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Is school even worth it?




*Sigh* Remember last summer when I found out I got into the program I had applied to and I was SO excited? Well, I'm just about to finish up my first year and I'm honestly not sure it's worth it to finish. The program is driving me crazy due to the teachers not knowing what they're doing (2 of them are VERY new, not very good teachers, who change the syllabus several times in a semester, and don't know when things are due when you ask them. 1 of them even acts annoyed when you ask her a question).


Other than the annoyance of the program and teachers not knowing what they're doing, I'm really not sure that I even want to practice OT anymore. This is a 2 year program (really 3 though because it's not even possible to finish the prerequs in less than a year), and I'm a year in (2 with prerequs), so I really only have 1 year to go. But is it worth it? I mean, if I hate it, and I don't want to do the job when I graduate it may be more worth it to change majors, and put that last year and the tuition into something that I DO want to do when I graduate. BUT the problem is that I am not sure there is a major that I do want to do when I graduate.


So, I DO want to graduate. At this point I'm not sure I care what I graduate in though because I can't think of a job I want to do. I've recently become interested in software, but it'd take another 3 years of school to get a BS in that because I haven't done any of the prerequs as part of my associates.


And there's the fact that I don't really know why I'm even going to school anyway. My DH makes over twice what I'll ever be able to earn in OT, I just figured out that by the time my twins graduate from high school my DH's retirement investments will be over $1M, which is plenty for us to retire on with a paid for house (DH and I will be 48 and 46 respectively), and DH isn't even sure he wants to retire at that time yet or not. So we wouldn't need any of my income if I was working anyway. I mean, it's not like we wouldn't use it, but we don't NEED any of it. We'd probably use it to help the kids out, and go on big family vacations or something. I mean, I've never met anyone who had more money than they could find places to put it. But is it a waste for me to be going to school to do something I don't want to do?


There is a part of me that wants to finish just for the sake of finishing, and there's a part of me that wants to quit right now, 3 weeks from the end of the semester (that part will lose, I WILL finish this semester!), and there's a part of me that wants to just take my last 2 generals and get my AS in general studies and call it good.

Making decisions is hard when what you thought you wanted turns out to not be what you thought it was.

What should I do?

I hate hard choices.



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Since your almost at the end of the semester, use the time you have off to recharge your batteries and get a clearer head about what you want to do. Sometimes it's hard to think when you are feeling overwhelmed.

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What is it about OT you don't want to do?  Is there something you could do with your degree besides working directly with patients?  What drew you to the OT program in the first place?  If it's just the teachers that are giving you problems, are there other teachers you could work with?  Have you talked to the dean, your advisor, or the department chair about the teachers?


Is this a program you could take a few months off to do some brief extern/internships? 


Are you interested in software development?  You can take online classes (think youtube videos - Khan Academy has software programming tutorials), you can take free (short) coding courses, etc, to see if you're really interested in it.

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I can relate, at the end of my graduate business degree, I did nothing. I went on zero interviews, and stayed home for a few years. I decided I hated sales, and wanted nothing to do with working 80 hours per week in some entry level job to "prove" myself worthy of eventually receiving a decent salary 10 years down the road. It didn't help that the job market was terrible, and I would be working long hours for very little money.


I don't really regret finishing the degree, and I feel like all of that knowledge is still there and I definitely use it for our side business, but at the same time if I had never done it, my life wouldn't be much different than it is today. I get about $2500 (I think) per year extra in my teaching job for having a master's degree. The degree cost me $15k in loans to get (that's just what I borrowed, I'm sure it cost more).


It was a great experience in a lot of ways, but if there is no clear end game, from my benefit of being on the other side of it, I'd say wait before you sign up for another semester. What do you WANT to do? The answer to this is going to determine what you actually will do later. (Since you don't HAVE to work). You aren't going to force yourself to start a career that you won't enjoy just because you have a degree in it. At least, that's my prediction. So....what do you WANT to do for a job?


That's what I'd answer first before deciding on anything.


But having said that....don't do anything rash.


This may just be your exhaustion talking.


I know when I'm tired I want to quit everything, lol.

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Thank you for the responses. I'll try to answer the questions that have come up.

There are several things about OT that I don't want to do: I don't want to work in a hospital or a school, this greatly limits where I can work, but doesn't eliminate everywhere. I am not particularly interested in taking people to the bathroom or shower. I suppose outpatient isn't so unappealing to me at the moment, though I have no experience with it.

I don't actually know if there is something I could do with my degree besides working directly with patients. I suppose there is, but I also don't think those are jobs you walk right into the day after graduation, so I still suspect I'd have to work w/ patients for at least a few years b-4 I could get something where I don't work with them.

I think what drew me to OT in the first place was that I like helping people (though apparently I'm more picky than I realized), and I thought that the idea of helping people through crafts sounded great! Problem is that w/o working in a psych hospital the use of crafts in therapy is limited to those who are actually interested in crafts with an injury/disability that can be helped with a particular craft that they are interested in.

There are no other teachers to work with. There are 3 teachers in the whole program and we all have them all for the same classes. It's a pretty small program with only 24 students.

LOL! I'd love to think I could talk to the Dean, but she is an OT and we had her last semester and she is just as bad, if not worse than the 2 teachers I was complaining about. I would get nowhere with her.

I MIGHT be able to convince the program director to let me take a YEAR off, but that is the only option for a break any longer than this summer. Each class is only taught once/year. And I don't really know what the requirements are for taking off a year. On the website it sounds like it's got to be some sort of life crisis beyond your control to get it, but I don't really know.

I am interested in software development. My kids have been learning about it on Khan Academy and my DD LOVES it. I intend to learn about it this summer regardless of whether I finish the program or not because I'm interested in it.

I guess that I just fear I will feel like a quitter the rest of my life if I quit this program now. But Miranova has made a good point. It may not matter if I finish or switch, or not.

And one other thing I didn't mention earlier, I know it shouldn't matter, but I apparently care what people will think of me if I don't finish this program. Not just my fellow students, but my siblings, my parents (who have given a little help in tuition even), my in-laws. And there's the fact that this was a competitive program to get into. The fact that I'm in the program means that someone else is not. I feel like a jerk taking 1 year of this program and leaving when someone else could've gotten my spot and would finish. I feel very ungrateful. :( Oh and then there's my friend who told me I'd make a great COTA, and convinced me it'd be the perfect job because it pays pretty well for a 2 yr. degree and I can work part time, which is great for me with my 5 kids.

Currently my plan is to take a break this summer, and start up in the fall and see how the first few weeks go. My school is pretty nice in that you don't actually have to pay tuition until 2 weeks after classes start, and even then you have another week where if you drop you can get 100% of your tuition refunded.

But, if I really truly decide that software is the way for me during the summer I MIGHT change my major. I don't want to be a quitter and I don't want to be a COTA. I just feel like I can't win. *sigh*

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Is there an outpatient clinic you could assist at or observe?  Your teachers should be able to get you in touch with a local clinic that does that.  Maybe you'll find that you do like that, especially part time.


If you really, really don't want to work in OT, then I'm not sure it makes sense to continue with the program. But there may be other opportunities out there that will be more in line with what you'd like to do (or not do) in regards to OT.  Or maybe you move to a different program.


As to whether you continue with A program or stop altogether...that's up to you.  It's not the worst thing in the world.  But if you take this summer off, I suggest you come up with a list of potential jobs/careers/studies you're interested in and go talk to people who do that to see if you're still interested in them after you experience the day to day stuff.

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I would take the time to consider what you want to do.  There are a great many opportunities as a COTA.  I don't know where you live but where I am COTA's work in the schools (all ages), do Early Intervention (0-3 year olds), nursing homes, workman's comp (might use some of your craft stuff here).  You might be able to teach - replace those crappy teachers.  You could see about specializing.  Maybe aqua therapy, or hippo therapy (horses), art therapy.


However, if you really don't want to be a COTA then I would switch majors.  You are in a nice position with not NEEDING to work so you could find something else you are really passionate about and go with that.  Don't feel badly about changing your mind and don't let someone else tell you what you should do.  If you need to take time off to figure that all out, then do it.  

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Your teachers do not sound much different than my daughter's teachers.  Pick their brains and leave their personalities for them to deal with.  =0)


What drew you to the degree in the first place?  I know you said that you wanted to help people, but really you can do that volunteering at the soup kitchen, so something else drew you to this particular job. What was it?  How do you envision the job part of this going?  Which parts of this degree fit with what you want to DO (or did want to do)?  If you could make your own dream job in this field, what would it look like?  What would you be doing?  How would you be doing it?  Where would you be doing it?
Why did you rejoin the "school" community?
As it's nearing the end of the school year, are you sure that this is not all just part of the "end of year" crazies?  With 6 of you finishing up a year right now, it may simply be that you need to take a weekend and step out of the insanity for a minute.
To be blunt, your DH may not always be there.  Do you have marketable skills outside of your DH?  No one likes to say it, or even think about it, but it's the reality.... women often outlive their husbands, and their income drops considerably if that happens.
Consider everything, and then...... Should you continue with a job you hate doing?  No.  Is it worth it to pay a year's tuition for a job you have no intention of ever doing?  No.  Should you continue to take classes and pay tuition just to get the degree?  No.  BUT...... Something drew you to this job.  Something made your heart go pitty pat when you thought about doing this job.   Sometimes schools take all the fun out of learning something.... is that what is happening?  You say that you don't need the money, which means that you don't HAVE to get a paying job.  You can use those talents and what you learn to volunteer someplace.  You could offer your services to those places that can't afford to hire you.  You could make up craft kits to sell for those that can't afford to stay in a hospital but would still benefit from doing the things.  (***OK, be aware that I have NO idea what the heck "OT" means really.... I have deduced perhaps Occupational Therapist, but really am just drawing conclusions from your post, and no idea what a COTA is/does.***) (I really miss the "rule" where you couldn't use an abbreviation unless you wrote it out the first time!  *LOL*)   Could this degree help you in other ways?   I have taken a wide variety of college courses simply because the subject matter interested me.  I have used most, if not all of what I learned in some of or another in some part of my life or another.  But I do not have a degree.
There is a certain amount of satisfaction in completing what you start.  But I think it's insanity to continue to pay for something that you have no intention of using in any way.    However I have noted that most places that hire really want a degree.... doesn't seem to matter what it is, just a degree.   Have you done a pro/con list yet?  Continuing with the OT degree vs finishing up your associates?  BEFORE you start another degree program, I would see if it's possible to take a class or two that is required for that degree.... to find out if it only sounds like fun, or if it actually IS something that interests you.  If you can't enroll in that class, see if perhaps you can audit it... that will at least give you an overview of the teachers and let you know a bit about what you will be learning.
And finally, no, do not leave at the tail end of a semester.... it makes the semester less than useless.  Finish it up and then take the time off and think about what you have learned and what you want to do...  Did the classes teach you anything that sounded like something you want to do?  (Perhaps minus the yucky parts.) Could you volunteer doing something like whatever the degree is for (not exactly obviously, but similar) so that you can see if the reality is different than what you are NOW picturing in your head.  Remember that your teacher's real life experience can color their view.... perhaps they did not enjoy the job either.  Maybe due to personality, maybe it's just really a yucky job, maybe they did not find a position that matched their expectations.... But you do not want to base YOUR decision on their experiences.  Talk to others working in the field.  I will tell you that the job I did in the military was "advertised" very VERY differently than what I actually did.... I trained for the job with one picture in my head, and ended up with a very different reality.  Make sure that your "advertising" matches up with reality before you simply quit.  And you may find that the reality, while being very different is just as challenging and fun.
Good luck!
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My first thought was that you might have Attention Deficit Disorder.  And I say this after changing my major every year or two in college.  I agree that every woman should have a way of earning a living that does not include the husband.  Husband's can die or leave or become disabled.  As for Occupational Therapy itself, I'm not sure where the crafts would come in.  Insurance is only going to pay for therapy that is medically necessary and crafts don't sound like they would fit.  I had OT for a frozen shoulder.  The services were provided in an outpatient clinic of an orthpaedic hospital.  No matter what the patient's problem was, treatment was all about regaining mobility and use of the injured part of the body. When I had back problems, I had one session with an OT who showed me ways of doing things around the house to make things easier on my back.  That one hour was worth its weight in gold.  You've chosen a great profession, and like any degree, there are many ways you can use it.  I would just hate to see you flit from one major to another because you haven't figured out your true calling or because of annoyance with a few teachers.  BTDT  Everyone is tired of or bored with school at this time in the semester.  Don't let it impact your entire future.

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I work in a middle school (secretary) and we have an assigned OT that comes pretty regular to work with certain students.  She is assigned to several schools and has to travel between them (all in same county).  She seems to enjoy it.  She is not based in a school more like a mobile therapist.  Not sure what you would dislike about working in a school, but it might not be the same everywhere.  


I can tell you that I quit college myself and now that I am nearing 50 I truly regret that I did not finish.  Just something left undone.  Now that we have a DD in college I know I will never go back.  Just think long and hard about quitting - life sometimes gets in the way of finishing goals.  

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Honestly, I 'm having a hard time understanding how this program will help you get into the OT field. Most OT have a master's degree and based on what you are saying this sounds like an associates type program. So that makes me question what kind of a school this is. Is it a community college, state university or for-profit school? If it's a for profit school, I do think you need to reconsider continuing. If it's one of the others, then you have many options about where you want go with the education that you have. Take time this summer to explore those options and create a plan.


Of course I am saying this as someone with a liberal arts degree who is taking university classes on the side (with no plan whatsoever) but am trying to stay current and develop marketable skills in case I need to switch to a new field. (I was fortunate to get into my current position with a bachelor's and experience. New hires must have a degree in a specific field).

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A COTA is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. It is equal to a PTA (Physical Thearpy Assistant) in that we can carry out treatment plans. It is a level below an OT (with a master's degree) and my school is accredited by AOTA (the American Occupational Therapy Association). So don't worry about the program. There are currently more jobs for COTAs in my state than there are in my program ready to graduate next year and the field is growing, so having a job in OT should I want it is not a concern. Sorry, I didn't clarify that earlier.


Thank you for the replies. I will have to consider them and reply later. I have a class starting in a while with a quiz I need to study for. I was just checking on my break.

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It sounds like you are put off at this idea of spending your life teaching butt wiping.

But, your most recent post indicates there are many, many jobs available.

Search those job listings. Are there some jobs you would be interested in having?

It sounds like you are in the perfect position to be picky about which jobs you are willing to accept.


I'm curious where this crafting bit came in.

Did OT come out of a scheme to turn a hobby into a job?


I'm of two minds on that, it sure is a niche application.

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Well depending on your area of OT crafts can be used a LOT, or not at all. In psych they are used quite often to facilitate a calming effect, or sequencing skills, or in the medical setting they can be used with a client who needs to work on fine motor skills. They are often used in schools as well due to the fact that children often receive OT services for a fine motor delay, and crafts are a great way to work on fine motor skills. Crafts CAN be used in many OT settings, though they often are not either because the OT practitioner doesn't like crafts and doesn't use them in their practice, or because the client doesn't like them. And sometimes it is due to the fact that the patient doesn't have a deficit that can be helped with a crafting activity. And in response to the comment earlier, crafts in therapy usually are covered by insurance so long as the activity is appropriate for the diagnosis. It just depends on what the patient is being seen for.


This wasn't a scheme to turn a hobby into a job. It was more that I thought I'd found a job that I would like and would get the chance to do a craft with a patient at work some of the time. This all started when I was teaching my friend, who is an OT, to crochet. We got to talking and she informed me that I'd make a good COTA. She told me a bit about what that would entail and mentioned the crafting possibilities. I knew from the beginning that I would not be crafting all day, every day at work. But from what I've seen in my fieldwork thus far crafting is not used anywhere near as often as I was lead to believe. I've seen it plenty in the psych hospital, but I don't want to work there because it's too far from home, and the pay stinks. I've seen it used once in a school but I don't want to work in a school because the school district I live in pays terribly too (the one to the east pays well, but it's pretty far away for a job I don't need. I even saw it in an acute care setting in a hospital once, but I don't want to work in a hospital because there are too many chances for contracting infectious diseases and I don't want to expose myself or my family to that. So that leaves rehab facilities and out patient facilities. I've never seen crafts used in a rehab facility, though I've heard of it, and I have no experience with an out patient facility, though I think the suggestion of a job shadow at an out patient facility this summer was a very good one.


Anyway this is all just a long explanation of why I know crafts are used in OT and reimbursed by insurance, and this isn't a "scheme" (which term I apparently resent) to turn a hobby into a job.


And now onto WHY I got into OT in the first place.

3 years ago after my open heart surgery I did some cardiac rehab. I liked that my therapist was helping me get stronger. I thought that a job like that would be fulfilling. I talked to my OT friend and she mentioned that she'd done cardiac rehab as well. So later when I decided to go back to school I decided on OT because I'd been interested in the medical field for a long time and this seemed like a good fit. I could help people help themselves, and impact their lives the way my therapist had impacted mine. And if I got to do a craft with a patient from time to time all the better!


Anyway, I really think looking into an out patient facility would be the best step to take at this point.


Thanks again for all the comments.


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You might also look into home health.  I am a PT and I work with Early Intervention and some young school aged children going to their homes for therapy.  I do a lot of creative activities with kids and the OT's I work with do as well.  Kids love crafty activities and it can really help with fine motor and visual motor coordination.  I do a lot of puzzles where, because I am working more on the gross motor aspect, we put the pieces on one side of the room, squat to pick it up, and walk across the room to put them in.  Also painting can be fun when you tape the paper to the wall and work on standing for balance, endurance and raising arms overhead.  Your focus might be different, but you get some ideas. Some of my kiddos have needed help with dressing especially if they require a non-traditional strategy due to various impairments.  We do quite a bit of running and jumping and hopscotch and balance beams and go the park or the pool.  I bet home health with adults could be fun as well.  And rewarding while helping someone improve their quality of life.


Another thing you might look into is Sensory Processing Disorder.  I don't know if you get any of that in school but it is a highly needed area of good therapists.  Especially in the pediatric population.  We have sooooo many kids right now with a lot of sensory issues and very few therapists that really know how to treat it.  This could a very rewarding area to help whole families.

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Oh yes, I neglected to mention home health. It is also something I have considered, but have no experience with. So I have not been turned away from it yet.


And a note, it's not so much that I have to use crafts on a daily basis, it's more that I feel I was lead to believe that OT is more fun/less stress than it appears to be that is scaring me off. I want to do something I'll enjoy, not something that will make me a big ball of stress when I come home. But I think a great deal of that will be determined by the setting I work in and the patients I work with. So I think looking around to see if there is a setting I would be happy in this summer will really tell me if this is something I can be happy doing or not.

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If  you're looking to make money, I would really consider working with adults who are recovering from injuries.


Yeah, it's not so much about the money as it is that I was looking for something fulfilling to do while the kids are in school besides buy more crafting supplies and clean the house.

The only influence making money has had in this decision is that I didn't want to spend the money to go to school and have a job that pays what I could earn in a job that doesn't require a degree. For instance, I didn't want to be an LPN who would earn $10-12/hr when I could earn more than that at the local credit union w/o spending any money for tuition. So I was just looking for something fulfilling and enjoyable that would pay better than about $13/hr (what I could earn as a teller).


But yes, adults recovering from surgery or injury was the main group I was thinking of working with when I jumped into this with both feet.

And as someone earlier mentioned, I didn't want/realized that teaching people to wipe their own butts again was part of the job. I'm really not interested in that. I think it should be a disclaimer somewhere, "Don't get into this job unless you want to teach people to wipe their butts" ...except that many OTs don't actually do that, so I guess it's not really accurate.

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Sorry if that word 'scheme' ticked you off, I didn't mean it to.

But I did mean it as an honest query. So, thanks for responding so thoroughly.


Personally, I've been through several months of intensive hand therapy to recover from an injury/surgery. So I can see the use if crafts.

I understand the business side of the lack of use that you are seeing. The application is good. But it is no where near a large enough need to justify staffing a specialist.


Don't treat this as a problem. This may be your opportunity.

I can see it in two ways.

First, what about being a rotating specialist? Monday mornings at school A, Tuesday mornings at school B, Wednesday mornings at school C, Monday afternoons at LLNO Hand Therapy, Tuesday afternoons at FPP Ortho, all day Thursday at Old Fogie's Rest-a-porium.


The other option is to focus on the product. It doesn't sound, to me, that you are very drawn to patient work. An opportunity would be to focus on providing training and materials to OTs everywhere to increase the usage if crafts in their field

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What could be more fulfilling that helping adults regain use of a limb or ease pain in their bodies?  And what's nice about this kind of field is that you leave the work behind at the end of the day.  There's no taking work home to do at night or on the weekends.

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When I broke my wrist, I had an OT work with me to regain mobility. It was in a private orthopedic clinic. There are two other PT/OT clinics in my town that I know of, and I live in a small town. None of those would involve coming into contact with infectious diseases, and I don't think butt-wiping, but I don't know this for a fact.


My DGS, who has fine motor issues due to autism, goes to a private OT once a week. She works with him cutting play doh with scissors and things like that.


Both of my experiences sound like the kind of thing that attracted you to the field in the first place. I think you probably just need the break that summer will offer. I wouldn't make any decisions until I had a chance to rest.



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