I have exciting news to announce: as of September 8th, I will be a full-time student again. I’m going to be in an international Masters in Marketing program. Going back to school has long been in the works and I’m very excited about it.
I have a fairly non-traditional educational background. I dropped out of high school at age fifteen and took a few classes at a junior college. I wasn’t really motivated, however, so I stopped after a semester or two and worked at a collection of interesting yet eclectic jobs. When I was 23 I decided I was ready to go back to school and so I applied to, and was accepted at, my alma mater. That led me to France, through their study abroad program, so it was a great choice in more ways than one. I graduated summa cum laude with a BA in French three years later and with a staggering amount of student loan debt. I then got my certificate in teaching ESL (and about halfway through a Masters in TESL) as I knew I was coming to France.
The funny thing about American BAs in French? They’re not worth very much here. And the French are very big on having the right degree from the right school in order to get a job. They’re also not fond of people resetting their course in mid route, so about the only thing I’m qualified to do here is teach English as a Second Language.
Luckily I enjoy teaching, I’m good at it and there are a plethora of jobs. But after seven years, I’m feeling a bit done. So I found a good school and a good program that was interesting to me and started trying to figure out a way to finance it.
There is a program in France called the FONGECIF. That stands for the Fond de Gestion de CongÃ© Individuel de Formation or, in plain English, the Individual Training Leave Fund. As an employee in the private sector I have payroll deductions to this fund, as does my employer. This fund then subsidizes people who wish to take a leave from their jobs and go back to school, either to further or to change their career. You have to apply for it, of course, and your request is not automatically accepted.
I just found out that mine was. The FONGECIF will pay 41% of my salary during the next school year (until June 2009) and 50% of the tuition. They will only pay 41% of my salary because it they only reimburse the employer for the time I am actually in school, which they have calculated at 41% of a 35 work week. Theoretically I could work the other 59% of the time, but you and I know that graduate school takes up a lot more time than 41%. Basically I will be taking a 59% pay cut. This will be offset partly by the fact that I can now put my student loans into deferment and so will effectively gain â‚¬400 a month. As for the other 50% of the tuition, we are taking out a low interest student loan (2.3%) that will kick in in September 2009. It’s not the ideal situation- we were hoping that the FONGECIF would pay 90% of the tuition- but it works.
So there you have it, the exciting news of the week. I will be writing more about the challenges, fiscal and familial, of going back to school. I’ll also be reducing my posting schedule to three times a week, plus a link love edition on Saturdays and a Six Month Recap edition on Sundays, but that won’t take effect until September.
Until then, what about you? Have you gone back to school after a break? What’s it like? What were the biggest challenges? Was there anything that was easier than expected? And finally, how did you finance it?