Back to school? What else?
July 1, 2012 3:40 PM Subscribe
My situation: I think I want to return to school. Due to health problems, I left a previous education in rather poor standing - and after several years I'm considering an entirely different line of work. How do I pick up the pieces and start something new?
posted by roygbv to Education (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I started the fall of 2007 at a quiet liberal arts school with good academics and plans to go after a BFA in an applied art. Photography had been an interest for several years and I was quite good at it; this was the obvious choice. They gave me decent aid, so I went for it, even with their small art department. I took art history, some studio credits, a bit of CS and polysci, and played music with their orchestra. I had a nice time and pulled a 3.35 over two semesters and a winter session. I can summon transcripts and credit details if necessary.
I applied for a transfer that spring, 2008, and made it in to another school for a proper BFA education. Art school. I was excited.
In May 08, in the predawn hours one morning, I went to the hospital in a terrific amount of pain. I was there for two weeks. Crohn's disease. The summer before my first term at this new art school was grim. I had another flare over orientation weekend (hospitalized) and the following year was entirely touch-and-go. Couldn't make it to class half the time but hung on like an idiot. Trashed my GPA.
Fall of 09 I pulled the plug on the BFA. Convinced I should try to keep moving, I enrolled at a state school (in the same city) and took some light credits. I had a mixed experience. Health dogged my attendance yet again. I stopped after the 2010 winter session with a really beat up GPA.
After fighting with many medications, I decided to get on Remicade (scary side affects my big hesitation) and wow! what a drug. I gained a lot of energy and confidence back and life returned to normal. Fall 2010 I took a job with a small clinic scanning medical records. I am now their dedicated IT guy and love the work. Healthy amounts of freelance web development on the side has kept me pretty comfortable. I formed a LLC to offer web dev and IT services to my small pool of clients. I could put my shoulder behind this, but fear it might not go far in this competitive town. Maybe this is the best option, but it worries me.
So now I am in this awkward role, where I have decent income and little debt, but feel unsure of the long term plan. IT seems unstable, not long term - I hear horror stories from friends with similar jobs. It is highly competitive should I want to move on, and I have zero credentials. I have lots of surface experience in many areas, but the deeper knowledge eludes me given my busy schedule - gotta work, can't be studying on the job. I'm worried that as time passes, I'll get stuck here and lose any chance of moving forward.
Web development is my strongest skill. I like writing code for web. I would like to do software, but only know the very basics. Application design for mobile technology is very interesting. I am decent at making pretty design work, given my time doing art-stuffs in school and for freelance clients. Server admin and network engineering are fun but I have much to learn. The 'many hats' thing works for my current gig, but I realize that I need to pick one area and bunker down.
So, to boil this down:
1- Do I go back to school? Is self study a good path? If I stick with IT, are Microsoft certs worthwhile? I want to make software - is a CS degree the best starting point?
2- Where can I find information on worthwhile CS programs? I know of many excellent places to study, but I doubt with my situation I'll get in anywhere prestigious. Affordability is key - either low tuition or good aid offerings is a plus.
3- If I find a school that looks like a fit, how do I clean up this mess and get in? Ideally I would like to erase my bad year and start fresh. This seems impossible. I'm worried that I'll be stuck dealing with lame options, which makes self-study more attractive.
If anyone here has experience with a bad health situation and college, please share. Thank you hive mind!