1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

23 and thinking about school

  1. Feb 3, 2008 #1
    Hi all,
    I am 23 and currently working as a customer service rep. I have a two year old daughter who I have two days a week. I have been considering going to school to study engineering. The largest thing I am worrying about is whether I have time to persue a degree which is so demanding. My current work schedule is 12 hour shifts on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and then a 4 hour shift on tuesday. I then keep my daughter on Thursdays and Fridays. If I decide to go back to school I could probably switch my work schedule to working twelves on Sat and Sun and then 8 hour evening shifts Monday and Tuesday. This would leave me with 8am - 3pm free on Monday and Tuesday and then Wednesdays completely free. I would have time for studying while I keep my daughter as she goes to bed fairly early and could also study for a few hours after I get off work. Is it even reasonable to believe I have time to get a degree in engineering? Is the idea of working my course schedule around just 3 days even be possible? I plan on starting at a local community college and then hopefully transfering to University of Alabama Huntsville. After 5 years of living in the "real" world I am starting to understand the need for education and also how nice it would be to work in a job where I could realize some of my potential. Not to mention that living off 11 dollars an hour is not exactly easy somtimes :P

    I definitely have the drive to accomplish this, I'm just hoping I have the time.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 3, 2008 #2
    It's great to hear that you're considering going back to school. It will obviously make you more knowledgeable and increase your income.

    Looking at your schedule, it is completely do-able. However, you must put it the proper time into studyin. Engineering, in any field, will require lots of class and lab time, but tremendous amount of class-independent study time.

    You might consider dropping the work by a few hours a week and take a loan when you get into your last two years at U of A-H. Maybe for the first two years at CC, you can pull it off with your schedule, but you may have a little bit of a hard time during the last two years, since you'll be taking all Engineering courses.
  4. Feb 3, 2008 #3
    Thanks for the reply. Helps to hear that someone who has put in the time and effort believes it is possible.

    Another question, is it possible to get student loans if I was to be a part-time student? And as far as deferment is concerned, can payments be deferred if it takes me, say, 6 years to get a degree?

    I am going to be speaking with an advisor at my local community college some time in the next few weeks so most of my questions in regards to financial aid will probably be answered at that point but I wouldn't mind hearing some insight from you guys/gals.

    Thanks again.
  5. Feb 3, 2008 #4
    I sort of did that (2 jobs and a family while going to school) - at an earlier time when I paid more for food than for tuition, and I can give you a couple of hints.

    Go to the community college and tell them exactly what you have to do and ask them how they can help. Some have daycare. They may allow you to test out of an inconvenient course, etc.

    Absolutely get a full night's sleep at least every 3rd night. You can pull late-nighters in between or take a night shift or whatever, but you MUST NOT build up a sleep deficit. If you are offered stimulants by anyone other than a physician, NO! You won't like the effects or the addiction and you can easily throw everything away if you're busted. If you need something, go to your physician and talk to him about this.

    Triage everything. Find out the minimum grade that will transfer to the 4 year college and learn to settle for that if you have to. If you take a course Pass/fail, pass it with a C. By the way, ask the Community College guy if they have an articulation agreement with Huntsville; ask for a copy.

    Get a support system going. There will be others just like you. Many community colleges even have an Office of Older (yes, you are) Students. Help one another.

    Do not get discouraged. Do not drop courses two weeks before the final. In almost every case, Instructors will work out something so that you get at least a D. Don't quit. If you have to take a semester off and get caught up on bills, OK. Come back the next one.

    Don't waste any time. Do homework at the laundromat. Read on the bus. But, save one evening a week for YOU. Meet friends, go to a movie, whatever.

    Yeah, you can do it. You already show good communication skills, the ability to plan, and desire. When you get out, you'll be competing against other job applicants who may have better GPAs, or are younger. Your selling point (and a lot of people will accept it) is that you can plan and execute on schedule to do a hard job.
  6. Feb 3, 2008 #5
    Also note, after your first year at UAH (after you transfer in from CC), you can apply for internships at the Boeing located there. It's an excellent resume booster and a great experience to have. You should really really, and I mean really, consider getting an internship somewhere during the summer. I don't know how feasible it is with your job, but I'll leave that up to you.

    Obviously, the Boeing right near you is an excellent start. You will also see a substantial increase in your pay, even as an intern! Just to give you an idea, during my first internship after my sophomore year as an EE, I got paid $12.10/hr at an aviation company out in the midwest. I'm in my third year, and I have one offer so far, for $20/hr (with a few grand in housing allowance). Of course, I'm still applying and interviewing elsewhere. Even $20/hr might be low, compared to what other interns are making at Microsoft/Google/IBM/Qualcomm. You can make anywhere from $25-$30 in these companies, if the position calls for it.
  7. Feb 3, 2008 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It won't be an easy road, but it's worth it. I got my BS in physics going part-time and I started at a CC, just like you're planning. It took me 9-1/2 years! I was 27 when I graduated. But you know what? I was going to be 27 anyway, so I'm very glad I did it. I have a job I love, and I make a good salary. TVP45 is right: don't get discouraged and don't quit.
  8. Feb 3, 2008 #7
    I think OP wants to go full-time school and his regular work schedule.

    Also note, that some courses with labs will require 3 hours of your time or so, per class. And those labs aren't usually scheduled during the same day as lecture, so you may have to be really flexible with work. Talk to your manager about it.
  9. Feb 4, 2008 #8
    all the best
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2008
  10. Feb 4, 2008 #9
    Thanks for all the replies and info. I found it all very motivational.
  11. Feb 4, 2008 #10
    it is very doable, although you may have to drop the workload later on as you get into your last two years (which are the most important). my step-sisters fiance is currently working a full work week and going full time, he also has a freshly minted son that he has to take care of when he's home.

    the assignments will get longer as you go up though and it will become more important later on, so you'll have to figure that out when you come to it, but otherwise go for it.
  12. Feb 4, 2008 #11
    Yes, the assignments do get longer! I'm doing some work right now :/

    What my professor likes to do during the tests is to bring up the http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm" and show us the starting salaries right after undergrad :p Talk about some great motivation during the tests.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook