In my Cryptography class, I always received my graded tests folded up vertically so that wandering eyes couldn’t see. You know that you’ve done poorly when your professor hands you back a test like that. Two months into the course and I hadn’t learned anything as cool as the name suggests. In fact, the course was a bonafide math class. Not only that, it’s like the professor enjoyed being cryptic. I asked for clarity on numerous occasions and was met with a smug, convoluted response. Which, in hindsight, caused me to just blankly look on in class and feel dumber by the second.
Cryptography wasn’t the first course like that for me. Data Structures, Discrete Mathematics, Assembly Language. I floated through these classes with decent enough grades but never felt like I really got it. I constantly felt like what was being taught to me in class would not really connect for me when it was finally time for me to find my first post-college big girl job. Plus, the coursework was programming heavy, and I knew that though the reward of a finished program was oh so sweet, the frustration I felt throughout building the program was oh so horrible. And I hate, hate, hate math, which was about 45% of the coursework. Needless to say, my first foray into college for Computer Science left me unsatisfied, stumped and anxious. Oh, and poor.
Meanwhile, I was working my first job in the tech industry and learning so much about Linux and RAID and NASs. I worked among bright people who fostered learning and created more of an interest and curiosity in me in other areas of tech. All the projects and exams and stress I was undergoing didn’t compare to what I was learning on the job, and that was a HUGE red flag for me. How could I be paying all of this money for a degree only to graduate not being any better off than I was without it?
So, I took a break from school for about a year to really think about why I was going to school for Computer Science, if it was a fit for me, and what I would do if it was not. Eventually, after exploring other careers, I decided to enroll in and attend Western Governors University. Here are the three main reasons why:
- It is completely online, so I didn’t have to make long trips from the small town my college was in to the closest major city every day (1 hour, no traffic). I could finally just move.
- Some of the school work included obtaining certs in my field, which meant graduating with 9 certs AND a degree.
- It was competency based, which meant instead of wasting 4 whole months on a class where I knew the material like the back of my hand, I could breeze through it in 2 weeks and move on to more difficult coursework.
I have been attending WGU for one year now and it has been stress free (aside from cert exam jitters). It has been easier on my wallet (less expensive than my last college). And as I am wading through the CUs, I am gaining certs that can immediately go on my resume. I don’t regret the switch at all. I only wish I had enrolled sooner.
Of course, your miles may vary with this experience. Maybe online colleges are the devil to you and brick and mortar schools are the bees knees. Personally, this was the perfect move for me and I feel stronger and stronger about my standing in this industry with the completion of each class.