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I'm attending Arizona State University online. I live in Georgia and I'm 24 years old. ASU is a quarter-based system, which means I get college credits on a quarterly basis instead of a semester basis. All PA and AA schools (I'm interested in both) require a certain amount of prerequisite hours, but at ASU, I would be about an hour or two short in a lot of them, like biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, etc. So, me getting a degree in biology from ASU is kind of pointless, because I'd have to take some additional prerequisite classes at my local college anyways. I should also mention I have a job (in aviation) that pays pretty well - about $60,000 a year. I am also in the process of getting my Surgical Technician certifications, but this will take a year or so. With this being said, I have two options:

 

A: Get my Surgical Tech school done and take a really low course load at ASU for Biology to ensure I maintain as close to a 4.0 as possible. Get about 60 of 120 credits from ASU (amount needed to transfer), then transfer to the University of Georgia. Finish my degree in biology, but live off loans. Try to find a part-time CST job while in Athens to keep them as low as possible. Continue with a low class load to keep a good GPA. This way, I'm keeping my grades high, but still getting some crucial clinical experience. Eventually graduate from UGA, a highly respected school in Georgia, with a degree in Biology. Then apply to programs. Most will be far away, so if I get accepted into one of those, I'll also probably have to live off loans for the two years of AA or PA school. Lots of debt, but better undergrad, experience (in life and classwork), and higher caliber school.

 

B: Buy a mobile home for a great price ($13k practically brand new) - a home right next to my parent's. In 3 years, it'll be paid off and cost me half as much as renting. Continue my degree at Arizona State University (online) in something like psychology, since my prerequisites won't count the same anyways. Minor in personal health. Get my Surgical Tech school done and work part-time while attending ASU. Finish my psychology degree, then take the right prerequisites at my local college. Don't live off any student loans until I get accepted into AA or PA school.

 

Option A seems nice. I can go to UGA, graduate with a degree in Biology, have that prestigious college (at least for my state) attached to my degree, finish everything on a physical campus, have easier access to volunteering in research studies at the campus, have 100% of my focus on my school and GPA (this is important as grades don't come naturally to me), and pretty much devote my life to making sure my prerequisites and overall GPA are top notch. The bad - I'd live off loans and accumulate a lot more debt and UGA is harder (could be a good thing for preparation) in their expectations. A lot of good, but the two bad are related to more debt and harder to get a good GPA.

 

Option B seems good too, but not as appealing. I'll undergrad in psychology and minor in personal health (biology/chem/etc not available). Take all the right prerequisites at a local college that should be easier to pass versus UGA's standards. Save money by working as a Surgical Tech and paying $500/mo in a mortgage payment versus $1,000/mo for an apartment.

 

SORRY TO RAMBLE. What's your opinion? 

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Option B is a no brainier for me! I was married, but had no kids and lived off student loans and NOW regret it. I have posted in previous threads about this, but I have the typical student loans from school 110K, but some loans were collecting interest for years and now we are suffering. We are paying $2,500/month (my wives + my student loan debt) and it blows. We drive 12+ older cars, have a nice average home, cannot go on vacation, shop with coupons and worry about money monthly, have hardly any retirement. Just started putting money in retirement this year and just decreased it as we cannot afford to have 5% out of my paycheck, and the list goes on. We did live rent free x 3 years, but had to pay electric, gas, insurance, etc (mother in laws rental house), etc. We had 30K in savings and we drained it when I was in PA school and had to take loans out to live (PA school tuition was 35K for the entire masters program). I know we screwed up some, but we still did a good deal to work/save money and we are STILL paying for it in these student loans. They truly suck the life out of you. I would do option B ALL DAY EVERYDAY when I look back now as 4 years into these loan payments is killing us! I would love a "newer" car, a vacation, not pinching pennies, etc...

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Debt makes you someone else's slave.  If you can reach your goals without debt, do it.  There's a great deal of comfort in being able to say "bye" at the drop of a hat if a job is illegal, unethical, or abuses you.

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@camoman1234 I appreciate your post. I really considered living off loans and focusing 100% on school, but I think I’ll go the other route. I work a good job in aviation right now while working on my undergrad. I’m also going to a tech school to become a surgical tech, so hopefully I can find a part time or weekend shift job and finish out my prerequisites strong. Thanks for the advice!!!

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@rev ronin thanks for your input. My main concern is I’m attending Arizona State online while living in Georgia, so some of my prerequisites will be online - although the labs will be in person. I’m hoping this doesn’t hurt me in the future. I’ve reached out to a lot of PA/AA programs and most accept them, but I MIGHT want to go the med school route. So I’m thinking an online undergrad with the missing prerequisites from a community college may not make me the most competitive candidate. I have the grades, though.

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3 hours ago, cemetra said:

@camoman1234 I appreciate your post. I really considered living off loans and focusing 100% on school, but I think I’ll go the other route. I work a good job in aviation right now while working on my undergrad. I’m also going to a tech school to become a surgical tech, so hopefully I can find a part time or weekend shift job and finish out my prerequisites strong. Thanks for the advice!!!

I promise you that you will NOT regret it. This is truly some of the bets advise I could give anyone and I hope you look back and understand how much this will help you. Pass it on one day as well. Good luck!

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@camoman1234 my only concern with this approach is that I’ll have to go to a community college for about half of my prerequisites. Do you think this will effect my chances? I’m between deciding the PA route or MD. Really undecided so far. Leaning towards PA, but I have years of undergrad left and I don’t want to HAVE to do PA. If that makes sense. I want the option of both, but I’m skeptical about community college.

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6 hours ago, cemetra said:

@rev ronin thanks for your input. My main concern is I’m attending Arizona State online while living in Georgia, so some of my prerequisites will be online - although the labs will be in person. I’m hoping this doesn’t hurt me in the future. I’ve reached out to a lot of PA/AA programs and most accept them, but I MIGHT want to go the med school route. So I’m thinking an online undergrad with the missing prerequisites from a community college may not make me the most competitive candidate. I have the grades, though.

I wouldn't spend extra money on getting in-person university classes when you can get things done with awesome grades through CC and online classes.  Yes, some PA programs will frown at it.  No, those probably aren't places you really wanted to go anyways.

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I went to CC for some classes simply because it was cheaper, convenient for my schedule, and able to do summer sessions in between my university coursework. None of the PA schools asked me about it and I believe the quality of my education at the CC was just as good. I took basic classes there though like biology, physics 101, psychology, many introductory classes that didn't make sense to pay thousands of dollars for. I would rather save my money for high undergraduate classes that aren't offered at the CC. 

In short, go to the CC, finish at the university. That is the way! Save money while doing it and try to only take out loans for grad school. 

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My husband has a PhD. At first, I was in sales, then worked night shift to support us. (After Baby #1 was born.)  However, I got pregnant TWICE in his first three years, despite multiple forms of birth control. (I had an undiagnosed condition that interfered w/ BC. Yay, science!) 

Those loans are like a millstone around our neck TEN FREAKING YEARS LATER. Do not, I repeat, do not live off student loans. There is no way of predicting the future--you may get sick, you may not get a job, you may drop out after your didactic year to care for a sick/disabled parent, you may get hit by a bus and have to spend three months in rehab, etc., etc., etc. Those aren't rare occurrences, they're real-life disasters. Loans are a bet that everything will be peachy. 

(Edited to add some backstory: I also had hyperemesis while I was pregnant, and was pregnant a grand total of SEVEN TIMES in 9 years. I lost three pregnancies. Adding them all up, I spent a total of 3.5 years of my life just puking while pregnant, lying on the couch, wanting to die, but having to keep going to take care of my OTHER kids. )

We have four kids now, and the oldest is 12. Which means SHE will be in college in 6 years. Do not--repeat, DO NOT live off student loans. <3 

Edited by TrekkieByDay
backstory
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