Career Change or Stay the Course?

Updated on January 27, 2014
S.J. asks from Georgetown, TX
16 answers

I have been a high school teacher for 10 years. I have always loved my job even if it is at times overwhelming. However with the budget cuts of the last few years, not enough text books, 40 kids in a class and the push toward teaching exactly the same as all the other teachers in my department I am pretty unhappy professionally. I love my students and subject! I love that I teach a competitive academic team and AP level courses. I am less happy with my onlevel courses with huge sizes and few resources. I have been successful and have won awards and recognition for my skills as an educator.

Recently we have received an inheritance that would allow me to go back to school and fulfill my interest and goal of getting a masters in Public Administration. I have always wanted to get this degree and work in municipal government or non-profit work. I have never had a raise in 10 years of teaching so the idea of making more money and not having to bring work home everyday is immensely appealing. I would be able to do the program online and have free childcare from grandmas so I would have adequate time to study and more time with my babies.

The problem is that I just can't decide. I know that I am so blessed and lucky to have this dilemma! But as it gets closer to making this decision my pro/con lists are evenly matched and I can't find the tipping point. Hubby is supportive either way. One day I get super excited about going to school and learning and the next day I am terrified and sad to leave my students and programs I have worked so hard to build.

My pros and cons are too numerous to list. I would love to hear input as to what the deciding factors would be if you had this opportunity. What would you consider to be the most important factors?

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answers from San Francisco on

Go for it. You can always go back to teaching later if you really want to. You don't say how old you are, but this is the time. The older you get, the harder it is to justify making huge changes. Do it now.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You don't need a degree to work for a NFP, just experience :-)

Why not spend the summer volunteering and testing out the new career. You don't need to decide immediately.

7 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

i am in awe of anyone who can manage to be a teacher at a public school in today's atmosphere. zero room for creativity, and soul-deadening crushing responsibilities. and the sad thing is, it's pushing great teachers like you out, and making it so that only people who are just showing up for the paycheck will bother to do a job that's turning into sheer drudgery.
getting a masters and having a job that pays a decent wage AND doesn't follow you home every day sounds pretty wonderful. but people who love to teach have a hard time walking away from it.
whichever way you go, thanks for putting in the time and working so hard with your students. i wish our country treated people like you appropriately.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

I hate to say it but I would quit teaching if there was anything else to do. I stayed until I could get the minimum retirement but it was torture. I am now pursuing something else at 55. If you do not pursue things now then when? You will always wonder. Look into it closely and see if you can shadow someone who does what you think you want to do and see how it feels. Plan that for this summer and then you will know. You do not have to give notice until next Aug. Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

How long will it take you to get your degree?
Are there job opps in your city for Public Admin. or non-profit work or the job title or caliber you want to get into?? What kind of jobs can this degree get you.... and per with or without, Admin. job experience?
Have you ever worked, in government?
Do you need, to work?
Or not?
Will you be going to school AND working still?
Or just going to school full-time and quit your job/"retire" from teaching, first, then go to school?

If you quit your teaching job or retire from it... can you also retain, your retirement package/benefits that you have accrued, thus far... teaching all this time? Look into that.

Have you talked to, an Academic Advisor yet, about this degree you want? Researched it first etc.?
Does this degree, the reality of it, match your "ideal" of the degree? ie: working in Public Administration etc.? Is it really what you want? Talk to a school and research that.
Sometimes, a degree is very different, for example, from the actual job, that the degree is supposed to get you.
So be sure, that is what you want. And that it matches, your ideal of the degree and job.

Or maybe you can start your own, non-profit?
Maybe your inheritance can help you start that????

Many parents do to school to get their degree. There are many non-traditional college students nowadays.
My Husband did that. Finished his degree after we had children. He worked hard. He did not have time, at home, to just do family things all the time or to participate in family things. Because, he was studying and it was rigorous and he had to keep up his GPA etc. He had online and in-class classes too. It was a great "example" for my kids, about college and studying hard, in college to get a degree to get a better job.
My friend's Husband, also went back to school to get his Master's after they had children, her children were still young at the time. And he was hardly home, was studying a ton, and that was just how it was, while he was attending school. And working at the same time. And honestly, it drove them nuts. It was stressful. Her Husband was hardly home. And even if he was home, he was studying and could not be disturbed and it was difficult.

In both of these cases, the school Advisor, tells the parent-students... that school life will be rigorous. Also because they are a parent and Spouse. It takes time away from your family. Some couples even divorced over it, because, the student-parent, was not available a lot, was not home a lot, because, they were attending classes and studying so much. But many parent-students, successfully do it, all. IF each family and Spouse, working together... help make it happen for that one parent-student.
And when one Spouse is attending college, the other Spouse, HAS TO take on more, of the child and house care, tasks. For me and when my Husband was attending college... though I was a SAHM, it was hard. On me. It was as though I was a single-parent.

So make sure, when you go to school... you and your Husband talk about it... AND that he knows... that HE WILL have to take on a lot more, per the children and house work/house upkeep, once or if you go to school.
And if your children are old enough, you talk to them too, to explain... that Mommy is going to college and why and that it is important stuff.
Even if the parent is home, studying, they cannot be available, all the time, etc.
And your Husband will have to... do more. All around. You cannot just rely on the Grandparents, to do what your Husband should. In the house and with the kids. While you go to school. I know, I lived it.

You have a dream of getting your Master's in Public Admin.
So research it, as it is currently. So that your dream of it, matches... your goal of working in it.

Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Take a 50/50 (or 60/40) approach.
I have many colleagues who have continued teaching part-time while starting a new career. Maybe you can teach 3 classes and take 1 course each semester (2 is often full-time for grad programs). I'd love to do it myself, but can't find a local part-time program for my dream career.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

I would totally go. By the sounds of your post, you know that's the right decision, too. You post a lot of pros for moving on and no real cons. That makes your own thinking pretty transparent, too.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Do it….what an opportunity

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Just because you got an inheritance recently doesn't mean you need to make a decision Right Now. In fact, good advice is to wait 1 full year before doing anything with any substantial sum of money that you inherit.

And so following that, you would continue teaching for now and leave the money in an account. This time next year, revisit the question. In the mean time, stop actively thinking about it and just let life happen as normal.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Do it. I have 2 masters. One in Education and an MPA. I can never stay out of teaching long--weekends, holidays and summers!

Working a NGO or a nonprofit with children will still fill your heart with the joy of teaching.

Oops, I just made your list equal again.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I'm wondering if it is just the fear of the unknown that is keeping you with you are? Regardless of the pros and cons, your heart is leading you a certain direction and God is opening the door (I don't know if you believe... sorry!). I know it is scary... I've been in a very similar place! Just don't miss an opportunity because of fear. Best wishes!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

Unless it's going to jeopardize your retirement (and it doesn't sound like it will) I'd go for it!

You sound like an amazing teacher. Maybe you can continue to teach on a part-time basis. If you were in Florida I'd hire you to teach a group of homeschoolers! There is a demand for teachers who can facilitate AP study.

Good luck with your decision.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

What would you tell a student of yours? The parent of a student? Your child at your age? Your mother at your age?

We tend to know the answer. Will you ever be this young again?

I just had surgery. I never do anything that serious lightly. Its a serious step.
I understand that I will never be this young again. My body and mind will never be as flexible as they are right now. That's what getting to this stage of life gives you, perspective.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I see allot of I's in your question. Not sure what your religious beliefs are - have you asked what GOD has in mind for you? Or maybe you don't care. My belief is that God has a purpose for us all and maybe you need to ask HIM what direction HE knows is the very best for you!!!!

I can honestly say that when I've prayed about a decision, it's usually the one that makes my heart speed up when I consider it on it's own. But that's how He talks to me, and it's always the right choice. Ask and He'll show you too!


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Continue teaching/work and do school too. Don't see an issue. Many people do college on campus after working all day.

You don't have to burn bridges or cut one thing out over the other just yet.

You could visit with the admins and ask them if you can just do your higher level classes since these are more interesting. Then you'd have a bit more time to do school work. But I'd keep the job and do both until at least the end of May so the kids in the classes now could have consistency and not have someone new come in and confuse them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Your pros and cons may be too numerous to list here, but you do need to list them for yourself, in a way that you can see for yourself. This weekend, get a pencil and a tablet. List all the good things and bad things that you can possibly think of, even if you think they're silly. Keep adding to the list for 24-48 hours. Then put it away for a day or two, and then look at the lists again. It really will help you make a good decision.

1 mom found this helpful
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