What It's Really Like Leaving Your Full Time, Salaried Job To Go Back To School

SO I’ve been ‘back to school’ for a little over a month now. I left my full-time, salaried job at the end of April and began classes full-time at the beginning of May. I also moved across the country from Colorado back to my home state, Maine into our family home (my great-grandfather built it)! Let me just start by saying that NONE of this has been ‘easy’ and I really will NOT sugar-coat it because honestly I feel like everyone that I’ve ever heard of that has made any of these decisions just glaze over all the crappy-parts to get to the happy-parts. If you’re looking for that then, maybe this isn’t the post for you because it’s about to get really honest. Before we get to all the tough-parts, here’s what I’m now seeing as my view most mornings when I study from home (this is nice, see!):


I didn’t decide to change careers overnight.

It’s been a LONG journey to get me to this point. I applied to Med School after receiving my undergraduate degree and have always been extremely passionate about working in the healthcare field. I’ve previously worked as an Orthodontic Assistant and went to school in (original hopes) of becoming a Physical Therapist. I won’t go into all of the details, but short story- none of it panned out. I also found a real passion for youth athletic programming and knew that a boost in my GPA would help my still dreams of going back to school to get my DPT or possibly DO degree, so I got my MBA in Sports & Recreation Management. I LOVED my schoolwork and learned so much. I’m 100% sure I’ll use it down the road in one way or another and it was also really beneficial when I was still running the Figure Skating program in Steamboat, CO.

SO, I guess long-story short, I started to dream of maybe going into Nursing was the perfect fit for me after I had a really really great experience with a Nurse Practitioner. She was AMAZING. After this encounter, I started thinking that I hadn’t had a BAD experience with any nurse and all of them were outdoorsy and had relatively flexible schedules and were obviously highly intelligent and had job security and I got along with any nurse that I met. I mulled this profession over for several years. I didn’t just want to apply to a program (especially now with all of those lovely student loans I have) if I wasn’t really sure this was for me. SO I finally decided to apply.


But, Why Move Very Far Away?

When I was looking to apply, honestly- Maine was really the only program that I even looked at (or even applied to!). Alex and I had been talking about ending up back in New England at some point (our entire family is in ME/VT/MA), so it just made sense (plus not having to pay rent was key if I was planning to go back to school). University of Southern Maine has an EXCELLENT nursing program, so I knew that if I got in I had to go. This was probably one of the easiest decisions throughout this journey.

How are you paying for all this?

Yes, I’m going to talk about money because honestly I don’t think most people DO. I always wonder how people go back to school after having all of these bills and remain unmarried and how do they afford it all?!? SO I’m kinda flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants with this one. I was able to save up some money to float me along for the Summer and as my classes wind down, I’ll be taking on a part-time job to pay for my bills and gas and food. I’m also currently teaching figure skating lessons, which helps. Honestly- this is one of the most stressful things surrounding going back to school. It’s so much easier when you’re younger (all around!), but I’m 29 and certainly no longer ‘one of the young ones’ in my class! I’m taking as little additional student loans as I can and hoping for a few scholarships that I’ve applied to. It’s helpful that this program is one year and then I’ll be able to apply to get my licensure. I wouldn’t go without saying that Alex and my mom have been super helpful with financial extras as well. I couldn’t continue to reach for my dreams without them!

Some things that I’ve found useful when cutting back on money:

  • Packing lunches each day

  • Limiting the ‘extras’ (Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts/ Purchasing less organic foods/ etc.)

  • Evaluated any extra bills I have (reduced car insurance/ limiting electric bills etc.)

  • Selling items that I no longer use (this was really easy since I had so many extra clothes still left in Maine that I no longer wanted/needed!)


So, Was It Scary?

Oh yeah, every step that I took to get to the first day of classes, first exam, first study-session, first round of books purchased was REALLY challenging and SCARY. If I let myself get easily deterred, then none of this would have happened. There were so many roadblocks, set-backs, wrong-turns, but I just keep moving along. Some days were frustrating, everything costs ten times more than what you anticipate, and I’ve had quite a few meltdowns along the way. Leaving a job (albeight one that I really didn’t love) that gave me security (although no health insurance) was HARD.

Leaving Steamboat was also really really hard. I had a lot of anxiety around the entire trip and continually questioned whether I was making the right decision. If it was meant to be, wouldn’t it feel easier? HOWEVER most things that are the most rewarding are really challenging and will test you (hello, take marathons or your first race as an example!). I didn’t get to say goodbye to a lot of people and left it a secret to most because Alex still hadn’t told most of his friends (and he had lived there twice as long as I had), so I kept it mainly to myself which also made it a lot harder when the day finally came to drive away. I also just really hate goodbyes, so yeah.

6 Weeks In

I’m 6 weeks in and can honestly say I am LOVING it. Everything I’m learning is giving me a sign that I have FINALLY found the career for me. I wake up in the morning really excited about what I’m going to learn today, how I can apply it to my future career as a nurse (and hopefully an NP one day!), and just general happiness - something that I had been missing for a really long time. School-wise it’s been great. I love studying and am absolutely a life-long learner, so even though there is still anxiety surrounding exams - it’s a new, fun kinda learning that I never had during my first undergraduate degree.


Relationship-wise it’s been hard. Alex and I are still figuring out our new dynamics - we’re in a new place, he’s working from home, I’m gone most days for 12+ hours, and money is obviously tighter than it has been. There’s been some bumps in the road and I wish I could say that we’ve been planning our Wedding or it’s already planned, but honestly that’s taken the back-burner and it just sucks (no sugar-coating here!). I’m remaining patient and optimistic and looking toward the future where it looks a lot brighter over there.


Any questions you have for me regarding this area?

Ever quit a secure-job for something unsecure? How’d it go? Any tips for me?

Anyone a nurse out there? Tell me more about your job!!