Get comfortable, dear reader, because this is gonna be a lengthy one. Why, you ask? Because I think I might be scrapping the whole Clinical Mental Health Counselor career path.
I know, I know. I sound flaky as fuck right now. But but but reasons! I have them!
Basically, as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I’ve never been 100% comfortable with the idea of having to go to grad school in order to make my Bachelors worth anything. If I complete my B.A./B.S. and then decide that I want to go to grad school at that point, that’s whole ‘nother story. But with my advanced age as I start out my undergraduate degree, I’ve just not been in love with the idea of feeling obligated to continue on to grad school. But I was willing to suck it up and just accept it as part of my academic path.
Now I’ve known all along that in order to obtain my licensure as an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), after grad school I would have to work for a couple of years as an Intern (or LPC-I), under direct supervision. Cool, sure, no worries. Right?
Yeah, about that. What I learned this week is that supervision doesn’t come free. Well, let me back up… It theoretically can if after grad school you land a job interning with a agency who provides your supervision hours as part of your employment with them. It’s considered a perk of the job. However, those opportunities are fewer than you might think (especially in a small town like mine), and the ones that do exist are extremely competitive.
Because of these factors, most LPC-I’s have to find supervision in private practice, and that costs money. Big money. Like, $100-200 per week. For real, ya’ll. So let’s use some of my blossoming fancy math skills, shall we? Based on the median weekly amount of $150 per week, the equation looks something like this:
($150 x 52 weeks) 2 years = $15,600
Keep in mind this is AFTER grad school, so no more grants, no more loans, no financial aid at all. That cool 15 Grand+ would be coming completely out of my relatively empty, freshly-graduated pocket.
Can you actually hear my feet on the floor, backpedaling like a boss right now? (They’re pretty big feet, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you could.)
Needless to say, I’m feeling quite discouraged about the LPC career path now, and reevaluating all the choices I’ve made up to this point. Getting my Bachelor’s in Psychology isn’t going to lead me anywhere I want to be without having to follow it up with grad school and licensure, so I’ve been exploring other options.
The first and closest online equivalent I’ve found would be to get a Bachelor of Science in Human Services. It’s administered through the University of South Carolina, right here at the Beaufort campus. With it, I could go on to become a Substance Abuse Counselor. No grad school required, but I would still have to intern and do supervised hours for two years. However, from everything I’m reading, the opportunities for employment that provides your supervision are far more numerous. But would I enjoy it? Ehh. Maybe? I’m not sure. If I’m being completely honest, I just don’t feel quite so drawn to this field as I did Mental Health counseling. And also because, well…
Another option from USC is one that I’ve mentioned before, the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, which is administered online through the main campus up in Columbia. I would probably enjoy the coursework for the major, as I could focus on Psychology, Sociology, and English courses. And at the end of 4-5 years, I would be able to say “Hey, look! I got me a Bachelor’s degree, ya’ll!” But on it’s own, it would be worth about as much as that Psychology degree that I’m reconsidering. Hrmph.
So that got me to thinking… What if I did get me a good old “useless” degree after all? Instead of worrying about career paths and earning potential and adulting, what if I just majored in something I would enjoy? I mean, I have a decent job that I love. I’m already far beyond entry-level. And wasn’t the entire original point of me going back to college more personal than professional anyhow? To finish what I started 20 years ago?
Which leads me to…
Yeah… Writing. Oh, come on, don’t look at me like that. And really, I mean, if you’re reading and enjoying this blog right now, that idea hopefully doesn’t shock you. (Unless it does, and you’re only reading this blog right now to mock me to your co-workers, which I acknowledge is entirely possible.) After all, I mean, I did get that perfect score on the writing section of my placement exams. So maaaaybe there’s something to that worth exploring?
After some research, I’ve created a shortlist of schools that I would be interested in transferring to, all of which offer online Bachelor’s degrees in English with a concentration in Writing:
#3: University of Colorado (Denver Campus), Bachelor of Arts in English Writing
UC Denver is an extremely reputable school and is definitely a great option (hence why it made the list), but of the three, it has the most drawbacks for me. I don’t love that it’s all the way in Colorado should I need to visit the campus. Also, it’s coursework has slightly less focus on creative writing and more on technical writing, which is both good and bad: It would probably be better for employment opportunities, but also pretty boring. It’s also the most expensive of my current three choices, coming in at $467 per hour.
#2: Southern New Hampshire University, Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing & English
Yes, the same SNHU that you see the commercials for. I hesitated on this one, as generally the majority of the mass-marketed online schools are just for-profit diploma mills. But I did a lot of research, and it turns out that SNHU is completely legit, and their online programs are very much geared towards online non-traditional students like myself. And at $320 per hour, it’s the most affordable.
#1: University of Central Florida, Bachelor of Arts in English: Creative Writing
This program seems to have the most of what I’m looking for: A creative Writing bachelor’s program that can be completed online, strong support for online students, an entire Transfer & Transition Services department that I can speak with while I’m at my community college these next two years to make sure I’m on the right track for an eventual transfer to UCF, prerequisites that I can actually complete at TCL, and a main campus located within a 5-hour driving distance from me. In fact, it’s a drive I’m extremely familiar with and make at least once a year anyhow. That’s right, ya’ll… UCF is located in Orlando. And as far as price goes, it’s only a little more than SNHU at $384 per credit hour.
As far as a minor goes, I probably should minor in something related to my major, like Technical Writing or Journalism. Orrrrr I could just minor in something fun, right? You know, like Anthropology!
I’m totally serious, James Franco. I mean, for fuck’s sake, just look at the titles of the courses I would get to choose from!
- ANT 3026: Mummies, Zombies, and Vampires: Anthropology of the Undead
- ANT 3107: Blood and Valor in the Viking World
- ANT 3177: Archaeology of Caribbean Piracy
- ANT 3241: Magic, Ritual, and Belief
- ANT 4013: Anthropology of Fast Food
I’m #sorrynotsorry, but that all sounds completely freakin’ AWESOME to me.
But anyhow. All of that being said, if after completing my Bachelor’s I decide that I do want to continue on to grad school after all, I have an extremely convenient option. Savannah College of Art and Design
, just an hour down the road from me, offers a fully-online Master of Fine Arts in Writing
. So clearly, SCAD would be the obvious choice for my graduate degree.
So that’s kinda where things stand now. Or not stand, since they’re all up in the air. That’s where things float now? Whatever. More importantly, how on Earth is it even possible that I’m 36 years old and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up?