Ask HN: Starting a CS degree at 28?
At 21, I started a CS degree but quit after just 1 semester because I already knew how to program and didn't think I would ever need the piece of paper.
Today I'm 28, I have 4 years of experience as a mobile application developer, and I recently quit my job to travel and "find meaning to my life". Spoiler: I didn't.
I'm now considering going back to school to get a CS degree. I always worry that my lack of degree will/does hurt my career. I'm Canadian and can't get a visa to work in the US, I can't work in some companies, I can't get some promotions, I always have to work harder to prove my worth, etc. It doesn't help that all of my family and friends have at least a Bachelor's degree.
I have many questions/worries:
- I would (hopefully) graduate at 32. Then what?
- What doors will the degree open? Will I still care about those then (i.e., trying to get a job in the US at FAANG).
- How much work is a CS degree for someone who's already a programmer?
- Can I both get a CS degree and work full-time?
- What's the opportunity cost, in time/money/experience?
- How likely am I to complete the degree, given that things in my life could change (opportunities, disease, motivation, depression, passion, love, children)?
- Should the excuses I attribute to my lack of degree be attributed to something else (mental barrier, low confidence, imposter syndrome)?
- Assuming the most important part is to have a Bachelor's degree, and not necessarily a CS degree, should I study something else in which I would actually learn something useful (as opposed to learning things I already know)?
- Are there different career paths in which I won't have to worry as much about my lack of degree (i.e., freelancing)? Are they sustainable?
- Is there a shortcut to get an accredited Master's degree without getting a Bachelor's degree?
What would you do in my situation?