Back to the University, 12 Years Later

I had well and truly given up on going back to college. I had done four years at a University, and a year at a community college. Now I was working in the the software industry. I transitioned from a part time QA job to a full time QA to a full time development job.

As time went on, finishing my degree seemed less materially important. I had some years of college on my resume, and a much more important growing list of years of relevant work experience.

Still, though, it nagged on me. Every couple of years I would check in on my old University’s website and see if they had some offering that would let me finish my degree online. They never did. Some times I would email the department directly, and get a “oh, no, we don’t do that.”

After a little more than a decade, I moved back to the area I was from. Finally, a chance to get in there and get it done. I marched down to the registrar’s office, and tried to figure out how in the hell to make this happen.

At the university level, they were incredibly supportive. They have a special program for folks like me. They would completely drop my last and most F-filled semester. They got me accepted, enrolled, off of academic probation, and sent me down to the Computer Science department.

There, things took a turn. They had literally no classes at night or on the weekend. I would need to sneak off from my job MWF 10:30-11:20 for a semester. “You’ll need to decide what is really important,” the CS chair said. At this point I had a wife, two kids, and a mortgage, so what he and I thought was important probably didn’t line up.

Still, I tried. I signed up for one class. I went many times. I did the homework early. The feedback loop was preposterously slow. After four weeks I hadn’t received an assignment back. I kept having to skip class as I would have meetings at work get scheduled over the top of the lectures. Eventually I went down to the registrar’s office to throw in the towel. For all I know, I had a 100% score on everything, but I couldn’t keep things up, logistically.

I was doing just this one class as a test balloon; I’d have several more to go after this one. If they all went this badly, there was no chance I could possibly finish the degree. No more student, me; back to work.