My initial decision to not apply to grad schools was made impulsively after receiving an incredibly offensive and disheartening email from a potential grad adviser at one of the programs I've been looking into. After a few moments of reflection, however, I realized that the professor was right, and that I needed to rethink my approach. Upon further reflection, I realized I am simply NOT willing to do the work. I've been dying to take a break for some time now, and this is the sign that I need to take one. I can take my time preparing for grad school, and not rush into it.
I was anxious about sharing my decision with my parents, but all turned out well. Mum, as always, supports whatever decisions I make. My dad, whose opinion I was most anxious about, was actually relieved when I told him that I'd decided to take a break. I didn't realize that anyone else understood how difficult school has been for me. Dad and I are both compulsive learners - as he described it, our "brains are on fire" when we're in class and studying. But taking the max course load for three solid years has finally caught up to me. When my dad told me he thought it was a good idea to get a job (despite the horribleness and the awfulness of the job market), when he literally sighed and relaxed when I explained my change of plans, I felt like I had absolutely made the right decision.
I've been pretty overwhelmed both with life in general, and this decision in specific. There were almost as many things to do to get out of college as there were to get into a new program. But I made a list of tasks to accomplish, and spent today taking care of most of them. I've been withdrawn from my econ minor and amended my major. This means that in order to graduate in December, all I need to do is file a late graduation application (which will hopefully NOT be rejected!). Once I get back to Ellensburg I need to extend my lease two and a half months, and begin moving out of my apartment (I'd rather have everything done before finals week so that I'm not worrying about it), but other than that I'm in a very good position right now.
I looked at hundreds of jobs today and found about two dozen strong prospects. I also looked at housing in the areas I was planning to apply for jobs, and found some promising options. I'm looking for people renting out rooms. The rooms I looked at were furnished, rent included utilities, and internet and TV were already set up. There were also no (or minimum) security deposits. Renting a room will:
A) Cut my housing expenses down by at-least half. From what I've looked at, rental costs for most apartments (unfurnished, without utilities, internet, tv, etc) is more than three times the rent on a room.
B) Moving into a furnished room means the only moving costs I will have will be gas, one night in a hotel (unless I have a friend with me, in which case I'll camp!), and some food.
C) I'll have someone there to answer all of my questions about my new home, and will feel a lot safer living in/around a big city if I have someone at home when I get there.
D) I imagine potential housemates won't mind splitting grocery costs on heavily used items (milk, butter, bread) and will probably not mind letting me cook communal meals (which means I'll get to make - and share - many of my favorite dishes, which I currently don't cook because I live alone and would waste 90% of it if I made them).
With the money I'll save on rent I'll be able to pay down my bills MUCH faster. After a few years I'd be able to easily afford a decent-sized apartment (or even a condo) with room for guests. And of course, I'd be able to travel!
The most exciting part of my decision to work instead of attend school is that I'll have ACTUAL free time. As a student I get a spring break, a few weeks off for Christmas, and about two months off for summer. However, I ALWAYS have the pressure of pending assignments, tests, and various deadlines, even when I don't have class. With a job I would be working at least 40 hours a week. But when I get off in the evenings, it's my time. When I have weekends, I have a complete two-day break to get tasks done, to laze about, to travel. I will ALWAYS know what my schedule is, and can make definite plans. I can take time off when it's convenient for me. I can schedule said vacations when my other friends and family have vacations, and we can choreograph them accordingly. I will have legitimate free time. Oh, Glory!!
I won't be rich. It will be a real struggle to get a job, and the amount of work I will have to find one makes me panic. But, even when it's most challenging, life has a way of working out. The next few months are going to take a lot of talking-myself-into-it and calming-myself-down moments. But I can do it. I'll stay calm. ;)