[A033] Edu Level Up: Tackle the Grad School Decision

What’s the ROI on grad school?

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Someone with a graduate degree is more likely to have higher lifetime earnings than someone with a bachelor’s degree. The difference is even bigger when compared to someone who hasn’t been to college or who hasn’t graduated from high school. Even though grad school can be expensive, it might still be worth.

On the other hand, just because grad school is supposed to lead to a higher-paying career doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you. Grad school can be expensive, and it’s not always necessary. General trends may not apply to your specific situation. You don’t need to follow a path just because someone else marks it out, and you can’t assume that grad school will automatically result in more money.

Before you decide to go to grad school, carefully consider your situation. You need to do the research and carefully consider the options before you determine what makes the most sense for you and your situation.

Concepts

  • What are some of the reasons that grad school is considered a natural progression?
  • Understanding the factors that make a grad degree “worth it.”
  • Reasons to go to grad school, and reasons to avoid it.
  • What role does the prestige of the school play in determining whether or not grad school is worth it?
  • Consider the cost of grad school, and your return on investment.
  • Ways that grad school can impact your life, from family and relationships to your time availability.
  • How to determine whether or not you are ready to tackle grad school.
  • Tips for be realistic as you explore the idea of grad school.

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Resources

Georgetown UniversityGeorgetown study on college
PayScaleGraduate degree salaries
CNBCLaw school ROI

[A032] Yes, Yes, Yes: Don’t Do It Without It

Why do we struggle so much with the idea of consent?

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Rape culture and consent are squarely in the spotlight right now, with recent scandals involving the Brock Turner sentencing and how Brigham Young University and other schools handle sexual assault cases.

It seems like consent would be pretty cut and dry, but in our culture it’s anything but that for some reason. What counts as consent is wrapped up in environment, how you grew up, and expectations. But is that really good enough? Are we as a society content to watch rapists receive six-month sentences? Are we okay with dissecting everything about women to determine whether or not they “deserve” what happens to them? We need to move from the idea of consent as “didn’t say no” to the idea of affirmative consent, which is a definite “yes” from someone who is in control and capable of making the decision.

This is a heavy episode dealing with something that we all need to grapple with as adults. The right time to have sex is something we all wonder about, but we can pinpoint the wrong time as when someone hasn’t given affirmative consent.

Concepts

  • Why is consent such a difficult concept in our culture?
  • What is consent? What is affirmative consent?
  • Reasons that consent can be difficult to understand.
  • What are some of the barriers to consent?
  • The importance of respecting other human beings.
  • The idea that it doesn’t matter what someone else is doing (what someone is wearing, drinking, etc.). It’s sexual assault unless you receive affirmative consent.
  • How women’s sexual repression might contribute to rape culture and issues revolving around consent.
  • The importance of understanding how you feel about sex so you can make more informed choices and respect others’ choices.

Video Clips

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Resources

The New York TimesBYU sexual assault reporting
NPROutrage over Brock Turner
County of Santa ClaraStatement from Brock Turner victim
Austin Institute for Society and CultureCultural suppression of female sexuality
ScienceMen and women brain structures

When Does It Make Sense to Live Alone?

Do you need your space? Sometimes you might need to live alone, even if it’s more expensive.

With the cost of rent on a steep incline and the future of the housing market a mystery, many young adults are living with roommates — sometimes multiple — just to make ends meet. While there’s nothing wrong with sharing the burden of rent, this situation has caused many young people to skip out on what used to be seen as a landmark of adulthood: living alone.

As with many luxuries, there’s a time and place for doling out some extra cash in exchange for the privilege of privacy. Read on to find out if you’re the type of person who would benefit from living alone.

When you work from home.

When you work a traditional 9-to-5 job, living with roommates means you only see them a few hours every day. If you’re busy on the weekends, you may hardly ever even cross paths.

But when you work from home, your apartment is not only where you live, it’s where you work. Having roommates can disrupt your work schedule and lead to decreased productivity (and fewer earnings).

This can also apply to someone going to school and managing a full- or part-time job. Noisy roommates can make it harder to concentrate on academics.

When you’re an introvert.

While extroverts get their energy from being around other people, introverts need time alone to recharge and feel like themselves. Having roommates, no matter how quiet, can make it impossible to find enough time to regroup – especially if you have a job that requires you be around people.

There’s no price tag you can put on sanity. If you can afford to live alone and pay your bills, it may be worth the cost.

When you’ve never lived alone before.

While having roommates is a great way to save money, living alone can teach you a variety of life skills you might not learn otherwise.

Most importantly, it can teach you how to solve your own problems. Whether it’s calling the landlord for a leaky faucet or assembling your futon, people living alone for the first time quickly learn to be proactive. It may seem intimidating at first, but taking that kind of ownership of your life is a crucial step on the path to adulthood.

Living alone can also show you how to be alone with your thoughts, how to figure out what you really want and how to motivate yourself. You can find time for hobbies and interests you didn’t know how you had or didn’t have the space to explore with roommates around.

How to make it work.

Find a studio instead of a one-bedroom. Those worried about the cost of living alone should aim to rent a studio instead of a one bedroom. You can save more than $100 per month and will also likely pay less in utilities. A studio also needs less furniture and decorating, so you won’t feel obligated to spend money on making it seem homey.

Live in a less desirable part of town. Everyone wants to be within walking distance of bars, shops and restaurants, but not all of that is feasible if you also want to live alone. You may have to move out to the suburbs or a not-yet-gentrified neighborhood if you want to be by yourself and can’t afford $1,000 on rent.

Give up other luxuries. If you really want to live alone and are worried about your budget, it may be time to rethink what else you’re spending money on. Can you eat out less, find a cheaper grocery store or take public transportation? You may have to cut non-essentials like shopping and going to the movies to make it work if living alone is a top priority.

Planning Your Wedding: How to Compromise with Your Partner

Encourage your partner’s inner groomzilla.

Your wedding day is a big deal. Some even say it’s the most important day of your life.

With reality TV shows like TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress and ABC’s The Bachelorette, it seems like everywhere we go people have wedding fever — and most of those people are brides. (Sidebar: what’s up with the Bachelor and Bachelorette never having people of color as the main love interest? I’m just saying.)

Anyway, our culture places the focus of the wedding day on the bride, her wishes, her wedding dress, and her family.  We even coined the term “bridezilla” for extremely self-absorbed brides.

But what about the groom?  I can’t help but wonder how often brides actually take their groom’s opinion into consideration. Since I married a “groomzilla,” that definitely wasn’t an issue.

Although it seems traditional for the bride to plan everything for the big day, from the flowers to the music, there’s nothing in the wedding rule book that says the groom can’t help out. Unless you’re my husband. He thinks he should be in charge of planning everything.

There’s a scene from the popular TV sitcom Friends where Monica and Chandler are planning their wedding. Monica says to him, “Just stick to your job.”  When someone asks Chandler what his job is he replies, “Staying out of the way.”  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Who says the wedding day can’t be special for both of you?  Who says men haven’t also been planning their wedding since they could walk?  No one.

Here are four ways to compromise with your partner to make your wedding special for both of you:

Ask his opinion.

Often grooms want to stay out of the way in fear of running afoul of their  bridezilla.  If you want him to help plan or take care of some of the tasks, an easy way to let him know his efforts are welcome is to ask his opinion.

Ask him about the cake flavor and photographer.  His answer may be “Whatever you think is best honey. I just want you to be happy.”  That may be true, and he may not want to give an opinion, but at least you asked and he can’t hold it over your head later.

Give him tasks.

Delegating some of the work when planning your wedding can help make the whole experience much better and less stressful.  After all, this is the first day of the rest of your lives together. Why not make it a joint effort?

Ask your husband-to-be which tasks he would like to help out with and give him things to do. Not in a bossy way, but in an it’s-not-all-about-me kind of way. Even if you really don’t want him to help, it’s always a good idea to make him feel like he’s made a real contribution. My hubby liked pointing to things that I made at the wedding so I’m sure that yours will like pointing to things he did as well.

Make an effort to include him.

If you want to include your groom in the wedding planning, schedule appointments at mutually convenient times. Don’t expect him to drop everything to meet you for dance lessons or to choose centerpieces. Instead, ask him if he has free time and book appointments that fit both your schedules.

It’s probably a bad idea to force your sweetheart to do things that he won’t enjoy, such as picking out your bridesmaids dresses, but he may want to help choose the food, the venue, or the music. You never know until you ask. My groom wasn’t really into the planning until we toured the venue. Suddenly, his inner groomzilla arrived on the scene. Be prepared for that too.

Take his opinion into consideration.

You may have been planning your wedding since you were in elementary school, but that was probably before you met your fiancé. If he has an opinion on the colors or music take it into consideration. Give it serious thought.

If it means a lot to him, it should be important to you. That’s how to compromise. It may not be exactly how you planned, but at the end of the day you have your groom and this is the beginning to your happily ever after.  If you can’t compromise on the details of your wedding, this is a foreshadowing of your ability to compromise on many other things that occur after the wedding.

Honestly, at the end of the day, it’s about the two of you and your families coming together to celebrate your union.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.

7 Signs It’s Time to Ditch Your Job

Is it time to bail? Here’s how to tell if you should move on right now.

You’ve stressed about doing a great job so you can stay employed. It seems like a terrible idea to ditch your job when you worked so hard to get where you are.

But sometimes you need to move on, no matter how much time and energy you’ve invested in your job. Here are a few signs your current position has run its course:

1. The environment is toxic.

One of the biggest reasons to ditch your job is due to a toxic environment. If you are dealing with harassment, bullying, or you are concerned about the legality of some of the company’s practices, it’s time to bail. Don’t stick around if there are serious problems.

2. You aren’t growing.

Many of us like meaning in our work. In fact, one of the hallmarks of today’s young job-seekers is that they expect a job to offer meaning. While it’s possible to find meaning in practically any job, no matter how crappy, it can become wearing if you don’t feel that your work leads to personal growth and feelings that you are impacting the world for good. If you feel like you could progress and make a positive contribution elsewhere, start looking.

3. The company doesn’t match your values.

Maybe the company isn’t doing something illegal, but you aren’t sure that the mission and values align with yours. It’s hard to feel good about working at a place that doesn’t mesh with your personal mission. Ditch your job if you feel the cognitive dissonance is becoming too great to manage.

4. Your skills aren’t utilized.

Are you proud of your skills and abilities and wish your company would use them? Perhaps your boss doesn’t recognize your skills, or maybe you are in a position that isn’t compatible with your abilities. The struggle to continue may drain you emotionally. Start looking for a job that offers you a chance to use what you know.

5. You’re at a dead end.

Trying to climb that career ladder, but there’s no place to go? It’s time to ditch your job. If you want a position that allows for the possibility of advancement and you’re stuck going nowhere, a shift to a company with room for progress might make more sense.

6. The job isn’t secure.

These days no job is secure. However, there are times that might be less secure than others. If you think layoffs are coming, now might be the time to update your resume and brush up on your interview skills. Don’t wait until the ax falls to get ready.

7. You’re want something different for your life.

Sometimes you just want a new challenge. Maybe you’re ready for the freedom and flexibility that comes with being self-employed. Perhaps you’ve changed your expectations for your life. We’re all on a journey, and when you’re ready for a new direction, your current job might not fit.

Before you leave your job.

Don’t get fired up to ditch your job and give noticed tomorrow, though. Once you realize it’s time to move on, you need to have a plan in place. Are you in a financial position to leave? What are some of the challenges you will face if you no longer have a job?

Whenever possible, build up an emergency fund and think about how you will handle benefits. You need to be ready for what’s next before you take that leap. While it’s not always possible to be completely ready, do what you can to get ahead of the curve.

There’s no reason to stay in a job that doesn’t fit with your life. Start preparing now so you are ready in the event you decide to ditch your job.

Why Frugal Is the New Fun

It feels really great to save money, so do that.

Some people think that being frugal is the same as being cheap.

It’s not.

Being frugal is a lifestyle. Being cheap is a quality.  Neither is better than the other; they’re just both very different.  Being cheap is also considered a negative quality when in reality it’s another way of being financially responsible.

Being frugal ≠ cheap.

The difference between the two is that being cheap means you probably won’t spend money on anything of extreme value and you won’t pay for high quality. You are most likely to buy the item at the lowest cost.  And that’s O.K.  Being frugal means you plan where to spend your money and you don’t mind spending on quality as long as you’re getting the best deal possible.

Being frugal may also have a negative tone because frugal people are often considered cheap.  That’s a big misconception and, like I said, neither one is bad.  In fact, if everyone in the world lived a little more frugally and let themselves be cheap once in a while we would all probably have more savings and less debt.

Frugal = self control.

No one says that counting pennies isn’t smart. Well maybe they do, but they’re wrong.  If you take the time to compare prices, shop around, and really think twice before spending money, you have incredible self-control. That’s never a bad thing.

Avoiding impulse purchases and overspending (even on necessities) is a smart way to live because it makes sure you live within your means. It also helps you stay away from using credit cards just to make ends meet every month.

It may take more effort to say no to your favorite cookies at the supermarket because you don’t really need them or skip buying those new shoes because they aren’t on sale, but your bank account with thank you for the savings.

Saving is a natural high.

Think about the last time you saved $1.00 on bananas or $100 on a hotel room. Didn’t you feel great?  I know I did.  Saving money, even $0.50, is a great feeling. It means your hard earned money is going to work for you instead of you working for it.  Think about how much extra cash you would have in your pocket each month if you stretched every dollar to its possible limit.

Saving money is natural high and the only way to get that buzz is to spend less than you earn and buy things at lower prices than you planned.  Living on a budget is great, but living below budget is even better.

Use apps to make a grocery list to avoid impulse purchases and sign up for mailing lists to get weekly flyers. Find the lowest prices on everything from milk to bedroom furniture.

Being frugal gives freedom.

When you save money on one thing you can spend that money somewhere else.  Paying less for everything in your life opens doors for new opportunities.  Maybe being frugal helps you take an overdue vacation. Perhaps your frugal choices give you the new roof your house desperately needs. Maybe frugality helps pay off your student loans faster to avoid interest charges.  Whatever the reason, living on less helps you do more.

If you need motivation to save more money and live more frugally, make a list (or dream board) of all the things you want to do in life.  Prioritize these items realistically and start saving towards your number one goal.  You may even want to open a separate bank account to watch your savings grow.  Remember that every dollar saved is another step towards your goal.

All thanks to being frugal.

Figuring Out When to Move In Together

How do you know it’s time to move in together? Hint: It’s not because you want to save money.

Moving in with a significant other is an exciting time. It’s a true embodiment of merging your life with someone else’s, and is often the first stepping stone to a happy, committed long-term relationship.

But all too often, that excitement turns to resentment as bills pile up, cute quirks become annoying habits, and your partner’s propensity to leave dirty dishes in the bathroom leaves you seething with frustration.

How can you avoid that headache? How do you know when it’s the right time?

Talk about moving in together.

Not only is moving in together the most emotional decision you can make in a relationship before marriage, it’s also typically the first foray into talking about finances. Being someone’s roommate means figuring out who sends the rent check and deciding how to split, well, everything. Coming to an agreement on what’s fair is a great first step.

Talk about it in a calm way, respecting what your partner says. If they’re not ready to move in, don’t pressure them. Ask when they might be and resume the talk then. Don’t try to manipulate or entice them. If it’s not a mutual decision that both parties feel comfortable with, it won’t be a desirable living situation for either of you.

It’s never too late to move in together, but it can be too early. Living together means sharing an address, a lease, and a responsibility to each other. Moving in requires giving up some of your independence. Are you ready for that tradeoff?

You might be ready.

Every couple is ready at different times. Review your relationship to decide if you’re ready. Here are some clues:

  • You don’t feel the need to impress. When your relationships progresses from going out to the bars to staying for a nice dinner, you’re probably ready to move in together. Your relationship should feel comfortable and simple. You’re not worried about seeing each other at your worst and you don’t feel pressured to always make a good impression.
  • You’ve celebrated at least one anniversary. Moving in quickly doesn’t always signify an immature relationship, but some experts say that the infatuation period can last up to two years. By waiting to move in together, you’ll be more confident in your relationship and able to move forward without worrying about any sudden changes in how you or your partner feel.
  • When you have similar lifestyles. If you’re dating someone with a similar lifestyle, moving in together might help both of you. If you’re both working 9-5 jobs, one of you can make the coffee in the morning while the other person unloads the dishwasher. Living together should ease the daily slog instead of adding to it.

You aren’t ready.

Just because you think moving in might be nice doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Here are some red flags that you aren’t ready.

  • When you move in to save money. There are plenty of reasons to move in together, but saving money isn’t one of them. You don’t want to be tied down to anyone because you can’t afford to live without them. That’s veering dangerously close to codependency. Always make sure you can afford to move out if something goes wrong.
  • When you haven’t lived on your own before. Before you move in with a partner, it’s a good idea to take some time to live by yourself. If you can’t afford to do that, at least have a roommate who’s not dating you. Living on your own will teach you how to be self-sufficient without having your SO around all the time.
  • You’re still not over someone else. They say there’s no better way to get past a former relationship than falling into another one, and what better way to fall deeply than moving in with someone? But moving in together is a significant step and it should be treated with consideration, especially if you want to grow and develop the new relationship in a healthy way.

You don’t ever have to jump into anything. Make sure you’re ready before you make your move.