Changing My Major

I’ve been seriously thinking about changing my major lately.  Yes, part of the reason is the horrible things physics (a C last fall) and organic chemistry (also a C last fall, looks like I am headed for another C this spring) have done to my GPA.  Two years ago I was on the deans’ list for my GPA of 3.75.  It fell to 3.2 with the fall semester.  Ouch!

Physics I just didn’t understand.  I spent the last half of that class wondering Why is this required for me? and Who thinks of these things anyway??  Organic chemistry is very interesting, and I do understand it, but it is a true case of information overload.  There is just so much new stuff in each chapter, and the professor makes some really tough tests.  Considering almost a third of the class either dropped or flunked the fall semester, I am really not doing too badly.  It’s just hard to see my GPA dwindle like this.

So I am thinking of switching from pre-pharmacy to medical technology (med tech).  This would cut out the drama of how to pay for pharmacy school, which is $27k for tuition alone in the fall of this next school year.  Add in books and fees and parking and gas for the hour commute each way, and it could get really ugly really fast, and due to first year attrition rates the scholarships don’t start until the second of four years.

My brain is a little frazzled by this point in the school year, so if my numbers look off feel free to correct me.  I’m trying to do a cost-analysis between the two programs here.

Pharmacy school: approximately $30,000 per year, up to $35,000 at the end of the four years.  Let’s call it $125,000 in cost with hubby’s income only able to cover about $5,000 to $8,000 per year.  My G.I. Bill will be running out before I hit pharmacy school, so I would be looking at $80,000 to $105,000 in student loans.  Average starting salary after you pass the board (and you must pass the board to get a job): approximately $100,000 per year in the Nashville metro area, a little lower here.  Pharmacists are paid by the hour, and my mom says right now starting wage is about $42 per hour.  I wouldn’t be in the workforce for six more years, give or take a semester, so that pushes my entry into the working world to 2013 or 2014.

Med tech: I could get this one done in about three or four semesters (two years max if I don’t do summer classes) at the most, and it would be local.  I could cash flow college the whole time, and might have only one semester at the most without my GI Bill money.  I could be working in 2010, and average starting salary of a med tech is $32,000 to $40,000.

Finally, there is the non-money issues of hubby’s deployments and son’s school and activities.  There is no doubt hubby will get deployed at some point soon.  Indeed, we have been rather lucky so far in that respect.  Son starts high school in the fall, but has two years before he can get a restricted drivers license.

Short-term thinking says it would be so much better to switch my major and get my happy hide into the workforce where I can sock 15% of that salary into a retirement account and get it busy compounding and get my mortgage paid off quickly.  But there is also the little vain thought in the back of my head that says a six figure income would be nice, and I might be able to make up for all the time and expense of the extra schooling.

Numbers nerds, here’s your chance to shine.  How far out is the break-even point between these two options?  To my caffiene-deprived mind it looks like at least 8 years, even if I put the pedal to the metal on those students loans as soon as I get out of pharmacy school.  At age 35 I am not getting any younger, and I really need to get serious about some form of retirement savings.