Tell me how to finish up my degree

I’ve recently been playing with the idea of actually completing my college degree. I’ve never finished it since dropping out, primarily because I always had good jobs making a decent amount of money, and I never could figure out what I wanted a degree in.

I have somewhere between 2 and 3 years of university schooling under my belt. I’d been working on a degree in Classical Civilization, but switched to Greek & Latin somewhere in the last 6 or 8 months. Most of my coursework was in history and english type classes, with some basics like Psych 101 thrown in here and there.

I dropped out in 1991 and went to Colorado, where I spent the next 11 years working as a software engineer (self taught.) It’s somewhat interesting to me to actually go get a computer science degree, but I’m loathe to spend the time and money on it if it means I’m stuck taking a bunch of classes that I can teach. Hell, I had a gig writing college level computer textbooks for a while; it’s not like taking Programming 101 is going to be challenging to me.

So now I’m back in Michigan, in a small town with a small university. The university ain’t so great, but it’s not so bad that I absolutely don’t want to go there. I’m playing with my options now. As I see it, I need to figure out two things - just WHAT I want to get a degree in, and then HOW I’m going to accomplish that.

WHAT I want a degree in: I just don’t know. I’m drawn to things like history, especially ancient history, and languages. Thus the Classical Civ/Greek and Latin degree. When I dropped out, I dropped out because I didn’t think I’d ever get a job with a degree like that, and I knew I’d end up schlepping out code because I did know how to do that (i’ve been a computer geek since I was a child) and it paid well. Fast forward 12 years, and I’m in the same place. It would be nice to have a CS degree after working in the field for all this time, but I’m not sure it would be nice enough to sit through 2+ years of courses.

HOW I get a degree: I’m just not super excited about the local university. It calls itself a university, but it’s on par with a community college that happens to offer 4 year degrees. I guess a degree from there is better than nothing, but I’d like to look into distance learning or online programs. I know there’s places out there that offer them, but if I go through one of them I’d like it to be a good place. University of Phoenix is not going to cut it - IMO the local university, no matter how goofy I think it is, is a better choice than someplace that offers degrees-for-sale. So do “good” schools offer degrees via distance learning? I’m not too excited about moving.

What haven’t I thought of? Can anyone offer me any other ideas? I’m just casting about at this point in my life.

<college transfer admissions counselor hat ON>

Online offerings are becoming more common at ‘traditional’ schools but I am guessing you would have a difficult time trying to find a program that offers an online degree in Greek or Latin, or anything close (but that is just a partially educated guess). The most common online offerings for undergraduate coursework center around business and computer science programs (no cite to back that up other than information taken in at a higher ed conference last year).

I would recommend that you contact the admissions office at the local school and ask if they would do a transcript evaluation for you. Assuming they will, have your previous institution(s) send copies of your transcript to the local college, and one of their transfer people should be able to look it over and give you an idea of how long it would take you to graduate in any of their majors.

Which major you choose depends on what is more important to you: getting a degree as soon as possible, or getting a degree in an area you want. I often work with students in situations similar to yours - 1-3 years of college, left for reason X or Y and now wishing to return, often for promotional opportunity - and its a pretty even split. Some just need a degree, so they’ll take the shortest route. Others decide they want to teach/record music/work as counselors, despite previous coursework that has nothing to do with those areas, so it takes quite a bit longer. BUT, they usually seem more confident in their choice than those just seeking a degree.

If all else fails, get a job a the school as an adjunct Comp Sci professor, take classes for free, and take your sweet time getting whatever degree suits you :wink:

<college transfer admissions counselor hat OFF>

I don’t need to finish up the Greek and Latin degree. In all honesty, I’ve forgotten all of it (hard to keep up on languages that you’re not speaking/reading every day). But I was a Classical Civ major for most of my schooling, and that pretty well translates to a History degree, which would be OK.

Um… don’t you have to have one o’ them pesky degrees to be a professor? Or is adjunct something different? The local university does have a job opening for an assistant/associate professor of CIS, but they want doctorate.

Not to be an adjunct (part-timer). Schools prefer that the adjuncts be degreed, but if an institution has a need for someone to teach a given topic, and you demonstrate the necessary expertise to teach it, the degree requirement can be waived.*

*at least, that is the case where I work, it could easily be different at other institutions, especially public U’s.

Besides the suggestion of checking into becoming an adjunct/part-time instructor, also check with the CS/IS/CIS/MIS/CE (or whatever most closely matches what you’re looking for) department about testing out of some of the courses, and/or using your work experience to substitute for some of the requirements.

Some departments are more willing than others to do this, and the sucess of this also depends on how much emphasis on theory their program has.


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Don’t write off the CS degree just yet. I did a modified major in CS, and I barely did any programming after my sophomore year, so going in with a bunch of programming experience might not be the buzzkill you think it is.

You might want to take a look at the curriculum at whatever school’s close to you, or if you just want a quick idea of what might be out there, check out the curriculum at UVA.