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  1. #1
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    May 2006
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    Changing careers and going back to school

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    Some of you may remember my career woes. In a nutshell, I graduated from a liberal arts college with a BA in Sociology back when I was 22. I went into retail management with the intent of getting some good experience before going back to school to get my MBA. 6 years later, I applied to 4 top 20 MBA programs and got wait-listed at all of them stating my lack of proven math abilities.

    About a year or so after that, I quit my job in retail, moved to FL and lived in the apartment over my parent's garage while I decided what to do with my life. I started taking math classes figuring that I'd end up applying for the MBA again. I took accounting (why??), calculus and a chem course (in case I went with med school). It turned out that I liked calculus and then physics and eventually I ended up getting a BS in Electrical Engineering and then an MSEE. I thought it was a good career choice that would keep me challenged and gainfully employeed. It turns out that I was right...but I'd forgotten to figure in my own personal desires/tastes into the equation.

    It's now 8 years after graduation and I'm realizing that this was my second bad career choice. In addition, I now have NO interest in that MBA. I do have an interest in vet school. There is a vet school about 90 minutes from me. To get into the program, I'll need about 2 years worth of undergrad classes that I never took (like organic chem and biochemistry) if I take them part time and keep working. In addition, I'll need some vet experience (besides delivering goat babies!) that I should be able to get in the next two years as well.

    Then I'd apply to school and if I get in...THEN I'd quit my job. I'd have to as the course load is about as grueling as my engineering degree was. We'd be living on one salary, but with a few cut backs, we should be able to swing it financially.

    So...I'm not really sure what my purpose in posting here is...maybe for validation? Maybe for commisuration? Maybe so you all can tell me that I'm flat out nuts to consider a third career at the age of 43?

    When I did this at 30, I was unattached, I had no debt, I did not own a home...it was easy to take the plunge. Now, I've got a husband, a mortgage and it's no longer just my life I'm playing with here... Luckily, we are debt free outside my husband's student loans.

    Oh yeah, and student loans. That's not gonna be pretty. Who wants to take on 100K in student loans in their late 40's?

    I feel like I don't have anyone in real life that I can bounce ideas off. My husband obviously has a vested interest in this and most of my friends are settled with kids and can't even comprehend that I could be so disatisfied with my career at 42 and that it would matter enough to me to undertake something like this. I also can't speak about this to anyone that I work with for fear of endangering my current position which I do NOT want to lose until we are ready!

    And then...what if I do all this and then I don't get in? Then I'll be 2 years further down the road with no new prospects in a career that I still dislike.

    OK, I'm stopping here or I could ramble on this all day. Comments welcome...
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  2. #2
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    May 2008
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    northern Virginia
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    Talk to some vets. Also maybe others in the animal-care field, such as non-vets working in shelters. You might get ideas from them regarding different career paths, education options, etc.

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Western Massachusetts
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    Who wants to take on 100K in student loans in their late 40's?
    Did it in my 40's. Can't say I like(d) it but it was one of the best things I did in leaving a job I'd held for 10 years to go into an entirely different field.

    I also agree with ny biker's advice about talking to people in the field. Did you speak with the people at the vet school or just get the course info online? If you haven't spoken to them personally, I think making an appointment to discuss your interests with them might also be a good idea.
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  4. #4
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    Nov 2005
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    Wow, I'm so proud of you for voicing your dreams. That's a huge thing!

    Is $100k in student loan debt inevitable? You say you can live on one salary--is that just living expenses? How much is the vet school tuition and expenses? I assume you are in-state and this is a state university. If not, go with a state school. Private schools are unnecessary and overpriced IMO.

    In the short term, I would suggest talking to a counselor to help you figure out why you are unsatisfied with your current job. If you don't do that, you could run into the same problem even in a completely different field. A counselor would also help you explore what you want to do (what will make you happy) and options to pursue your dreams.

    Best wishes to you, and feel free to keep us posted if you like.

    (BTW, I'm satisfied with my job. I definitely went into the right field for me, but I'm rather dissatisfied with my life in alot of ways and I'm trying to figure out how to get happier. What happened to those dreams I had? Why am I not living in Paris like I always thought I would? A counselor really helped me a few years ago, and I'm probably overdue to start that up again).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Denver
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    Funny, I read this as I'm exploring some local schools here to finish a degree I started and then quit.

    My situation is different, though, as a different degree would just offer me wider (and better-paying) options within the same company, and I could (hopefully) finish without leaving my current job.

    A friend of mine is toying with the idea of going into vet school after a few years of teaching music. She's coming up with the same road blocks you are. I second the idea (to you and her) of talking with someone in the field before jumping all the way into this - there might be options you aren't familiar with that will cut some of the time and/or money off to get you into the job quicker, or alternate jobs that you aren't aware of yet that share the same interests.

    Good luck!!

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  6. #6
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    Sep 2008
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    I can quote Mark Twain here:

    ‎"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream."

    having said that, I have great concern for the debt burden on your generation..
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  7. #7
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    Oct 2005
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    If you have not worked in a vet clinic I would suggest you secure a job in a clinic. Working in a clinic will allow you see exactly what is involved. Second, securing a job in a vet clinic will also give you some practical hands on experience which will help you if you decide to go vet school.

    What about a vet tech degree coupled with your chemistry courses? Just tossing out some ideas not sure if they are helpful or not.
    Marcie

  8. #8
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    May 2006
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    Hillsboro, OR
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    I have talked to a couple of people in the field, one advisor at the school I'd apply to, and my SIL who did all the prereq work (for her it was a LOT) and the first year of vet school before quitting. She had no idea what she was getting into and found out that while she loves animals, some of the stuff was just too hard to take. I do have an advantage over her now that we've dealt with goats and chickens for the past 2 years for which there are no real vets to see (plus I'm a life long dog/cat owner, too). I also have almost all the science classes already as I had to take many of the same requirements for my engineering degree. In fact, if I was willing to go full time, I could have the prereqs done in less than a year. That doesn't really work for me though because I still need some vet experience so a 2 year time-frame makes more sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by tulip View Post
    Wow, I'm so proud of you for voicing your dreams. That's a huge thing!

    Is $100k in student loan debt inevitable? You say you can live on one salary--is that just living expenses? How much is the vet school tuition and expenses? I assume you are in-state and this is a state university. If not, go with a state school. Private schools are unnecessary and overpriced IMO.

    In the short term, I would suggest talking to a counselor to help you figure out why you are unsatisfied with your current job. If you don't do that, you could run into the same problem even in a completely different field. A counselor would also help you explore what you want to do (what will make you happy) and options to pursue your dreams.

    Best wishes to you, and feel free to keep us posted if you like.

    (BTW, I'm satisfied with my job. I definitely went into the right field for me, but I'm rather dissatisfied with my life in alot of ways and I'm trying to figure out how to get happier. What happened to those dreams I had? Why am I not living in Paris like I always thought I would? A counselor really helped me a few years ago, and I'm probably overdue to start that up again).
    Tulip - I think that's why I'm so disatisfied with my job, I'm super happy with the rest of my life and the job feels just miserable in comparison. I have not spoken to a career counselor in 20 years. I probably should. It never occurred to me that they could help me pinpoint the issues with my current job but I am pretty certain I know what it is and I have absolutely no interest in fixing it - I made the dead wrong choice and it's high time I faced up to it. I've done a TON of thinking about this in the past few years.

    I have no student loans from my first three degrees, so that's a plus. We can afford to pay cash for all the prerequisites and therefore only need loans for the vet school itself. And honestly, I could cash out some investments and pay for it outright (the advantage to already having a career!), so we have options. Living on one salary would mean covering all of our living expenses, but not tuition or books. And yes, in state. Not only is it cheaper, but it's MUCH easier to get into vet school if you stay in your own state. Resident tuition is currently at 19.5K per year for the DVM program. I expect that it will go up before I apply based on current state funding deficits. OSU is about 90 minutes away, so I'd proabably commute and avoid having to pay for room and board. So 100K is an estimate....

    Quote Originally Posted by Biciclista View Post
    I can quote Mark Twain here:

    ‎"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream."

    having said that, I have great concern for the debt burden on your generation..
    That Mark Twain is one smart man, isn't he? That's pretty much how I have always wanted to live my life. It's time I start applying it to my career as well.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Well, I say "do it," after talking with people in the field. Make an informed decision. I also second going to a career counselor. That's a master's level clinician who specializes in career issues. While I don't want to do that, it's an interesting field.
    I really thought I was ready to stay at home and play when I quit teaching. After all of those years of being the only working mother among my friends, I was itching to do nothing. Well, even endless time to ride didn't pan out for me. I thought about a lot of things. Most of them were quasi-medically related, but I suck at science and math and I didn't want to have to take 2 years of undergrad courses as a prerequisite. The decision to enter clinical mental health counseling awoke some things that I had thought about doing while in college, but was deterred by stupid advice and other stuff. I believe Nancielle went to the same school and program that I will graduate from in May. I am 57, so by the time I work for 2 years and qualify for my license, I will be almost 60. There have been people (2 men) who have entered my program in their 70's.
    I waited along time to do something *I* wanted to do, as we can comfortably afford to live on one income now. But, since I go to a private college, I did take out loans. I really didn't need to, however, DH was just being kind of nervous when I applied to school, so we had the money and it will be paid off very quickly with the bonuses DH gets.
    Tulip, I generally agree with your advice about going to a state university. However, for the first time in my life, I didn't take my own advice. I compared the program at U Mass Boston to the program I am in at Lesley. There was just no comparison. I also looked at employment stats for grads and that was also telling. Plus, it's just easier for me to get there and that was a major concern for me.
    Being a vet is hard and it's extremely competitive to get into vet school. The daughter of one of my friends in AZ is finishing her second vet internship and applying for residency now. She was one of those "perfect" students and she still didn't get in to all of the schools she applied to.
    But, I still say, it's not stupid to consider a career change again. Investigate lots of things.
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  10. #10
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    Oct 2005
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    GLC1968 be sure you talk to the vet school you will be applying to and make sure your previous course work will be valid. I know when I gave some thought to vet school years ago I found out all my course work for my degree in Biology was not valid as they only honored course work taken within the past ten years.
    Marcie

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
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    Congrats. for seriously considering changing careers and maybe going back to school.

    Would be useful to work in a vet clinic first. Obviously this would be a radical pay cut or take on such a job, part-time..if possible. Or have present job part-time and vet clinic job part-time.

    I haven't truly switched jobs but have had to relocate to another province for a job at this stage in life --moving on to 52 soon. It's not the best situation but not the worst either.

    It's abit strange to hear people around my age talk about early retirement. I can't consider it.
    Last edited by shootingstar; 01-12-2011 at 03:49 PM.
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  12. #12
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    May 2006
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    Hillsboro, OR
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    Quote Originally Posted by makbike View Post
    If you have not worked in a vet clinic I would suggest you secure a job in a clinic. Working in a clinic will allow you see exactly what is involved. Second, securing a job in a vet clinic will also give you some practical hands on experience which will help you if you decide to go vet school.

    What about a vet tech degree coupled with your chemistry courses? Just tossing out some ideas not sure if they are helpful or not.
    Yep, clinic is first on my list. My goal will be large animal medicine, so I'm hoping to get some exposure to a large animal vet (we have quite a few in our area). I will also see if I can volunteer at the zoo which is also pretty close to where I work now.

    I know I would not be satisfied with vet tech. I just know it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Crankin View Post
    Well, I say "do it," after talking with people in the field. Make an informed decision. I also second going to a career counselor. That's a master's level clinician who specializes in career issues. While I don't want to do that, it's an interesting field.
    I really thought I was ready to stay at home and play when I quit teaching. After all of those years of being the only working mother among my friends, I was itching to do nothing. Well, even endless time to ride didn't pan out for me. I thought about a lot of things. Most of them were quasi-medically related, but I suck at science and math and I didn't want to have to take 2 years of undergrad courses as a prerequisite. The decision to enter clinical mental health counseling awoke some things that I had thought about doing while in college, but was deterred by stupid advice and other stuff. I believe Nancielle went to the same school and program that I will graduate from in May. I am 57, so by the time I work for 2 years and qualify for my license, I will be almost 60. There have been people (2 men) who have entered my program in their 70's.
    I waited along time to do something *I* wanted to do, as we can comfortably afford to live on one income now. But, since I go to a private college, I did take out loans. I really didn't need to, however, DH was just being kind of nervous when I applied to school, so we had the money and it will be paid off very quickly with the bonuses DH gets.
    Tulip, I generally agree with your advice about going to a state university. However, for the first time in my life, I didn't take my own advice. I compared the program at U Mass Boston to the program I am in at Lesley. There was just no comparison. I also looked at employment stats for grads and that was also telling. Plus, it's just easier for me to get there and that was a major concern for me.
    Being a vet is hard and it's extremely competitive to get into vet school. The daughter of one of my friends in AZ is finishing her second vet internship and applying for residency now. She was one of those "perfect" students and she still didn't get in to all of the schools she applied to.
    But, I still say, it's not stupid to consider a career change again. Investigate lots of things.
    I don't know why I didn't think of you as I was putting this idea together. You obviously have experience with all this! My goal is to be a practicing DVM by the time I'm 50. I know to younger people, that seems unreal...but it's only 7 years. I'm sure the time will fly. I know that if I don't give it a shot, I'll regret it. I already do. This is the fourth time that I've considered this in my life. 4 times. You'd think I'd have taken my own dreams a little more seriously sooner than that, wouldn't you?

    I'm not that worried about getting in to the school. I probably should be, but I've got so much going for me (not to toot my own horn) that I really don't think it'll be a problem. I can obviously do the work as evidenced by my BSEE and MSEE (both of which I had almost straight A's under a heavy course-load), I'm obviously mature, I have an extremely varied background and excellent communication skills, I will have great experience including owning my own small ruminants, and I interview extremely well. They'd be fools not to accept me!
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by makbike View Post
    GLC1968 be sure you talk to the vet school you will be applying to and make sure your previous course work will be valid. I know when I gave some thought to vet school years ago I found out all my course work for my degree in Biology was not valid as they only honored course work taken within the past ten years.
    I actually checked already because I was worried about my original biology that I took 20 years ago. They said it was fine (probably since it was only basic bio and not something more specialized). And my engineering stuff was only 8 years ago, so most of it is pretty recent. I'll be taking more specialized stuff as prereqs (like biochem and animal nutrition), so those will obviously be very recent. And even though I already have an MS degree, I'll still have to take the GRE for the third time in my life to demonstrate my ability to handle graduate level work. Makes sense, right?
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  14. #14
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    Aug 2005
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    Are scholarships out of the question? Back when I was in college (it's been awhile - ) the usual advice was "don't go to grad school unless you can get someone else to pay for it." Now, I never knew for sure if that meant there were lots of scholarships out there, if you can't get someone else to pay then you're not grad school "material," or it's best to build a network first and the network should include the financial backing. But I didn't go to (or haven't gone to) grad school.

    I've tossed around the idea of changing careers, too. I don't think it's crazy at all. Variety is the spice of life, right? And dreams are good! My thoughts are to take a prerequisite or two and just ease back into it - see how it goes.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deborajen View Post
    Are scholarships out of the question? Back when I was in college (it's been awhile - ) the usual advice was "don't go to grad school unless you can get someone else to pay for it." Now, I never knew for sure if that meant there were lots of scholarships out there, if you can't get someone else to pay then you're not grad school "material," or it's best to build a network first and the network should include the financial backing. But I didn't go to (or haven't gone to) grad school.

    I've tossed around the idea of changing careers, too. I don't think it's crazy at all. Variety is the spice of life, right? And dreams are good! My thoughts are to take a prerequisite or two and just ease back into it - see how it goes.

    That's a really good point. I need to look into it. That's why I have no student loans from my first masters degree - 80% of it was covered by a research grant. The remaining 20% was covered by a fellowship. All I paid for was books and living expenses and I worked part time to cover that. When I was at a conference as a student, I was approached by two different PhD programs who offered me free ride if I would attend and then teach at their schools. Being a an american born woman with good communications skills really served me well in EE. I didn't take either one up on their offer and I'm super thankful that I didn't. I'd feel way too guilty to ever leave behind a field if I had a PhD in it!

    I have no idea how this all might work for the medical field. There are a list of scholarships that I can apply for based on things like my ethnicity, my specialty, my grades, etc...so there are options. I'll have to do some research. Thanks for the idea!
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