Dear Kate & Dale: How can my husband salvage his career? He was a college soccer coach who was released when his assistant coach made recruiting violations. He and the school agreed to state that he was leaving to pursue another position. To make matters worse, he was released from an elementary-school position due to an outburst of anger; then he received a DUI, which resulted in a suspended license. Yes, heís in therapy, but he desperately needs employment. Ė Alicia
Dale: Until youíve gone through it or known someone who has, itís hard to understand just how quickly a life can spiral down. The good news is that there are plenty of people whoíve had that revelation, and if your husband is earnestly seeking help, those people will treat him with sympathy rather than contempt.
Kate: Iíd say that the downward spiral started when the college asked him to lie about his leaving. Nothing made sense in his career after that. So he goes to a program thatís not as good, then winds up at an elementary school. I can only imagine how frustrating that was for him. I can picture the anger and the drinking and the rest Ė I could see how it could happen to anyone, myself included.
Dale: People in public institutions are in a lousy position to come through with a sympathy hire. How does it look when the local news media do stories on the new coachís checkered past? Awful. What administrator would take that risk? Thatís why your husband should focus on jobs with professional teams, or perhaps being a consultant to schools who are starting a new program or whose coach needs help.
Kate: In doing so, he will prove to himself and you that his therapy is successful, while he adds success stories to his resume. Eventually he will get to that place where a college athletic director can logically offer him a job. Itís a long way to where he was, but as Judge Sol Wachler put it: "When God closes a door, He opens a window. But the hallways are hell." Wachler spent time in those hallways Ė he headed the New York State Supreme Court before self-medicating for bipolar disorder and ending up in jail for harassing his girlfriend. I know it doesnít help much to hear it could be worse; however, you must remember thereís a window waiting for your husband, and heís lucky to have you helping him get through it.
Dear Kate & Dale: Iím a 40-year-old who never finished college. I have spoken with a university that will take transfer credits and has an online program. It will cost $22,000. Iím not eligible for grants, and I donít want a student loan. Iím excited about finishing my degree and making a better life, but how do I pay for it? Ė A Reader
Kate: The bottom line is you canít afford such an expensive school. If youíre going to finish online, you neednít restrict yourself to a local college; broaden your research to many other schools. I went on the Web site of your closest state university and found that a four-year degree would cost about $24,000. Because you have transfer credits, it could thus cost you far less than the online school.
Dale: But letís back up and consider making a better life. Before you spend the time and money, make sure thatís true. Go to people in a position to hire you for higher-level jobs and ask, "If I got this degree, would that make all the difference in getting hired?" If yes, then you can project out your higher income and see that loans just might be a good deal. On the other hand, your questions might lead you straight into an offer for one of those better jobs, and you could end up taking classes for the joy of learning.
Kate Wendleton is the founder of The Five OíClock Club, a national career-counseling network (www.fiveoclockclub.com). Her newest book is "Mastering the Job Interview and Winning the Money Game" (Thomson Delmar Learning). Dale Dauten is the founder of The Innovatorsí Lab. His latest book is "Better Than Perfect: How Gifted Bosses and Great Employees Lift the Performance of Those Around Them" (Career Press). Please write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.