I have a choice now between:

a) Going back to school for 3 years to get a degree in speech-language pathology – and the school I was accepted at is across the country.  What I would gain is a career that would be intellectually engaging, be in a field that’s growing (career stability) and be a in a field where I can take a couple months off a year to travel or do other hobbies (because I could work in a school district).  I really would rather work less with more time to travel, camp, hike, sew, and do other pursuits.

b) Stay at my current job which is ok.  I’m in human resources, but not all that successful in a corporate culture, haven’t been promoted in 5 years, but I meet the job requirements, and since I’ve been with this company so long I get about 5 weeks of paid time off a year.  What I could do by doing this is – pay my house off in 4 years, continue living 3 houses away from my sister, maybe start a little Etsy business in my basement, and my boyfriend lives here, so we could easily continue our relationship.  But as far as working until retirement — I don’t know if I could do what I do forever.

Right now I make 65K/year…and would make about the same working year-round coming out of school.  If I I can make $17/K a year while going to school, I could pay for college and out with no debt – but my savings account depleted.

I’m stuck because if I have to work for the next 20-25 years – I would much rather be a speech-language pathologist. But what I really want more than a career I love – would be to be married and have a kid – and I’m 33 so my clock is running out.

Any thoughts on what to consider?

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4 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I think the grad school idea for speech is okay.

    The real problem, though, is not your career. It is that you want to get married and have a kid, and you’re time is running out.

    You have a stable work situation right now. I think keep the job and put all your energy into getting married. That’s what you need right now. Or just have the kid. I mean, do whatever you need to do to have that kid. I’m not saying you need to be married, but I’m saying that you need to focus on one problem at a time, and the having a kid problem is a much higher priority than going back to school.

    Going back to school and relocating to do it will take lots of time and energy – it’s a big change for you. You should not distract yourself from your highest priority right now. You can go back to school for speech pathology after you have the kid. If that’s still what you want to do.


  2. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I have commented several times on your blog over the years, but I have never taken the time to say thank you. This letter, and your wonderful reply, remind me that your blog gave me the best advice I have ever received.
    When I read your post “Get married first, then focus on career” (http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2006/06/01/get-married-first-then-focus-on-career/?utm_source=sidebar), I was 31. The post says that if you want kids, you need to start focusing on that at around 24– depressing! I had spent my 20s travelling and working lame jobs, and I felt that I was supposed to be having fun and enjoying myself. But the reality of my situation (single, childless, biological clock that will actually run out at some point) suddenly hit home. What also hit home was all the bad advice I got growing up– all that “don’t worry about kids, have a career, see the world” stuff.
    My favorite thing about that post, though, is the crystal clear plan for dealing with the situation: Focus. Focus on having kids, make that your first priority, make a systematic plan for finding a partner or having kids on your own, and proceed in the same organized way that guys around you are pursuing their careers.
    I changed jobs. I moved nearer my family. I forced myself to meet lots of new people. I know this formula will not work for everyone, but taking clear steps with the goal of having a family was the best thing I ever did. I am now 37 and married and pregnant. I know 37 is very late to start a family (high risk for fetal abnormalities), but I am grateful that I am not too late. And when I look around at my single friends, I think, thank god I started changing my life when I was 31.
    Thank you Penelope. Your advice here is right-on.
    Rachel G

  3. boo
    boo says:

    Re: focusing on having a kid, get a copy of “Taking Charge of your Fertility” and start keeping track of your cycles so you can know if anything’s weird NOW. My husband and I thought we’d have plenty of time to get pregnant and now that fertility problems have cropped up, our 30s are flying by as we try to save money for either IVF or adoption.

  4. Kristan
    Kristan says:

    I just want to jump in and say that I hear a lot of people talk about “high risks” of having children past your mid-thirties.

    I’m not going to deny that the risks increase, and possibly even alarmingly (I have no idea of the actual numbers). But remember…

    A risk statistic going from “0.03” to “0.3” is an increase of 10x !!!! ZOMG!

    … but it’s still a pretty low risk.

    I’m just saying that because I live in a place where *many* people are waiting until mid or late thirties to have babies (Berlin, Germany). And I am not seeing a lot of unhappy parents with little two headed hunchback babies.

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