Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Do I Want to Be A Perpetual Student?

I think it’s safe to say I’m probably going crazy.

Why? I seriously spent some time today thinking that maybe rather than pursue a doctorate in technical communication, maybe I should get a bachelors in web design and development.

The latter is tempting for several reasons. First, there’d be no teaching involved, no moving to Logan, no trying to raise a family on the paltry pay of a grad school teacher. Second, just about every job I see these days for technical writers wants writers who are also familiar with CSS, HTML, XHTML and other web-related phenomena.

Of course, bringing this to fruition will depend on a number of factors, mostly related to time but also money.

The money thing first. Michelle currently is in masters classes at Utah State. We can afford one student in the family, not two.

Then there’s the time thing. I can’t be a full-time student; I’d have to tackle the courses two at a time either online or via night courses – something I’m not sure BYU-Idaho would offer – and they would be the only option if physical presence in the classroom were required; there’s no way I’m doing this out of Pocatello.

Good news is I doubt I’d have to take any foundation courses – I hope they’d look at my other degrees and say, well, no, he doesn’t need to take those. And there’s the possibility that I could audit three courses – one in communication, one in English and the other in computer science – because of my current degrees and work experience. Still, that would have a mere 46 credits to tackle – thirteen more than I had to have for my masters, so about another two semesters; three and a half years versus two and a half, if I did two courses a semester. That means I’d be in my low 40s by the time I’m done. Would that make me more competitive in the workplace, given that there are whippersnappers about half my age willing to work for less? I don’t know. Maybe I ought to stick with the novel writing.

1 comment:

carl g said...

I would not dare give anybody advice on education. I've done it all wrong. From the day I started kindergarten, I've been a student my entire life, less mission. I never thought I'd still be paying tuition at 42, and I'm killing myself trying to finish my dissertation.

And then I see neighbors with no college at all who, from all appearances, are making as much or more than I do.

Clearly education can be about earning potential, but much of the time it isn't. I'd have to work two lifetimes to recoup all the tuition and lost income I've sacrificed for my PhD, which it's still not clear I'll get. I'll know in April.

I think most of us do not make rational decisions when it comes to education, even though in theory it should be entirely utilitarian, the means to learning a vocation. Secondarily, it can be a means to self-fulfillment. My need for the latter blurred my judgment with the former, and as it turns out, I'm not fulfilled anyway. I've only succeeded in qualifying myself for a job that, most days, I really don't like.

I am a cautionary tale. A degree may or may not make you happy. It may or may not put you in the career you really want. The only relevant question is, what is the Perfect Job? Solve that, and degree questions solve themselves.