Home > Student Loans > Help! I’m Terrified of Quitting My Job to Go to Grad School

Comments 0 Comments

I’m 24 and I quit my job as an assistant manager at a retail bank making decent money (especially for someone my age) in August to go back to school to pursue a master’s degree. I was really miserable at my old job, and I’m fairly confident that the degree I’ve chosen will lead to work, in general, and likely work that I am passionate about (bonus!).

Originally, I (wrongfully) assumed I would qualify for government loans, on top of the funding I received from my school (which covers just about 50% of my tuition). When I found out I didn’t qualify for loans, I decided to work part-time for the company I had just left and juggle this with my classes. Now I find myself sinking under my course load (I already dropped one class, and am now at the minimum to keep my funding) and work.

I am contemplating quitting my job on the following rationale: “If I fail my classes, I will have wasted the money I spent on tuition, regardless of how much of those costs I recuperate through my part-time work.” I haven’t been unemployed since I was 14, so I am slightly terrified of taking the leap. I live at home and also have $11,000 in savings I could live off for the next year—but I was hoping that by working I could keep that for a down payment for a house. Advice? — A.


When I was 23, I decided to quit the job I felt I wasn’t cut out for, and move to New York to go to grad school. I was able to get half of my education funded, and the rest was borrowed via a private student loan, which I felt OK about because the interest rate was below 5%. I learned about my acceptance into my graduate program in March, and socked away as much money as I could before moving across the country and starting school in August. That money slowly dribbled out of my account while I was in school and not working, but I was OK with that. I thought about what it would cost to make this leap, but I thought more about what it would mean for my future — the kind of jobs it would lead to, and the kind of life it would enable me to have.

It’s been seven years, and a lot has happened. The financial crisis, for one thing, a string of apartments, a handful of jobs, and that private student loan I took out? It’s steadily being paid off through monthly automated payments, and I don’t think too much about it. I’m happy with the work I’m doing and the life I have. My point is that I took a leap and it all worked out.

You’re right: If you’re not getting what you need out of grad school, those part-time dollars aren’t really doing much to help you. So yes, If I were you I’d quit that miserable job and dig in deep into the master’s program and get as much as I can out of it. The success I had in school was carried with me after I was done—the work I completed demonstrated the kind of work I could do for an organization, and the people I took the time to get to know when I was in grad school helped lead me to the right jobs. And with the right jobs came the negotiations, the benefits, the money. You sort those things out. I had no idea where I was going to live and what I was going to be doing after I finished my graduate program, but I figured it out because I had no other choice.

That down payment for that house you want to buy someday? You will figure it out. You figured out how to save $11,000 once, and you will figure it out again. What’s important is that you get what you need out of your program to ensure that you’ll land the right jobs after you’ve graduated—which is the point of all this, right? With those jobs will come the money you’ll need for a down payment, and for the life you want to build for yourself.

One last thought: Just because this part-time job didn’t work out while you are in school doesn’t mean another one won’t. Perhaps there are work study jobs available on campus that will work with your schedule better. Perhaps there are odd jobs you can do occasionally. You’ve got a lot going for you—the option of living at home and a cushion of savings—things that people want to have when doing something like going back to school, and figuring out a new career path. Take a leap.

This post originally appeared on TheBillfold.com. This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its affiliates.

More From TheBillfold:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team