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Balancing Work and School

I've been working as a computer programmer for a few years; for a number of reasons I chose to pursue a career instead of an education. Recently, I've been questioning my decision. A degree is something that I value very highly, and it is my goal to eventually attain one.

At the current time, I have a fairly good, fairly stable job, and I am thinking it would be possible to leverage this, especially financially. Some options I've considered would be:
- night or weekend classes
- shifting job to part-time
- quitting work altogether and attending school

I am quite young, without substantial amounts of savings.

Monday, April 22, 2002

Whoops, forgot to ask my question. Has anybody had success doing this? Does anybody have any advice?

Thanks a lot.

Monday, April 22, 2002

Not sure if I can offer any advice, but I had a similar experience.

I had enough of school after three years pursuing a BS in CS. I had a summer internship, and they were happy to have me, so I just kept on working there after the summer ended. I did that full time for about a year. The next year I started taking classes part time at a local University to finish my degree. That took me another two years.

Overall I'm glad I did it this way. It turned out to be a good career move to have the work experience, and I actually enjoyed my classes without the pressure of a full class schedule. The only downside was that classes require constant attention. Teachers aren't generally sympathetic if you have a release in 15 days and you don't have time to do your homework.

Monday, April 22, 2002

I worked quite a few jobs contracting my way though school. It's important to let management know about times when you won't be able to commit long hours (ie. middle of a release) during midterms and school project deadlines. The best job to have would be some kind of maintenance engineering, where you're more of a bug fixer than someone on a deadline to get x number of features out the door.

I don't recommend it for anyone, especially if you consider yourself a poor multitasker. But if you do decide to go this path, make sure that you accept the fact that you may need to either drop a class or accept reduced responsibilities at work in order to maintain your sanity. Having pressure on multiple fronts is a certain formula for burnout.


James Wann
Monday, April 22, 2002

I am currently in graduate school at night and work as a contract programmer by day. If you decide to give up a life for a couple years you shouldn't have a problem.

Monday, April 22, 2002

I work as a full time programmer, and attend weekend classes, at a CS uni. The only things I find hard is passing those classes wich have little or nothing to do with computers. The rest is fairly easy, after 10 years of dealing with computers (hardware, c. graphics & programming), I can pass any exam with minimal efort.

Szasz Attila
Tuesday, April 23, 2002


Here in the UK we have the Open University.

I'm studying with them for an MSc at the moment, and they are very good at this type of education.  They have been doing it since the 70s and now have it down to a fine art.

They also serve international students, take a look:

Which country are you in?

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, April 23, 2002

I suggest you work full-time and get tuition reimbursement.  This way, you get someone else to pay for your school. 

Young is the time to do this; I am currently pursuing a MS CIS while my wife pregnant with our first child.  I am going to take a semester off when the baby is born ... I HOPE to maybe go back and finish ...

In other words, this is easier to do when you are younger and have fewer comittments.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002


I'm about to start my MSc with OU.  Which modules have you done/recommend?

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Forget the degree.  Focus on skills.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

you might want to get your degree in something other than computer science. a good programmer with a degree in biology/chemistry/physics/engineering/ has more doors open than a programmer who only has a BA/BS in computer science.

The reality is, that it _IS_ possible to work forever as a programmer with no degree at all. However it is not possible to be a doctor without going to medical school. It is actually pretty hard to even do programming tasks related to chemistry/biology/financials/physics/anything unless you have at least taken a few courses in those fields.

I would recommend getting a degree...but not in CS.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

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