Remember this? Yeah, that’s going out the window.
That entire plan was predicated on the idea that I would be able to get into UCLA classes through a process known as “concurrent enrollment” – basically, a loophole that allows non-UCLA students who are willing to be last in line and willing to pay for it to take UCLA classes.
The problem with this plan is that it was doable two years ago, before the entire University of California system underwent several draconian rounds of budget cuts, and class sizes were compressed to the point that they’re having trouble even getting all their undergrads through the classes they need in the first year.
The budget cuts are going all the way down to the community college level – this article is just one indication of how bad it’s gotten.
Which of course makes reading articles about the asshat head of UC having the system rent him a $13,000/month house when they already own a fucking mansion for the express purpose of housing him a little more galling than usual.
Anyway, after talking to some people and getting answers ranging from “It is literally impossible” to “It is technically possible, but you will basically need to get permission from the dean of the school of Engineering every time you want to wipe your nose,” I had to step back for a minute.
What was my goal in going back to school? Was it just to get an MS? Or was it mostly to get in and out of school with as much knowledge as possible as quickly as possible?
Frankly, while I still want and will probably need an MS in the long term, it was the latter. So I’ve switched tracks a little bit.
Now, instead of a fairly brutal all-academia learning method, I’ve chosen a still fairly brutal, but much more practical schedule. Instead of “Calculus of Several Variables” I will be taking things like “Fundamentals of Programming Using Java: Hands-On”.
Basically, the idea behind this is to get myself back out into the workforce for a couple years to gain the professional experience equivalent of a bachelor’s in comp sci, and then go back and apply for MS programs.
There’s a lot of good and a lot of bad with this, but I think in the end, the good outweighs the bad. The best part is that one of my first classes is going to be iPhone/iPad programming, something that I really want to learn and have a lot of ideas for.
Also, it gives me an excuse to buy an iPad. Hooray, rationalization!
There’s going to be some pretty compressed learning though – I basically will have a week after my summer classes finish to learn C, and then I’ll be learning several languages at once each quarter for the rest of the year. I can do it, but it’s going to be pretty nuts.
The other thing that’s going to be a little weird is the schedule: Instead of having a normal school schedule, I’ll basically be attending night school.
This program is done through UCLA’s Extension program (for those that went to NU, basically their equivalent of the School of Continuing Education), and it’s mostly geared towards professionals, so all the classes are around 6:30-9:30 pm, one night a week each.
This will be good later in the year when I try to go for an internship, but for now it’s going to be pretty weird.
I think the thing that gives me the most confidence is the across the board reassurance I got that a) I’m not the only person going through this right now and b) professional experience will probably make my grad school application stand out more than just more academic experience.
The other good thing is that this summer hasn’t been as useless as I’d initially thought when I first started contemplating this switch. Part of my reluctance to switch tracks was the thought “Well, I’ve just wasted three months of extremely hard work and a large sum of money.”
I’ve done extremely well in all of my classes, and since these are basically the only serious science and math courses I’ve taken at the collegiate level, they’ll be something for me to point to on admissions applications and say “See, when I’m not a 19 year old fucking around, I can actually excel at high level science and math classes!”
So anyway, we’ll see where this all leads me. I feel like given my options right now, this is definitely the best one, and I think it could lead to some really, really interesting opportunities for me in both the short and long-term.