1. PF Contest - Win "Conquering the Physics GRE" book! Click Here to Enter
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Changing Majors Graduating 8 years after High School

  1. May 20, 2009 #1
    Please tell me I'm not alone on this. :frown:

    I went into the Air Force for one year to pay for college, took Socials for one year, I just got an AS in EET, now I want an EE. The previous three years feel like a mistake being that I know that a BSEET will be worth less than a BSEE, not to mention less satisfying. I'll be getting my BS at age 26... damnit!

    It's something I really want to do and probably will do. I guess I just want to see if anyone else went through the same kind of college experience or have heard of anyone else that has, to make me feel less guilty. :redface:
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2009 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Don't stress out about it! I know of quite a few people who either graduated from high school and then worked for a few years, or went to trade school and worked for a few years, and eventually made their way to university. Usually, they're more focused and a little more mature. If you're coming from a tech degree, and have industry experience, you're also more hands on. Also a little less cocksure than some of the fresh out of high school types (at least, in the first year or two, people usually settle down in their sophomore or senior years).

    Hopefully, you're not carrying too much debt, but if you've lived frugally, been working, and still have military educational benefits (Reserves / National Guard?) that shouldn't be too bad. The fact that you have a tech degree may also give you a leg up when looking for summer / coop work (assuming you can find a job).
  4. May 21, 2009 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    With so many of our "kids" overseas in the military right now, I think such a situation will be very commonplace over the next few years. You're not at all alone though. I am a university professor, and every year, I have a few students who are older than the typical college student age. I usually appreciate them very much, because they are more mature about their choices and more serious about studying because they have already made their mistakes and are in my classes because they really want to be there, not because they are pleasing their parents, or think it's something they have to do, or wafted in with no particular goal in mind.
  5. May 22, 2009 #4
    Thankfully debt is not a problem at this point.

    Is this a reasonable move to make though? Would taking an extra two years to gain this degree really be worth it? I'm looking foward to the classes, but I'm anxious to get out and work, not to mention the fact that it could make me look like I was trying to be a full-time student.
  6. May 23, 2009 #5
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  7. May 26, 2009 #6
    I'd be cautious of online degrees. Employers are usually looking for people with two important things: references and work experience. Taking online classes means you never meet the faculty of your upper level coursework (and that's the most important coursework too!). Typically good references will come from strong interactions with faculty in your field (maybe even someone who employed you in their research lab)... if not a co-op employer. Along those lines, it will be easier to get co-op work experience through a university... most already have those connections set up to local employers. In lieu of work experience, many employers will look for strong lab-work in upper level courses... the type of lab-work that probably cannot be gained through online education.
  8. May 27, 2009 #7


    User Avatar

    I've discussed my situation in a few threads. I started college at 26 and will be graduating this December at 29. At one point I thought it was way too late for me to go back to school; I've been going for close to 3 years now and it still feels a little strange that I am in school. Overall, though, this was one of the best decisions I ever made. I do wish I had done this right after high school, but... oh well.
  9. May 28, 2009 #8
    Thanks guys.

    I've worked with a college that will allow me to graduate in three years given summer classes and previous math classes. Not a bad deal I guess, a BSEE and an ASEET in 6 years of college isn't too bad. Meh.
  10. Nov 9, 2009 #9
    once in this forum I read this answer to a question involving getting a degree later than average it was like:
    "even if you go or not for your degree you will be 26 years old, so the only difference would be your degree."
    I think this answer any kind of question about graduating later than average. Because if you don`t go for the BSEE in 10 years you will be still wanting that.

    (sorry my english is not good, I hope I wrote it well. )
  11. Nov 9, 2009 #10
    my dad fought in vietnam then worked for a few years before going back to college, then 9 years later he had his PhD.

    It took me 6 years(5 1/2, but it might as well be 6 since i will join a grad school in the fall) to get my BS because i did a poor job of managing my personal life and academic career when i first moved out and lost some credits and time transferring schools to move back home. While I kick myself sometimes for being such an idiot the first 3 years of college, I realize I haven't set myself further back than others who were doing more noble things with their time following high school
  12. Nov 9, 2009 #11
    I can't really comment on much besides the age part. I am 32 with only year of college behind me going for EE. I'll be 35-36 when I graduate. It's hard and I feel like a loser every now and again, but I'm glad I'm going back. I try not to think about the age when I graduate, that's the only time it's depressing.

    26 isn't even close to old!
  13. Nov 11, 2009 #12
    Wow, someone just necroed my thread, lol.

    Since it's here I might as well update my situation:

    I worked something out with SUNY Binghamton and should graduate by 2012 at age 25 with a BSEE. From what I hear, Binghamton is okay (I have mixed reviews from different people). I'll have to say though; my fear of wasting anymore time is doing wonders for my GPA. I'm studying like my life depends on it, haha. I'll probably lose most of my hair from all this worrying!
  14. Nov 11, 2009 #13
    Work experience is important. Outside of academia, people don't care very much about references. Also military experience is *very* highly thought of by employers.

    This isn't true. If you have a good online program (and I'd count University of Phoenix as a good online program) you usually have far, far more interaction with the faculty than in any traditional university that I've seen.

    References are almost totally useless outside of academia. There are some interesting sociological reasons why this is, but it is, and the fact that references are useless outside of academia is something that people from within academia have a hard time getting used to. (Recommendations are very useful, but that's something different.)

    Actually they don't. Most employers outside of academia don't care very much about what lab work you did. In any case, any practical experience you got in the military should take care of this.

    The non-academic job environment is *VERY* different from the academic one, and people with a lot of exposure to academia need to be prepared for how different it is.
  15. Nov 11, 2009 #14
    Get the degree. What happens when managers get a stack of resumes is that they immediately toss out anyone that doesn't have the educational requirements for the job. If you have a bachelor's degree, your resume doesn't get immediately tossed out.

    Also, I wouldn't worry about getting the degree late. Once your resume doesn't get immediately tossed out and the manager reads the resume and finds out that you were in the military, this is a very, very good thing.

    One thing that makes the non-academic job search different is that people outside academia aren't really interested in finding the *best* candidate. They are more interested in avoiding bad candidates. If you have military experience, then it's known that you can take orders and perform well under stress, which gives you an advantage over people that don't have that in their resume.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook