Work or College??

Updated on May 31, 2011
L.S. asks from Carrollton, TX
27 answers

I am a 28yr old mother of 3 and have a major decision to make. I can either go to college to earn a degree with the help of financial aid or take a job as a nanny for a family friend.

As a family of 5 we could really use the money and job security is guaranteed for the next 5 years! A big plus is i will take my baby with me and the babies will only be 1 year apart, I was a nanny before when my oldest was 1 and the baby i kept was 3 months. Now 10 years later they are still best friends, and our whole families have become close friends too! I would love to have this for my youngest as well. On the other hand I have the opportunity to go back to college and earn a degree that i feel would help my family in the long run.

I can NOT do both because i would be working from 7am to 4:30pm and would still have to be a full-time student { night classes} and keep my grades up {to receive financial aid} Yes i would be with my baby all day but my oldest will be starting middle school this coming up year- a huge year for her, and my other DD has some learning issues that she needs extra help with, and some emotional issues that need attention too. I feel trying to do everything will take its toll on the older girls and myself.

I am afraid if i put school off much longer i will never go back. What do I do???

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answers from Chicago on

You will never regret a college degree.

What you might regret later in life, is a lack of options without one.

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answers from Tyler on

I tried going to school when my children were very small, and it was really hard. I realized I was shortchanging them in the process. After they were older, I started back and it went so much smoother. No, you can't do everything. Also, a degree--at least in today's economy--doesn't guarantee a job, or a good paying job. I know too many with bachelors and masters degrees that are waiting tables. Take the bird-in-hand, enjoy your children, and if you really want school, take a course on-line or on Saturdays until they are older, and then go full time. You can't go back later and relive your baby's young years, but you can go back to school. In fact, I believe I did better being older. They say "youth is wasted on the young" and I found that to be very true with college students.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

If you are concerned about your finances in the short-term, meaning you are struggling to make ends meet AND put money away each month, then you should probably take the nanny job. Think about what the impact of a student loan would have on your long-term finances. Would you be starting to pay them off when your oldest is looking to start college?

Your baby will be in school full time in 5 years and your oldest will be in HS and leaving for college... and you will only be 33 at that time.

Just my opinion here, but I would take a class or two at a community college to start earning credits here-and-there without taking out loans and then go back full-time when the kids are independent and you can take daytime classes without paying for childcare.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I say take the nanny job and spend the time with your kids. After this job you can go to school. It's getting where a college degree doesn't mean as much in the work world and some jobs are going to less educated just so the wage can be lower. You can go to school later but your kids need you now. And you're helping another family at the same time.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Take the job. In this economy, if you have a great job that is guaranteed for a few years that balances with having your children, then go for the job. You have plenty of time to go back to school (and getting a college education is not a guarantee for a job anyway). I'm going back to school for nursing, and while I was taking my prerequisites I met a woman who was also going back; I think she was in her forties, and she was starting nursing school the same year her oldest daughter was starting her first year of college. See? It's never too late for school. :-)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

If I were in you *exact* situation, I would choose the job. Your youngest will still have the benefit of being with you all day, AND you'll be paid for it. Your oldest will have mom around in the evenings for these next few VERY difficult years. You will be totally available to your daughters. AND, when your job ends in 5 years, your youngest will be in school full-time and *then* you can go too - all 4 of you can sit around the table and do your homework together :o)

Of course, no one but you can really make the right decision. But like I said, if this were MY situation this is what I'd do. Good luck!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Get school out of the way asap. Each year your kids get older it will be harder to return. if money is tight now, it will be double tight as they get older.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

This is tough one. I am a huge advocate for furthering your education, however, I have a few questions.

Do you have to pay any of this financial aid back? If yes, I would really avoid going into debt for any education.

Try nannying for a while, save up some money, and pay for as much of your education as you can. You won't regret it. School debt is the worst.

There are way too many upsides to this nanny job, especially if you are having to go into debt to go back to school. If no debt, then wow, I cannot help you because both are so appealing.

You can go back to school anytime. Trust me, I saw 45 - 65 year olds in my professional degree classes. Plus, just getting a college degree does not necessarily guarantee more income or a better job. Now, if you were talking med school, different story.

=) Best wishes!!!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I'm 50 and finishing a graduate degree. It's never too late to go back to school!

I'm a huge proponent of education, but I would have to know what the school program is, what the finanicial aid is, what job opportunities you would have after graduating, how much does the line of work pay that you are training for, etc, etc to make a recommendation towards school for you now.

I would envision what your life would look like now if you took the job, and if you started school - the day to day reality of it. AND I would recommend doing the research as to job opportunities in your community and the pay level those offer.

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answers from Dallas on

It's sounds like your heart is to be with the children right now, but you are considering school out of the "what if" fear. College will be there later, if you're really supposed to go, you will. You won't have the same opportunity as far as your kids are concerned. They won't be in the same place they are now, later.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

What is your purpose for wanting to go back to school? Is it just the idea of it, or do you have an end goal other than schooling itself? Are you sure you need a degree to do what you want to do? Your nanny job sounds ideal. You will have your baby with you, which is way more important than anything, in my opinion.
There have been many articles in respected journals/magazines that have come to the conclusion that a college education isn't what it used to be. By and large, they are a waste of time and money. Research carefully before you spend so much time and money (even if it isn't your money, it's someones) on it. Will you have to pay back your financial aid?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wichita on


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I agree with Krista P.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Take the job to provide the security for your family. Then enroll at your local community college and start your education by taking one class per term at night or online.
That is what I did. After five years of CC our financial situation had improved enough (I ahd put hubby through school during that time) that I could go back to school full time for the last two years of my degree (I am in school right now)!
It would be great if we could have our cake and eat it too, but taking a step back and slowing things down for the benefit of your family, doesn't mean that you have to abandon your dreams. CC is affordable, a few hundred dollars per term, that you can probably afford without financial assistance.
Doing it this way also allowed us to get rid of our debt and save up a nice cushion to avoid taking out ridiculously expensive private student loans.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

What would you be going to school for?

I got a bachelors degree in psychology at the standard age of 22. What a waste. I went back to school a few years later and got an associates in nursing. Best thing I ever did!

If you are going to school to 'be' something that you know will be financially stable, id say go for it. But if you be going to get just a degree....I'd question if its a good idea.

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answers from Dallas on

I'm 36 with two children; I have a two year degree -Associates of Arts Degree and have tutored in English, Spanish, and History. My husband and me had our first child a little before we turned twenty. Our oldest just turned 17 and our youngest is 2. For 12 years I worked as an executive secretary in the IT field and decided to go back to college to get my Bachelors to teach. I finished the junior year, but before my senior year my mother died at the end of 2007 and I was devasted. What a blessing we got pregnant in April 2008 and I gave birth to our second child in January 2009. I have loved being a Sahm and we are planning to try for a third next year due to my father passed just this christmas. I had plans on getting my degree and may finish it up some day or maybe not. I figure I just might go back to the college to do a 6month or 1 year program to become a dental or medical assistant. Sure my original plan was get a bachelors to teach temporarily while getting my masters and doctorate so that I could teach British Literature and History at the college level.
Right now I choose to raise my children because that time is fleeting and one day when they are older I will focus on me...whether at that time its working part-time in an office or helping others in some kind of capacity. Just remember this...student loans/financial aid is a bit costly; the community college the 2 years at that time only cost me $2,500. The one year at university I am saddled with 30k in student loans that we are paying off. Things change and life happens; so you have to do what is right for your situation.

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answers from Chicago on

Personally I would go to college and get that degree. In the long run with that under your belt you will have more opportunites in your future and you will also make more money which will provide for your family. Now a days you can take classes online or evening/weekend classes. Don't put it off. There will always be reasons to postpone this...

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answers from Appleton on

If you can comfortablly go back to school, I choose school. If something would happen to your hubby and he couldn't work the education would help you in the long run. So many companies won't even look at your resume if you don't have a Bachelor's degree. And you would be teaching your kids the valuable lesson of a good education.



answers from Wichita Falls on

You can do both, you only have to be a part-time (6-11 hrs) student to recieve financial aid (that's what I did). Mostly it depend on the degree you are wanting, if you plan to use that degree in work, and how passionate you are about your choosen field.
If it only about having a degree, you can do that at any age, my mother did at age 45.
If you want to work in that field and you are passionate about it, then you will being doing your children a favor in teaching them to follow their passions.
If you do both, it exhausting and hard, but can be worth it. You end up studying when the kids are down for naps and scheduling your days down to the last minute. But it won't last forever and you will survive, and you'll be happier for having less debt in the end.


answers from New York on

Given the choice I'd pick school over work. My oldest daughter was in the exact same position and after talking with her hubby and family she decided that school was an opportunity that presented itself now and it was the priority. If she waited a couple years the grants that are currently paying for her education might not be there. She'll finish up next semester and I'm really proud of her. While the short term money is great the long term that you can get from additional education are better.


answers from Washington DC on

I did not read the other responses, but it is NEVER to late to go to school if you don't go now. Money is a good thing to provide for the kids if you need it. If you can swing it without it, I'd recommend school. However, I just wanted to offer some support that you CAN do both. I am 28 and have 3 kids also. I also work full-time, and go to school. I go part-time though. I am also working on my master's, so it is purely by choice that I do this, but I am doing both and doing well in both. I make good money and need to work because of our bills and lifestyle, but I WANT to go to school. I go 100% online at Southern New Hampshire University. I highly suggest for you to check them out. They really make it doable. When the kids are napping you can do school work, stay up an hour later than they do and knock it out then. Sure it's hard, but very rewarding. So you can do both if you put your mind to it. But if you can only do one, I'd look at your financial situation and go from there.



answers from Great Falls on

Is the degree/certificate you'd be going for worth it? what i mean is people can spend 4 years in college studying philosophy or something and get out of school and not be able to find a good paying job. If it is truly something practical in a field that is growing or always good (nursing, other healthcare, computer related, business etc) then i would say pick school!! your right, you may have a few years of struggling, but in the long run you will be able to get a great job and provide for your family, it also teaches your kids that education is important, and that no matter your age, life circumstances, etc everyone has the power and ability to get an education for not only themselves but their family (or future family) it teaches your kids that school is important (not always nessecarily the MOST important, but definately a priority especially for young people. It will show your kids that yes, even momma can go do something for herself and work hard to earn something. eventually one day when they can understand the sacfrifices you've made to send them to college or pay for their wedding or be able to go on vacations, etc they will appreciate it. im a big advocate for people bettering themselves and empowering their minds through education. its just the reality of the world we live in. its really hard to get a good job these days without a degree. 50 years ago, not so much. PICK SCHOOL!


answers from Dallas on

Go to school. I totally agree with others that it's never too late to go to school *BUT* there does come a point in ones life where it does become to late to get an education and have a rewarding career using the knowledge you've gained.

You have to decide what is important to you. Do you have a spouse that can support you while you work on your degree? If yes, then go to school. I'm a career woman with two very young children. I've been an executive for almost 18 years and I will tell you, if you put off going to school and try to start it and start a career in your late 30s-40s, you likely won't be earning what you want. By that age, I can hire someone with a degree AND 10-15 years of experience.

If you are doing the school just for the education with no intention of using it to better your family monitarily then everyone is right who says "It's never too late!" I believe you stop growing when you stop learning.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with staying home for your kids either. I believe a working mom can be just as supportive for her children as a stay at home mom. It is just done in different ways. Both the working and the SAH Mom's have different things to give to the family. You just have to decide what's right for you and your family. And if you are religious, pray about it. Nothing wrong with a little extra help.

Good Luck!


answers from Biloxi on

I would go to school and get a degree.

I am 46, with 3 years of an anthropology degree. Began working at 21 full time, college on and off. 20 years ago when iIstarted working degrees were preferred but, unless it was specific field, (accounting, engineering, etc.) not really necessary.

These days I find that a degree is almost always required.

I always "meant" to go back - but, kept putting off.

Go to school - in the long run a degree means a higher salary and a more stable future. Plus, it is a great example for your children. Also, just because the family can afford a Nanny now, does not mean they will be able to for the next 5 years - financial set backs, change in family dynamics, etc.

Good Luck
God Bless


answers from Norfolk on

My Mom was teaching 6th grade in public school and had a BS.
But she knew if she earned her Masters it would mean more money at her job - a higher pay grade.
So when she wasn't teaching during the summer, we went to the babysitters during the week while she went to summer school. It took her 2 years to do it this way.
But with her higher income, she got us out of apartments and bought her own house and we had enough money to drive across country the summer of 1976 (Bicentennial year) and take some really great family trips.

A college degree will give you opportunities WAY beyond the next 5 years.

Yes, you could still do it 5 years from now, but the costs will only be higher and you'll have college coming up for your older kids at the same time.



answers from Dallas on

Write out all the pros and cons, this is what I do in this kind of situation.
I have just started back to school at 36 - so you are not too old, you could do the job, finish it, then go back to school, your kids will be 5 years older, and 5 years easier, and you will be earning money and being there for them.
trust your gut instinct, it is usually right.
Oh, and I am doing almost all my classes online, I go in tu/th 6-10pm only, which is very convienient.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I would do some classes in the evening. You can take a variety of topics and not take a lot of hard classes all at once. I took 6 hours of core, required classes, and 6 hours of easy stuff like cooking, aerobics, piano for adults, tennis, weight training, swimming, dance classes of different kinds, etc...I also took choir, voice, music history, music appreciation (which ended up filling my humanities requirement and it was way easy), all kinds of classes that gave me a break from work and life but would still serve the purpose of helping me get in exercise, making me better educated about a topic like cooking, or being something I could do the rest of my life.

I made almost straight A's and fulfilled every requirement for my degree and only added one semester on to the end.

I am bad at upper levels in math, I test out of addition, fractions, subtraction, multiplication, etc...but algebra and other less concrete math is just out of my capabilities. I would never set myself up for failure by taking a higher math class with other equally hard classes such as a statistics class along with the college algebra since I am going to struggle with both equally. I would take one of the math classes along with an easier core class and then the other 6 hours of stuff I just had to show up for like the cooking class.

I still use the healthy recipes I learned in the good life cooking class, I still play tennis occasionally, I still have a piano and can teach the kids basic's, I still have my trophy's in 2-Step, Waltz, and other dances that I competed in. I still use the things I learned 30+ years ago.

I feel that I am a better person due to the choices I made in college. I was raising a child with serious behavior issues and being able to have the time to better myself was hard. Still, I would not change the choices I made at all. I got a full scholarship to a large University based on my GPA when I got my A. A. degree from a local Jr. College. I did the same thing there but with lots more choices.

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