2017, 02:08:26 PM by determined »

simplified

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2017, 11:10:09 PM »
My wife came with 100k student loan debt. She graduated with a health care related degree shortly before we got married. She paid off her loans in about 2 years and 3 months on about 80k average salary. During that time, we had a baby and she was on maternity leave for about 3 months.

She paid everything she made towards her loans. My expenses haven't increased after we got married, because we maintained the same life style that I had before we got married. I could have easily paid off the debt from my savings account, but I chose not to, in order to keep her motivated to pay it off herself.

She quit shortly after that to take care of our 2 kids and now stays home full time. So, yes, 200k is not a big deal to pay off for a PA salary in California. However, you need to stay motivated to work in the field and reign in your spending and expenses. It may be a big deal for an average American, but not for a mustachian IMO. When you start making that 100k salary, you need to continue to live like you only make 32k, until that debt gets paid off. if you do that, its not hard to see that its easy to pay it off within 3 or 4 years.







Dave1442397

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2017, 05:30:04 AM »
Can you study abroad? My neighbor's daughter went to an accredited medical school in the Caribbean, and it cost a lot less than in would have in the US. She is now an anesthesiologist at a local hospital here in NJ.

hobbes1

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2017, 06:18:38 AM »
As someone who has worked in health care for a long time, I can give you a couple of thoughts.

If you have no prior experience in health care, I strongly recommend you volunteer in an ER or some practice setting where the type of PA you are interested in becoming will work. You need to see it with your own eyes to see what sort of work environment you are thinking about. It is demanding and difficult and (from what I hear) very competitive to get a job.

With that kind of debt load, you might be better served looking into getting into the military and let them pay for it. Just a thought.

Other health care jobs that pay pretty well are ultrasonography, MRI tech, rad. tech, etc. and from what I can tell, the money is better than what you are making, the courses for certificates are shorter and the jobs can be more plentiful. Not sure about what sort of cost is associated with these fields. Again, volunteer in a hospital and see if you think you can handle it. Some people are cut out for this and some just aren't.

Good luck.

JoseS

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2017, 11:03:59 AM »
Not worth it. The debt part that is. The degree, sure go for it. PAs are in huge demand.

I hope you are not going to stop working while going to school. Both me and my wife went to college while working full time and two kids at home. The only social live was going to friends and family's houses to play board games or watch a movie and drink their beers. 3 years into it I decided that I didn't want to work on the field I was pursuing. Imagine if I had had a bunch of debt and no degree!? Having no debt allowed me to make that move without a major burden.

You also said that you went to a top school for both of your degrees. As you have experienced, top school doesn't mean top paying job. The costs that you are mentioning seem on the high side for a PA. You should look at alternatives since employers don't care where you got your degree as long as you have it and the corresponding state license. Check this out: http://www.collegecalc.org/majors/physician-assistant/

I would recommend postponing starting your course work and getting a second job instead for a year. Save that and use it to pay the firsts semesters. A lot of hospitals are hurting for CNAs and they offer their own training programs a little or no cost. Many need people that can work part time, off-shifts and weekends. That would also introduce you the health care field to see if you really like that. But since this would be for just a year, it could be anything, Uber driver on weekends, shift manager at fast food place, barista, anything that could net you a few thousand dollars to get you started.

Also, look really hard at your expenses and cut everything to the bone. Every penny that you save is one penny that you can use for the cost of the degree. YOU CAN DO IT.


Zikzin

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2017, 11:31:54 AM »
Sometimes going to school isn't the solution to make big income.  Others stay and work very hard and eventually they get rewarded and recognized. What's holding you from moving to CA? I see with journalism, you might get a better paying job in bigger cities. You might want to try that.   

If I may suggest 3 options for you:

- stick to your existing career, show up and be the rockstar everyday., show them your worth
- think about what you're great at, make side business and profit from it
- research on careers that pay high right after school, so you dont waste time in learning and establishing yourself again. Ex. Physical Therapy, Occupation Therapy, Nurse, Medical Coding, Speech Pathology - all these start at least $25/hour
- lastly,  just live to the core and save the rest, aka Early retirement extreme

$200K is already a house that you can live in, in student loans, you can never get out of it unless by paying it back,. dont let others win by you losing.

ysette9

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2017, 01:11:15 PM »
The thought of taking on even more debt to take a chance at an unknown career with the debt you already have gives me a stomach ache. My own risk tolerance would not allow me to sleep at night while pursuing that course of action. Clearly you have a different risk tolerance. If I were in your shoes I would instead spend some time and money on a good career coach to walk through your options. I suspect there is a lot you can do with the education and experience you already have. In my own career I have benefited tremendously from mentors who have mostly helped me see the opportunities which are already out there and how to get them by some strategic maneuvering. Education is an important first step but it is not the only way to unlock doors of opportunity, especially now that you already have degree(s).

katscratch

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2017, 04:10:15 PM »
A few things I'd take into account: You won't be able to work during school; make sure your program is a Masters program, not just certificate; and make sure when you're researching salary outlook that those numbers include employer-covered malpractice insurance (rather than you paying on your own). 

When I was looking, all the quality schools I looked at with excellent job placement required a minimum of 200 hours hands-on patient care.  Medical school in my state on the other hand was much easier to get into - they actually offered me early admission based on my work experience (not direct patient care with humans) and test scores. 

My current job was intended to be my 200 hours experience for PA school, but I just kept running the numbers and it didn't make as much sense to continue to PA school when I currently make a dandy wage (less than nurses by about half but plenty to live on).  It'd be TOTALLY different if I was in a different hospital - what I work in every day is only done at a handful of places and changes lives for the better, so I get a great deal of personal satisfaction from my work.  If I was in a regular hospital dealing with "normal" health issues, I would've for sure gone on to PA school regardless of the finances.  At my hospital, RNs make as much as PAs, and are hourly instead of salaried.  For reference, I would've been 35 when I would have graduated a 3-year PA school. 

I apologize if I'm saying things that you already have looked into - but when I was looking, most schools wouldn't even consider an applicant who didn't have first-hand knowledge of the day to day PA career.  Now the field is growing so fast, schools are popping up like crazy, so it may not be as competitive.  I haven't looked at this website for years now, but I found https://forums.studentdoctor.net/ to be invaluable when I was trying to decide where to go to school.


katscratch

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2017, 04:15:25 PM »
A few things I'd take into account: You won't be able to work during school; make sure your program is a Masters program, not just certificate; and make sure when you're researching salary outlook that those numbers include employer-covered malpractice insurance (rather than you paying on your own). 

When I was looking, all the quality schools I looked at with excellent job placement required a minimum of 200 hours hands-on patient care.  Medical school in my state on the other hand was much easier to get into - they actually offered me early admission based on my work experience (not direct patient care with humans) and test scores. 

My current job was intended to be my 200 hours experience for PA school, but I just kept running the numbers and given having to take 2-3 years off of work entirely, it didn't make as much sense to continue to PA school when I currently make a dandy wage (less than nurses by about half but plenty to live on).  It'd be TOTALLY different if I was in a different hospital - what I work in every day is only done at a handful of places and changes lives for the better, so I get a great deal of personal satisfaction from my work.  If I was in a regular hospital dealing with "normal" health issues, I would've for sure gone on to PA school regardless of the finances.  At my hospital, RNs make as much as PAs, and are hourly instead of salaried.  For reference, I would've been 35 when I would have graduated a 3-year PA school. 

I apologize if I'm saying things that you already have looked into - but when I was looking, most schools wouldn't even consider an applicant who didn't have first-hand knowledge of the day to day PA career.  Now the field is growing so fast, schools are popping up like crazy, so it may not be as competitive.  I haven't looked at this website for years now, but I found https://forums.studentdoctor.net/ to be invaluable when I was trying to decide where to go to school.


I'll also add - talking to the PAs I work with, they all say they are glad they didn't do it for the money.  They're essentially 4th year medical residents in their job duties and pay.  They have a strong drive, like I do, to do medical mission trips and pro bono medicine, so they love being here. The PAs I've talked to who went into the field thinking it was a good career financially are working at Minute Clinic, which I personally would hate, so there's a big range in the industry.  Definitely job shadow as much as you can, and run the numbers different ways, and if the idea of working in medicine makes your heart sing, go for it.  Otherwise, don't! :)

makinbutter

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2017, 05:16:43 PM »
My wife came with 100k student loan debt. She graduated with a health care related degree shortly before we got married. She paid off her loans in about 2 years and 3 months on about 80k average salary. During that time, we had a baby and she was on maternity leave for about 3 months.

She paid everything she made towards her loans. My expenses haven't increased after we got married, because we maintained the same life style that I had before we got married. I could have easily paid off the debt from my savings account, but I chose not to, in order to keep her motivated to pay it off herself.

She quit shortly after that to take care of our 2 kids and now stays home full time. So, yes, 200k is not a big deal to pay off for a PA salary in California. However, you need to stay motivated to work in the field and reign in your spending and expenses. It may be a big deal for an average American, but not for a mustachian IMO. When you start making that 100k salary, you need to continue to live like you only make 32k, until that debt gets paid off. if you do that, its not hard to see that its easy to pay it off within 3 or 4 years.

I'm sorry, but this bolded portion is factually wrong.  A few problems:

1) 200-250k in student loans.  That's 10-15k a year in INTEREST alone!
2) Starting salary for PAs in California will NOT be 100k, unless you're working your ass off on night shifts.  Source: my friend IS a PA in California, and starting salary was like $40/hr.  Even if you somehow manage to work nights/weekends, can you manage that for multiple years back to back without burning out, or taking vacations, or inflating your lifestyle at all??
3) Even if you "live like you only make 32k"... you'll be taking home, what, 80k on this probably-doesn't-exist-100k salary?  Sooo... you'll live on 25k a year (in your 30s in California, mind you), save 55k a year, of which 10-15k is immediately going towards student loan interest, and suddenly you're only paying back, what, 40k a year, and that's BEST case scenario?  I don't know where you're getting 3-4 year payback period - I would bet my bottom dollar this level of loan debt would take five to ten to pay back, and that's if you put your nose to the grindstone. 

Ugh - OP, I would only make this jump if you know that you'll be on your deathbed thinking "well, I effed this life thing up - should have gone into medicine."  You seem to want to have your cake (a career you love) and eat it, too (living in an area that you love).  You may have to pick one or the other - have you considered the PA profession, but working in an impoverished, under-served community?  There are gov't programs to help with loan forgiveness if you work in one of those - you'll also make a higher salary than you would in CA.

A better option if you're dead set on the PA thing - join the military and have THEM pay for PA school.  Work as a military PA for a few years.  Leave.  Move to California and resume life plan.

Pigeon

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2017, 08:28:52 PM »
My dd is looking at PA programs and most around here want at least 1000 hours of direct patient care experience, with competitive candidates having around twice that much.

From your description of what you enjoy doing, I'm having a hard time seeing how that fits with being a PA. But the debt, for me, would be too much, on top of all your existing debt. Personally, I might look at dental hygiene.

katscratch

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2017, 09:15:24 PM »
My dd is looking at PA programs and most around here want at least 1000 hours of direct patient care experience, with competitive candidates having around twice that much.


Ooooh, I actually really like this, I think that will attract more committed folks that really understand the profession.

Pigeon

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2017, 07:46:59 AM »
My dd is looking at PA programs and most around here want at least 1000 hours of direct patient care experience, with competitive candidates having around twice that much.


Ooooh, I actually really like this, I think that will attract more committed folks that really understand the profession.

I think it's just a mechanism for weeding out applicants without much real benefit.  It's not needed for nursing or med school or most other allied health fields. 

I've got some PA friends.  Getting lots of hands on direct patient care experience is most readily accomplished by first getting your CNA and then working for a year or so doing low level care in a nursing home, because that's where most CNA jobs are and those are the places that are going to hire people who obviously are only in it for the patient care hours, and then plan to move on.  It wastes at least a year of your life making minimum wage and requires a certification that will be pointless once you're in PA school.  It doesn't teach you what a PA will be doing.  They are two distinctly different jobs.

katscratch

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2017, 07:57:32 AM »
That's actually a really good point. 

I was only seeing it from my little bubble, where I took a job in the field I'd want to work in as a PA and work directly with them (and physicians).  I hadn't considered anything in the nursing path.

I definitely was surprised how much harder it was to get into PA school than medical school.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 08:02:00 AM by katscratch »

Ryland

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2017, 10:18:09 AM »
First off, you can do it! And if this aligns deeply with your happiness you should. With a focus on Mustachianism the numbers will pile drive your debt once the income start flow in.

But I'd ask, Is it possible to do the new schooling at a less expensive cost or even free? Here's some possible ways:

-Many programs will off degree trades for TA'ing or classes.
-Can you find a job in the field that will pay for all/a portion of the classes?
-Online courses?
-Apply for fellowships, scholarships or grants

Be creative. You can do it!

Here's a guy who shared how he got a free ivy league degree: http://www.madfientist.com/free-ivy-league-degree/

nexus

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2017, 12:23:50 PM »
Have you checked to see what kind of salary your current job would command in California? If your dream is to be in California, move first and educate later. Yes, it'll be even more expensive until you qualify for in-state tuition so that's why I recommend seeing if you can make more out here while keeping your current career path and maintaining low expenses.

Here's my two cents about California:
I live in the east bay on about $2,200 per month when I'm not feeding the instant gratification monkey. You can check my current expenses in my journal. I live by myself, 750 sq ft apartment that has gated parking (its an older community, but I don't care). If I want to go to SF, I can take BART and be there in about 45 minutes, or I could drive which could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2+ hours depending on the time of day. (I don't venture into SF very often).

My rent is $1125, but new tenants are paying somewhere around $1300. Get a roommate (or later a SO) and your rent will probably decrease. 2 bedrooms are upwards of $1800 in most areas, which is why I prefer to live alone. The $200/mo in savings isn't worth it for me to tolerate living with someone else. When I moved here I was making $40k. I didn't have a 50% savings rate, but my bills were paid, debt was decreasing, and savings balance was increasing.

Abe

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2017, 09:37:54 PM »

will have $200k -$250k in student loan debt.

 (I have had a very hard time in the corporate world as a less structured person who does better with working with empathy and people, abstract creative ideas (writing, music, dance) and science (health, biochemistry etc) that don't require sitting at a desk all day...

 Here are some things I want:
- I want to have a family (current bf is in finance, but I don't want him to be responsible for my debts if we do get married)
- I want to travel
- I want to live in California
- To live to live and not to work (to actually enjoy what I do)

A few things...
Salary of $100k starting is at the high end, and not in a popular place like California.
PA work is demanding, physically and emotionally. It usually does not involve a lot of abstract thinking or science, really. It does require a lot of empathy. Much of it is desk work (as is a lot of medicine now). It is very structured and fairly hierarchical like a corporate job. Please further investigate the daily activities of a PA who works in a field of your interest.

frugalfelicia

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2017, 04:43:33 AM »
As someone who has flip-flopped through degrees and jobs and ended up with a lot of student debt doing so... looking back, it may have made more sense for me to just stick with the first thing instead of continually looking for a 'career' that would make me richer/happier.

determined

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2017, 11:23:49 AM »
Thanks for all your replies. I am taking a break from my prereqs this semester. Your comments and thoughts have shed some light on the debt I would accrue. I really do want financial freedom. I am a little depressed not having this set path now. Part of the reason why my current career path is not fun to me anymore is because it's so uncertain...I don't think I function so well on that path these days. I end up doing everything else...working (part-time editor and I driver Uber bc it allowed me the space to take classes), going for a run, working out, doing yoga at home, cooking, going grocery shopping, seeing the bf who I will likely breakup with soon, and just feeling meh. I was enjoying the fact that I knew exactly what I needed to do to become a PA because the structure is already set up. I'm kind of lost now and feeling a bit confused about my path. I'm saving for a writing course in a couple months but as much as I keep trying to get myself to be creative and go back to my old way of operating...I'm having a hard time filling fulfilled from the thought of that path.

I want to have a career where I have the freedom of finances and time to travel to different countries and surf/paddleboard/play volleyball on the beach.  I started thinking more about lifestyle than "fulfilling career" because I believe our interests and careers are largely dictated by our upbringing and social conditioning. I believe if you were surrounded by people in the medical field...you're a lot more likely to follow a career path that fits that, surrounded by creative people who encouraged that in you...those are the skills you'll nurture and become. As an adult we have the opportunity to deprogram ourselves and go towards a path that makes more sense for our personal goals and fulfillment based on that next stage in life. This is where I'm stuck. I wish I had known this sooner before I went to grad school down a path that I'm feeling "meh" about so that I could just choose a path that would give me the lifestyle freedom. I've thought about just branching out as an entrepreneur in women's health, holistic approaches etc. Maybe I'll use this year to learn and start planting the seeds for that business. (My parents are both entrepreneurs making very little right now and really bad with money...go figure).

I wonder if part of uncertainty is because of the city I live in. It is not very encouraging for creativity outside of visual artists which is why LA or even Oakland seem like a more creative place to be for me as someone with a writing (creative and journalism) and performance background. I have never wanted to be a starving artist though. I keep finding myself here though. Anyway. That's enough for now. Thanks for hearing my ramblings Mustachians!

determined

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #25 on: January 22, 2017, 11:27:25 AM »
It's also really dark and gray here around this time of year so could just be S.A.D. kicking in. Time to go for a run.

katscratch

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #26 on: January 22, 2017, 02:25:16 PM »
It's also really dark and gray here around this time of year so could just be S.A.D. kicking in. Time to go for a run.

Here too, and it's happened enough years that I finally remember this terribly strong feeling of disenchantment with life is largely due to a lack of sunshine.

I do think it's wise of you not to pursue any health career if you're not ridiculously passionate about it.  It's very obvious which of my coworkers are in the field for job stability vs. passion.  And there isn't a lot of room for creativity.... thinking on the fly in critical care situations, sure, but even then within strict guidelines that are often dictated by policy or medicare reimbursement, etc.

I wasn't intending my job now to be my job for more than a year -- but knowing that I'll be financially independent around the same time as I would have going on to PA school? That is worth dealing with things that bug me now and then.  I've found being able to focus on my finances and reading blogs like MMM and Frugalwoods helps to keep me focused on the end goal and less on my day to day.

Thanks for the update!

Tyson

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2017, 02:40:44 PM »
Maybe move to Colorado instead of Cali.  It's bright and sunny here, as it is most days, even in winter.  Cheaper COL, too.

mozar

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2017, 04:28:52 PM »
I recommend the book So Good They Can't Ignore You. It's about how following your passion is a myth and he breaks it down in an interesting way. Here is a summary: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/08/22/art-of-manliness-podcast-78-the-myth-of-following-your-passion/

determined

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #29 on: January 22, 2017, 10:18:58 PM »
I love this forum. You guys are amazingly helpful. Thanks so much. I really am taking all of your points into consideration and appreciate you sharing your experiences. I'm glad to know I'm not crazy for being in this position and that many of you have been in that predicament also. Does Colorado have beaches?? Lol.

I'm listening to the podcast now and will check out the book. Thanks so much!

Laura33

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #30 on: January 23, 2017, 07:36:43 AM »
Thanks for all your replies. I am taking a break from my prereqs this semester. Your comments and thoughts have shed some light on the debt I would accrue. I really do want financial freedom. I am a little depressed not having this set path now. Part of the reason why my current career path is not fun to me anymore is because it's so uncertain...I don't think I function so well on that path these days. I end up doing everything else...working (part-time editor and I driver Uber bc it allowed me the space to take classes), going for a run, working out, doing yoga at home, cooking, going grocery shopping, seeing the bf who I will likely breakup with soon, and just feeling meh. I was enjoying the fact that I knew exactly what I needed to do to become a PA because the structure is already set up. I'm kind of lost now and feeling a bit confused about my path. I'm saving for a writing course in a couple months but as much as I keep trying to get myself to be creative and go back to my old way of operating...I'm having a hard time filling fulfilled from the thought of that path.

I want to have a career where I have the freedom of finances and time to travel to different countries and surf/paddleboard/play volleyball on the beach.  I started thinking more about lifestyle than "fulfilling career" because I believe our interests and careers are largely dictated by our upbringing and social conditioning. I believe if you were surrounded by people in the medical field...you're a lot more likely to follow a career path that fits that, surrounded by creative people who encouraged that in you...those are the skills you'll nurture and become. As an adult we have the opportunity to deprogram ourselves and go towards a path that makes more sense for our personal goals and fulfillment based on that next stage in life. This is where I'm stuck. I wish I had known this sooner before I went to grad school down a path that I'm feeling "meh" about so that I could just choose a path that would give me the lifestyle freedom. I've thought about just branching out as an entrepreneur in women's health, holistic approaches etc. Maybe I'll use this year to learn and start planting the seeds for that business. (My parents are both entrepreneurs making very little right now and really bad with money...go figure).

I wonder if part of uncertainty is because of the city I live in. It is not very encouraging for creativity outside of visual artists which is why LA or even Oakland seem like a more creative place to be for me as someone with a writing (creative and journalism) and performance background. I have never wanted to be a starving artist though. I keep finding myself here though. Anyway. That's enough for now. Thanks for hearing my ramblings Mustachians!

I mean this in the nicest possible way, really:  you are asking way, way too much of a job -- especially at the beginning of your career.  The career that will allow you to pay off $150K in student loan debts while traveling the world and playing volleyball on the beach does. not. exist.  Maybe if you hit it big as an actress, sure, but that's not you.  The people you see now who have good lifestyles and financial freedom got there after many years of hard work and sacrifice.

Your history and your writeup suggest that you still don't really know what you want to do: you spent a lot of money to follow one path; that path wasn't fulfilling and didn't pay enough; your solution was to spend even more money to follow another path; that also didn't sufficiently tick both boxes; and now you are proposing to do exactly the same thing again.  I don't get the sense that you actually have any interest in being a PA -- you want to write and be creative and entrepreneurial.  But you are focusing on this path, at a cost of another $100K in loans, simply because it offers better pay.  But based on your history and your interests described above, I guarantee you will find that job stifling and insufficiently creative once you are in it.  And then what? 

The best thing you can do now is to stop throwing money at your problems until you figure out what you actually want to do and can afford -- not running away from what you're unhappy with now; not blindly running toward some vision of being paid six figures to be creative; but what real, actual job that pays your bills can you tolerate for a few years?  Please, please, see a career counselor before you spend a penny on any more classes.

I also strongly suspect that you will find that jobs that pay your bills do not involve the kind of creativity and flexibility you want.  Almost no one (especially creative types) gets all of their needs met by their job -- you are asking too much, especially at this point in your career.  Look at it as a job, a way to pay the bills and pay down the loans.  Get your creative needs -- writing, entrepreneurial hustles -- met in your spare time.

Honestly, my advice would be different if you were 18 -- if you are truly drawn to the creative and entrepreneurial, at that point I would have encouraged you to follow that spirit and be as creative as you want, and to arrange your budget around what that kind of work pays.  But you can't afford that luxury when you are six figures in the red.  So focus your next few years on a day job that allows you to pay off your debt as quickly as possible.  Be creative and entrepreneurial as a side hustle.  Once the loans are gone, you can afford to take a harder look at whether you can support yourself solely with your creative/entrepreneurial endeavors -- added bonus that, if you are keeping your expenses low and working on your side hustle over the next few years, once the loans are gone you might be at a point where you can afford to quit your day job and support yourself solely on that income.

Tyson

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #31 on: January 23, 2017, 09:37:08 AM »
I love this forum. You guys are amazingly helpful. Thanks so much. I really am taking all of your points into consideration and appreciate you sharing your experiences. I'm glad to know I'm not crazy for being in this position and that many of you have been in that predicament also. Does Colorado have beaches?? Lol.

I'm listening to the podcast now and will check out the book. Thanks so much!

No beaches.  But lots of mountains and sunshine.  :) Bright sunshine again, today...

MrsPete

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #32 on: January 23, 2017, 09:49:08 AM »
As someone who has flip-flopped through degrees and jobs and ended up with a lot of student debt doing so... looking back, it may have made more sense for me to just stick with the first thing instead of continually looking for a 'career' that would make me richer/happier.
Yeah, society has really done a disservice to today's young people.  They've been sold on the idea that their jobs will be wonderful, fulfilling, that they'll wake up on Saturday and be sad that they don't have work.  They've been fed lines like "Follow your dreams" and "Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life." 

In reality, work is work.  You may like, have the potential to enjoy, and be good at many jobs ... but every one of them will be work.  You will dislike some aspect of that work. 

I suspect you're not alone:  If you were to pick something and stick with it, you'd probably be better off in the long run.

Tyson

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #33 on: January 23, 2017, 09:55:20 AM »
I agree!  Work is work, even when you enjoy it.  In fact, I would recommend people not "follow their passion" with regard to work.  Why?  Because if you love something, guess what's a great way to turn that love into drudgery?  Make it your work.....

MrsPete

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #34 on: January 23, 2017, 09:56:14 AM »
I mean this in the nicest possible way, really:  you are asking way, way too much of a job -- especially at the beginning of your career.  The career that will allow you to pay off $150K in student loan debts while traveling the world and playing volleyball on the beach does. not. exist.  Maybe if you hit it big as an actress, sure, but that's not you.  The people you see now who have good lifestyles and financial freedom got there after many years of hard work and sacrifice.

Your history and your writeup suggest that you still don't really know what you want to do: you spent a lot of money to follow one path; that path wasn't fulfilling and didn't pay enough; your solution was to spend even more money to follow another path; that also didn't sufficiently tick both boxes; and now you are proposing to do exactly the same thing again.  I don't get the sense that you actually have any interest in being a PA -- you want to write and be creative and entrepreneurial.  But you are focusing on this path, at a cost of another $100K in loans, simply because it offers better pay.  But based on your history and your interests described above, I guarantee you will find that job stifling and insufficiently creative once you are in it.  And then what? 

The best thing you can do now is to stop throwing money at your problems until you figure out what you actually want to do and can afford -- not running away from what you're unhappy with now; not blindly running toward some vision of being paid six figures to be creative; but what real, actual job that pays your bills can you tolerate for a few years?  Please, please, see a career counselor before you spend a penny on any more classes.

I also strongly suspect that you will find that jobs that pay your bills do not involve the kind of creativity and flexibility you want.  Almost no one (especially creative types) gets all of their needs met by their job -- you are asking too much, especially at this point in your career.  Look at it as a job, a way to pay the bills and pay down the loans.  Get your creative needs -- writing, entrepreneurial hustles -- met in your spare time.

Honestly, my advice would be different if you were 18 -- if you are truly drawn to the creative and entrepreneurial, at that point I would have encouraged you to follow that spirit and be as creative as you want, and to arrange your budget around what that kind of work pays.  But you can't afford that luxury when you are six figures in the red.  So focus your next few years on a day job that allows you to pay off your debt as quickly as possible.  Be creative and entrepreneurial as a side hustle.  Once the loans are gone, you can afford to take a harder look at whether you can support yourself solely with your creative/entrepreneurial endeavors -- added bonus that, if you are keeping your expenses low and working on your side hustle over the next few years, once the loans are gone you might be at a point where you can afford to quit your day job and support yourself solely on that income.
Yep.  Good advice. 

Similar thoughts: 

- You do seem to be sold on the lie of "I finished college, so why don't I have a beautiful life yet?"  You've borrowed money, so you're not going to have that travel-and-beach-volleyball thing for years.  Once your loan is paid back, then you can start saving and working towards having that lifestyle ... but it won't be tomorrow.  You've gotta pay your dues. 

- Nursing is a more versatile job than PA -- and easier to get.  My daughter who's a nurse is making a very fair salary for someone who's only been out of college a matter of months, and although she works VERY HARD every day, she has a great work-life balance:  She works three 12-hour shifts each week.  She also has the option of picking up extra shifts any time she wants, which is something you might need to do until this debt is paid off. 

- Have you considered starting small?  You could have a CNA license a month from now, and you could do home health on the weekends or could work part-time in a hospital or nursing home.  This would give you a feel for what the medical field is like -- of course, you wouldn't want to stay a CNA, but it would be a big leg-up if you opt to begin coursework.

katscratch

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Re: ~$200 K student loan debt if I pursue a new career path. Worth it?
« Reply #35 on: January 23, 2017, 10:14:00 AM »
I agree!  Work is work, even when you enjoy it.  In fact, I would recommend people not "follow their passion" with regard to work.  Why?  Because if you love something, guess what's a great way to turn that love into drudgery?  Make it your work.....
I  like this and mozar's book recommendation earlier.  Most of my friends from childhood think it's crazy I work in healthcare because it's quite the opposite of my 'passions' and where I thought I would be career-wise -- but I do the things I love on my time without deadlines, and have a job that is more satisfying than just a paycheck.  I love working with patients (I think that drive is important in healthcare anyway), but I will have NO problem walking away once I'm FI.  Do you think the job is a good fit for you vs. do you think you are a good fit for the job?

A friend of mine has done a lot of research in education and college culture over the past few years and it always fascinates me to hear her take on the privilege of choosing a job - of having that choice - and then on top of that wanting a job to fulfill us emotionally.  She uses more emphatic language in her discussion, though ;)