Can an old git get a part time degree at Berkeley?
November 20, 2017 5:11 PM   Subscribe

I’m someone in my 50s living in the Berkeley area and although I have written software since the 80s and probably wrote part of your web browser, I have no actual qualifications in computer science. No degree at all in fact. I was wondering if there was some way I could attend CS classes at Berkeley here and there and and work my way to a degree. Is there an organization that helps people like me work this out?
posted by w0mbat to Education (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Somewhat tangential to your question but just in case you didn't know/didn't think about about taking those classes online: Berkeley Software Development program (not the same as comp sci but perhaps close enough for your purposes?) and MIT Computer Science program.
posted by rada at 5:57 PM on November 20, 2017

There is no age-bar to admission to Berkeley, and, indeed, there is an organization to help!

You can apply for freshman admission at any age. HOWEVER, freshman admission is insanely competitive -- even 35 years out they will pay some attention to your high school grades, and you'll have to take (and ace!) the new SATs. The admission office can pay modest attention to your intervening intellectual and professional achievements, but it won't make up for many SAT points unless you are, like, a founder or sub-triple-digit badge number employee of a famous tech company.

If you can't swing that, then community college for two years, at Merritt or somewhere. All UC campuses, including Berkeley, admit significant numbers of junior transfers from community colleges. The academic criteria reviewed are limited almost entirely to your community college grades -- very little attention paid to high school grades or SATs.
posted by MattD at 6:00 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

One added note: unless you've already been admitted with a specific "do your first semester in extension" option, you won't progress to a degree by taking any extension or otherwise non-matriculated courses, and to the best of my knowledge taking those courses isn't especially helpful in getting you admitted.
posted by MattD at 6:02 PM on November 20, 2017

I'm at a similar age and circumstance and I'm looking at doing a couple years of community college before transferring, or alternatively getting an AA in CS at the community college. I have more humanities and PE under my belt than a BSCS would likely add to, so guidance through the math and theory classes should fill my professional needs, though it would probably look better to have the Bachelor's.
posted by rhizome at 6:19 PM on November 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

All of the above is great advice, I would also note that Cal is not cheap, even for in-state students. Tuition/fees is almost $14K/year, and may continue to rise every year. I'm also not sure how well the undergrad degrees are set up for part-time students. When I taught there a few years ago, I definitely had plenty of non-traditional/adult students, but they were all doing full-time schedules. Things aren't really set up to just do one class in the evenings at a time, like they would be at a community college or somewhere else more oriented toward adult students. Among other things, classes are primarily scheduled during the day and wouldn't be very convenient for someone who is also working a regular job.

All of this is not to say you can't/shouldn't pursue a CS degree part time, I just don't think Cal would be the right place to target for this.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:15 PM on November 20, 2017

In case you care less about the degree and more about the coursework, there's Concurrent Enrollment, where you can take classes individually.
posted by trig at 11:02 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

As an alumnus of the Merritt College system who transferred from there to the CSU system, I'd highly recommend taking that approach.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:41 PM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Not in CS but I got an Associates Degree at the Peralta Colleges, primarily Merritt but also Laney, Alameda and Berkeley and had a good experience with instructors and plenty of other adults in my classes. I would caution that in my experience the counseling department was poor, so if you have in mind to transfer to Cal State or Berkeley, I'd find a way to maybe talk to one of their counselors to make sure you're taking the right classes.
posted by latkes at 2:53 PM on November 21, 2017

There is Berkeley City College that you can try going to that is probably a lot easier to start at.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:12 PM on November 21, 2017

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