Some of you know that I started my graduate degree last month (September), as well as work full-time and write daily (except weekends) for Clever Dude. Although my wife would disagree that I actually WORK full-time (I’m here 8 hours, ok!), going to school has added quite a bit of stress to my life, and portions of my life and relationships have suffered. In the next week or two, I’ll be talking a bit about stress, so stay tuned.
As for the status on my first semester back in school, I finished an in-class midterm for one course 2 weeks ago (got a 94), and just turned in a take-home midterm last night for my other course. Don’t ever think a take-home exam will be easier, because it just means the professor can give you any amount of work since it doesn’t have to fit in a 3-hour time block.
As soon as I got the midterm, I scanned through the questions and wrote down an estimate of the amount of time I thought each would take me to complete. My initial estimate was 17 hours for the whole exam based on past homeworks, but in the end I was able to breeze through the whole exam in a mere 6 hours.
Last night, I was going to review my answers, but after finishing another homework for my Wednesday class, I decided to just send it in. Most of the questions are subjective, and although I’ve taken the same approach to every homework in the past, each has gotten me anywhere from a B+ to an A, so why change?
If you’re wondering, my employer will reimburse a grade of C or higher, and depending on the course, you can pass with a C or higher as well. I could really lower my performance and still probably get a low B in these courses, but obviously I won’t since I have higher expectations for myself. I’m not looking to ace every course because I’m not willing to put that time and effort into school, but I’d like to leave each course with an A- or higher. Right now I have an A- in one class and an A in the other.
Lastly, regarding finances, I’ve already paid for and been reimbursed for this semester (back in July). The cost was about $5000, plus about $200 for books, so I hit the yearly limit on my employer’s reimbursement amount.
Right now, registration is open for next semester, but if I paid now, I can’t submit for reimbursement until Jan 1st, 2008. That’s $5,000 of my own money that I would have to put up front, so here’s my plan. I’m going to sign up for one of the 0% card offers I posted last week and even get some rewards back on the purchase. I don’t like having more cards, but in this case, my only other option is to pay with my MINI credit card, but that offer would run out before I would get my reimbursement. All my other cards have higher rates, and I don’t want to pull money out of savings if I don’t have to (because we’re earning interest on it).
It stinks, but I’m going to have to deal with this situation one more time next year for the Spring 2009 semester. What’s even worse is that next year, I’ll have to pay for Summer and Fall 2008 semesters out-of-pocket. That’s about $7,500 non-reimbursed, but I knew that going into the program. It’s nice that my employer covers some of the program (about half when it’s all over), and it will speed up the payback period of my own investment in my education. I expect my $15,000 will be paid back within the first 2 years after school is over due to pay raises, and maybe even sooner as my employer recognizes my advances in education with each performance review until I graduate.
So for those of you who work full-time, go to school AND have kids AND are paying fully out of your own pockets, I commend you and respect you. I feel like I have it easy compared to some people in my classes, and I do. Good luck!