Author Topic: Advice Request: Community College After Bachelor's Degree?  (Read 812 times)

netloc

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Advice Request: Community College After Bachelor's Degree?
« on: August 20, 2019, 08:45:04 AM »
I started a new job late last year, after having worked at my first job out of college (engineering degree) for a little over a year.

The company I currently work at has a tuition plan in which after I am there for one year, they will pay 50% of tuition costs. After two years, they'll pay 100% but that requires higher-level approval.

My experience thus far in my career has been largely process engineering and data analysis for manufacturing companies.

The bachelor's program was mostly theory-based. I didn't have a strong plan for my future in place, and simply didn't know a lot about the world and myself that I do now; so while I did very well in my classes, I never committed to working in a lab or getting very involved in clubs or anything. So a lot of head knowledge which is gradually diminishing due to disuse.

I would like to pursue a business degree (probably MBA or engineering management) and eventually enter a management role, but I would like to become a bit more technically well-rounded before heading in that direction. My degree was not very thorough on teaching practical electrical/electronics, machine shop applications, automation, and really hands-on problem-solving in general, and I would like to gain some of that experience. There are some opportunities to learn on the job, but they often require at least some familiarity and experience and that's not really what I was hired for so they are infrequent for me.

For a while I had thought about completing an engineering master's program, then pursuing the business degree. But I don't really need the academic learning and fear that it wouldn't address the issues above anyway; the practical application is what I'm really lacking and where I would benefit the most. I had a few friends that went on to master's degrees and don't feel that they benefit them much on a day-to-day basis (though they may have helped them get their jobs).

So, my new potential plan: After year one at my new company (which is only a few months away), I can enroll at the local community college, and take classes in electrical system troubleshooting, equipment utilization, machine shop fundamentals, welding, motors and controls, industrial robotics, etc. for half tuition at an already low tuition cost (I would likely be paying <$400/course after all the fees and everything).

I could pick and choose classes that I think would benefit me, or I could work toward an associate's degree. I doubt the AS itself would benefit me as a resume booster or anything, but it would be a good logical endpoint to my experiment. I haven't sat down with an adviser yet, but they told me I will be able to curtail the credits requirement based on classes I have already taken for my BS -- I'm expecting 10-14 classes required to obtain the degree.

In any case, sometime after the two year mark, I could enter into a 100% funded business-oriented master's program. This would give me time to gain additional technical skill, and learn more about business from my experience (my current role is much more involved in the business aspects -- warranty, suppliers, material flow, customer expectations, etc.) prior to attending business school.

Does anyone else have experience with or thoughts on attending community college after a bachelor's? Google turned up a number of people who did it in order to correct their career path after getting a degree in a field that doesn't pay well. As stated, I am looking to expand and round out my skill set in my current field, so those comparisons aren't great.

How would a trade-oriented class compare to a practical application based bachelor's course? I'm expecting some may be a bit easy once I get my bearings, but they are preparing people for jobs in industry so I assume they provide solid value.

I think part of the appeal of this to me is that practical skill is, well, practical, and will have more benefit in various situations than a very theoretical and advanced knowledge of things that can only be done in a lab with expensive equipment. So also feel free to fire away if my negative feelings toward academia are misguided and I'm looking at things the wrong way in that regard.

MountainFlower

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Re: Advice Request: Community College After Bachelor's Degree?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2019, 09:35:20 AM »
I went to community college after receiving a bachelor's degree (also paid by my work) to explore software engineering as a potential career.  I also took calculus because I never took it in college.  I enjoyed the classes (especially 2 semesters of calculus) and discovered that software engineering wasn't really for me.  I say, why not try it?  I'm sure people do it all the time.  I loved the community college environment, especially after the impersonal experience of a 4-year state university (University of Colorado). 

GizmoTX

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Re: Advice Request: Community College After Bachelor's Degree?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2019, 09:58:00 AM »
Supplementing a BS degree to fill in gaps or explore a new direction is a good idea. The degree itself often doesn't matter; DH skipped it because, at the time, a thesis was required. The coursework itself was invaluable.

Goldielocks

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Re: Advice Request: Community College After Bachelor's Degree?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2019, 10:17:37 PM »
I ended up taking 4 classes at community college after my bachelors.... very targeted classes like "Part 3 of the Building Code", and "Plant layout and design", "Drafting".  Each class was targeted to teach me a specific skill or body of knowledge that I could use immediately.   These were some of the best career advancing classes that  I ever took.   I did not want or need a certificate or associates diploma.

netloc

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Re: Advice Request: Community College After Bachelor's Degree?
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2019, 01:40:01 PM »
Thanks for the replies, everyone.

They offer a great variety of courses, but not all would be applicable at my current company, and so they wouldn't pay for all of them.

Does anyone have experience with having to convince your employer of the value of the classes you want them to pay for? For instance, if I wanted to take carpentry or plumbing, I would love it, and it would make me a generally more competent person, but it would be a tough sell on how it makes me better at my job or prepares me for a future one. That being said, there are more than enough applicable classes that would satisfy me.

I don't think the degree itself (given I took the classes for the learning only and didn't complete the degree) will actually matter in my career. But they'll review my transcript and let me know what the requirements would be. I like to complete things so I think it would help motivate me to have a degree as the endpoint.