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Distance Learning While Working

I'm a software developer with no formal qualification

(started programming in Basic & in assembler on a c64 in the mid 80's)

I'm afraid that in a few years I won't be competitive enough coz I have no diploma or degree on my CV :-(

Do you think it's a wise idea to invest some time
(18 hours a week roughly) for the next 3 years
to obtain a MSc in Software Development ?

My situation is the following : getting married in June, no kidz, 33 years old, basically it means I will get my MSC when I'm 36. Is it worth the sacrifice ?

Has anyone studied with the OU ?

http://www3.open.ac.uk/courses/classifications/information_technology_and_computing_software_development_page.shtm

No Diploma/No Degree but still employed, but for how long ??
Thursday, April 01, 2004


Has anyone been on the same boat?

No Diploma/No Degree but still employed, but for how long ??
Thursday, April 01, 2004

If you've got no kids, and you can get your employer to pay for the tuition, how much of a sacrifice is it, really?

I enjoyed some of my masters classes quite a bit. If you like learning, and somebody else is footing the bill, then go for it.

However, my experience is that having that MSCS on my resume has been basically worthless. Experience counts for far, far more when looking for a job.

Chris Tavares
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Chris :

Over here (in France), if you've got no degree you're worth less, even when you've got a degree and it's not from a top school you can't get into the biggest/hottest corporation ...

Sure have experience do count, but in France having a degree is really important.

Also when a potentiel employer will compare my resume :
10 years experience + No Degree against 10 years exp + BSc or MSc then I think that I won't stand a chance

No Diploma/No Degree but still employed, but for how long ??
Thursday, April 01, 2004


Ho yes, I'm going to get my company to pay for it ...

No Diploma/No Degree but still employed, but for how long ??
Thursday, April 01, 2004


One of my colleague has just called me, he said that they may not pay for it.

If they don't, do you guys think is it worth I pay to enroll on that MSc course ?

No Diploma/No Degree but still employed, but for how long ??
Thursday, April 01, 2004

That course sounds pretty dubious -- 3 years part-time to get a MSc, when you don't have a BSc?

Ron
Thursday, April 01, 2004

I dunno...I don't think 3 years for an MS with no BS sounds unreasonable.  I know of at least three universities in Chicago where this is possible (Northwestern, U of C, and DePaul ).  Although, I'm not sure that they offer those degrees via Distance Learning (maybe DePaul).

J. Volk
Thursday, April 01, 2004

That first sentence sounds a little funny.  Maybe "MS without a BS?"  Yeah, that sounds better.

J. Volk
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Of course, you do need a BA, so...Nevermind.

J. Volk
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Getting a BS - worth it.
Getting a BS from a recognizable school - absolutely worth it.

Getting an MS - debatable. 
(the problem being that your resume may not make the stack as you're perceived to be "out of their price range")

Of course, you can always just leave the MS off your resume, providing you have a BS...

Philo

Philo
Thursday, April 01, 2004

What if you already have a BA in an unrelated field, and instead of going back and getting a BS you instead go straight to an MS?  Not that I'm in that situation or anything. :)

J. Volk
Thursday, April 01, 2004

>> I'm afraid that in a few years I won't be competitive enough coz I have no diploma or degree on my CV :-(

Start your own business, and you'll never have to worry about whether your boss fires you due to lack of degree.
As long as your skills match the requirements to find and keep customers, you can work as long as you want without being worried about a boss firing you.

But then, we already discussed a lot on this board the subject of how valuable degrees are in the software business.

Fred
Thursday, April 01, 2004

>Over here (in France), if you've got no degree you're
>worth less, even when you've got a degree and it's not
>from a top school you can't get into the biggest/hottest
>corporation ...

The Frenchies always tend to emphasize the trivial. The banning of head dresses for Muslim girls; do we have anything better to worry about!?!?!? Go eat some bread.

>Also when a potentiel employer will compare my resume :
>10 years experience + No Degree against 10 years exp +
>BSc or MSc then I think that I won't stand a chance

Of course you won't get the job you've already conceded.  But getting some sort of BA/certification doesn't make you a certified Einstein, nor will it make you sound confident in your next interview.  Getting a job has less to do with skills and more to do with selling yourself. And you can't do that effectively without confidence.

Contribue to a project, develop a shareware product on the side, write technical articles for CodeProject!  Show the employer that development is your life, your passion!Have something to show other than some stupid peice of paper! 

If you think passing some exams is your ticket to a job, then you're sadly mistaken.  I worked with idiots with Phds and geniuses with GED's. 

Build a portfolio of long-term, _challenging_ projects! Make a case for yourself damnit!  And I don't mean "I have a degree so please hire me..." 

Convice the company! You will effect their bottom line growth!  You will contribute to company moral!  You will improve their system efficiency!

Your pants may be wrinkled and your clothes mismatched, but you will not be denied!

You will not be denied!!!
Thursday, April 01, 2004

I have studied with the OU (a Certificate in Business Administration ) and I did find it worthwhile.  I had a look at the course you mentioned and it's worth pointing out that to take the MSc you have to previously pass the Diploma and : "There are no entry requirements for the diploma courses, but you must be suitably prepared for study at professional level. You are expected to have studied to at least HNC/HND level, or to have had equivalent practical experience."

Since the whole thing's modular you can add to your CV as you go.  The real questions are does the course interest you in itself and will it add to your understanding of the subject?  If the answers are no then don't bother - because you won't finish it, if yes go for it.

a cynic writes...
Thursday, April 01, 2004

By the way, for anyone that doesn't know, the Open University was set up at the end of the 60s to allow access to Higher Education for everybody no matter what their previous qualifications.  It's pretty much the largest University in Britain and is virtually all distance learning backed up by occasional tutorials and study weeks/weekends. 

a cynic writes...
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Philo, do you plan to leave MS of your resume? :-)

son of parnas
Thursday, April 01, 2004

As "a cynic writes" the Open University was established at the end of the 60's and has an excellent reputation.

My advice is to start a course (presumably you'd have to srart with the diploma) and gradually build up to the Masters at your own speed.

And forget about what it will do for your CV; you'll never finish if that's your only motivation. Study the modules you are interested in.

And be realistic. Don't expect an OU degree to give you the same oportunites as an enarca.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, April 01, 2004

I'm just coming to the end of the OU's PostGraduate Dimploma in Commerce and Computing, which I can then convert to a masters.

It has been a great experience and I'd recommend it to anyone.

I do have a family, and I had to pay for it myself.  If you're free and single and the company are paying then what are you waiting for!

Philo:

PostGraduate Diplomas with the OU are a special case.  To study for a degree part time takes around 7 years.  Studying for a Post Graduate Dimploma can be done in 3, with an extra year for a dissertation to gain a MSc.

Since the OU will except work experience instead of an undergraduate degree it makes the MSc option much more viable than the Undergraduate option. 

You still get to tick the 'Degree or equivalent' box on the application forms.

Also, I've found the PostGraduate not to hard.  The Undergraduate stuff would have bored me to tears.

Ged Byrne
Friday, April 02, 2004

I'm working through an OU course at the moment, I had considered studying CS but in the end decided it would be better to study something I wasn't spending all day doing so I went for Maths instead.

The time commitments will mean making sacrifice's but it is an enjoyable experience. I am managing to do it with a young family and running a business.

As to whether its much use to your career I doubt it very much, OU degrees are not held in much esteem by people who went to traditional universities. Whether its right or not that's the truth at the moment.

If you want to do it then do it for the experience and gaining knowledge, not for your career.

Tony Edgecombe
Friday, April 02, 2004

Ged Byrne :

It's not realistic to do the MSc in 3 years ? (including the dissertation)

I've been told that 60 points represent roughly 18 hours of study per week

No Diploma/No Degree but still employed, but for how long ??
Friday, April 02, 2004

PostGrad in 3 years.

Then an extra year for the MSc makes 4 years.

I've been doing it myself, so I know it can be done.

You have to be content with

Ged Byrne
Friday, April 02, 2004

Ged :

How many hours per week did you had to commit for the OU studies ?

No Diploma/No Degree but still employed, but for how long ??
Friday, April 02, 2004

Look, don't do it if all you want is to improve your career prospects. In my experience there is no way to improve your career prospects except to start at the bottom and stay there. We're all doomed, my friend.

No, seriously, you have to ask yourself: if my career prospects don't improve as a result of this, will I wish I hadn't done it? Or will I be glad I put myself through all that formal learning even though I'm disappointed it didn't open doors for me? (Maybe it will open doors but you can't count on it.)

I don't know how the OU works but the way I do it is by a series of week-long residentials followed by a 6-week assignment. No extensions ever, for any reason, if you're gonna hand it in late don't hand it in at all.

The assignments are supposed to take 25 hours but I've never known one take less than 100 hours and that's just the easy ones. It's amazing how little time is left for studying after working, commuting, eating, sleeping and bathing. So I imagine that, similarly, you can't necessarily count on your OU studies taking a mere 18 hours a week. Be prepared to pound yourself into the ground where necessary.

If you really want to do it you should absolutely do it, you will be soooo glad. If you don't want to do it you will quite likely wish you'd never started.

Fernanda Stickpot
Friday, April 02, 2004

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