Grad school advice?


#1

I know this isn’t really what the forum is for, but maybe it’s still valid? I’ve been doing much better. I’m a new dad and still somewhat of a newlywed. Things didn’t go according to plan, but hey, life happens. Anyway, I’ve been working as a developer for about 9 months. I’m getting more comfortable. My undergrad is in Management Information Systems. I start to delve into grad school possibilities from time to time. Today is one of those times. I probably should get my masters in CS, but it’s intimidating as hell. I would probably have to take prerequisites before even starting the program. I couldn’t cut it when I originally started as a CS major, but that was some 5 or 6 years ago. I’d like to think that I’ve grown and would be able to handle it better simply from a difficulty stance. My other option of course is to go for an IS or IT degree. It would be more in my wheelhouse, sure, but I’m a developer. I don’t yet have a clear vision or where I want to go. I suppose something in the C-suite would be ideal. I think it’ll probably be a few years at least before I apply what with new baby, loans, mortgage etc. I just want to be awesome at what I do. Thanks in advance.


#2

I’m not sure what your particular question is, but let me see if I can be helpful. If you’re looking into a Masters program as a way to get a better job (rather than because you want to be an academic) you should probably go for the most prestigious program you can find. Today, that is probably a CS degree from a well-known and respected program. The next question is how do you get into and successfully complete such a program?

Unfortunately, I can’t give you any advice about how to get into such a program, it probably varies from program to program anyways. So let’s talk about how you could go about successfully completing such a program. You seem to have already given this some thought and have a good idea of your circumstances, so let’s work from there.

You mentioned not being able to cut it when you tried for a CS undergrad. First step would be to figure out why you couldn’t do it the first time around, and if things have changed this time around. If you took some CS courses before, try to figure out which ones went well for you and which ones were hard. For the hard ones, try to figure out what it is that bothered you. If you don’t have the prerequisites, one way to correct for that would be to learn on your for a while. There are lots of books and online courses that will teach the basics and you could probably pick them in a few months time.

Since you said you’re a new father and a newlywed, you need to seriously think if you can handle the commitment of a Masters degree on top of your family and job commitments. A Masters degree in CS will take a lot of time and energy, probably more than a CS undergrad. If you’re not in a hurry to get the degree or change jobs, it might be worth waiting until your child is a little older before taking on such a commitment.

Hope this helps.


#3

thanks for the feedback. I’m not really sure if there was a question necessarily.

I should probably preface my struggles in CS with a little background of my mental history. I started having depressed in about 8th grade. It increased in severity and frequency for about 6 years after that before I got help. I started college 2 years prior to that so at the pinnacle of my depression and anxiety, I began my CS courses. I struggled with the complex maths and with the programming classes. I had convinced myself that it was incredibly difficult and sort of created my own barrier to doing well. Looking back, I don’t think I really put enough time into it. I just couldn’t motivate myself, which is something I still struggle with. I’m doing better now. I don’t get as much anxiety about work or losing my job.

Back on track, I just want to fulfill my potential. An undergrad degree to me is what a high school diploma is to some people. I want to at least got an MBA. I still will likely wait a few years. The programs I’ve looked at for CS are all going to require me to take prereqs though which is definitely something I’d like to avoid. Honestly, I think I could probably get where I want without graduate work. I guess it’s just a point of pride. It wouldn’t be an automatic raise, just a tie breaker for a promotion should the situation occur. My company does provide some percentage tuition assistance though which is basically free money. I’m just rambling now.


#4

You’ve got a new wife and a new kid. Life has changed a lot for you in recent times. Anytime I start to get anxious about getting more education, it’s because there’s turmoil in my life, or I’m afraid of something else.

I encourage you to think about why you are feeling this pressure NOW. What does getting the education signify for you? Security? Achievement? Stability? Overcoming difficulties? What has changed in your perception of your life that is driving you towards education?

I’m not saying going back to school is the wrong choice. Just that having more data as to why you want to is always helpful, and you might just discover another, more immediate, less expensive way to reduce your current stress/anxiety.


#5

You should be a psychiatrist lol. You ask great questions. I mentioned I look into it every now and then. I try not to waste time. It’s somewhat irrational, I know, I’m 24, but I don’t want to wait too long. I saw one of my high school peers was getting her masters and that brought it back up for me. It is about all the things you mentioned. I feel pretty close to being invaluable to my company now. The more education and experience, the more and can make and provide a comfortable living and education for my child and future posterity.


#6

This is not entirety accurate, anymore. Yes, you are more likely to get a higher salary if you have a master’s degree, but the industry is turning in its head. People without any college education are getting programming jobs and being well paid - consistently. Most of the people I’ve worked with (outside the defense industry) have no degree and are paid much better than I am. People who specialize and attend trade schools like App Academy and G-School are coming out, at entry level, making tens of thousands of dollars more than I did starting with a computer science degree.

If you’re looking for a pay jump, keep those kinds of programs in mind. You won’t get the detailed computer science educating, but you’ll get something more immediately practical.

Of course this all depends on your interests. If you’re interested in artifical intelligence or neural networks, you won’t find that at a trade school.

Also, if you’re 24 and feel invaluable to a company, you’re way ahead of the game. At 24 I was locked in my house afraid to go to the mailbox. You’re only 5% (ish) into your career. You have some time.


#7

I appreciate all the feedback. You bring up some great points. It’s one of the most unique, and scary, things about programming in particular. There are so many resources out that there that you can become an expert at home. It can and should be very motivating. It’s hard for me not to become complacent still.