T Nation

Too Old to Start Again?

So, I’ve been living my life in 4 or 5 year increments for awhile now. 4 years of high school, 4 of college, 5 in the army. I’ll be getting out at the end of 2014, and I’m starting to realize that I need to reevaluate my options and get something sorted out, time now.

My major is worthless (English, emphasis on Creative Writing), and so I’m considering going back to school and getting a degree in something useful (engineering of some sort). I will be 28 when I leave the army.

I’m not interested in struggling through with low-paying jobs anymore. I want to live comfortably and raise a family.

Has anyone gone back to rebuild, as I intend to do? I’m worried about it, naturally, as I don’t want to waste any more money on education I can’t easily use, and I feel that I might be too old.

We had 50 year olds in my class in dental school. I am a little concerned that someone in their 20’s thinks they are too old to go back to school.

I don’t think I have even heard of that before. The way I remember it, the older guys on campus got more ass because of it.

I dont know?

Are you dead or planning to die soon?

If not, no.

A friend of mine just went back to school at 27.

[quote]Ambugaton wrote:
So, I’ve been living my life in 4 or 5 year increments for awhile now. 4 years of high school, 4 of college, 5 in the army. I’ll be getting out at the end of 2014, and I’m starting to realize that I need to reevaluate my options and get something sorted out, time now.

My major is worthless (English, emphasis on Creative Writing), and so I’m considering going back to school and getting a degree in something useful (engineering of some sort). I will be 28 when I leave the army.

I’m not interested in struggling through with low-paying jobs anymore. I want to live comfortably and raise a family.

Has anyone gone back to rebuild, as I intend to do? I’m worried about it, naturally, as I don’t want to waste any more money on education I can’t easily use, and I feel that I might be too old. [/quote]

What is it you like about engineering?

The reason I ask this is that most engineers go into it thinking they are going to design all kinds of cool shit but end up in project management following one small aspect of a larger job. Nothing wrong with that if it is what you are into and your writing skills will be a definite asset, just know what to expect.

How are your math skills? This is what kills most aspiring engineers dreams.

Engineering = MATH lots of it. Multiple page problems to solve.

Apparently the most useful degrees are (in no particular order):

Computing
Business/management
Engineering
Law
Medical/nursing
Teaching

I have no experience of being in your situation but I’d say pick whichever one appeals to you most and go for it. I definitely don’t think you’ll be too old (there are quite a few people in their 30s on my course and at least one guy in his 40s), but its probably better to act sooner rather than later.

All the best.

If you REALLY want to be an engineer then that’s one thing. If you just want a good, well paying job that is befitting of someone with a college degree though, then I wouldn’t go back to school. There are obviously jobs where you need a specific degree or at least something close, but there are plenty of great jobs out there for which the only real requisite is a degree of some sort.

It’s stupid in my opinion, but often times that’s how it is. They just want to see that you have a degree, it doesn’t much matter what it’s in, just so long as you have that damn piece of paper. On the job training is 100000000x better than any degree, so it’s almost moot in my opinion to waste any more time and money than absolutely necessary with college learning bullshit you’ll never need and possibly going into a bunch of debt.

Here’s another thing, my dad was a marine for 10 years. When he left, he got a job as a project manager pretty much based on his military leadership experience. I hope things haven’t deteriorated in that regard, so hopefully your time in the service will be viewed as valuable job experience by some companies.

Wouldn’t you be able to get a degree in about 2 years seeing as you already have one ? I mean, wont you be able to contribute a good chunk of your degree to getting another as many of the 1st and 2nd year classes you will have already taken ?

[quote]csulli wrote:

Here’s another thing, my dad was a marine for 10 years. When he left, he got a job as a project manager pretty much based on his military leadership experience. I hope things haven’t deteriorated in that regard, so hopefully your time in the service will be viewed as valuable job experience by some companies.[/quote]

This can be very true depending on your aptitude, ie… did you lead or follow. I don’t mean this to sound disrespectful, but some guys come out of the military and are natural leaders, others have to be told every damn thing to do.

[quote]tmay11 wrote:
Wouldn’t you be able to get a degree in about 2 years seeing as you already have one ? I mean, wont you be able to contribute a good chunk of your degree to getting another as many of the 1st and 2nd year classes you will have already taken ?

[/quote]

Engineering can often be a five year degree, as many Macro classes aren’t applicable, so it would still probably take three.

Something to look into might be industrial engineering, more of a general engineering degree focused on keeping plants running.

I’ll be 35 in January and am trading in my History degree for one in Accounting.

I was afraid that I had been out of school for too long to go back, but spending a few years living pay check to pay check is a hell of a good motivator to study.

[quote]Testy1 wrote:

[quote]tmay11 wrote:
Wouldn’t you be able to get a degree in about 2 years seeing as you already have one ? I mean, wont you be able to contribute a good chunk of your degree to getting another as many of the 1st and 2nd year classes you will have already taken ?

[/quote]

Engineering can often be a five year degree, as many Macro classes aren’t applicable, so it would still probably take three.

Something to look into might be industrial engineering, more of a general engineering degree focused on keeping plants running.[/quote]

Took me 5 years for my Electrical Engineering degree including summer terms. I took about 9 math classes, a bunch of physics classes and then lots of engineering classes(which are basically applied physics). You definitely need to be able to understand advanced calculus and be willing to study 60-90 hours a week. It is definitely worth it in the end.

Many of my peers were in the military for quite a few years. They were all 25-32 years old, plus older guys in some classes. So, it’s definitely not too late to start.

EDIT:
Oh, and job recruiters love ex-military guys, especially in the engineering field. You will have a significant advantage over younger classmates.

I appreciate the feedback, everyone.

My anxiety stems in large part from thinking about being in my thirties and just starting on a career path.

As for the attraction to engineering, I don’t have any particularly good logic behind it. Job placement statistics are good, and I have a minor amount of exposure to the field as I come from a family of engineers.

Also, it would be nice, for a change, to use my education and training. I have not yet had the opportunity to do so.

My math skills are decent. They aren’t extraordinary by any means, as I’ve never worked very hard to develop them. I don’t mind the work, however, and I’m confident that I can learn anything I set out to learn. I wish I would have waited a few years before going to college. I was too immature in my course of study and the effort I put forth to derive great benefit from the experience.

I’m looking at the Colorado School of Mines. I hear it’s hell. I like that.

If you want a degree, you can do it at any age, and really from any starting point. As far as cost/reward goes, the debt you take on is commonly seen as worth it if the total is less than a starting year’s salary/pay in a job in your field. I agree that for many people degrees aren’t worth it. If I were you, I’d go for it. If you have interest or are even on the fence about it, I’d consider it strongly.

My advice is to not be discouraged by an individual’s experience. I have a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and I studied much, much less than 60-90 hours per week. Engineering is a good field if you have aptitude in math or want it badly enough. My math was poor when I started college and I improved significantly through the program.

My advice is to consider what you’re in for. Don’t get discouraged, because you can do it.

For my 2c…Creative writing and moderate maths…I’d be thinking of a computer qualification. Programming, systems or network administration could be a good fit. Don’t get put off by my avatar, honestly there are very few days like that.

Also don’t rule out a trade such as carpentry, plumbing or electrician. They all pay good money and are also skills required around the world.

Best of luck.

[quote]MartyMonster wrote:
For my 2c…Creative writing and moderate maths…I’d be thinking of a computer qualification. Programming, systems or network administration could be a good fit. Don’t get put off by my avatar, honestly there are very few days like that.

Also don’t rule out a trade such as carpentry, plumbing or electrician. They all pay good money and are also skills required around the world.

Best of luck.[/quote]

Thank you. Do you have any advice on something I can read or do to explore that path a bit? I know very little about programming.

[quote]Ambugaton wrote:

[quote]MartyMonster wrote:
For my 2c…Creative writing and moderate maths…I’d be thinking of a computer qualification. Programming, systems or network administration could be a good fit. Don’t get put off by my avatar, honestly there are very few days like that.

Also don’t rule out a trade such as carpentry, plumbing or electrician. They all pay good money and are also skills required around the world.

Best of luck.[/quote]

Thank you. Do you have any advice on something I can read or do to explore that path a bit? I know very little about programming. [/quote]

For very little cost you can pick up a copy of Learning Perl. Although a very language specific book, its a good read and could give you a flavour of what to expect. Its published by O’Reilly and its ISBN is 1-56592-042-2. You can probably get an online copy if you prefer that to paper.

I’ve been out of formal education for many years and so I’m not real sure where a moderrn computer programming course would take you. But you’d have to get a formal qualification to get a job these days. No exceptions, we just don’t look at anyone with a Physics degree anymore.

[quote]Ambugaton wrote:
So, I’ve been living my life in 4 or 5 year increments for awhile now. 4 years of high school, 4 of college, 5 in the army. I’ll be getting out at the end of 2014, and I’m starting to realize that I need to reevaluate my options and get something sorted out, time now.

My major is worthless (English, emphasis on Creative Writing), and so I’m considering going back to school and getting a degree in something useful (engineering of some sort). I will be 28 when I leave the army.

I’m not interested in struggling through with low-paying jobs anymore. I want to live comfortably and raise a family.

Has anyone gone back to rebuild, as I intend to do? I’m worried about it, naturally, as I don’t want to waste any more money on education I can’t easily use, and I feel that I might be too old. [/quote]

I have a worthless degree too, but I got a degree. Unless you are far from getting it, I would stay the course and then if you really want to retool, do it with a masters. If you going to be in school for 6 years, it’s better to have a master’s for the effort than a BA or BS.
I realized I didn’t much like psychology much after all by year 3, but I was damned if I were going to add another year or two, for a Bachelors.

How close are you to getting your degree? If less than 2 years, I wouldn’t change. The degree is more valuable than what the degree is in.
That’s my $.02.

So I have 2 questions, how close are you to getting your degree?
What is you job in the army?

Sounds like you’re a few years older than me, but I was recently considering this same issue. I was at a dead end in my field and not particularly interested in continuing.

I found the Bureau of Labor Statistics website to be useful for researching occupations. It gives an overview of growth potential of various fields, and has more detailed profiles of occupations once you find one that is interesting. Once I found one that interested me, I was surprised by how much of my experience/skills were actually transferable, and I designed my resume to reflect that. I did some volunteer work on the side to gain better experience and responsibilities, and ended up landing a job I’m pretty satisfied with.

I was very wary of going back to school to try to advance my career, and chose to take a more hands-on route. That said, it sounds like other folks on here have taken the educational route and been very successful.

Links:

EDIT: Actually, it looks like we’re about the same age.
Also, this is a better link: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/fastest-growing.htm