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Monday, August 14, 2006

Praying about returning to school

Everyone, I'd like to ask for your prayers, and believe me, if this is to happen I need a HUGE miracle.

It has been on my heart for a long time to go back to school...even before I got my B.A. degree, I wanted to go to grad school. However, I realized I didn't know for certain which area I wanted to study and I think I finally know...at least, down to two areas..one specific, and one broad but with more info likely to be pinpointed. Oh, and I just thought of a third area I learned about today.

Today I'm off work, recovering from our camping trip. This afternoon I took a nap...just couldn't keep my eyes open. During that nap, I had a dream about returning to school and it seemed it was going to happen. I woke up with the understanding that I'm never going to go back if I don't take a few steps towars the possible goal.

I'm in a job in which I have no future. When I first started, I *knew* where I wanted to go with the company, but now I'm simply not interested. Already, I'm burned out as it is. It's not for lack of internal opportunity...opportunities abound as the company is profitable and is constantly expanding and restructuring. But I'm not interested in any of it. Clearly I have not found my niche professionally.

I think I want to teach, and I've wanted to study theology. Ironically, when I was in high school an uncle of mine offered to pay my way through college-any college or university without restriction--if I would become a teacher. He was on the board of trustees of a school he helped to found out East and I was thus pretty much guaranteed a job. I refused and although he did assist me in paying for school, I funded the rest myself via scholarships, grants, and student loans. I'm still paying for that--every month.

And another irony...when I went to school for my B.A. degree, I considered then studying theology, but I was so focused on what I thought I wanted to do that I didn't give it much thought...and perhaps it wasn't the time, anyway.

Now, here I am, 10 years later, wanting desperately to return to school for a grad degree.

Right now I'm looking at St. Thomas for a Master's degree in either Education (teaching), Catholic Studies, or a joint degreen in Catholic Studies and Law. As my B.A. degree is in Criminal Justice, the latter option might be a good one.

But here's the problem--or rather, several problems:

* I own a house and I'm paying for a mortgage, a car, and all the utilities. I don't have enough space for a roommate.

* I have dogs, thus the expense and the necessary time required for them...ie running home from work to feed them and let them out, etc. Giving them up is NOT an option. Do you have any idea how many pets are euthanized because there are more homeless pets than available homes? That, and as far as I'm concerned, they are family, AND I made an agreement to be a responsible owner. That means not giving up on one's best friends because they suddenly become inconvenient on a whim.

* I have no money left over at the end of the month..not for ANYTHING. That's never a good thing.

At this point, I think what needs to happen is that I need to find a financial package that will pay for my expenses (and debt), to include the dogs while I attend school full time, and find a part time job with benefits to save my parish from having to take up a collection to pay my medical bills should disaster befall me. Because of the dogs, I could not just take evening classes without effect because I would not have time to run home and then to class in the evening--I live too far away from St. Thomas...not to mention the gas money! Oy Vey!

I'm not sure I'd qualify for a fellowship...sadly, I didn't work hard enough when I got my BA degree, although I did well. But I would not refer to my GPA as "outstanding". It was good and I think I was in the top quarter or third of my class, but I did not graduate cum laude. One of the other options might work but it would certainly not cover my expenses.

So you see, if I go back to school, I need something major to get me there. I need a scholarship, I need Divine Providence, and honestly, if God wants me to go back to school, He will provide the means for me to quit my job and pay for the classes.

I'm asking you all to pray for me. At this point I'm thinking of becoming a teacher--a religion teacher, specifically. You all know how I love my faith! And after the watered down crap I (and so many others) were fed for so long, I want to be part of the solution of solid formation. I'm not sure what I'd do with a joint degree in Catholic Studies and Law, but I may contact the college to find out what those grads do.

If anyone has any ideas or know anyone in a similar circumstance who pulled something like this off, please let me know. I'm in need of a little hope and a huge miracle!

7 comments:

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: I'm praying for you! Because, I too, have thought about getting a higher-level Theology degree then I already have (I have a minor in Theology) I know of a couple of distance education options.

Catholic Distance University http://www.cdu.edu/masters.asp

Franciscan University of Steubenville http://www.franciscan.edu/home2/Content/DistanceLearning/main.aspx?id=662&cat=120

Both of these institutions were recommended to me via the CA Apologetics Forums so you know they are probably very orthodox-certainly Franciscan is.

I believe Franciscan may have a requirement that you spend so many weeks in residence in the summer but otherwise the rest is remote.

Good luck!

Theocoid said...

I'm in the International Catholic University program at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. It's 100% remote. The good thing is no residential requirement. The bad thing is minimal contact with other students. However, the program was developed by Ralph McInerny (a well-known Thomistics scholar), and the lecture series (all on DVD, VHS, or audio tape) includes some well known Catholic scholars and authors. One of my tutors, Fr. Brian Mullady, had a series on EWTN at one point.

Good luck!

Go to http://www.holyapostles.edu/ and click on the Distance Learning link.

Anonymous said...

Hi, y'all, and thanks for the links. I guess I should have been more specific...online is really not an option for me. My computer is too unreliable and I'm just not disciplined enough. I NEED the traditional classroom because the computer, besides being too hard on the eyes, just isn't very feasable.

I'll update my post after work to specify this.

I am looking specifically at St. Thomas in St. Paul because they have the program(s) I want. I just can't do it without the help of the guy upstairs who writes all the checks...God.

~ Adoro

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro:

Sounds like you will have to read thru the grant/scholarship/fellowship pamphlets at UST Admissions or Financial Aid office to see what's out there. I remember spending much time doing that myself when I was in college.

The Knights of Columbus have educational scholarships but they prefer to give them to Knights or Wife, Sons or Daughter of Knights. Not sure if you meet any of that criteria.

Could you teach parish-level RCIA without a graduate-level degree? Would you even be interested in that? I don't know what the qualifications for those posts are, though, given the crappy state of most RCIA programs I'd be shocked that YOU would be less qualified.

In MN, I think you frequently have to have a teacher's license or certificate to teach in a parish school.

You should talk with someone at UST about what you want to do and see what they recommend.

Whatever happens, don't be discouraged. You are "teaching" more people then you know thru your blog!

Adoro Te Devote said...

Thanks, Cathy!

It's not just a matter of "teaching", though, and yes, I can teach RCIA...volunteers do that and I hope to start doing so this year...at least I think I'll be signing up for the class and likely assigned to someone as a sponser.

Anyway, this is more a matter of seeking God's will for me, and the signs have been there all along. Now here I am in an impossible situation (house, car, debt, etc) wanting to finally go to Grad school. Boy, am I at God's mercy!

I was at the UST website today and I'll be looking around for lots of financial aid/ scholarships. Unfortunately I wouldn't qualify for a K of C thing...my Dad wasn't Catholic and actually, he was a Mason.

I really need to get out of the job I'm in and given the state of the job market today and the experience I have...it's pretty much worthless for anything other than the same stuff. I hate the business world with a passion so I guess I'm doing my purgatory time by having to stay in it for so long. If I can find a PT job with bennies and use the financial aid to cover the rest of the gaps so I'll have a roof over my head, then maybe I can swing at least half-time if not full time school.

Only God can handle this one, but I do feel very strongly about this...we'll see if that "feeling" is only my typical antsiness or something more.

Monte said...

Grand ideas that you are considering. I respect your concerns about the commitments you have made, especially to keep your family together, pets are so wonderful! And of course, seeking God's special help to make a way.

More than all this, is the underlying drive to pursue this further education, so that you can make yourself a faithful servant of God who is orthodox. Oh, may your tribe increase!

So, take courage, and be patient as you seek diligently, press on toward the mark of the high calling, as Paul wrote in Phillipians chapter 3, verse 13 and after.

RobK said...

If this is from God, he will provide. Maybe not as you expect, but enough. Perhaps barely enough, but enough. Discern the path as well as the end. Is this something that requires preparation (Ignatious Loyola had to go learn Latin with children, before he coud go to study to be a priest). Are there personal pre-req's to going to school? Is it another year in the purgatory of this job? Pray on it. And if the path leads to a risk - I think you have to walk with faith and take the risk. But there may be sacrifice "When everything is made new again ... everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times as much and also inherit eternal life" from Matt 19:28,29