Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jumping in head first

Some of our family and friends say that we are students for life, but in reality what they mean is that we are crazy for taking on too much at one time. To give you a little insight into our life – in the last four years, we have had our first child, both worked full time during this time, planned a wedding, completed a law degree, completed a masters degree, sat and passed the bar exam, between the two of us have switched positions or jobs six times, moved two times, and are now pregnant with our second child.

It’s been a whirlwind over the last four years, but we’ve enjoyed every minute. Our life would be very different without all of these pieces, so we are thankful for each opportunity to build strength in our relationship. Plus, it is a lot easier looking back on it. There were definitely trying times – for instance, trying to figure out what to wear to work when there has been no time to wash laundry let alone iron anything. But, we couldn’t have done it without our families. They were there to help us catch up on laundry, do some ironing, or simply watch our son while we studied, took a break, or just slept.

When we finished our advanced degrees, we talked about taking at least six months off to enjoy life. At that point, we would decide whether more education would be a good option.

It’s been eight months since either of us have been students. During this time, my husband and I have been able to focus on our family and friends, which has been so exciting because previously we had little to no time for sleep… let along social time. It has been fun to catch up with friends and family, enjoy the outdoors, relax in the evening, and play with our son.

This may be a surprise or shock, as we haven’t announced it to anyone, but then again, if you truly know us, it does not surprise you at all – my husband’s headed back for more school.

For the last couple of months, we have been discussing the idea of having my husband go back to school. For those that are unaware of how public school teachers are paid in MN, here’s a quick synopsis. There are different lane changes and subsequently pay scales changes depending on your education and years in position. For most districts, it is something like this BA, BA+15, BA+30, BA+45, BA+60, MA, MA+15, MA+30, MA+45, MA+60, and PhD. With each lane change, your salary increases and with each additional year of service, your salary increases generally (there are some flat levels, but generally include some yearly increase due to changes in contract amounts from year to year).

About two months ago, my husband learned of a distance learning program, where he could obtain additional credits, but these would not count toward a degree. We talked about it for hours on end – would it be better to spend the money to get a PhD, should we hold off for another year, etc. However, just this week, we decided that this program offered the best of both world – distance learning at a reasonable price with classes that he enjoyed taking, so it would be less time consuming than a traditional program and he could always go back for a PhD.

Because of the way that teacher’s pay scales work, we were able to determine that the total cost of the program would be paid off within six months after he completed the program due to the incremental increases he would receive during the program. It’s really a small investment up front to help us cut the crust off in our budget to save a little more each month in the future.

As of today, he submitted the enrollment and will soon be receiving his books. We are now back in the student world – at least for a year. The most exciting part is that my husband is really excited about the class offerings because he isn’t worried about getting certain credits for a degree, so he can take the classes that are most relevant to his classroom setting and interests.

Now the only outstanding question is will this be the last adventure for us as students… my guess is that it’s not.

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