Should I convert to computer science?
February 7, 2013 7:05 AM Subscribe
I have an opportunity to enter a computer science program with the fees waived, though with difficult pressures in covering my (low) cost of living during it. On the other hand, my current field has terrible employment prospects and the income difference within a few years might make up for the debt incurred to do this. Please hope me – is this a good idea?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm currently unemployed a month after finishing a research postgrad in a STEM-related discipline – let's say design and design history, with a strong problem-solving component and some maths but definitely not a quantitative background. During this time, I've been building a web-based public engagement project in my field, taking on freelance research and journalism (none right now), and I managed to scrape through financially. Within the field, and especially in my niche, jobs are in massive demand and offer things like a €18k salary for those with years of experience. I love my field and I love research, but I feel like there's a sunk cost fallacy on the horizon here.
There is a program available here within a respected university, offering a one-year postgraduate (diploma) conversion to computer science, and the fees are waived for STEM graduates (including mine) due to a huge labour shortage in this area. Within this course, there are several streams including software development and data analysis, both of which would appeal to me, and there's a six-month work placement in industry after the year. This seems like an intensive version of teaching myself, with industry connections and a strong tech industry here making employment very likely, and I'd have the benefit of those connections and the piece of paper.
I have regretted not going into computing since leaving a software job in my teens, and though I'm no actuary, my brain runs on problem-solving and curiosity, and I'm fine in maths and strong in logical, methodical work. Doing tentative maths on this vs a PhD in my field or scraping together enough to hang on for years until I find more established work, I wonder if the change might be the better choice.
Financially, I'm €15k in debt (at 9%), I have €1.5k to hand, and I am on unemployment assistance right now. My monthly cost of living is €500 in loan repayments, €420 in rent/bills, and a total of €600 in food/insurance/health/living. I have supported myself almost entirely through college. I may not be able to get further loans, I definitely won't get any scholarship/etc from the school, my unemployment payments will stop, and I am not sure if I would be able to borrow any money from my parents but I will ask. Freelance work is an unknown, as is the prospect of publishing a book on my project, but I will be exploring this. The programme is full-time and daytime, starts in a month, and I don't know if the work placement after is paid.
- Is this program as good an idea as I think it is?
- Is it worth ending up in a horrible financial position to do this?
- How can I make this work?
- Have you done anything like this and would you recommend it?
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