Major Change


After some vary careful consideration, both financially, and for the sake of my time. I’m not getting any younger… Yeah, yeah. I changed my major. I was pursuing a 5 year Bachelors to Masters in Social work… however, the school of social work for my undergraduate degree is drastically more expensive than the undergrad program in Criminal Justice which I can use to get into the legal field while I, either, work on my Masters in Social Work full time at another less expensive university and get my certification. (Since once you have your MSW and you are certified to counsel and what not, it doesn’t matter what your undergrad degree is in.) — or while I work on my JD. (Yes, as in, go to law school.)

The reality is that no student who is looking at making a starting wage of less than $40,000/year should leave any institution owing $60,000 in student loans for an undergraduate degree. (That’s AFTER tuition remission for working at the University in which you attend school as an employee!!!!) It just isn’t logical. Makes zero sense. The financial future of any undergrad should be strongly considered before financing out the wazoo with both the government and private loans.

I also, won’t go into how very poorly advised I was by my previous advisor… incorrectly advised.

I had to consider two things very strongly.

  1. Can I handle the undergraduate practicum hours requirement while working full time and having two children and no second person or income in the household at this juncture? (And… can I afford the additional student loans it would take to cover a nanny three nights a week per semester, every other week?) Short answer: No.
  2. Can I stomach the additional three terms that the poor advising set me back and take the Summers off and let time go by…wasted? Also: No.

 

After sitting down with my new advisor and doing some field research. I will be done in two semesters (and two Summer classes) with my Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice  – I will then immediately start looking for work in case management, courtroom reporting, and/or get my paralegal cert and apply for the Master of Social Work at another local university where I qualify for a multitude of scholarships and grants that I presently don’t qualify for as an employee of the University that I attend.

Ok, so yeah, I just regurgitated my entire inner monologue for my “plan”…but I really think that this information is highly beneficial to those who are looking at the daunting task of attempting to finance their education, whether adult education, or a student fresh out of high school who is faced with financing their own education and not having it paid for. Words from the wise, never leave an undergraduate university owing more, including the built up interest, than you will make in an entry level job that your undergraduate degree qualifies you for. Ever. And don’t do that “Well, I have a friend who has a degree in Art History who got a job making $60,000 a year because he was really good at (insert obscure skill here).” Stop that. Stop that right now. Know what you are getting yourself into in advance. I did, but then this came along as an opportunity that made significantly more financial sense and it will allow me peace of mind in not worrying who will watch my children on the nights and weekends when I have to do to practicum hours or go to lecture. This works. The flip side of this is that you must commit to yourself that you are going onward for post-secondary education with degrees that are this specific and have more of a niche that you have to get into through a backdoor. You need a Masters in those cases. So do it. But don’t be stupid about it like I was and throw yourself all in and make sure your advisor is competent. Meet with both a financial advisor and an academic advisor. Never borrow your life away – the “now” for the “later”.

 

Now… to have my speech ready for the negative Nancy’s — but those will exist no matter what you say you’re going to do. (I get it– if I were pursuing something like neurosurgeon, while working full time, going to school full time, and raising two kids… then I can see why the brows would get raised.)

The ex-boyfriend: “I highly advise against it. There’s a bloat in the economy of lawyers…(sends me an article backing up his info prompting crushing my dream of being a victim’s advocate J.D.) Thanks for the support, DEAR!

The family (and pretty much the whole damned world): “Social work, you know you’re going to be broke right? You aren’t going to make any money…” Yep, no shit, Pal. People who get into social work KNOW they aren’t going into it for the money, they go into it knowing people need people and our country needs people who are willing to help others navigate tragedy, tough times, you name it. They don’t go into it thinking “Wow… I think the first thing I’ll buy is that sweet boat… maybe some jet skis. Oh oh! And that baby Grand piano can go over there in the corner of the seven bedroom mansion I intend to move into.” ….Get original, Folks.

The classmates: “Alyssa, that’s ridiculous, stick with Social Work, you’re going to come out of criminal justice hating people, thinking like a cop, and not having a job.” Wow, now you’re clairvoyant. I didn’t know social workers were also trained to be psychics.

 

’til next time,

-Alyssa

Criminal Justice Major Class of 2015. 

….and then…. MSW? JD? 😉

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