Author Topic: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...  (Read 2666 times)

dilemma

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I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« on: June 03, 2018, 05:04:04 PM »
I'm 24 and I've been a caregiver for my disabled dad for as long as I can remember, really. We've fallen out on a permanent basis and I'm no longer responsible for caring for him but my life has been on hold all of these years and I'm not sure how to get myself on the right path going forward.

I was never able to go to college although I did really well in school. Most of my friends went on to really highly ranked schools. I would like to be a software engineer and eventually start a business. Does it make sense for me to go to college now because I could earn a much higher salary or should I just work whatever job I can get? I'm in the UK but I would love to leave and go elsewhere.

I'd really appreciate some advice. I think I'm still in a bit of shock about how things have played out. I have the basics covered - somewhere to live, etc - and am trying to plan for the future.

Paul der Krake

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2018, 05:08:29 PM »
Do you have offers from UCAS?

dilemma

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2018, 05:15:14 PM »
Do you have offers from UCAS?

Yes, for local universities. I was able to apply late to those. There's also the option of the Open University so I could work full-time.

I could apply in the coming year for more highly ranked universities but I would have to wait a year vs starting in September. I'd like to do that, but I don't know if it makes sense to. I'm not sure how much of a difference the rank would make realistically.

Paul der Krake

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2018, 05:28:20 PM »
If you are serious about becoming a software engineer, then the school won't matter too much. The value of highly ranked schools is being surrounded by smart and driven peers. Whether that's worth putting it off for another year is hard to say.

Focus on crushing CS fundamentals and you will be hired anywhere you want in the world.

cerat0n1a

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2018, 01:31:14 AM »
Just chiming in to agree with Paul. I've interviewed many hundreds of graduate software engineers over the years (and probably hired 100+ too.) Never met any hiring manager who cared about which university you went (note this is not the same in all degree subjects - if I'm hiring electronics graduates, I do care about which university because some courses are way better suited to what I'm looking for than others.)

What matters far more is what you have done/can do. If your CV has a link to some great work on github, some open source project you've contributed to, some app you've built, some snazzy websites (if it's a web developer job) then that counts for far more than your degree - particularly if it's stuff you've done in your own time, rather than because you had to do it as part of your course.

If you have good 'A' levels, that will be visible on your CV. (And if you do have good 'A' levels, many Russell Group universities will have Computer Science vacancies available through clearing/adjustment in August anyway.) That said, if you do go down the work & study part-time route, a qualification from the OU is generally ranked pretty highly by employers - it shows someone is pretty committed. Takes a few years though.

In my experience, it's pretty easy for good software people to find jobs elsewhere in Europe, in the US etc. if that's what you want.

elliha

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2018, 01:46:38 AM »
I just want to point out that while you probably feel that you are way behind now, you really are not as far behind as you think at age 24. Think about all those people who spend several years pissing about in their early 20s, at least you have a good reason for why you didn't go to college that you can tell people if they ask why you got a late start. Also, while it is not uncommon to have a small crisis sometime around 25 when you realize you are no longer really young life really does not end when you turn 30. I am 36 and I must say that my so far best years of my life have been after 30 and I plan to make 40 and 50 great too. I hope the years after that will be great too but I cannot really conceptualize life after 60 yet.

flower_girl

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2018, 02:02:48 AM »
Hi dilemma, I think you'd be better to go to college so you can go on to higher earnings.  All the best for the future.  Hope you keep us informed.

dilemma

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2018, 03:39:29 AM »
Thank you all for your comments. I really, really appreciate them.

I think right now I'm leaning towards Open University but I would be attending full-time (3 years) and working at least part-time, preferably full. Obviously, it depends how much time I'll need to spend on university work. They do only offer a Computing & IT degree rather than computer science though. If I picked modules that focus on the skills I'll need as a software engineer would not having a CS degree still go against me? I don't know anyone in the field who can give me good advice so I hope you don't mind the questions.

I am working on building up a portfolio of sorts. I know enough to build up a decent web development portfolio I think but I definitely need to work on my skills before I can contribute to an open source project, etc. That's the goal though, of course!

I'm working on some other things I've never had the time to do too - my driving license for one - so hopefully things start looking up soon.

I'll definitely keep updating!

meghan88

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2018, 09:31:19 AM »
I just want to point out that while you probably feel that you are way behind now, you really are not as far behind as you think at age 24. Think about all those people who spend several years pissing about in their early 20s, at least you have a good reason for why you didn't go to college that you can tell people if they ask why you got a late start. Also, while it is not uncommon to have a small crisis sometime around 25 when you realize you are no longer really young life really does not end when you turn 30. I am 36 and I must say that my so far best years of my life have been after 30 and I plan to make 40 and 50 great too. I hope the years after that will be great too but I cannot really conceptualize life after 60 yet.
^^ This.  I graduated at 38.  It is never too late.  Go for it!!

phred

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2018, 11:46:49 AM »
I would go to bricks & mortar university rather than counting on Open University.  Do well and your part-time job will pay as much as an unskilled full-time job.

By taking classes now, your education will be current, whereas your buddies going to school at 18 are already starting to become out of date.

Many human resources departments hire by degree title.  If you want to work in computer science you may need a computer science degree

Kwill

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2018, 12:50:28 PM »
I would lean toward working a year full-time and then going to a more highly ranked university in a year. You'll have a bit more savings, and going from a real job to study should give you time management skills and a sense of focus that your younger classmates might not have.

I work at a highly ranked university in the UK, and my sense is that the students here get a lot out of the experience and discipline and also maybe the networking. I heard recently that the mature colleges -- the ones designed for students in your position who are coming to higher education after taking some time out for other life things -- within the university face challenges in recruiting because there isn't a simple way to find students who are strong academically but over 21. It's more straightforward for colleges that are recruiting from 6th form colleges.

cerat0n1a

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2018, 12:55:57 PM »
Thank you all for your comments. I really, really appreciate them.

I think right now I'm leaning towards Open University but I would be attending full-time (3 years) and working at least part-time, preferably full. Obviously, it depends how much time I'll need to spend on university work. They do only offer a Computing & IT degree rather than computer science though. If I picked modules that focus on the skills I'll need as a software engineer would not having a CS degree still go against me? I don't know anyone in the field who can give me good advice so I hope you don't mind the questions.

Open University is well respected by employers as I said - although recent changes in the running of the OU have led to a lot of "customer" dissatisfaction. My impression of that specific degree is that it's pretty light on the maths and the actual programming compared to most courses. Equally, there's so much in the way of online programming & maths courses these days, that anyone can learn that stuff without paying.

I seriously doubt that UK employers would view a "Computing" degree any differently to a "Computer Science" degree. There's plenty of other UK universities that call their course Computing rather than Computer Science.

If you're planning on doing it full-time, I'd maybe lean more towards the more traditional university models though. My son is doing a Computer Science degree currently and plenty of his mates have part-time jobs (and it's not too hard to supplement with summer intern positions, if that works for you.)

Kwill

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2018, 01:02:56 PM »
I'm sure lots of universities have experience with mature students. These are a couple examples of the kind of thing I was thinking of:

https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/why-cambridge/support/mature-students
http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford/mature-students#






Paul der Krake

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2018, 01:26:27 PM »
I graduated from UCL in 2012 with a MEng in CS. Then I boarded a plane for America two days after my last exam and never came back. My class had a couple older students, and we treated them all the same.

I didn't take my studies very seriously and while everything has worked out in the end, I'd probably have a couple hundred thousand dollars extra in my bank account if I had spent more time studying instead of drinking.

Looking back on it, I wouldn't have hired myself in 2012. I barely knew what I was doing and learned almost everything on the job. But while nobody has ever asked me anything about my CS degree for professional purposes, almost everyone I've ever worked with has one.

Gronnie

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2018, 02:20:45 PM »
I went to school for CS around your age.  Graduated at 28 and haven't looked back.

Went to a no rank public school in the Midwest and haven't had any problems getting interviews and jobs. In fact, I am interviewing at Apple on Wednesday.

Richardp10

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2018, 07:40:42 PM »
I wouldn’t recommend open university, I see lots of people who haven’t completed it and it’s harder to get through uni without the social support and “in it together feeling”.  Its also not as valued by a lot of employers albeit I haven’t worked in the software engineering field.

Linea_Norway

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2018, 05:01:17 AM »
<...>

I'm in the UK but I would love to leave and go elsewhere.


I think Brexit will make it more difficult to go to work in other European countries, as the whole idea behind it was to stop other European workers from coming to the UK.

Kwill

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2018, 12:22:51 AM »
<...>

I'm in the UK but I would love to leave and go elsewhere.


I think Brexit will make it more difficult to go to work in other European countries, as the whole idea behind it was to stop other European workers from coming to the UK.

Maybe so. For a temporary trip, now might be the best time to go to Europe. What if Dilemma planned on applying for traditional universities (enrolling in 2019), and spent the time up to then teaching English elsewhere in Europe and maybe doing some web stuff on the side?

cerat0n1a

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2018, 01:49:25 AM »
<...>

I'm in the UK but I would love to leave and go elsewhere.


I think Brexit will make it more difficult to go to work in other European countries, as the whole idea behind it was to stop other European workers from coming to the UK.

We have relatively little difficulty moving people from India, China & elsewhere with Computer Science degrees into jobs in the Schengen area, I seriously doubt that British people with similar qualifications will no longer be able to get working visas. Likewise, I seriously doubt that Brexit will have much impact on the ability of similar qualified people from Europe or the wider world to get jobs in the UK. Whether they will still want to come is an open question, of course.

phred

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Re: I'm 24 and my life has been on hold...
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2018, 11:50:32 AM »
You could go to evening college (Birkbeck?  Uni of London) while working days