OT: Educational choices, pressure from family. Need advice
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  1. #1
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    Default OT: Educational choices, pressure from family. Need advice

    So I am on a private scholarship for school and the wonderful person paying for my school doesn't care what I major in, so long as I'm doing something that I like.

    My immediate family is a different story. I signed up for machining classes summer quarter and I was excited, and they basically cornered me and harped on me about my major. To them it's a blue collar "shit job," and I should do something more white collar (they're a little bit elitist). They want me to be an addictions counselor. I've been known to overdo the alcohol, and I now abstain from it. They seem to think my past experiences with it and my fairly decent interpersonal skills will make me a good counselor. I caved under the pressure and enrolled accordingly.

    With my course load it's tough to work enough to move away from home. I study 4-6 hours a day 7 days a week and never get less than an A- in anything. Every time I focus more on work, my grades suffer. I can't have that. So I basically hear about it every day all day until I give in. But I digress.

    Here's the thing: There are things I like about both. Psychology is fascinating, and I enjoy learning about the various theories and therapeutic techniques used to effectively treat clients. There are pros and cons. What I really don't like is the fact that I take some responsibility for patient outcomes. I'm tasked with restoring the sanity of bottom barrel alcoholics and addicts who may die if I can't get through to them. It's not that I'm not up for a challenge or I don't think I could do it well; I'd be exceptional. But I've worked in a similar field, Emergency Medical Services, and found life or death responsibility to be brutal, draining, and taxing. On the other hand, it would be immensely rewarding to make a difference. It would test me considerably and would be a daily challenge. It may be something I can look back on with pride.

    Machining appeals to my love for mathematics and the physical sciences, both of which I excel in. I like that it is a practical application of both. I've done my share of reading into machine processes, and I think it would be immensely challenging, and the reward would be in that challenge. The accuracy and knowledge required to be a good machinist appeals to my meticulous and ambitious nature. Of course the cons would be the fact that I'm not as quick to learn hands-on. I do much better with concepts. I'm a better book learner than a hands on learner. I may fall behind and would definitely get frustrated. But it's not something I can't overcome.

    I'm not asking you to decide for me. Just any words of advice or insight would be awesome. I just don't know who else to talk to about this. I can't find any allies in my family.

    In any case, I think I need to find a way to get away from my family.

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    Have they looked at what an addiction counsellor without an MD makes? It's not much. But it sure let's your parents trot it out in social circumstances to show how much holier than their frenemies they are. Like sticking you in a seminary back in the day to be able to say "my son is a priest (so I'm better than you)."

    Psychology is just about the worst paying and least useful college degree. Counsellors average $29k a year. Average, not start. That's $14 an hour. If you want $14 an hour for the rest of your career I will happily put you on a machine tomorrow and teach you everything you want to know, just for asking the question.

    It is your life, you're not a dog show poodle for your parents to groom and primp and make trot in a circle.

    But all of this is silly tosh, because the answer is so obvious. You like math and physical science. You are a better book learner than you are hands on. You have a paid for college scholarship and you need to major in something your parents see as respectable so they get off your back.

    Why aren't you already majoring in mechanical engineering? No brainer. Twice the pay of a counsellor. You can do almost anything with it once you have it, including machining. There are a ton of people here with MechE degrees (myself included.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sm412 View Post
    . . . Machining appeals to my love for mathematics and the physical sciences, both of which I excel in. I like that it is a practical application of both. . . .
    In any case, I think I need to find a way to get away from my family.
    Sounds like you're only two choices down on the Chinese menu of life. Not sure I'd recommend either.

    Excellence in math and physical sciences could take you further than a career either as an addiction counselor or as a machinist. Surely you knew that?

    Best way to cure addiction is likely going to be molecular biology and neuroscience, with a bit of care and cognitive psych thrown in. And lots of counselors burn out. They like the notion of helping folks, but get burned out by the folks they're actually dealing with day to day. Want to have an impact on addiction? Consider a career in something like computational biology. You may even get to design and build some research instruments.

    As for machining, you might be happier in a career where you're designing stuff or figuring workflows -- and happen to have the sort of knowledge that gives you competence and credibility on the shop floor. As a "better at book learning" type, seeking some hands-on experience is great. Doesn't mean you have to aim for a career turning dials. If you're really good at math and physical sciences -- might want to see what you can really master.

    Parents generally want the best for their kids; probably yours too. That doesn't mean they have the answers.. At some point kids have to figure out for themselves what's best for them. Sorts like you're starting down that path. Heck, you've already figured out you don't want to be a drunk.

    Only real suggestion I have is to know what you're really good at -- something worthwhile -- and challenge yourself to be truly exceptional at it.

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    Excellent advice. I've thought a lot about continuing my math education. The burn out rate for counselors is something I think about. I'm a pretty emotionally sensitive person. A difficult or abusive client would drain me. On the other hand, I think I could make a contribution there.

    I recognize that it's not just machining vs counseling. I can do so much more, even in the field of addictions, taking a different path.

    The pay is also something I think about. I'd be good, no question. But I'd ideally like to support a family. My mother will definitely be second guessing the counseling track when I'm 40 and living with them

    My dad is a little more supportive. He's a mechanical engineer and is really stoked about my love for math. A counseling degree requires one math course. He basically says "go all the way through calculus and differential equations." Down with that.

    Thanks for the tips.

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    If I understand your financial picture, you have the opportunity to get a Bachelor's degree (maybe more?) with ZERO student debt.

    That's pretty special these days. Make the MOST of it.

    It's said that if you love your job, you never work a day in your life. . . . Try to do what you love, if you can earn a living at it.

    You work a career (for an employer) to earn a living, period. I didn't think of it that way for a long time but, after all is said and done, that's what you're left with. My point is, try to work for the education that's quite likely to result in the BEST living, given your personal capabilities and desires.

    No matter what field you work in, if you're good at it, you'll always be able to help others along the way.

    My advice; stay (get?) on a technical track (drop the counseling). There may be a technical discipline, unknown to you today, that you'll fall in love with next quarter. The technical degree will likely facilitate a good standard of living and job security. If not in hands-on manufacturing, you can always take up metalworking as a hobby.

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    You will have to make a decision pretty quick. I don't know how far you are along in your education but engineering requires an advanced math or science class of some sort almost every semester to graduate. You don't want to get two years in and figure out you now need four years of math. You can't double up on math classes since each one is usually a prerequisite for the next.

    My wife has a social work degree; long story behind that. She figured out pretty quick after graduation and licensing she'd never make any money with just a bachelors degree and the continuing ed to maintain her license was going to be a real pain.

    She also discovered, mostly from mentors and practicums, that normally a social worker's life is not helping people get better; it was trying to keep them from becoming homeless or maybe even just barely alive. The very, very bad actions of some "parents" and how it affected their little children really weighed on her. I suspect an addiction counselor would be much the same.

    You have a very unique situation getting a paid for education, don't waste it. I recommend the ME degree starting now.

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    Mouth breathing is acceptable, however, it mandatory that you can count to
    at least 23 without removing footwear or underwear.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sm412 View Post
    I'm not asking you to decide for me. Just any words of advice or insight would be awesome. I just don't know who else to talk to about this. I can't find any allies in my family.

    In any case, I think I need to find a way to get away from my family.
    Charles Manson probably has a few ideas about that...

    If you do things the way another person likes then your life is in their hands, then you can always blame them for what happens in your life.

    There is no law that says you cannot try a field of study for a year and see how it goes.

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    Do what you love. You're plenty young, now. If it turns out that you aren't happy later, make a change.

    (Spoken by a "be a dentist"-raised hell in high school-worked menial jobs for a year-went to college-got a degree in theater-almost ready to retire as a cabinetmaker.)

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    One of my friends started to major in psychology but became more disillusioned the farther he got into it and became a machinist. Last I heard he was a setup man for a manufacturer.

    Bill

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    Two points:

    1. Listening to advise is a good thing. That does not mean that you always have to do as someone advises, but do listen and think about what they say.

    2. It is YOUR life.

    Is there any reason why you can't study both?

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    You are going to spend about half of your waking hours working.

    Best you are doing something that you can't wait to get to work, will work through lunch, and stay late to finish.

    Sometimes your employer will notice and give you more $$$. Even if they don't you will be so happy you won't care.

    Worked for me for 40 years through military, big corporation, small business, and self employment. At the end it got to "how cheap can you do this for", I got off the boat and did something different that I loved for 10 more years.

    I didn't get rich, but loved what I was doing, slept well every night, owned a series of homes, had something to drive- including used BMW & Cessna 150 aircraft, was never hungry,and helped raise and educate two children through masters degrees.

    Paul

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    double major, biomedical engineering and your addictions stuff.

    get an intro engineering job.

    let engineering job co pay for your mba

    budget well and retire ten years later and do whatever you want

    But...if you can do engineering AND any job that is going to give you clinical training, go that route. You will find the amount of carryover into the managerial world is amazing. Being able to recognize psychopathy in the workplace, and having the interventions and knowledge of what you can and can not manipulate and work with, will give you a serious leg up that will set you up for whatever you find you want to do.

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    IMHO you have to make your own way in life. Its not till you start doing something that you can't get a A in that you actually learn anything. Generally the harder something is and the worst you do at it the more you actually learn about being you, working with others and actually progress as a real person.

    The biggest regret i ever had is how long i spent in school. Its a complete fucking waste of time for some things. All the more so if your schools were as shitty as mine. With hind sight i needed the education i got till i was about 12, after that it was a complete waste of time till i done my ONC starting when i was 19. There i learnt something!

    The end of the day what makes a success of your life is down to you. Some people thats having every degree under the sun. Others its what you can actually achieve. There's more to life than just education and bits of paper, to a degree you need some, but just like penis length its not just down to what you have, but what you do with it that really makes a difference to your life!

    Above all you need to get out of the trap of doing what everyone else wants, its your life, listen to there guidance, but remember, its your choice and to a fair degree you won't know what a bad choice is till you have made some less than perfect ones!

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    In my opinion stay clear of machining if you want to make a living and support a family, Machining is a tough way to earn a living wage. 25 years ago it was a very different story. It is horrible that machinists are paid so poorly for the skills required but that seems to be the way things work.

    That is just my opinion but I told both of my sons who worked in my shop the same thing. They will likely make more than I do.

    It is very sad but true. I am a machinist because it is what I know but I make about the same as I did 25 years ago so in reality I am making about 1/2 what I did back then.

    Best wishes,

    Dan

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    All I can say is do what you want ,not what other people want.Take your families advice and decide for yourself.
    I raised a family,retired early on a machinist wage. But Machining can be boring and dirty unless you find the right place or go out on your own.
    I would go the University route,and machine at home.

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    Frankly, the undergraduate non STEM/Finance fields from universities are a goddamn waste, they take kids money, make them feel special and then they have no marketable skills whatsoever, might as well have worked on an oil rig or concrete crew, least you'd have references and work experience. Psychology majors are a dime a dozen and you better be prepared to ride that all the way to graduate school if you want to make a career out of it.

    The attrition rate for kids fresh out of high-school into university is incredibly high for non bullshit degrees. You wouldn't trust an 18 year old with a 50000$ corvette because he'd thrash the hell out of it, and possibly would kill himself in the bargain. Yet we expect 18 year olds to make sound decisions on where they think they belong in the world, and let them loose with tens a thousands of dollars to spend.............its insane. Lot of them find out they hate it and leave in despair, or their identity is so shattered from a bad mark they kill themselves. Terrible waste of money and young lives.

    If you're fresh out of high school, and you sound like you are from the contrived maturity I read in your posts I strongly suggest you go work for a year or two before you make a decision, if your benefactor will defer your tuition for that long. You also sound like you're at that awkward age where sitting at the table with the family feels about as comfortable as getting a cavity search by someone wearing mittens.......its normal and youl grow to appreciate them and love them more later.

    My mom had the same derisive comments about machining when I was a kid, still went and did it and ended up making more then her with her graduate degree. But that required moving pretty far away from any family and friends for a place to start an apprenticeship at, terrifying but still the funnest time of my life. Then it was back to school for engineering years later anyways, but fresh out of school most have neither the discipline or frankly WANT to be there at that age, maybe you're different, but the majority (there are exceptions) of kids I see are under horrendous and negative pressure when the go to university straight from high school.

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    Its your life, not your parents despite they have given it to you.

    I have been a machinist, some may say a good one, I don't know.
    Broke my back in a racing accident and I'm forced to find something less physical to do.
    I can lift stuff but can't reach out and pick parts or set vices etc.

    So now its engineering school to keep me occupied starting this fall.
    I liked what I did, have always done something that's interesting and not what I'm expected to do by others.

    Make the choice YOU won't regret of making when remembering your life when you are old.

    Marko

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    Quote Originally Posted by Techguy View Post
    In my opinion stay clear of machining if you want to make a living and support a family, Machining is a tough way to earn a living wage. 25 years ago it was a very different story. It is horrible that machinists are paid so poorly for the skills required but that seems to be the way things work.

    That is just my opinion but I told both of my sons who worked in my shop the same thing. They will likely make more than I do.

    It is very sad but true. I am a machinist because it is what I know but I make about the same as I did 25 years ago so in reality I am making about 1/2 what I did back then.

    Best wishes,

    Dan
    That's good to know. Not surprising though. I'm a bit of an economics buff too. I literally read econ textbooks for fun. An econ degree doesn't do much nowadays otherwise that's what I'd be studying. Wage growth has stagnated for almost everybody except top earners since 1979. For top earners it has soared. The money that you would have earned went to your boss.

    I'm sure other factors have played into it, but that's the gist.

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    Thanks for the replies, guys. Gives me a lot to think about. Excellent advice as usual. You guys are great.

    In any case, I'm doing the machining course just to see what it's all about. I won't even tell my family. I'll say that I'm taking foreign languages and humanities.

    I have some experience in manufacturing. Some jobs I liked. Others I hated. It was real hit or miss.


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