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Taking 5-10 years off school?

  1. Jul 25, 2012 #1
    A couple of people have told me this is a bad idea, but I don't see how.

    After I complete my first two years of undergraduate studies at my community college, I was planning to apply to all the schools I want to go to, and depending on which schools I get accepted into, I would take the appropriate time off to work and save enough to attend the schools in those ranges that I had been accepted to, then apply again after I save up enough to enroll, because then I know I have a general idea of which schools my appropriate skills and abilities will allow me to get into. So for example, if by chance I got into several Ivies, I'd have to take more years off to work because its cost of attendance is more than state schools. This way, I can even save up enough to even attend schools that are out of state since those are pretty expensive as well.

    Since I do not have enough credit to take out bank loans, and maximum amount of federal financial aid will not cover my expenses at most schools, unless I can get more than $10k worth of scholarships every year (which seems unlikely) I cannot even go to a state school. I could take out Federal Direct Loans, but the maximum subsidized each year is something like $5,500. Even so, I heard that graduate schools will not accept an undergraduate student that is deep in debt into their PhD program.

    If it was some freak accident that I got accepted into all of the schools I get into before I start saving up, and I get rejected by all of them after I save up enough money, well...there's always cheap city colleges nearby, and I'll have a ton of money to burn on extra textbooks and equipment...or I guess I'd just invest everything I have into gold or something.

    Does taking time off school reflect negatively on a university transfer application or something? If so, how is it a bad thing that a student wants to save up enough money to complete school?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 25, 2012 #2


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    Hey PhizKid.

    The only thing I would ask is if the actual degree from start to finish was the normal length (i.e. you save before you start, but finish in the normal duration). If you are taking a long time to do a degree this might be less favorable.

    The other thing is to consider the nature of some careers where age will be a factor: it's a subjective thing, but it is something to consider.

    I'm not in the US, but if Ivies or other similar schools gave you a full ride because of your financial situation, then I think that this would change your plans entirely.

    I don't know about the requirements in the states, but dragging out a degree for too long is going to do more harm IMO than good.
  4. Jul 25, 2012 #3
    If the degree length is a concern, I wonder if it would be bad to re-take all the classes at community college after I saved up enough money. Incidentally, I will probably not get financial aid at community college due to saving up so much money, so I will probably have to save up enough to pay for community college, too.

    I would think age as a factor would be discrimination, but then again, I guess schools can do whatever they feel like. I just think it's unfair that they are against students who grew up poor and cannot afford college and need to work several extra years to afford a single semester of college.

    It would be nice if schools offered me a full ride, but there are students who are accepted to schools like MIT, Stanford, Caltech, etc. that have to decline them simply because they cannot afford the schools...if those kinds of students aren't offered any money upon acceptance, why would lower-ranked schools give me anything at all either?

    Well, I still have about a couple more years to go before I make any decision. Hopefully I can get more experienced input about those who are familiar with the U.S. transfers system.
  5. Jul 25, 2012 #4


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    You should check for programs that make use of the CC credits as opposed to requiring you to retake them. Universities do have requirements that do involve having to take their core courses, but there are going to be opportunities where the CC's actually count for some kind of credit standing which means you can take less classes and therefore spend less money.
  6. Jul 25, 2012 #5
    I know most schools accept the credit; I meant re-taking the classes as in "starting over" as if it were my first year in college, if other schools really care about how long the degree takes...if I start from the beginning again, won't it be just like I started school for the first time? I'm not even sure what they want.
  7. Jul 25, 2012 #6


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    You should check the actual credit requirements: some schools only accept education if its less than ten years old, some might accept less and some more.

    In my country, I know that some universities only accept education that is less than ten years old and this kind of thing happens for a lot of postgraduate degrees: the thing is to check this kind of thing for the universities you want to attend given your situation.

    In this instance, you may say spend 8 years acquiring deposits and then if the conditions are right, get the exchange of credits from your CC without any penalty.

    You will probably have to do a little brushing up, but re-learning what you have already learned well before isn't as hard as you think: the re-learning is very quick and what you recall is often the most important information as opposed to the stuff that isn't important if you learned it well the first time.
  8. Jul 25, 2012 #7
    Ugh, I didn't take credit 'expiration dates' into question as a factor...so this complicates things, I guess. I just wanted to benchmark what type of schools I have the ability to get into as a transfer so I know exactly how much I need to save up, so I don't accidentally save too little and not have enough to finish school, or spend too much time away from school and have a bundle of excess money. So now I'm unsure if I just should withdraw from school now and save the most I can within the next decade, and extra money as a 'safety net' resulting in this can't really hurt, can it?
  9. Jul 25, 2012 #8


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    Have you looked into any cadetships that are on offer? Also what kind of degree are planning to pursue? Engineering? Sciences? Mathematics?
  10. Jul 25, 2012 #9
    Yes, I have considered the military, but for enlisting privates they pay about the same as any other entry-level civilian job that I can snag. Also I dislike too much physical contact/another person touching me due to some psychological issues from childhood. I just dislike physical confrontations as a principle and fighting in general, so I might not be cut out for the military either, unless my job will involve engineering/chemistry/physics/mathematics, which in the U.S. I believe is reserved for those with college degrees.

    My major is Physics, and have considered a double major in Maths but I doubt I possess the intelligence to complete two degrees with a 4.0 in both. For graduate school, I think I would like to pursue a PhD in something related to Materials Science, or some type of experimental Physics.
  11. Jul 25, 2012 #10
    I did 4 years in the Air Force as a medical laboratory technician. I don't like killing people or war so I signed up for the opposite side of the spectrum. Since I enlisted during wartime, my GI Bill is of great assistance. For 48 months I receive ~$1200 a month plus tuition for taking 12 hours. After those 48 months are finished I'm eligible for the Hazelwood act. This gives me 150 credit hours at a public institution. This is all in Texas and you would have to see how it is in your state.

    I lived on base during my military enlistment and never paid rent, everything went to pocket. I'm debt free and my car note is paid off. The worth of the benefits alone was more than I could have made in 4 years.

    I'll be 28 in August, which is rather old compared to my peers. The advantage of this is I have experience and a more stable head on my shoulders.

    The military has its ups and downs but is a viable vehicle on the road of education.
  12. Jul 25, 2012 #11
    This actually sounds pretty ideal, but for something like a medical lab tech, is this open as an entry-level job for someone with no experience at all? If not, do you know of any options similar to this, or where I can get this type of information from? (I'm in NYC, if that matters.)
  13. Jul 25, 2012 #12
    No prior experience required for med lab tech. My training took somewhere around a year to complete. I don't know about NYC rules and regulations but since I'm in the system already, I'll see what I can dig up for you. I'm going to PM you with more information.
  14. Jul 25, 2012 #13
    I can shed a bit of light into this situation because I lived it. Due to legal issues and my parents not making any money at all, I could not receive financial aid from any public institutions from my state.

    So from 18-19 I just studied because top 10 schools gives you financial aid regardless. But due to my good but not amazing academic profile in high school getting into one of these schools is quite impossible.

    So from 20-22 I managed to get a job and worked till I saved up enough money to attend school, which I will be attending in August.

    I would not recommend this course of action, because I'm insanely far behind in comparison to my friends who are just finishing college and either getting a job or moving onto graduate school.

    I would recommend the military as well, but with caveats. I've not enlisted, but I may still do it, will have to see a few years down the road how much of an advantage it will be. But know what your getting into with the military. And if you do decide to do it, go to OCS and become an officer. And join the Air force, seems to be the most cushy out of all. Just conjecture from what I've seen so take with a grain of salt. Others would be able to shed more light.

    Either way good luck, and plan accordingly...
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