Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams, Ground Them In A Good Dose of Reality

Today I’m following up with a few more answers for the woman considering whether to go back to school or pay off her college debt. Two more women offer insightful advice and ideas…great for anyone considering the pros and cons of investing in education or getting some real world experience.

Q. I’m about to finish a four year bachelor of science in environmental science, and starting to see that it’s not going to take me where I want to go. I am wondering if I should start to pay off the debt I’ve already accrued or continue to go to school?  I would like to apply for architecture school, which would take another four years and rack up god knows how much more debt. Is it worth it for me to go back to school or should I give up those dreams and settle for a job I can get with this first degree? – 20-something

Dear 20-Something,

Don’t ever give up your dreams; just ground them in a good dose of reality. First off, learn all you can about the professional practice of architecture in the ‘real world.’  Many people make the mistake of focusing on the study of a particular subject, thinking that the world of academia is a proxy for the day-to-day work associated with professional life. It is not.  Architecture is long, arduous and oftentimes expensive study, followed by years of hard work without commensurate compensation.  (Unless you are very, very lucky.)    You owe it to yourself to find out everything you can about the field before dedicating your blood, sweat and tears to the profession:  Talk to practicing architects.  Visit their offices.  Find out what they do, how much they make and how they spend their days.  Ask as many questions as you can!  If possible, consider interning at an architect’s office.  Even if it means taking a year or two off from school, learn what it means to really live and breathe your dream. — 40-something, architecture and interior design

Dear 20-something,

Although I don’t have Master’s degree, I did first go to a technical college to earn an Associate Degree before going on to finish my BA in Public Relations.  The AA was for Graphic Communications, which is basically all phases of printing.  I must say that this worked well for me in many ways.  The cost of college was overall reduced as the technical college cost much less than the private college, and all of my credits transferred.  But, for the long term, the practical skills that I learned about printing helped me more in my ‘real world’ jobs than anything else did, especially at the beginning of my career. Specifying and buying printing was always a big part of my marketing jobs.  I watched other colleagues struggle with this responsibility because they knew nothing about printing.  If I had been wiser, I probably could have negotiated better jobs and opportunities beyond what I was fortunate to have with these hands-on skills.

My recommendation would be to consider getting training/classes in something like CAD. These courses are probably offered at technical schools (much less money), and as long as they are transferable, you could then possibly work for an architecture firm in the capacity of doing CAD drawings.  This would give you a) money b) experience and networking opportunities in your desired field of choice c) maybe you could find an opportunity where a firm would pay for her additional schooling to get that architecture degree in exchange for working for the firm after graduation.

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