Ready For Something New

December 15, 2009 at 6:54 am (back to school) (, , , , , , , , )

Typically a recession will hit social services much later than everywhere else. This happened when we worked in Chicago and it is happening now. We are now hearing news of the economy turning for the better, yet social services are devastated and there is no light at the end of the tunnel just yet.

As is the case with most agencies, there is a bit of fat that can be cut. And again, as is the case with most agencies, the ‘fat’ is cut from the areas that cannot absorb the cuts so well.

I am a DSP, Direct Support Professional. It is an entry-level, low-wage, high-stress, under-appreciated position. The work itself is rewarding. But obviously the bills still need to get paid. When I first started I signed up to participate in this thing called In Train. It is a well known fact that DSPs go not get paid well enough for the amount of work we do, so someone designed a curriculum to get DSPs certified, raising the level of training, and in turn raising wages. The state of Indiana was funding the classes at a community college and our agency was going to be given a grant for each graduate. When we graduated we were promised a $1 raise. It may not sound like a lot but that is more than a 10% increase. I signed right up!

Apparently, less that one year after this thing got started, Indiana decided they were not going to reimburse the agencies that were paying for our tuition and they certainly were not giving a grant for the graduates. Because of this our agency decided not to give us our raise. They told us this after just cutting most DSPs hours by 25%.

Those of us who had put hours into class time, homework, changing our schedules around, losing overtime, losing family time, and many more inconveniences, and REALLY, REALLY looking forward to the raise, were obviously upset. The reasoning we were given was that it was not fair to those whose hours were just cut if they turned around and gave us raises. That excuse didn’t seem very fair and logical for us.

So, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me (and many others). In the midst of all of this I decided that I was going to go back to school. I wanted a trade or something I could do that wasn’t entry level and near minimum wage pay. I had thought for a long time about doing accounting, so I revisited that idea. As I was looking around at schools and classes, I came across statistics and was very intrigued. I could not stop thinking about it. The idea of analyzing data got me very excited. I know, I’m such a nerd.

So I started looking around at statistics courses. I immediately knew that I wanted to get a certificate from a college with a good reputation. As one of my profs said in undergrad, PhDs are a dime a dozen. This is a pretty depressing thought, but it is becoming more and more true as colleges are pushing out degrees of low quality.

Anyways, I was looking at universities in Chicago and the only one I found to offer a certificate in statistics is Loyola. So I have been very excited to start the process of applying and such. To prepare for the math I will need I am registering at the community college to take Geometry/Trig.

This has given me hope to have something to look forward to. It has made things so much more positive for me and I can’t wait to embark on this new journey. It is going to be tough, though because there is no way I will be able to cut back on work and finances will be even more tight. I can’t imagine how we can tighten the belt even more! It will be a 2 hour commute for me as my classes will not be at the Chicago campus, but further north in Evanston.

Hear I am saying all of this and I haven’t even been accepted yet. But fortunately as a ‘mature’ student and as this is only for a certificate, the application process is much less rigorous.

I am so ready for this change!



  1. Kacie said,

    Hope and plans! That is exciting. Look to do as much as possible in community college – it’s so much cheaper… amazingly cheap!

    • justaweeblether said,

      Yes! I am going to take trig at the community college because I never even had that in high school. I can transfer in 6 credits so I will do calculus in the summer. It is 4 credits. It really is exciting!

  2. Erin said,

    D–how exciting!

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