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MB82x

Going Back To School, lots of questions - need help!

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After 10+ years of working in less than satisfactory jobs, I finally cracked and decided to go back to school.

 

I am taking College Algebra and College Writing at the local community college this summer (and quite pleased with my grades so far... they all range from 98 to 102!), and despite feeling like I have very little free time, I decided to up my course load to FIVE courses this fall, although they seem a little less time intensive each...)

 

So far, due to the last minute nature of my decision - I have not applied for financial aid in any form (loans, grants, whatever...), and paid out of pocket (a bit to $3000 so far) for tuition. Obviously, this isn't something I plan to make a habit... especially since taking more classes not only costs more, but it lowers my availability and flexibility at work, and thus could lower my paycheck if I find myself working less.

 

Some factoids:

 

I am single, 30 years old, and make roughly 30,000 a year... my rent expense is $650/mo, travel expense is $70/mo... I live in Massachusetts

 

I'm a bit concerned my availability change will result in my hours being cut at work... which would be immensely helpful with school, but it would make things very difficult financially.

 

I'd like to keep up a five course/semester pace, so I can achieve my goals (which are a work in progress, lol) in a reasonable time. I don't, for instance, want to spend 7 years on a bachelor's degree, especially when I'm already 30 years old.

 

My availability at work this coming fall consists of two shifts I normally work, one I sometimes work, and two where I am probably not needed at all. On the flip side, I am sacrificing two shifts where my presence is currently irreplaceable as we lack staffing. So that's a bit in flux...

 

Anyway - I'd like any advice, tips, know-how... whatever options are available to me... to work my way through college over the next few years...

 

I'm guessing my first step should be to do the FAFSA and hit up the school's financial aid office, but beyond that I don't know what else to do.

 

Thanks for reading and (hopefully) replying!

Edited by MB82x

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Five classes is a lot! Even if all of the classes are easy, it would be the equivalent work load of taking three summer school classes at the same time. If you think you can keep up your momentum and kick it up a notch for the fall, then go for it. But be careful that you don't burn out, especially since you are having to juggle a work schedule.

 

It doesn't sound like you are too attached to your job, so if your hours are cut there, I hope you don't feel like your options are limited. I got through school by waiting tables on the weekend (a guaranteed $300/week), and also worked a few office and campus jobs which were so much more accommodating to my schedule. Or if you're looking outside of school, there are employers out there who will support your goals and let you come in for 1 or 2 hours a day.

 

I recommend checking out your college's career center or job website. One of the advantages of school is that you get this huge network of possibilities at your fingertips.

 

Also a couple of cautions:

1) Not all community colleges will accept federal aid.

2) Student loan interest is tax deductible. So if you decide to borrow money to help you cover tuition, you will get tax benefits.

3) Make sure all of the classes you are taking will transfer to the school and program that you intend to graduate from. Your school ought to have credit transfer plans already laid out. For example, taking microbiology at the community college might not fulfill the microbiology requirement at the university.

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Does the school that you attend accept AP, CLEP, or DANTEs? I ask only to say if so, it could shorten your time to completion as well as lower your costs as well.

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After you complete your 2012-2013, ask your Financial Aid Office if they are a "header" school. That means that your summer classes would be considered part of the 12-13 academic year and you may be eligible for financial aid, even tho you've already paid for them. Be aware that some schools do not award aid for pre-college level coursework like Math 098. Pre English 098, etc.

 

If you plan on transferring to a 4 yr school, MAKE SURE the classes you are choosing will TRANSFER to that school. Some schools offer 'transfer modules'. That's an agreement that says the following classes at the Community College transfer to The State University You Want to Attend. The advising office at the community college and the state university can guide you.

 

5 classes per semester, even at the community college level is a LOT. If this is considered an overload at your school, you may need academic approval and it will cost you much more.

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Thanks for the replies!

 

As for the school specific questions, I will have to reply about those later since I'm at work right now, and only have a few minutes of break... Regardless, the school is Bunker Hill Community College.

 

I guess the 5 course selection is because I want to get ahead on credits... Most of my up coming courses are just general education ones, as I haven't really decided on a path yet. I figure getting the gen. ed. stuff done is better than sitting around doing nothing while undecided...

 

Is 5 courses really that much? I thought it was a pretty average amount to take...

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I am going back to school after graduating in 1993 with a BA in social work. I am in an intensive weekend program for eight semesters. I start next month. The first semester is two three hour credits and a one hour seminar. It is geared for full time employed social workers. It is a very unique program. My cousin did this program and I know a few others as well.

 

I received a partial scholarship but will still need student loans and did qualify.

 

Subsequent semesters will be between six and nine credits; all part time.

 

The local community colleges in my area have specific transfer guides approved through the State of Ohio. It guarantees that if you follow the guides your credits will be accepted at selected universities. I would see if you have something like this as it will save you disappointment and cash.

 

Also visit this website for textbooks:

 

http://www.half.ebay.com/textbooks

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