Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back To School?

For the eleventh time, I'm thinking of making a stab at finishing my Bachelor's degree. I have over 120 credits, but I've never quite finished due to being easily distracted by paying work, and the fact that every transfer I've made has either required two years of classes (which, until recently, I never was even in the same city long enough to complete) or finishing a thesis at Simon's Rock (which I almost did, but my thesis was tied to my work at Webmind, and when Webmind went kaput so did my desire to work on that particular thesis). However, I figure that since I've done Masters or PhD level work in at least four disciplines (Artificial Intelligence, Multimedia / CG R&D and Production, Systems Engineering, and Screenwriting), perhaps it's high time I had anything other than an Associates' Degree.

I am looking at Thomas Edison State College, Ohio University, and now (thanks to Taj Moore) University of Maryland, University College (I could beg to be given another chance to finish my thesis at Simon's Rock, which would be my first choice given that I actually like and respect SRC, but my topic exhausted any interest it had a while ago and my thesis adviser retired justifiably pissed off at me that I'd not finished it during the Webmind days). So my only enrollment criteria at this point is minimum amount of time until graduation. I've got over 120 credits, and both institutions offer "portfolio review" of prior work experience towards credit, so in theory I should be able to graduate in 1 semester. However, I doubt that will happen, because all schools want more of your money, so they almost never transfer more than 2 years worth of credits. I have no interest in 2 years of undergraduate work, so if neither TESC nor OU will graduate me in 1-2 semesters, I'll have to go back to Simon's Rock on hands and knees.

At this point, I shouldn't even care about the degree. After all, I've always found school boring (and, often, insultingly patronizing), and excelled in the workplace rather than academia. I have plenty of projects of my own, and not enough time to do them all. However, there is a faction at work which is opposed to promotions for people who do not have degrees, and indeed advanced degrees. Plus, if I ever wanted to go back into research (short of getting rich and paying myself to do it), the glory days of being a wunderkind who can get a job at Bell Labs with no Bachelor's are long past. There also seems to be some value to having a degree when trying to raise money for projects. So this could just be a precursor to grad school -- something I'm quite ambivalent about, as that seems like it could be a huge waste of time and money. But, alas, given the end of the Internet boom glory days, and my being young enough to be a "wunderkind," it seems that I have failed to completely avoid (as I'd hoped I had) the need to finish the Bachelor's, if not also then going to get a Masters' or PhD.


Mattbot said...


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you just want the piece of paper, and don't have a burning need to learn anything in any classes.

Sounds like you could probably be satisfied with a correspondence or technical college, both of which have less interest in money, and will definitely graduate you in under 2 years.

I'm kinda in a similar position. No one gets a job in a think tank without a PhD. I've already talked to people, and my dissertation topic is basically pre-approved, so getting in shouldn't be a problem, but it is really hard to imagine spending five years taking classes.

LHOOQtius ov Borg said...

Matt -- the degree would be in Applied Math if finished at SRC, and in Computer Science if done elsewhere.

Anon -- Yes, I just want the piece of paper so if I do decide to go to grad school and collect more paper, I can. I don't have a burning need to learn in classes -- not only do I already have over 120 credits of classes finished, I study what interests me already, either in formal classes or through my own readings and doings.

hatsumi said...

It irks me that pieces of paper can really determine promotions and such things. Still, that is the way of the world. It's even a way that I can understand and appreciate, although it's inconvenient to those of us who are "gifted" or whatever you want to call it these days.

When I went back to school 6 years after leaving SRC to finish a bachelor's degree, having that piece of paper helped me out a lot in getting employment that paid more than minimum wage. I aspired to continue on to a doctorate in Psychology since that's what my BA was in, but several hundred people apply every semester to approximately 7 slots and since family arrangements require (my choice) to stay in this state so that I can be in the same place as my son, I was unwilling to go to anywhere outside of Hawaii. So I gave up on that idea.

5 years later I quit my office job and tried to go back to school for a second bachelor's in Computer Science, but my husband lost his job and I needed to work so I went back to my old job. Now it's 3 years later than that and I'm back in school AGAIN. This time I'm going for International Business & Information Systems Management. I've kept my job part time, though.

I agree that school is patronizing and all that. Not to mention way too damned easy. Still, I really believe that the benefits will outweigh the costs. With my current degree, I can only go so far. If I get something with more practical use, upward mobility will be better. Plus, now I know to do all the "extra crap" in addition to classes that help you get into graduate school.

Even with all the other shit going on in my life at the moment, I'm really glad I chose to do what I'm doing. Whatever you decide, good luck! :)