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Get a job?

from MissEm - Friday, October 05, 2007
accessed 1536 times

Or get an education?

I had the chance to go to high school for about 2 years when I was 15/16 and cram what I had to know (4 years worth of school) to take the final exams to get a high school diploma (GCSE O-Level) Considering how sporadic my education was I actually did very well IN class and was a great student, but I did pretty bad on my final exams with a D in Science and Math - but A's and B's in English, Art and Geography. I think this was due to the fact that I just didn't have enough time to fully grasp everything I was learning and was just trying to get it over with.

Anyway, here I am 10 years later. I haven't looked at a school book since then and am now at the point where I need to make decisions. As is probably the case with most everyone here, I am fully on my own and have had to figure out how to make it haphazardly, a little confused about what really IS the best option. I am not a highly ambitious person by nature (I don't want to be a scientist or a doctor, nor a nurse or vet or a CEO of some big corporation) but I do love learning. I have a lot of the "hippie" ideology we were taught in TF and I don't rate success and money synonymously. I've read so much about the pro's and cons of going to college, how it's not for everyone as much as society makes you think it is, how it's not a place to go to figure out what you want to do with your life. This site was interesting.

I just want to hear from people who grew up like I did about why you went to college? Or why you think you don't need to go? What did you need to do to get to where you are today? What would you have done differently if you could start over?

My only work experience has been restaurants and retail (easy to get into), but my goal in life is to NOT be a worker ant making some big business men fat and rich. Capitalism may have brought liberty and freedom to the masses, to the poor, to the unequal class systems, but it's been tainted with greed and I don't want to be a part of that. --- ha, that's just a short synopsis of what I'm about.

Thanks guys!

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from scorpion
Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 10:04

This thread is in The Trailer Park 
from RR
Saturday, October 06, 2007 - 18:47

Hey MissEm,

You seem to love learning and I think that is exactly what college should be about, especially a good liberal arts program. A college education will change you! You will have a remarkably different perspective on life and a better quality of life as a result, whether or not you end making more money.

Good luck!
(reply to this comment)

From MissEm
Friday, October 12, 2007, 19:58

Thanks for your comment. You're absolutely right! I do need to change my perspective and get my head out of the sand. I've been toying with the idea for so long and now I just gotta step up and go for it.(reply to this comment
from Marc
Saturday, October 06, 2007 - 17:55

I can respond to this from a first-hand experience. Like most SGAs, I had little to no formal education. I have always been interested in learning and knew that I would eventually go to college. After leaving the group, I realised that it would not be easy to get into college with my background. It took me several years of working at odd jobs before I mustered the courage to try for college. I took the GED and, like you, did exceptionally well with the Liberal Arts, but failed miserably with math and science. Being an ambitious sort of fellow, I decide to challenge myself by taking subjects I knew the least about: Math and Science.

After being accepted into a university, I decided I would take the most challenging major I could find: Biochemistry and Biophysics. The first two years of my programme were general studies (history, writing, economics, etc.). However, I also had to take an enormous amount of math and basic physics to get caught up with my peers/classmates. I started at the bottom; taking introductory algebra and trigonometry. My major required seven levels of calculus and linear algebra, so I had a LOT of catching up to do. This added two years to my degree. I am happy to say that I graduated after six years of undergraduate studies with a BSc in Biochemistry and Biophysics; exactly what I set out to do.

Unfortunately, as someone pointed out, I was left with over $50,000 in student loans, zero savings, no daddy-to-pay-the-bills, and very little job prospects. As crazy as it may sound, there is little you can do with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in my field, except go on to graduate school. So, I decided to do just that.

Since I graduated with good grades, a paper published (first author), excellent references/recommendations, etc., I was able to get into MIT. I am now starting my fourth year of graduate school and hope to take my PhD (in biophysics) within two years.

Looking back over these 10 years of studies (yes, I am a "professional student"), I have often asked myself if I have made the best, or even the "right" decisions. I have had to put everything else in life on hold: Getting married, having children, buying a house, savings account, retirement, etc. These are all things I wish to do, but they have been placed on the back-burner for now. Have I made the right decisions?

I see that I have made the following major decisions in my life:
1. Not marrying the woman I loved (in the group) and starting a family;
2. Leaving the group; and
3. Going to college

I can easily and confidently say that the last one, going to college (and graduating), was the best decision I have ever made and might ever make. University opened up whole new worlds to me, it immensely boosted my self-esteem, and my job-prospects will be insanely good (after completing my PhD). I will be set for the remainder of my life.

To summarise, and to answer your question: It all depends on what you want out of life and what you wish to do with it. It is easy to bash money-making (and our background was good at doing that), however, the simple fact of life is no matter what you decide to do, you WILL need money to do it. Don't live to make money, make money to live and live how you wish. You may not need a lot of money to do what you want, but you will need SOME money. Try this: Start living your life as if you already had all the money you needed to accomplish your dreams; it will not only change your perspective, it will work.
(reply to this comment)
From Christy
Wednesday, October 17, 2007, 17:36


I absolutely agree that going to college was the best decision I've made. My decision to leave TF was highly motivated by my desire to get a college degree. Sometimes I regret not choosing a major with a greater earning potential, but I will still never regret getting my degree.

Like you, I didn't have much confidence in my ability to learn math and science. So much of that is based on prior knowledge and you really can't skip steps. One reason I chose my major was because it only required one college level math class (plus Algebra II and a few classes on how to teach elementary math). If I could do it over again, I'd probably take a lot of other things into consideration.

One other thing, you really don't have to go into major dept in order to get a degree. I started in community college and then transferred to a state university. When it comes down to it, my degree is from a top state school, and I really don't have to tell anyone about the community college unless I choose to do so. Between financial aid, scholarships, and my earnings from waitressing and bartending, I was able to graduate without any dept.

College may not be for everyone, but if it's something you've been mulling over for years, you may regret not trying.(reply to this comment

From MissEm
Friday, October 12, 2007, 19:51

Wow thanks for taking the time to post a response! It's nice to know there are others who can relate to what I am experiencing! So what am I doing? Gonna start living as if I have all the money in the world and see where my perspective takes me. :)

Although I don't myself wanting to go the professional student route I think that school will at least boost my confidence and I just might learn a thing or two. I have been out of The Family for about 2 years now and I still feel so wet behind the ears and incapable. I'm not finding satisfaction in just making money - I feel only half myself lately and now know that I have to step up and keep challenging myself otherwise I'll wither away. That's how it feels anyway.

(reply to this comment
From exfamily
Sunday, October 07, 2007, 01:31

Do you mind if I ask at what age you started college? Also, did you study full-time? If so, how did you pay your bills?

I haven't gone to college/uni, as at 20 I decided to study for certain industry certificates (i.e. MCSE etc) for the sake of them being relevant and sought after in the IT field. So I spent about 1 1/2 years studying for them, after which I broke into IT.

I have a passion for learning and knowledge, and while my passion for IT has waned, I'm now in love with science in general. I'd always vaguely intended to get a degree, and in the meantime I've just been reading lots of popular science (or a bit more technical stuff), but really whatever caught my fancy.

About one month ago I suddenly realized I'm getting older but my degree is no closer. As I don't have a high school diploma or any formal recognition of my studies in TF, I might have to go through one of their Access programs, which I think can take a couple of years part-time (since I work full-time), after which I could go on to do a degree - god knows how long that will take part-time. So I pretty much freaked out especially since it was just too late to apply for an Access course, as they were starting in a few days. I didn't want to put the degree off for another 3 years when I'll be 26. So I thought that as the requirements for mature students are somewhat more relaxed, I'll try to study as much as I can this year, and apply straight to the uni and see if they'll take me without having to go through the Access course.

So I bought a massive physics textbook, and found I needed more than simple arithmetic to study it (I already knew this, but somehow hoped it wasn't so...) So I bought a book on algebra, and am studying that right now. I will then study trigonometry and a bit of calculus, after which I will go back to my physics textbook. I'll also get a biology textbook, but in the meantime while I'm studying the maths, I'll read some more basic physics and biology texts, those intended for high school level.

So that's my plan for this year, and I hope to get into college the next. From there, depending on what subject I study, I may go on to a graduate course. My dream is to get a Ph.D. Would likely be somewhere in the field of biology or neuropsychology.

About money, I think that of course it's important, but I think the most important thing is to enjoy life, pursue your passions, and have a job that allows you to do so: enough money to live comfortably, but one that doesn't put too much stress on you, and one that you hopefully find some pleasure in doing.(reply to this comment
From just_someone
Saturday, October 06, 2007, 19:38

I noticed that you don't think "leaving the group" was the best decision you ever made. Would you have gone to college had you not left the group? (reply to this comment
From Marc
Saturday, October 06, 2007, 19:49

No. I would not have gone to college had I not left the group. However, if I had to rank decisions by their difficulty (from thought through to execution and completion) and ultimate impact on my life, I would still say that going to college ranks higher than leaving the group. What I mean by that is the group, in the long run, is insignificant to my life from my current perspective (note: I have been out nearly 14 years now). Obviously, leaving the group was a difficult and important decision and it ranks a close second. But they are irrelevant to me now. They have no impact on my life now and will not for the remainder of my life. Graduating from university will affect the remainder of my life and what I do and can do. It remains the best decision I have ever met and I am not at all ashamed to say that. That is what I meant.(reply to this comment
From just_me_again
Sunday, October 07, 2007, 19:10

That's a good point. In the grand scheme of things, maybe leaving the cult would seem rather secondary. Iíve been out for almost 10 years (thank god!), and I tend to attribute everything that Iíve accomplished since then to one critical turning point--leaving the d#$# cult. But maybe it would be good to re-orient my thinking to more "proximate" causes. Btw, what youíve accomplished since youíve left is impressive!! (reply to this comment
from Yay Capitalism!
Saturday, October 06, 2007 - 15:17

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Don't like capitalism, huh? You'll be singing a different tune when you have to pay back 40,000 dollars in student loans.

Oh, and ten years after high school and you don't have a job? What, did you rejoin the family?
(reply to this comment)

From MissEm
Friday, October 12, 2007, 19:55

I wasn't really out of the family when I was in school and actually left only about 2 years ago.

I do have a job (two in fact) but they are not what I want to be doing with my life so I need to start making decisions that aren't going to be a waste of time! Make sense? (reply to this comment
from afflick
Saturday, October 06, 2007 - 10:33

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
I started college at about 26 years old. It was hard to be among all these 18 and 19 year olds in class and I had no idea what I was going to do once I finished. I still believed it was the eff'ing End Time. But I didn't know what I wanted to do for work, I just knew I didn't want to work in retail. At the end of my second year, I was sitting in a coffee shop studying for finals when I took a break to read the paper. Within the pages, I found a story about some local attorney. Nothing special, just a story about some lawyer and I thought, "hmmm, the law." Not feeling particularly smart, I was very competitive at school and got good grades. Still, wondered if by attempting to go in this new direction with my studies I was just setting myself up.
Yet, I was becoming really interested in this "law stuff." The way the law works is so much different than the standard procedures of growing up in The Family. Eventually, I got a scholarship to study for a term at a highly prestigious college and realized that I was fit in there much better than I thought I would.
Now, I'm in my first year of law school. Summing up my experience, sometimes I do wish I hadn't turned into a "career student" and had more assets, a bigger bank account. But I know all of that is coming when I begin my practice.
For most of my life, I felt like that dumb girl who doesn't know as much as others. I was insecure of my lack of education and slowly I've become much more confident that, while I may not be a smartest, I can hold my own.
If I could do anything differently...I would have started six years earlier. It's not fun being the oldest student in the room. But then again, it's really not a big deal, either.
(reply to this comment)
from Jay Dead
Saturday, October 06, 2007 - 00:08


Well, if you are not the CEO of a big corporation, you are likely to be pretty much "a worker ant making some big business men fat and rich." Like the rest of us who are not Trust Fund Babies, whether we be doctors, nurses, scientists, lawyers or baristas.

Capitalism may suck, but even those who buy into it can't just be CEO's of some big corporation just because they want to (gotta have a daddy named Bush or similar).

Me, I made my way in the dark, whacking the bushes with a machete. Got bit by a lot of snakes along the way. I don't recommend the way I made, it just happens to be the way I walked with my machete. In the dark, I did not really see any way so I just walked. With my machete. In the dark bushes.

I notice that one thing you do not say you don't want to be is a lawyer. Maybe being a lawyer is unambitious enough, and you could look into it.

(reply to this comment)

From MissEm
Friday, October 12, 2007, 20:06

Funny my bf was just telling me the other day that I would be a great lawyer. He said he could just see me doing those lawyer ads in between those morning court TV shows. like this one lol!
(reply to this comment
From Graciella
Thursday, June 26, 2008, 11:32


The first thing about being successful at your dream job--or any job--is to just jump in & get  started. You probably won't like the first dozen jobs you try, but you'll gain experience that was not allowed in TF. Don't let the way you were  raised keep you imprisoned to change.

Few college graduates who grew up in the System get their dream job first thing out of college. Most start at entry level pay in a field having nothing to do with their degree. But one thing leads to another & eventually (in a decade or two) you'll probably be doing what you enjoy doing at that time.

If you want to change something, go outside the comfort zone TF boxed you into & do something different.Get out of your comfort zone & go apply for work somewhere.

In our Mom & Pop store, I 've hired many dozens of people right off the street in the many, many years I worked retail. In our particular business, we preferred to train our people rather than hire them for the experience they'd learned elsewhere. Experience was never a necessity.

Here are a few hints:

Take a bath. Dress for the job you are applying for. (dress appropriately for the job ie; don't wear an evening gown when applying for a job at McDonald's)

Look your prospective employer in the eye when he talks to you.

Pay attention & be polite.

Don't cuss & fart.

Shake the interviewer's hand when he says you're finished. (reply to this comment

from Big Sister
Friday, October 05, 2007 - 21:18

One interesting approach would be to do informational interviews with people who are working in fields that you might want to work in. A very accomplished environmental activist I know is asked frequently to talk to young women who would like to work in her field. She invites them to her office and they talk for maybe 30 minutes.

You can learn what kind of education is (or is not) needed for a specific job and more importantly, what it's really like to work in that job.

There's a book called What Color is Your Parachute that has a good discussion of how to do an informational interview.
(reply to this comment)

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