T Nation


Guys, Just wanted to ask your opinion, especially, the guys who have done something similar to what I am thinking of doing. I work FT. I have a pretty great job that pays real good moolah’s. I have thought about going back to school. The degree I would like to pursue is Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering. Most at work say that I am crazy to go to school when I have a “secure” job. I intend to work full time while I attend college full time. It might cost me about 6K a year for education. To make things worse I am 29 years old. But I do not have any significant other,kids, etc.

I am just a little worried about taking that step. From the time I can remember I wanted do something in engineering. I could never afford tuition and was not eligible for any financial aid. Now I can afford it so I have been thinking of this lately. I just wanted to know your opinion on what you think I should do. I’d really appreciate your thoughts as I consider you guys, although I have not met or talked to, to be more focused than the average Joe Shmoe. Thanks,

Read these two Atomic Dogs at t-mag. “Let go of the rock” by TC, and “I hear dead people” by Chris Sugart. You’ll be glad you did.


Do what will make you happy. You ask a dozen men who live to be 100 and ask them about their regrets in life (from an article in Men’s Health) and all say the same thing “There’s nothing I did that I regret, it’s the things I didn’t do that I think about everyday” Also, I’m in school right now, second year Exercise Physiology major, and there are all kinds of scholarships and grants out there especially for people starting after being in a career or just returing to college, granted I know you say you have the money but hey why spend it when you have to when a little bit of reaseach can get you an almost free education. Gym-bo you are ONLY 29 you are still a kid! Go for it, if it’s what you want, what else have you got to do, know what I mean? Best of luck in whatever you pursue.

I worked in aerospace for 13 years (Space Shuttle, Titan IV, Delta GEM, etc.). Industry sucks. Very stressful. My brother still works for Boeing. Hates it. I switched to pure computer work and make about 4x as much and get a lot more respect. Companies bid for my services. If that’s where your interests lay go for it. Mech Eng’s do better in automotive and other less interesting areas. Just my 2 cents bro.

Tahnks Paul, that;s just what I needed! Thanks TC and Chris S. -

I also have a background in Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering amoung others. If it is truely what you want then go for it! The only thing stopping you… is you. A few sayings about life: THIS IS NOT A REHEARSAL … and… LIFE IS FOR LIVING.
Don’t alway listen to what other people tell you…most are affraid to live… ya have to do what scares the shit outta ya once in awhile, after all, life is an adventure.
A couple of years ago I started a new career, I was 34, had a wife, a daughter and a reasonable pay check… I never looked back and now love what I do.

Gym-bo, I think you should go for it, but I think perhaps you should reconsider going to school full-time. I work full-time and I am working on my MBA part-time. MBA stuff is a snap, but I wonder how I would fare if I went full-time. I am also studying for my PE (professional engineer) exam. I can tell, engineering subjects take much more effort and time. Good luck.

Guys thanks so much for all the great advice! I am feeling much better than when I first wrote this message. I am getting all emotional here and afraid that my t-levels will go down! LOL. I think I got to take the whole thing like when I am going to lift my personal best in Squats or Bench, focus, focus and more focus. Thanks again ya’ll.
A feeling great Gym-Bo

Gym-bo: I’m a 34 yr. old Electrical Engineer. I went back for my masters after working for a while, part time. It’s tough! It took me 7 years - and after 4 of them (and losing half my credits due to moving), I needed a break for 1.5 yrs. I’d see what options you have for part time studies, keeping in mind that it will take a little longer. I have a friend of mine that I used to work with that worked as an engineering tech for 6 years or so, while he attended engineering school give-or-take part time. It was rough, but at least the company paid for it. Keep in mind that lab classes can be very time consuming, and depending on your profs., some of your “weed out” classes are going to be down-right brutal. Good luck!

Simple math bro…How much more can you make with the advanced degree, as opposed to how much you are making w/out?

I’d definitely go back to school while you have the time and the means (i.e. single and no kids). To me, money is nice, but if you don’t enjoy your job, it won’t make that much of a difference in the long run. I’m 25 and going back to school this summer to start work on my Master’s in Information Systems (I have a bachelor’s in Finance). As far as work is concerned, do what you need to do to make yourself happy and the money will eventually follow.

I went through the same thing. I was a political science grad and worked in a brokerage firm right before the internet took off, and just fucking left. I made an atempt to go to med school so I will be earning a biocem degree, and now I will be going to law school in the fall. Just go for it man! you never know what you will fall into in the next few years.

Gym-Bo…go for it!!!

Gym-bo – I’ve been an engineer for 12+ years at the US’s only large commercial airplane manufacturer. I graduated with a BSME degree in '88. Basically, it sucks. I’m not saying that THIS job sucks, but that ALL jobs suck. I started a part time business a couple years ago that’s growing big time, has my wife home full-time (don’t need that income), and should have me out of my job in a couple years to semi-retirement. Do I think education is bad? No. Just don’t think it’s the answer to all your woes. Do what’s RIGHT because it works, not because it’s cool. 100 years ago our country was 99% business owners, and 1% employees. Then the governments took over the schools and started to teach the kids to get a good education so you can get a good job (an oxymoron if I ever saw one). The result is that now we have 99% employees, and only 2% of the population retires with any sort of financial security. Check it out with the Social Security Administration. They put out the stats every year. If engineering really turns you on, then go for it. But don’t do it for financial reasons. If you can find a way to apply it into a business that you OWN and doesn’t take increasing amounts of time, then you’ve struck on the magic formula.

Hi Gym-Bo,

I doubt if I’m one of the people you were looking for feedback from as I rarely post here, but since I faced a very similar situation to yours I thought I would chip in my two cents. I also had the choice between a good paying job when I was twentynine or going to college. I chose to go to college and get my undergraduate degree followed by a masters degree. I’ve never regretted it. Not only do I earn roughly four times as much as I did before I am doing something I really enjoy as opposed to something that pays the bills. It’s hard to put a price on that. If you love what you are doing now and are making good bucks, why change. OTH if you are merely satisfied with your current job, and would like something more fulfilling, by all means go to school and get that engineering degree. Good luck with whichever you choose.

IMO, you should go for it. I was faced with a similar choice when I got out of the Navy back in '85 (showing my age here), and I went for the degree and don’t regret it one bit. The cool thing about being an engineer is that the field is open to quite a bit of growth. For instance, you can go “deeper” into the scientific field (e.g., get your MSME) or you can diverge into a more business-oriented setting (e.g., get your MBA or MS in Business). Either way, if you don’t cop a 'tude like some engineers do, people tend to respect you when you tell them what you are. Plus, the money rocks in engineering if you’re good at it and willing and able to move to get the best job.