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[Motd] I need some urgent adviceANN.lu
Posted on 12-Sep-2000 15:51 GMT by Christian Kemp67 comments
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I have some things to re(consider) and I need some job/education/life related advice from as many visitors as possible to help me make up my mind. Please read more below and add your thoughts in the comments. What follows is basically just a collection of thoughts I managed to record this afternoon. Not everything is necessarily in a coherent order, but I'm sure you will be able to see the big picture behind my dilemma.

As many of you might now, I dropped out of my country's equivalent of highschool and have been working for almost a year now. According to my boss, my first pay rise is imminent and there's a 50/50 probability that I can move up to be a programmer (mostly PowerBuilder for the time being) instead of a customer service / help desk person.

My dilemma is that while this might look good for the next few years or so, as soon as I change jobs I will have a hard time to convince any potential employer that I am worth as much as other people who might have completed highschool and gone on to university. Right now, I have more work experience than somebody fresh off university, but that point will be moot in a few years. 5 years uni plus 5 years work experience are without a doubt to be considered higher than 10 years work experience at lesser jobs.

I have to admit that I would be tempted to go to university to study "applied computer science", but to be able to do that, I would first have to repeat my final year at highschool.

Since I want to stay in the IT field, I consider it to be important to have a wide background as well as relevant knowledge of the fundamentals. I know a bit of Perl, some HTML, can administrate an NT machine and am generally a fast learner as far as software usage and the underlying concepts are concerned. But I don't have much of a knowledge as far as the basic concepts of computing are concerned: programming basics, (object-oriented) development, software analysis, there are too many things to mention all of them. These are the things that make up what I consider an IT professional, somebody who has a true understanding of computing, and I'm afraid that in a few years, with the massive influx of computer science graduates, everybody and their dog will have a more thorough knowledge than I do right now. Making me less employable and less worthy at the end of the month (paytime).

I'm not much of an independent learner, so I don't think I could learn all this on my own while still working throughout the day. Especially since I feel that with 40 hours a week and the necessary commute, lunch break and everything, I wouldn't even have the time. Besides, having school pressurize me to learn would probably be more effective than sitting at home and having no possibility to compare or get a second opinion on any reading I would be doing in books selected by me, rather than imposed by somebody with more knowledge or a deeper insight on why book x is better than book y.

To sum it up, if I want to aquire more theoretic and basic knowledge, if I want to understand the fundamentals rather than just learning to use the new buzzword tool, I have to return back to school.

But another question that crossed my mind: is it worth it? Will a 2-year university education make me more employable, give me a more rewarding job, or make me more money? Or would I need to go the full 9 semesters, and therefore adding 5 additional years to that highschool year I'd have to take now?

If I were to go to university for five years, I'd get out in 2006, with a debt of at least 30.000€, but of course I'd also have to factor in the money I'm not making during that time, which would amount to much more. Would I be able to recover that "lost money" in the years after 2006, or is university education just a waste of money?

Another point to consider would be that school and university would allow me to have some time for side-projects, or at least to manage my time in different ways. Highschool is only 30 hours a week, university less, with less commuting, so even if I consider study time, I'd still have more flexibility.

Another relevant aspect would be the social environment. At work, I'm pretty much in a dead end street. We're only a few people at my work place, and there's no real contact to the rest of the world. In school, you are constantly surrounded with up to thousands of people, and many more people in a class alone than here at work. Besides, here at work, I'm considerably younger than my coworkers and pretty much the only one not to have my own family (SO and/or children). So returning back to school would mean I get to know more people in my age range and possibly find my future wife, who knows. :) This isn't really an education/job aspect, but still very much important.

I need to decide fast. There aren't many highschools in Luxembourg, and school begins Monday next week. One school already confirmed that they do not have any free seats, I'll try and phone another one tomorrow morning. If I don't get a positive answer anywhere, I'm out of luck. Evening courses aren't an option either, in my opinion, because of the reason mentioned above (I would probably not have the energy to work fulltime, plus go to school in the evenings).

So the basic question really is: is the opportunity to grow at my current job, and possibly any new job after that, important enough to make a highschool and university degree redundant? ie. in ten years from now, will my job life be better if I chose one or the other? Would university, or in more generic terms, a return to school, have a positive impact on my life besides

I never used to be a very good student, I often was too lazy to learn enough and subsequently failed not because of a lack of intelligence, but rather just because I failed to make good use of it. So another question that I have to ask myself is whether I would be able to finish highschool successfully and then go on and finish university successfully.

I know that none of my questions is easy to answer. But I'd appreciate any kind of advice or comment somebody could offer. If you went to college and work in the IT industry now, was it worth it? If you got into the IT industry without doing relevant studies, do you think you had it easier/harder and has it offered you more or less opportunities (both project- and money-wise)? I'm not trying to be indiscrete, I just want to hear opinions, to be able to have a broader range of points to consider when I'm making a final decision, probably tomorrow.

Thanks for your time.

I need some urgent advice : Comment 1 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Mike on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
here goes...
1.as the oldies always told me, the more education the better.
-I have found this to be true whether it is formal or informal. A formal education will show you many things that may not never be seen in the real world but when it does, it is great!
-Also, the formal degree program will give you an insight as to how your peers are thinking, always an advantage.
1a. and they say it is not the fact that you have a specific degree but that you simply have one. i.e. any old degree will do.
-All else being equal, the one having a diploma will get the job/respect.
-Getting any kind of degree demonstrates that you "know how to learn". (you've stated that you are not motivated to self-learn.)
2.Becoming a PowerBuilder programmer may be a marketable skill but without a formal knowledge you may not be too efficient at it. And you may never expand to others things.
-I have know many who have "on the job experience" but still produce convoluted, hard to understand, and most importantly, fix their code. A class in programming technique and style (i.e. object oriented) will help immensely as will working with classmates who are learning the same.
3.You are right; the social life at the job (in my multi-decades experience) sucks.
4.Now this is mostly my snobbery showing but...
-IT people are not programmers as such. I think they are users. As in "I use <insert fav HTML builder here> to program Web pages" as opposed to "I wrote a program that is <insert fav HTML builder here>!"
5.You are young now. Time has a way of passing quickly. Twenty years from now you don't want to be saying "Gosh, I wish I had gotten the degree twenty years ago -now it seems sort of pointless and futile."
-Do it now, while you can.
6.Yes, go back to school. I know it is a hard decision but without schooling your life will be hard!
I suppose I could go on and on and .....
Hope this made some sense, Christian.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 2 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Mark Smith on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Hi Christian,
Have you considered applying for a university place in another country ?
While I was at university here we had stacks of "foreign" students, plus you should be able to get a grant from the European Community (the university can help you on that), plus going to a university in another country looks good on job application forms because it shows you are adaptable.
Your english skills seem to be excellent (I can't remember what they speak in Luxemburg ... been a few years since I was last there (missed it once you know ;-)
You are right though, a person with a university degree and 5 years experience is going to be picked over someone with 10 years experience ... although universities (especially in computers) don't give you much "real world" knowledge they do give a good grounding in the theory of how things work and train you in the proper way to get things done (ie. Documentation! Anyone recognise that word ? :-)
Two universities in the UK that I'd recommend are UWE (University of the West of England, based in Bristol - very nice student fun city - http://www.uwe.ac.uk), I went to this one for my HND, it's very big (bouncing off 20,000 students now I think) and has a lot of money to spend on facilities. And the other I went to to do my Degree is the University of Mid-Glamorgan, this one is in Wales and thougyh it isn't as big or have nearly as much money as UWE it's education standards are bloody high (my brain still hurts), it's located in Pontypridd, Wales .. near Cardiff which again is good for fun and students.
Hopefully I've given you another avenue to think of.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 3 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Kjell Breding on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I think that education is very much of worth. In a couple of years, you won't
regret it. Good luck with your decision, my opinion is: go for it!
Great work btw with ann.lu - visiting it is one of the highlights of every day!
Best wishes,
Kjell B (Sun Solaris sysadm and an amigan forever!)
I need some urgent advice : Comment 4 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Glenn Leibold on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
In reply to Comment 3 (Kjell Breding):
I hope you'll have enough fuel to even get to school... Those strikes and the resulting gas shortage could make travel a little tough right now...
Orlando, Florida
unleaded $1.40 /Gal
I need some urgent advice : Comment 5 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by rj rooke on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
go to school - life's not about how good a job you can get, how much money you
can make, or how big your SUV is. And don't study computers. Learn something
interesting and study computers on your spare time. I work in the IT field with
plenty of annoying fat guys who can spout techy-terms they learned
at the job college. They'll make good money for a while, but their usefulness
will be limited when the technology changes again. The good managers just
tolerate them because they have to.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 6 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
go back to school
I need some urgent advice : Comment 7 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Jean Holzammer on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Hi Christian,
I don't know what you mean by 'similar to highschool', but as you said it would enable you to visit a university, it's probably more like a grammar school than a 'Volksschule'.
Here are some thoughts (no specific order):
ANN.lu is a good example of your abilities. Tell the firms that you were able to establish a popular, well visited, web site. Show them the database you coded that empowers ANN.
Do you think that you have the chance to find a job now (resp. stay at the firm you are now) that enables you to learn a lot about different fields in the IT branch ? I don't mean knowledge of how to create a web page, but how to code, how computers work,think,feel.
You've been talking a lot about money. Do you think that you can earn enough money to make a good living out of it, enough to found a family etc. or do you need a university degreee to earn enough money to fulfill your wishes ?
How much is money important to you, how important is it for you to make a carrier ?
What are the most important things in your life ?
You said, you've been to lazy to learn in the past. Do you think you can change this behaviour in the future ?
If not, it might be a waste of time to go to school for another year.
If yes, take your chance, try it again. It's only one year. Now you can learn how to learn. Itäs not that important what exactly you learn in this time. It is important that you learn how to learn, how to gain information yourself when you need it. In our fast changing world it is not possible to learn once and to know ever anymore. You will have to learn your whole life. You do not collect a lot of knowledge as there is to much of it today to keep it in mind. But if you learn a proper way of learning, this will not be a problem for you.
Many firms still prefer degrees over years of experience (and you don't know if you will get the chance to gain a lot of experience in the job you are doing now).
If you go back to school, don't do it only because you need it for enabling you to visit university. Do it for getting a school degree. After that you still can decide if you want to be an employee (with better chances for an interesting job as you have a degree now) or if would like to go to university.
Do it for getting a degree at all.
Do it to learn how to learn.
Do it to get more educated. Education in itself might be not that important. What you will gain is the freedom to choose, the opportunity to get a chance to do what you want to do. That doesn't mean that you need to go to university and make some carrier. But it opens the door to the world for you, enabling you to choose yourself.
I know that my my comment is not well structured, with a lot of mistakes in grammar. But as you have to make your decision now, I decided to tell you now instead of presentimng you a perfect essay later...
If you didn't understand all I said, don't hesitate to ask.
You have to make a decision that will be more than answering the question 'How much money will I earn in the future'. It is a decision that will have influence to all fields of life, one that will be quite important to how your way will look like.
I suggest: You don't need to university or at least make the decision of you will go now.
Go back to school, invest this one year, make your exams and get a (school) degree.
In one year you will still be able to gain experience at practical work.
But in ten years you can not go back and do what you have missed to do.
This is my personal opinion. It might not be the right advice to you, as I don't know much about you, your character, your wishes, your dreams.
Some words about the one who wrote this: I'm a 25-year old single, visited school for 13 years, rendered my civil service for 13 months, studied tax law for 3 and a half years (till Dec.1999), and began to work as a database programmer in Jan. 2000.
I hope you will find the right answer to your questions,
let your heart decide,
Good luck,
I need some urgent advice : Comment 8 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Paul on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Go back to school or in five years time you might regret it. Who wants to work during the best years of their life :)
I need some urgent advice : Comment 9 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Chris on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I would go back to school. In fact I did (and I might go for more). Granted, it was only two years after I finished High School. I had office jobs that paid nice, but I wanted to do something with art. So when I went back to school, I definately learned more about art and computer graphics then I could at home. Not only that, but I got to meet new people and got a broader knowledge about the world outside of work. When you leave with a degree you might not start off with the exact job that you want, but it will make it easier to get it. Paying for it may seem bad, but hopefully there is something like finanical aid where you can take out loans that you pay back after you finish college. Good luck.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 10 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Chris on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I would go back to school. In fact I did (and I might go for more). Granted, it was only two years after I finished High School. I had office jobs that paid nice, but I wanted to do something with art. So when I went back to school, I definately learned more about art and computer graphics then I could at home. Not only that, but I got to meet new people and got a broader knowledge about the world outside of work. When you leave with a degree you might not start off with the exact job that you want, but it will make it easier to get it. Paying for it may seem bad, but hopefully there is something like finanical aid where you can take out loans that you pay back after you finish college. Good luck.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 11 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Paul Maloff on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
The answer is very simple. To get in the door you need a key.
If the key is made by a professional the belief is taht it will work.
If the key is home made only a true believer will accept it.
To get ahead it would be easier to go to University then it would be to find
some one that belived in you.
Good luck
I need some urgent advice : Comment 12 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Coz on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Does your country have equivalency tests? In the US there are several avenues for people without high school diplomas to get an equivalent. Public school was boring me out of my skull when I was 16 so I bailed out and went to the beach. <I lived in California so it was a terrible temptation>. Later I got my GED by just taking the test. My intent was to see what I still needed to get my high school diploma. But I scored higher than 89% of high scool seniors and convinced myself I was genius. So I didn't go back to high school. 8^) Of course I wasn't a genius as my next step was to go to a technical school <Control Data Institute> which had Seymour Cray as one of the board members <Cray at that time was still with CDC>. I found out at that school who the geniuses were and I wasn't one of them! Tough school with an excellent reputation in those days.
The point of all this meandering is to encourage you to look for worthwhile alternatives and then make a choice whether the classic one-step-at-a-time is right for you or not.
By all means get a degree. But don't assume you need it all at once. Can you get college credit for work experience in Europe? That might shorten your school duration considerably.
Good luck!
I need some urgent advice : Comment 13 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by nOMAAM on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Maybe you can do both .. work 4 day's and go to school for one day in the week.
I do it .. and its very handy. Cause you get paid for the 4 day's work and learn
a great deal at school. The bad thing about thi is that you hae to do alot of homework cause you only go to school one day a week.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 14 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by skal on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
You now have something a lot of people your age don't have: the experience that comes from being in the workforce and on your own. Quite frankly, that is usually a great maturation process. Because of that experience, you may well go back to school and discover that your whole outlook on it and learning has changed for the better.
These days, a Uni degree is vital. It shows an employer that you have a certain level of experience and knowledge, a level that they can build upon to make you into the kind of valued employee that they want.
Go for it, my son. Get yer' butt back in school and get yourself educated, so 5 years hence, you won't be kicking yourself for not going.
If it were me, I wouldn't hesitate 5 seconds. I'd be packing.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 15 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Kay Are Ulvestad on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Ask yourself the following: Can I, and do I want to, complete a
university education? If the answer is yes, and you can gather enough
motivation to complete an education, I highly recommend it. I just
started university after a years break from education (compulsory
military service), and I love it. Some people would say that
experience beats theoretic knowledge, but whatever you say, I think
that the combination of experience and theory is worth more than any
other type of knowledge.
Secondly, don't focus too much on how your life will be in ten
years. Sure, give it some thought, but don't forget to live now. In
school or at a university, you will meet a lot of people, who might
become very important to you. You know, if my brother didn't go to
university, he almost certainly wouldn't have been married now.
OK, that's what I think. But then again, I liked school. If you really
think you would hate going to university, don't. If not, I advice you
to go for it.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 16 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Ben Hermans/Hyperion on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
As somebody with 4 university degrees, I can assure you that in Europe your wages are to a large extent determined by the degrees you have, regardless of the fact that you are more competent than somebody without a degree.
To sum it up, if you don't want to be constantly frustrated by the fact that incompetent idiots with degrees earn twice as much for the same work, I strongly advise you to get your ass back in school.
Employers look at degrees first then they'll look further.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 17 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by James Whelan on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Hi Christian,
I'm actually in pretty much the same boat as you at the moment. I want a career in computing, especially programming, but I know that like yourself my theoretical knowledge isn't up to scratch. So it follows like this: the only way we can attain this knowledge is through experience and the only way you can get experience is through working. And of course the only way you can get work is if you have a qualification of some kind. (i dropped out of college two years ago so I don't have one). My advice is go back to school. Think of it as a long-term investment. Sure it'll suck big time being a penniless student but it will pay massive dividends in the long run in terms of what you'll learn and the people you'll meet. You'll then have a solid foundation to work on and get out there into the field to learn the really fun stuff. Me? I'm just working out ways of staying away from the real world for another couple of years.
Anyway, best of luck with your decision. Let us know what you decide to do.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 18 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by My expierence on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Is it required to go to a University contingent on whether or not you finish High School in your country? In my case it was not. High school sucked and I dropped out and went directly into a community college. I learned way more material and found a renewed interest in educating myself. Employers for the most part did not care. After my first year of college I landed a job as a senior sales representative in Northern California and worked for the company for almost 5 years, I made very good money in sales. Tired of traveling and such, I quite my sales job and went to work for a large Home Improvement Chain. I am still working for them today, however, only part time. I enrolled back in school a year ago and will graduate with an AA in Computer Application Science and will transfer into Sacramento State University where I will pursue my major in Visual Digital Media Communications.
For me at least, leaving highs school was the best decision I ever made and it DID NOT AFFECT MY OUTCOME. Most believe that not graduating will label you as an Idiot or someone incompetent and not worth employing. I broke, in my experience, all known stereotypes of a no grad. In fact, many professors in America are High school dropouts with multiple PhD’s.
This is my short version of my story…..
I need some urgent advice : Comment 19 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by BaGubben on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Hey as we say in good old sweden, "Töm Snabelaa't!!!"
And that meens pretty much, "Take it easy, it'll work out".
And by the way boingworld.com is a much better site so why dont you
go get laid and join them. :) Nice site the one you have but not AS nice if you know what i meen.
Watch out for that cornhole buddy. Fucki'n A
I need some urgent advice : Comment 20 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Lyle Hazelwood on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Well, the comments so far seem to lean hard towards returning
to school. I won't disagree. My own path has been on the other
side of that fence though.
I finished High School here in the U.S., and got interested in
programming shortly after. Because I was so interested, I was
able to teach myself a great deal. In the twenty years since
then, I have worked as a technician, engineer, programmer, and
as a programming instructor. I'll admit that the last one wasn't
easy to get without a degree, but I did it and was pretty good
at it, too.
I have missed some of the best job opportunities (money-wise)
because I didn't have that piece of paper. I
went back for a few night classes and my professor was SURE I
could "test through" right up to a masters degee without even
taking any classes. But I'd still have to pay full tuition for
each credit. At this time, that's not a reasonable option.
I have found that once I'm hired by a company, they soon find out
what I am capable of, and the doors open. But for the best jobs,
I can't even get in the door.
Don't get me wrong, I am well paid, and I don't worry about money.
Far more important to me is how well I enjoy the challenges at
work, and how well I can help the company. I don't fear losing my
job, as I have always been able to get work easily.
It all comes down to one question.. What do you want? If you can
afford more schooling, and you believe your MIND will benefit,
Go for It! Don't worry about the rest. Just feed yourself whatever
keeps your mind alive.
Great job on ANN. I enjoy it a great deal.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 21 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Spudley on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Okay. So you're asking the right questions. :-)
I have been a programmer for the last seven years. I didn't do a degree. But I wish I had.
I am doing fine at the job, but I really feel a need for the knowledge that I'm missing.
Computer programming really divides into different camps:
1. If you want to be a "techie", programming C++, Perl, or such like, you will need a degree just to get the job.
2. If you want to be "commercial developer", you'll wind up programming Visual Basic, Delphi, or something, but at least you'll get to do code. Degreed people will get the jobs first, but you can still get in without (I did it).
3. The lowest level of programmers are the ones who barely actually do any coding. VB is usual, but you won't do much more than designing windows. These guys call themselves programmers, but if they touch the code it's a miracle. People with degrees get turned down for these jobs because they're overqualified. ;-)
Now. You decide which of the above you want to be. Then you'll know whether you need a degree, and whether you ought to get one.
Hope that helps :-)
I need some urgent advice : Comment 22 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Colin on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
In my country the Universities have to take in a percentage (10% I think) of "Mature age students" which I think is someone aged 22 or more. They do not have to have completed high school. Why don't you go to the university and see if you can get into the course you want to do. Tell them all about your experience and take them to your websites
I need some urgent advice : Comment 23 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Martin Garratt on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I've spent my time since June 1999 trying to find that graduate job I
always wanted in finance. Currently I'm working for a bank and hope
to get the training I need to be a Financial Adviser.
Why do I tell you this? Basically a degree isn't everything I didn't
have any real experience and only a second class honours degree (I
don't know what the equivelent is) and found it hard to find the right
job. I reckon, (specially as you don't have a school place) program
for a year, and if next May/June you still want to get those
qualifications apply early, so you can go where you want. You'll have
some experience, hopefully that should help you get more
work/experience in your holidays making you far more desirable. You
may even be able to get sponsership, which I know here in the UK
really comes in handy.
Good Luck,
I need some urgent advice : Comment 24 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Elwood on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I work for 7 years (6 as software engineer and 1 as technical engineer)
I have a IT diploma. You need at least one. I could continue schooling but I thought I could
work without it. I found a job I didn't like (writing softwares) and I succeeded
changing job becoming technical engineer.
Just to say it is possible...
Now I have a job I like and I know if I continue university, I'll could do
a job with higher responsabilities but that mean a job writing analysis in Word
instead of dealing with computers (what I like)
So the question is: what do you want to do ? What do you prefer ? The most important is
to have a job you like, not the salary they give you (and this depends on diplomas).
Maybe this helps
I need some urgent advice : Comment 25 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Paul Heams on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I can tell you that I'm doing ok after having to re-sit at college. I
went onto do a HND, then a Degree (BSc). I came out with a large loan
repayment but some great memories and experience. I managed to get a
well paid job in a large company. 3 years later I'm sitting here as
lead programmer at a smaller local company and wondering what I'll be
doing next!
Good luck with your decision! - I'm sure things will work out
in the end.m Remember there is nothing wrong with change, but there is
nothing wrong with staying put either! Either way there will always be
an alternative direction your life could have taken - who is to say
how each will work out and which would have been better!
Keep up the good work!
I need some urgent advice : Comment 26 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Patrick White on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
In reply to Comment 24 (Elwood):
It may only be a sheepskin, but a college eduation opens MANY doors and in many case\
it is needed to move on up...
Go back to School.... get the fabled "sheepskin", marry a good woman, have lots of kids, be happy
and then retire wealthy...You can't go wrong with this...
I need some urgent advice : Comment 27 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Matthew Hornyak on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I worked full time for a couple of years while in university. I'm a junior now, the company I worked for closed, and so now I'm just a student.
I really enjoy school. While I did get a lot of experience working, the great thing about school is that it limits the number of people who can interfere with your life.
While I was working, other people who didn't know what they were doing could force me to waste my time and work on things that ended up being mediocre or work. This is why my company closed. I realized that I need to put myself in situations where I don't have to deal with people who can break things.
The trick to dealing with school is to not get stuck doing only or exactly what your teachers and professors want you to do. Take classes you're interested in, and instead of just doing what the teachers tell you to, find your own way to learn the material. Get extra books, talk to classmates/friends, etc. and make your own courses up. Along the way, it's more than likely that you'll be able to cover the curriculum your teachers want you to cover. Learn how to focus and be a little organized, and your homework won't take over your life, too.
My social life in school is also great. I have never met as many people that are as intelligent, fun and passionate as I have met in university. Both from working and from being in school, I have learned that the people who you are with -- your friends and your colleagues -- are among the most important factors in being happy or successful. It's important to be in situations where your friends, colleagues, and classmates are the best, because you will learn a lot from them, and they will make your life more enjoyable. Never settle for anything less than the best from yourself or those around you.
So all in all, I'm really happy in school, and I'm in no hurry to work again, because I know that good opportunities pop up all the time if you always put yourself in situations that teach you and make you happy.
Always do what you love, never worry about screwing up, and be patient. Good things come along all the time.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 28 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Matthew Hornyak on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
In reply to Comment 27 (Matthew Hornyak):
Ooops. Edit this sentence:
"While I was working, other people who didn't know what they were doing could force me to waste my time and work on things that ended up being mediocre or work"
to read
"While I was working, other people who didn't know what they were doing could force me to waste my time and work on things that ended up being mediocre or worse."
I need some urgent advice : Comment 29 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by John Block on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Several thoughts:
1) A professional or trade diploma is an alternative to a degree and as it is created for the trade, by the trade maybe more relevant and interesting and perhaps marketable.
I'm a DipAd, diploma in advertising, the course was industry directed and fascinating, the hard work (post graduates who took the course where complaining!) was fine as you could see the relevance.
Not a degree, but no regrets :) I actually found in interviews I was overqualified for the junior position I needed!
2) Having someone with real experience on a course is useful for the course organisers, who because of this would take experience into account.
3) "what if" is a horrible thing to wonder about the rest of your life.
4) People like plumbers, electricians etc. seem a lot happier than people with masses of book learning.
5) Is the internet a short term window of opportunity for technical people which you would be "what iffing" about if you took a break from the market?
I need some urgent advice : Comment 30 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Eddie on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I would suggest that you stay where you are meantime and go to college
part-time for the qualifications you were thinking of going to school
for.I know we can do that in the U.K anyway.While you're doing that buy some
books on java and c++ and see if you can get your head round some of the syntax
then decide if you feel you could cope with a full time college/university course.Talk with your employer about doing some part time work while you're at college.That way you can do the theory and continue to gain the work experience
you currently enjoy.
Finally, if you decide on college or university look around Europe for the best place to study.Travelling students tend to get better financial packages and support.Good luck anyway.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 31 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Jim Farley on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Hello Christian,
In the USA we have what's called a "G.E.D.", it stands for "General
Education Deploma". Basically it's a high school deploma for people
who dropped out previously.With a GED(here) you can go to college. All
you have to do is take a basic education test, pretty easy here. I
dropped out in my senior year and got my GED 1 year later. Does your
country have an equivelant of a GED? The reason I ask is this would
bypass the need to finish your final year of high school, unless of
course you think you need the classes.
Just thought I'd mention that in case there is something similar
there. I didn't think so years ago when I dropped out of high school.
but an education is invaluable. I ended up going back to school a
couple years ago and I LOVED it. The difference is it was
electronics..something I specifically enjoy. You have to like what you
are learning or it is not easy.
That's another thing, 4 year degrees are going the way of the doo-doo
bird here in the USA. Technical schools and Vocational schools are on
the rise and much more accepted with typically less than 2 years for
an Associates Degree. How about there?
Just some thoughts on my end, what you do has to be your choice. My
only suggestion is make sure is whatever you choose to study is
something you truely enjoy, not just something you think will make you
more employable.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 32 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by David on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Christian, my turn to opine:
My perspective is based on living in the San Francisco Bay area. The technology job market is red hot here, and will stay that way for some time. A degree is not the most important thing to have around here; employers are looking for _proven_ talents in specific areas, and they don't care how you get them.
1. Go back and finish "high school", or your equivalent. It says to potential employers that you can finish something.
2. Don't go the full University route right away, unless you're highly motivated to complete a particular program. University is good; I have what passes for a computer science degree and it helped me get work, but that was because I couldn't really demonstrate any skills without it, and the job market was tight at the time (about 10 years ago). You, however, have solid experience, in a hot market.
3. Figure out two things: What skills are bound to be in demand for the future, and what kind of work do you really want to do? With those things in mind, get yourself some in-depth training in a hot field, like Jave or Web design or database administration. It won't have to be what you end up doing, but you should be seen as an expert in _something_ relevant to today's technology environment.
4. Try to get a decent job at any company that can give you a "leg up" in the areas you're interested in, and expect to move on at some point if necessary. You can use them as a resource for your further training and experience. Perhaps they'll pay for a full college degree that you can pursue part time.
Each work or educational experience will make you that much more marketable, and can be used as leverage for the next project or job. You may end up doing something completely different than you intended when you started out, but you'll accumulate the credentials you need to obtain work that you find fulfilling.
Good luck --
I need some urgent advice : Comment 33 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by XDelusion on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
How D!
Well first off, I would give up hope on the wife thing, it will never happen, besides, if it did happen, then that would be less time you could be devoting to
expanding your mind in the world of computers, and we don't want that do we?!?! :)
As for going to school for computers, well I would definatly say go back and finish High school, I know it don't amount to crap in the end, but it always looks good on your resume. As for extra schooling, well so far myself and a couple of my friends are way out making what are parents make, and we have never set foot inside of anything for computers aside of typing class in high school. For one thing, a lot of employers, or at least the smart ones, know that you really can not teach computers in school, since computers are ever changing. For instance, Winblows may be the top server in the main stream at the moment, but maybe tomarrow Winblows will be dead, and knowledge of Linux will be required to get a job, then what!??! Are all these people who took NT and what not in school going to suddenly adapt!??! NO!
What a smart employer would look for is someone who eats, sleeps, and Sh#@ts
computers, someone who learns out of passion and pleasure, an adventurer. Because these employers know that a person will learn and grow better if they are really into what they are doing. So as for me, if my boss would want me to learn something new in Linux, or some new programming method or whatever, I would be all excited, where the other employ who may not center his whole life around computers would take up the task as "just another job", and the employer sees this. It is not like they don't notice these little things, and if they don't well then you need to find yourself a new employer. :)
Also a lot of employers will pay to have you goto school if needs be to pick up an extra skill for the job, so in the end you could very well end up with free schooling. My employer for instance pays for any of the certification tests I take, so that is always a plus! :)
Anyhow just follow your heart, don't let evil women take your dreams from you, and most of all, keep it real! :)
Thus spoke a 25 year old kid who was kicked out of computer class both years in high school.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 34 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by MAS on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
If you can, at least finish high school. You can decide about
the university thing later. Your still young. There is still
time to make those bigger decisions later. Does Lux. have what
is known as a high school equivalency test - what has come to
be known as the GED test in the United States? This is an op-
tion offered to high school dropouts in the U.S.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 35 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Pete Wason on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
In reply to Comment 32 (David):
Well said, David (et al.)
Christian - Long ago, I chose CS over Art and Biology.
I applied at three colleges, and picked the closest one,
(UVM) even though one of the others (Carnegie-Mellon)
offered me more financial aid per semester than the one
I picked cost per year.
I partied a lot, pulled too many all-nighters playing
FRP games, and flunked out. We were being force-fed
FORTRAN77 on some forgotten Xerox mainframe.
I transfered to a state college, and got a Humanities
degree with a 3.85 GPA, focusing on Studio Art and
English Literature. I was tweaking Apple IIs all through
this period.
I graduated and immediately got a job as an Operator,
which led to a Programming position. I have been mired
in databases ever since. ;-)
It is now almost 20 years later, and I'm still discovering
ways in which my "career" would have been way ahead of
where it is now if I had picked that other college, and
really applied myself. On the other hand, I've been lucky
enough to find job ops where the degree wasn't a big deal.
(And, if I had picked the other school, I probably never
would have met the people I consider my closest friends,
my wife, etc. In some alternate timeline, maybe I did
choose differently...)
Finish HS or equiv. Keep doing your thing. Be proud of ANN.
Look at your options. Is there one crying out for you?
If so, jump on it. If not, pick the two best and figure out
a way to combine them. But whatever you do, 20 years from
now, you will most likely be doing something completely
different from what you now envision yourself doing.
That's good.
Life may be confusing, frustrating, and bizarre,
but it's certainly way ahead of the alternative.
Good Luck!
I need some urgent advice : Comment 36 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Joe Deats on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I would tell you to go back to school, not just for the education and the inherent pay increase you would see when you had a degree in your hands, But because you are young and should enjoy it. Soon in a few years you will be getting older and having new things to take care of like a wife, kids, house payment etc. But right now you are young and there are so many things you could learn, see, and do in this world and college will help those things come true. Think of all the new people you would meet and all the new opportunities that would come your way from 4 or 5 years of college, and all the things you would miss if you didnt go. Take your time, be young have a good time growing up believe me the real world will arrive soon anyway. I currently teach history and I am working on my masters in the subject, I see young people who are in a hurry to grow up all the time and I wonder if they know what they are missing in going to college and seeing the world before they take on to many have-toos and dont have enough I-wanted-toos. So I think college will give you much more than just a dgree and more money and yes you will miss a certain amount of money buy going to school, but money isnt everything and you can make more later, But you are only young once and you should enjoy it.
Sincerely Joe Deats
Military history teacher, Southern California
I need some urgent advice : Comment 37 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Mark Bowman on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
This is my take on the whole thing...
I have been working in the IT industry for a number of years in a variety of roles.
I am of the belief that classical education highschool,University is not only a waste of time and money but is largely irrelevant.
The only thing that counts in the IT industry if you are involved in the technical side is your level of technical competance and reputation.
Now this is pretty hard to prove to a proprestive employer and this is where certifications come in.
At thge very least anyone in IT needs to have an MCSE ( Microsoft Certified Sytems Engineer) Qualification or Unix equivalent in Solaris,Linux etc if you are interested in the server side.
For Networking get yourself a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) for a start and get some experienceon some cisco 2500 series and above.
These certs don't mean anything however unless you can back them up with experience. But as I said earlier it makes it easier for an employer to determine what you can do.
Leaving a job in the IT industry where to go back to highschool is possibly one of the most insane ideas I have heard of.
What do you think an employer is going to find more attractive..
A person with experience, and MCSE and a CCNA (for arguments sake). You could easily get these in 3 months.
A person with job experience + final year of high school.
One more thing, if you can't self study or work for a company that can train you then the IT industry is not for you. Unless you are prepared to continually update your skills and move jobs in your early years in IT be prepared to languish in a dead end IT job for a very long time.
It is the nature of this industry and you require to re-train all the time and move jobs to get exposure to new technology.
If you're not prepared to do that think about a new career....
All this is only my opinion based on experience in my countries IT industry so your's may differ. But here things like high school + University are things to get your foot in the door and by the sound of that you have already done that. Goig back to school is a backward step unless you are considering a new career path.
hope that helps
I need some urgent advice : Comment 38 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Sam Dunham on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I don't know how the job market in Luxembourg is, but in the states, 5 years of college plus 5 years of work experience in the IT field is NOT worth more than 10 years of work experience. I went to college as an art major and actually worked in that field (graphic designer) for a few years before the job market dried up (the jobs that were available were not paying anything). I decided on a lark to apply for a computer related job at a local firm. I started off making more than I had ever made at any other job before. The only experience I had at the time was many years of personal experience with the Amiga, Mac and PC. I learned what I needed to learn about networks and computers in a business environment at that company. I then went on to Blackbaud, an international company with its headquarters here in Charleston. They write software for the non-profit market. They have over 500 employees at the headquarters. I learned and made even more at Blackbaud. Then, in order to round out my knowledge, I went to work for Pomeroy Computer Resources. Pomeroy is a VAR that sells computers and services. I was sent out to many different clients and setup and troubleshot networks and systems of all different flavors (all the while getting familiar with Linux at home). When Pomeroy hired me, I told them that they had me for a year. They were OKAY with that. There is such a shortage of people in this field right now (and the forseeable future (I think your few year worry is unfounded)) that they were okay with paying me (very well) for a year and then losing me guarenteed. I did, in fact leave after the year and have started my own company where I am making $150.00 per hour. I do what I like, I get to help people with their computer problems, the only boss I have is my client base, and I make a real good living at it. I may actually end up having to hire somebody here soon. So, in summation: 1) experience (at least in the US) is valued more than book learning in the IT field and 2) In my opinion, if you want to learn more than you do now, get out there. Don't hole up in a school. (Not that there's anything wrong with school, I actually had a blast at school). When you're put in a situation where you've got different REAL WORLD problems and situations hitting you every day, you learn pretty quickly what's important and what's not and how to solve problems not only technically correctly, but efficiently.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 39 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Sam Dunham on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
In reply to Comment 38 (Sam Dunham):
A couple of more things. You SHOULD go back and get your "high school" equivelency.
As for certifications, I don't know that the MSCE has much legs any more. More and more horror stories are coming out about companies hiring MCSEs and then finding out that they don't know anything.
I WOULD reccommend getting a CCNE (not the CCNA) as you can pretty much write your own ticket with that cert.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 40 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Dale J Larson on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
STAY IN SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!! Ask your employer if you can take time off for school or even help you pay for some of it
I need some urgent advice : Comment 41 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Rod Volkmar on 11-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.s
I need some urgent advice : Comment 42 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by J. Hart on 12-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I have been a professional programmer for over thirty years, and I have no
academic credentials in it at all (ie no degrees). I would like to offer a
few very quick observations of my own on the matter:
10 years work experience are worth far more than a combination of
5 years university and 5 years work at any worthwhile employer.
Uni does not offer up to date fundamentals, at least in the US. They tend
to be 5-10 years behind the actual market technology.
Programming basics are critical, but if you are offered the programming
position, you can acquire them there. It is also vital that you practice
as much as possible on your own.
Part time uni may be helpful with the basics and more importantly the social
life, if you decide you must go that route. I would be most reluctant to
recommend full time university.
J. Hart
Network Tierra Project
Kyoto Japan
I need some urgent advice : Comment 43 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Charlie Cavanaugh on 12-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Have you considered doing course work online? I bet you could wrap up your
high school requirements, and then take computer related training online, while
still retaining the valuable job & experience you currently have.
Just a thought.
And thanks for doing ANN.
Charlie Cavanaugh
I need some urgent advice : Comment 44 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by StormLord on 12-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
few! too much comments!
Well its nice you ask our opinion and that is very good for you because a third person without your stress can help you.
As much as I have read we all saying the same .. GO FOR IT (highscool and uni).
I am a technician about Macs , PCs, mixed networks and so much more I can't even write it here.
But I have graduate only from highscool and after that from a technical school.
Belive me I understand you, because I have the same dellima.
I want to go to go to a university in england but I have here a job and Its VERY difficult to say to my parents that I want to quit from my job and that they have to pay me to study..
You don't tell us how old are you.....
I am 25 with 3 years job experience and I belive I am on the line.
explaining it is too dificult to study again after 5 years out of lessons..
If you are decided that you can DO IT and money is not BIG problem, then AGAIN GO FOR IT.
I WILL!!! but next year.. who knows maybe we 'll meet eachother!
p.s. if you are 23 or younger DO NOT let anything stops you Go for the FULL course.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 45 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by ShadesOfGrey on 12-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I know how you feel. I'm in a very similar situation. I dropped out of highschool and went to a community college here in the staes, but found that a General Studies associates degree (the schools IT program was not and still is not in place) doesn't carry much weight. I applied for a job at the same college hoping that they would help me further my education, sadly they were much more interested in keeping my "in my place" as a help desk/PC tech.
What I'm trying to do know is study on my own but, like you, I'm easily distracted. If I can get myself motivated, the idea is to work and go to school. In the best of all possible world, I hope to find an employer who'd be willing to send me to sccool... In the mean time I plan on completing some certification programs in the hopes that I'll be hired by an employer who'd be willing to help me continue my education.
I don't know how things work in Luxembourg. Regardless I'd stick to my plan. I'd probably get the 'high school' diploma first. Then find an employer who'd be willing to HELP me go to university. In addition, taking a couple lines from previous comments, you don't have to stay in Luxembourg and you should definitely include ANN as part of your resume. Here in the states a couple years (ok maybe 3-5 is more accurate) back ANN alone would have gotten you a job with the freedom to pursue a degree.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 46 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by stricq on 12-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
I am 33 years old. I just started college for the second time. 14 years ago
I started college and flunked out. Do whatever it takes to get your degree now
while you're still young! Getting a good job at a good company without a degree
is pure luck. Don't count on it. You will have a much better chance getting a
good job with the degree than without.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 47 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Charles Lences on 12-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Christian - I have read your message was impressed with your analysis of your situation. I think you know the answer to the question.
You are a lot like me when I was young. I am 70 years old and now retired. I started college here in the USA in 1948. I had no study discipline. I got through high school fairly easily and thought I would do the same in college. I was wrong. In my first year I got poor grades and decided to drop out before I got kicked out. To hide from life I spent 3 years in the US Army, served in the Korean 'War'. During that time I resolved to study harder and was readmitted to the university. I did better, but faltered a little near the end and flunked some courses. It took me 2 extra years to graduate, but I did with a BS degree in chemistry. Computers were unknown in those days.
I worked 40 years as a research chemist in large corporations and have a few patents to my name. My life was somewhat disjointed but, if I have one regret, it is this. I wish, when I was young, I could have kicked myself in the butt to work harder and complete the task at hand.
I have 2 sons that must be about your age. Christopher went to college and on to get a masters. He is fairly well on track. David, the younger, is too much like me when I was young. He did not finish high school. (He says he has a diploma equivalence.) I wish he would go to college. He has the brains and the talent. I wish he would analyze his life as you have done. If he did, I know he would go to college, as I believe that you will. You will be very glad that you did. I am. College is so much more than learning a lot of stuff and getting good grades. Good luck.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 48 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Brian H on 12-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Going to school is a great way to see other people that are interested in what
your are interested in. It's a great way of making future contacts, and it backs
you up in the interview. And I think you would feel more confidant in yourself
and your skillset.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 49 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by John Millington on 12-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
If, with your long work week and commute, you don't have time to learn
stuff independently, then continuing this course will doom you, because your
situation will never improve, and whatever knowledge you currently have, will
slowly slip out of date.
I don't think school will replace work experience, but at least you will
learn new things and meet people, and that might open up some additional
options for you in the future. Surely that path leads to more hope than
the alternative.
The best of both worlds would be to somehow be able to work full time,
while also having the time and energy to GROW on your own. I am trying
this myself, and overall, I don't think it's working out very well.
I need some urgent advice : Comment 50 of 67ANN.lu
Posted by Wayne Samel on 12-Sep-2000 22:00 GMT
Hi, my opinion of your dilemma is:
1. It sounds like you have many doubts about school, i would wait.
2. If you make a decent living, why bother getting in the rat race
for money and possessions? Just enjoy your life and find a girl online.:)
3. Buy some new Amiga goodies, learn at your own pace and be happy.
Good Luck!
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