Can You Afford Not To?
May 26, 2011 24 Comments
One thing that I’ve failed to mention about Mr. Hive (intentionally, maybe?) is that he doesn’t have a college education. Nothing. He dropped out after one semester because at the time he wasn’t ready for college. He isn’t dumb, he just wasn’t ready to go straight out of high school. There isn’t anything wrong with this (in my opinion) and for some career paths having a college education isn’t necessary – and many of these are high paying.
However, on the whole, you have to be pretty ambitious or pretty intelligent or pretty gifted in a particular field to make a decent salary without a college education.
Mr Hive doesn’t fall in to any of those categories above. He’s bounced around from job to job and currently at 31 has found himself in his highest paying job yet. Making $14/hour. A job has no upward mobility. Or very little. He makes around $28,000/yr before taxes. And really, he isn’t skilled enough in any particular field to do better without pursuing some education.
He has aspirations for some day working in the IT field. Which many people can do without a degree if they are self motivated to learn the material on their own – which he has not done. Or have gone through formal education to learn the material – which he has not done either.
I told him when we first started dating that it didn’t bother me that he was uneducated, however, I did know that if nothing was done career-wise or aspiration-wise that eventually it would start to bother me. Our first date he mentioned how he wanted to go back to school and get a degree in IT. The start of 3 semesters later and it finally has eaten away at me. If someone was truly motivated to pursue this career path as he claimed he was when we first started dating, wouldn’t they be saving up money to pay for the tuition? Pursuing the certification exams that are widely accessible online? Consulting with his two good friends who are in the field on the path that they both recommend? Wouldn’t a person who was truly motivated to make a career path change to better their life being doing something more than complaining about where they were at?
The community college near us even offers an A.A. degree in exactly the field he wants to be in which INCLUDES an internship component. The job that he’s at can be done at less than full time if he wanted to pursue school full time and work part time. Also, all the classes are available in the evenings if he wasn’t to continue working full time and do school part time.
I essentially told him a few weeks ago that I had reached my limit. He needed to do something. Maybe it is arrogance, but while I understand that people are not always ready for college at 18, if someone says they’re ready for it now and they don’t do it I start to believe after a certain period of time that I’ve been had and they’re really just full of crap.
(Also, it is very embarrassing for me, the Ph.D. to confess to people who don’t know him that I am dating a guy who dropped out of college in the first semester. Seriously. I’d at least like a college graduate, but maybe that’s my own hang up?)
Last night he then asked me if I would “help him with the application”.
Me: “Have you gone online and looked at it?”
Me: *FLIP A LID* Seriously? You are asking for help but you haven’t even gone online to look at it? Why don’t you go look at it, start it, and see if there is actually anything you need help with.
You have to understand. I’m an educator. I HATE HATE HATE when students come in to my office asking for “help” but they’ve never even ATTEMPTED to try the problem on their own. Try it on your own and THEN come back with your specific issues. You may find that it is much easier than you thought it was, once you start.
He says okay and gets online and within 5 minutes he’s finished with the application – without my help.
Later we’re talking and he says “I’m just not sure if I can afford to go to school right now.”
I respond: “Well, you’re in a job where you have absolutely no hope of ever earning more money. Or you have the option of being SUPER poor for a 1.5-2 years while you earn your degree and then have an earning potential of twice what you make now (or more). I don’t think the question is whether you can afford to go to school right now or whether you can afford to NOT go to school right now?“
I’m starting to feel like I’m pushing him too much, but I think he needs to be pushed. If he doesn’t want to be pushed, fine, but then I need to not be dating him. He seems to want someone to magically come along and pave the way and hand him his class schedule and a pile of cash and say “Here, have fun.” But that isn’t life. Sorry. You have to seek out what you want, opportunities are earned – not given.
I’ve given him (in my mind) an arbitrary date of Fall semester. He needs to have figured out what he wants and how he’s going to pursue it by then, or we will need to figure out something different in our relationship.
Harsh? Probably. But the reality is that when we first got together the impression from our very first conversation was that he was motivated to pursue this, and that was a condition I was okay with in terms of dating him. And to find out 10 months later that it was a complete farce is more than I can handle for a long term relationship.