A $100,000 Decision

Molly is a nursing professor and her family's breadwinner. She's considering teaching online from home. She will take a cut in benefits, but pay will be comparable. Dave gives Molly some things to think about.

QUESTION: Molly in Indiana is a nursing professor and her family’s breadwinner. She’s considering leaving the private university she’s at to teach online from home. She will take a cut in benefits as a result, but pay will be comparable. Dave gives Molly some things to think about.

ANSWER: I guess it’s a pretty simple tradeoff. The other stuff really doesn’t matter much, but you’re saying, “If I take this job, I’m going to pay for my kids’ education. In order to be home with them, I’m going to pay for their education.” That’s probably going to mean they go to different schools. Are you willing to do that, or do you want to work for seven more years?

The typical high school student going into college is probably not an online student. That’s not the normal track anyway. It’s usually a brick-and-mortar scenario. Most likely, when your kid “goes to college,” it won’t be online, so I don’t think that’s going to be the deal.

Basically, you’re saying—and what you and your husband have to decide—is do we want to put these kids in different schools so that we can pay for it so that I can be home with them for the next seven years? That’s the decision. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong one there, by the way. I think that’s just helping you analyze it. The other stuff—the “benefits”—I wouldn’t trade that. Five thousand bucks here or there, you can pick that up tutoring a little bit. That’s not an offset. The other thing is an $80,000 or $100,000 decision. I’m okay with that. I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong going either direction. I think you’ve just got to set those in front of you and say, “Is this worth it?” It may be that you say you can’t afford for you to be at home on that basis. Or you say they’re going to go to a different school, they’ll have to work and pay for it, and you’ll work and pay for part of it so you can be home.