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Ok...I need to make a decision about my future...going back to school is a daunting idea at 50...but, I'd like opinions...should I attempt to complete a Bachelor's, or just go for the IT certifications - i.e. MCP, A+, etc. And...GO!

slydr68 8 Aug 13

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Generally speaking, an IT certification is like a driver's license, it puts you on the road, but you have no understanding of what's under the hood. You will drive long and far, but one day you will get stranded when something breaks.

legna Level 4 Aug 15, 2018

The most important skill in the field (IT) is your ability to bullshit your way around. Talk about visions, projections, planning, the brighten future ahead, be charming, inspiring, and most important master the politics of the company. It does not matter what you say, the only thing that matter how you say it, and on who's side you are.

When it comes to technical skills, don't worry at all, for that we can always either hire consultants, or outsource the job.

legna Level 4 Aug 15, 2018

i dropped out of the work force at 47 to take advantage of my soon-to-be-expiring gi bill. i don't think i could recommend school enough. it was the best three years of my adult life. i did pay off all my bills beforhand so all i had was the house note and utilities (i highly recommend high speed internet if youre going to have online classes), the gi bill handling the utilities and the wife taking care of the mortgage. if i do ever become independently wealthy, ill be a full time student till the day i die.


IT certifications would be faster and cheaper, wouldn’t they?


I returned to school at 47, but I already had a BA and a teaching credential; I finished an MA at 51. My degree is in British Lit and Creative Writing. I knew that I wanted to teach and that is what I do--I have three adjunct positions, all online.

I have had students in their 60s, but they were taking classes for "fun" and not with a career in mind. I have had some in their 50s, and they were there for a degree ranging from an AA to a BA. I teach grad courses, too; I have one in her 50s this term, but she is already teaching.

I did not go for a PhD because of my age; not because of the workload but because of ageism in academia, and ageism extends beyond academia. If I had gotten a PhD, I would be doing the same thing I am doing now but would have another $35000 in student loans.

I am laying it on the line for you: at 50, seriously consider how long it will take you to get a degree (few finish in four years), and the real possibility of finding employment in the field that you want. Also, if you will be taking out student loans, be aware that you will be paying them off for the rest of your life if you go for the BA. I owed $35,000 for three years of school (I went an extra year to get the dual degree). I have been paying on them for 16 years and still owe in the high $20,000s. I was supposed to get them paid off in 20 years but I still have another 11 years to pay on them. "They" have never given me a satisfactory explanation how this happened--I never took any forbearances in that time.

On the other hand, my son has an AA in networking. He went to a community college, did not have loans (other than from the Bank of Mom); tuition was much cheaper than a four year school. He has a great job and at 35, is making more money than I am juggling three schools.

BUT the bottom line is what do you want to do and why? I followed my bliss in getting an MA so I could teach college/uni courses. I live alone and make more than enough money for my needs and wants. My son is a computer whiz and, in a sense, is following his bliss, but he and his wife have two kids to support. Do you want a degree because you want a degree or it is "just" a means to an end in finding a job?

By the way, my son's wife recently quit a very lucrative position to go to school to become a teacher. The money was not worth the stress and she wants to be a teacher.

@slydr68 They might well be, especially in consideration of loans AND wages lost while getting a BA when you could be working full-time for some of those years.


I won't be much help, I'm afraid. I will say that I am a well-educated person--Master's and beyond--but I sometimes regret not going further and getting the doctorate. I still think about it, and I'm long retired.


Without more / clearer info. I can't say anything...

Whatever you decide I wish you the best. 🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂


I'm personally not much in favor of certification programs -- at least I haven't seen any that impress me as any sort of indicator of actual expertise in software development. But then again, many degree programs are lacking there, too. I've met more than one CS graduate who couldn't program their way out of a paper bag.

I've been more impressed of late with code boot camps and similar programs, although they vary a great deal in quality.

However you acquire your knowledge, there is no substitute for all the hands-on experience you can get. If I were learning from scratch today, I'd involve myself in a couple of open source projects and work my way up in reputation with those. Start doing something low level like documentation if you have to.

Particular certifications or degrees are more a function of artificial requirements of employers than anything else. Some interviewers give them far more weight than others. There was a discussion about this on Quora recently, with experienced interviewers / hirers all over the place on this issue of how important or predictive a degree is in a candidate you're evaluating.

I don't have any degrees or certifications myself, I'm entirely an autodidact, been doing dev work for 35 years and pulling in a steady six figure income for the past couple of decades. I haven't had a client ask me in all those years for my educational CV, except a couple of times where the topic came up in conversation after I'd been doing extensive work for them for months -- and then my lack of formal education was more, not less, impressive.

I would not recommend that as a path to getting a foothold in the industry today; it's very different than it was in the 1980s, all the low-hanging fruit is gone and it's not the Wild West anymore. However, my experience is indicative that formal programs are only part of the story, and in the IT world, a track record of solving actual problems has outsize importance, too.

Also ... I credit a lot of my success to mastering generic consulting and people and business skills. Too many programmers are techno-nerds with no business sense and don't give clients or employers any sense that they understand business requirements / needs or have their back. Business is not a place for technical masturbation, it is a place for solving business problems using technology in smart ways ... it's as important to know how not to amass technical debt, how to present ideas in compelling ways, how to get along with difficult co-workers, how to have healthy boundaries, etc., not just to show technical prowess. Do not neglect these areas. You should read Gerald Weinberg's timeless books, for example. No one will either point that out or make you do that in college. You're welcome 😉

@TheAstroChuck Thanks Chuck, that means a lot coming from a retired astrophysics prof!


It depends on your motivation, resources and ultimate goal. Without knowing all details I would say your best bet would be some balance between quick results and how much money you want to invest


Good question. I don't have an answer. You would have to look at the job market and determine what advancement would give you the best outcome.

On a similar note: Yesterday I was in my front yard pulling weeds. It was 103 degrees and a car from down south (southern state) stopped. An older woman 64 and her husband 74 had driven into town the day before and were looking for work. They had no money and had slept in the car the night before. Neither one of them had a college degree and they noted it was really hard to find a job down south without a degree so they traveled to ND to try to find a job and try to make ends meet. The woman asked if I had any work for them as she thought I was a employed by a paid yard worker service (my house looks like the owner would hire yard service) so I paid them enough to help them out and they spent almost an hour helping me pull weeds. School will likely be a good choice.


I'm not sure but in today's world isn't it just the certificates?

What he said.
Bachelor's degrees get you $12 an hour salaries.


I don't know which is the best choice, but I wish you the best of luck either way.


My mom went back to school at 74 so don't let age stop you.


IT certification , would most likely allow you to get a certification you can use to get a good job in a relatively short period of time . If you're careful about which courses you take , you could then add on the other courses needed to turn it into a BS degree . Check out what is transferable before you start .


That is hard. I will be 50 in November do not think I would go back to school. I do love to learn and learn something new every day. However the pressure and stress of the education system dose not appeal to me.


Good luck to you. I went back to school at 45+ for an Associate's degree. Not a clue about IT stuff. My kids would have an opinion, but not my specialty.


I'd say that just depends on how much time you have and how much you enjoy learning.


Could join a hippie commune ?


School for sure!

@slydr68 Bachelor's! And look for scholarships.

@slydr68 I think it depends on what you are looking to do. I am more about education for educations sake. But if you are looking for skills then do the certification.

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