(Closed) College/career advice for my FI

posted 4 years ago in Career
Post # 16
205 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2017 - Edson Keith Mansion

He should talk to a career counselor. Seriously. Track one down in your area and set up an appointment. They should be able to give him realistic ideas of what he may want to major in, what types of jobs he will be elegible for after graduating, and whether he should start looking to change jobs now and have a ‘foot in the door’ so that he can begin advancing post-graduation. 

Most part time programs at colleges will have an option of taking all night classes. I know you said he is in retail at a hardware store, so I’m not sure what his hours are, but if he’s off by 5 or 6 that would be totally doable. His current employer might be totally fine with him needing to be out by 5 for two or three days a week, without him dropping to working part time. 

Post # 17
1009 posts
Bumble bee

I’ve been working in higher education for five years, and I’m switching (hopefully) into elementary education, but here’s my two cents:

While your Fiance seems to have somekind of idea of what he might want to do, he should reach out to people or career centers who are already doing that, and ask to do Informational Interviews with them in order to get a better idea of what the day to day is like in that field.

Then, look into online schools, but NOT FOR PROFIT! For profit schools are generally not as well respected (that’s not to say that people can’t get a degree there and have a successful career, it just REALLY depends on the field), and they generally don’t provide as much career support for graduates. Southern New Hampshire is a non-profit that has a ton of online degrees and a campus in New Hampshire. I know a few people who teach in some of their programs, and they’re GREAT teachers (I hired them for the school I worked at, which was not an online school). 

Your Fiance can also look into doing an Associate’s degree at first, and make sure you’re not spending a ton of money – education should NOT be incredibly expensive!

Good luck bee!

Post # 18
2942 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

Honestly, my best advice is to be realistic about job prospects.  Social media and NASCAR are going to be hard fields to break into.  I have a degree in PR, and I work at a major bank in finance, even after having amazing internships doing PR for both a foreign government and a well recognized national organization.   My husband has applied to work as an attorney for college athletics several times after representing student athletes, and the NCAA and colleges aren’t jumping to hire him.  We both have resumes that should have made us great hires in these fields, but we weren’t.

Not to discourage from going back to school, but saying to step back and look at what the career without hitting the dream career jackpot would look like.  Would he be okay doing social media for the local dog groomer?  If not, look at a field with broader appeal, like marketing, business, or something with computers that can be applied to dream career without a direct link, like network or database systems. 

I am currently back in school for my masters, and I am in a completely different direction than my undergrad, because I have found the reality of what would have been my “dream career” to be harder to pursue, but found something else I loved along the way.  

Post # 19
471 posts
Helper bee

Hey there! I work for a brick-and-mortar state university (in Texas), so I thought I’d chime in. 

I advised for our online BAAS degree program – it’s a Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences, and it’s designed for non-traditional students who might have quite a bit of experience in the job market. It’s sort of like a General Studies degree program in a lot of ways, and it’s solely online. What I liked about the program is that students can take a number of courses to see what they like or didn’t. We had students all over the state and all over the world, so it’s quite possible to find an all-online program at a place that isn’t for-profit.

Second, I wholeheartedly endorse the career counseling idea above! As the above poster commented, working in social media for NASCAR is SUPER specific and likely not reality. But a career counselor could help him figure out more areas he might actually have an interest in.

Best of luck to you guys!

Post # 22
60 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I work at a CC in Maryland, so feel free to PM me (and we have lots of online classes 🙂 )

Post # 24
940 posts
Busy bee

I second what everyone is saying about job prospects. College for the sake of learning and experiences is great, but at 30 years old in a still-recovering economy, pondering the wonders of life with something like a philosophy degree isn’t exactly rational. Do some serious research into what careers have good prospects in the current market, and start there. Scour job sites for the kinds of postings available in your area, evaluate the kinds of requirements necessary, and really focus on what can get him a great job he’ll love and not a degree he can’t use with debt.

I got my BA in my dream field (writing) and I really thought that I’d be the exception. I’d get the good job in a writing field or publish a novel right out of school and all of those other delusions new college grads have. I even got into an MFA program at a really great school to continue my stretch of a career goal (ended up turning it down due to the cost). 

It took a job waiting tables for me to learn that I was not, in fact, the exception. My hometown was in a depressed area, and I didn’t have the money to look elsewhere. It was hard to give up, so to speak, on my dream, but I did. I went back to school. I got a master’s degree in accounting and I work in corporate FP&A in Manhattan. Never crossed my mind as a career path until I fell into it by chance, but I legitimately LOVE what I do. Your job doesn’t necessarily have to correlate with hobbies, and there are thousands of career options out there that probably never crossed either of your minds. 

My Darling Husband wishes he had studied literally anything else for his career than what he does now, but he’s pretty well stuck, so I do know how hard it can be motivating someone who isn’t sure what he wants. Good luck! 

Post # 25
737 posts
Busy bee

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ecampbell :  I will be very blunt. School choice matters just as much as major choice. They both will make a difference. Better schools will provide your fiance with a better education and give him a better network when he is looking for jobs after graduation. Likewise, in-demand majors are going to be better while job hunting. But I will say that too many people overlook the fact that school choice matters and a better school will give you more opportunities down the line.

Now that I’ve said that… I really hope you’re not looking at University of Maryland University College (UMUC) because I have heard from people making hiring decisions that their reputation with employers is not respected and they’re known as an “online school” in a bad way. I know they’re affordable, but I would advise you to stay away. (for other people who looked into this school, look at this thread: http://www.militarysos.com/forum/school-work/581989-umuc-credibility.html )

What you want is a well-known brick and mortar school with a good reputation that offers an online program, no employer wonders if his school is reputable or questions him about his school. You want to look for a well-known state university that offers an online program, rather than a university that is mostly known for its online programs (even if it has a brick and mortar campus).

If someone might check whether or not your school is reputable or accredited, you don’t want to go there. You want a degree from the distance learning branch of a traditional school that is mostly known for it’s brick and mortar programs…not a school that is mostly known for its online programs. For example, you want University of [Name of State] or [Name of State] State University.

UMUC is mostly known for its online programs, not its brick and mortar programs and is not a traditional school. UMUC may be affiliated with UMD but it is not THE University of Maryland. From what I heard when I was looking into online schools myself, and UMUC’s reputation isn’t good with hiring managers and I would recommend your fiance go elsewhere. Sure, it might cost more money to go somwehere else, but if it helps him get a better job then it will be worth it. Like I said before, school name and the network that is accessible to him does matter in the job search.

The fact of the matter is that employers and HR departments discriminate against people who complete their degrees online. You’re not going to change that, so figure out how to work the system.

The best thing for him would be to attend the University of Maryland–College Park. It would be better for him to attend a brick and mortar program if that was at all possible. This would better his education by allowing him to make connections more easily with professors, and it would also allow him to finish his program faster if he was going to school full-time. Could you support him while he does that?

If you’re set on online programs, getting a degree from a state school with a respectable, prominent, well-known brick and mortar campus is the crucial first step.

I would recommend looking into these schools: 

I know you’re out of state for these schools, but they have much better reputations than UMUC.


I also think that getting a degree in Advertising/PR/Communications is a waste of money. I understand your fiance would love to manage the NASCAR social media accounts, but let’s be real… that’s not going to happen. Liberal arts majors generally do not pay off as well as harder science majors (which btw tend to require a greater time investment while in school).

He needs to do a lot of research and find a useful degree that will actually get him a job at the end, otherwise it’s a complete waste of money for him to go to school. This is a huge investment and I 100% think he should go for it and earn his bachelor’s, but it sounds like you guys haven’t done enough research into what kind of online programs have the best reputations or what kind of majors actually pay off (engineering, computer science, accounting, nursing, etc.).

Additionally, I strongly suggest that whatever major your fiance chooses, he takes some time to do a couple of internships. Internships are so important to actually getting jobs these days. If he’s not willing or cannot take time off to do multiple internships, definitely DO NOT have him do an advertising/communications/PR major. For better or worse, advertising/PR/communications (and other liberal arts degrees) are basically worthless without internships.

Maybe if he did a computer-based degree like computer science, he could find a part time internship that he could work on remotely?

Post # 26
737 posts
Busy bee

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ecampbell :  I think the best course of action for your fiance would be to:

1) Figure out what he wants to major in and make sure it is a useful major

2) Start out at a community college like the one weaselkidsmom mentioned

3) Finish up his degree at a reputable state school (If you’re looking at online programs look at the ones I mentioned in my last post, you want the school to be mainly known for brick and mortar classes so that no one even suspects he did his degree online or asks whether the degree was online or not…because people with online degrees are discriminated. Also you can ask the school whether his course requirements, transcripts, and diploma would be indistinguishable from the kids doing the brick and mortar program)


I am actually wondering now if a good course of action for your fiance could be to do a computer science degree with a marketing minor. Then he would have a useful major, but still be able to take some marketing classes and potentially get a job at a marketing department when he graduates (but if that fails, he could still do computer science as a back up).


https://www.khanacademy.org/ is also a great website for self-studying. Maybe he could look into exploring some different subjects while he is exploring options for furthering his education.

Post # 28
2449 posts
Buzzing bee

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ecampbell :  FWIW, I just looked this school up based on this thread. Also, I understand that they are not for profit and serve a non-traditional population, but their acceptance rate seems to be 100% and their graduation rate is abysmally low at 6%. Even if this represents a fraction of their students because most are doing their degrees part-time, that is very low.



Even by their own explanation, their graduation rates seem concerning low to me.


I’m no college snob, but I really would question this school’s reputation based on this quick search. I hardly know anyting about the school, but I can see why people may be comparing it to the for-profit schools based on this search.


Hope all goes well with your Fiance looking at colleges. Investing in himself is the best thing he can do, and he shouldn’t let lack of confidence hold him back. My SO is an engineer and he is the first to admit that you don’t have to be extremely smart to do it. You have to be interested in the subject, have some talent for numbers, and hardworking. And that basically goes for everything! Hard work will beat smarts/talent much more often than not. Plus the more you work the more confident you become once you realize that your work is paying off.

Post # 30
1647 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2018

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ecampbell :  I am currently doing an online undergrad, through a very reputable university.  I had tried once before with one of those ‘online only’ universities and the whole experience was horrible.  Going through a reputable university has made a huge difference.

Can he do a short course in something to see whether he has an interest first?  Otherwise a broad undergrad can be worth it as many employers just require a non-specific tertiary degree.

He also needs to be aware that studying online while working is a huge life changer.  I am only doing part time and yet my health, current job and relationship have all suffered.  It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  

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