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Too late to pursue Computer Engineering at age 27?

  1. Apr 15, 2015 #1
    I have been contemplating whether or not I should start pursuing a degree in CE, EE, or Comp Sci. I currently work as a wildland firefighter and am not happy with what I do. I started to learn programming about 9 months ago with various online tools such as Codecademy and taking online courses through Coursera. So far I enjoy programming and the challenges and opportunities it has to offer. I have then since had a desire to get closer to the hardware of computers and started to read Digital Design by Morris Mano. I find the information to be intriguing and really enjoy learning and doing the problems from this book. In high school and college I was good at math and have been also taking Calculus classes online through Khan Academy and Coursera and have not found it to be difficult. I don't have a lot of experience with physics. Like the thread title says, I am currently 27 and I don't have a lot of hands on experience with programming languages or computer hardware , mostly just classwork type of problems. Being so old with so little experience I'm worried that it is too late for me to start down this path or if I do succeed in getting my degree that an employer would be turned off by my age, as I would be 32 or 33 by the time I graduated. I would appreciate honest answers to these questions because I would really like to get quality feedback before I made any decisions. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 15, 2015 #2
    I'm not at all authoritative on the subject, but I think to your potential employers, it's more relevant to have recent experience than it is to be young. I'm an electrical engineering student, and we have several ~30-year-old students (many of whom served in the military before going to college) in the department. If anything, you'll probably be of a more mature and disciplined mindset when it comes to coursework.

    Of course, it's always good to check with job opportunities in your area (if you wouldn't want to move) or elsewhere (if you would), particularly if you've got big commitments (family, etc.) in your life.

    "Little experience" doesn't really mean much, as you're not expected to know computer engineering before you get a computer engineering degree. As long as you're confident you can handle the coursework (lots of programming, probably circuits, hardware design, etc.) then you'll be ready.
  4. Apr 15, 2015 #3
    I think there is age bias despite what people say but it wont be a major problem in your early 30's. If you were in your mid 50's it might have an affect with some big companies but you should still find work.There is a high demand for people with those degrees so even if your older you have a good chance at getting hired somewhere.

    Sign up for your local community college, there will be plenty of older students doing the same thing you are. You can get 2 years done that way for relatively cheap if not free in some states.
  5. Apr 15, 2015 #4


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    Worse comes to worse, do a free internship for a month-or-so if you can afford it do a good job and get in through that door, or get a good ref. for another job. Like someone said, people change careers nowadays, even in their 50's, so you're way ahead of the game here. Good luck!
  6. Apr 16, 2015 #5


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    I'm 25 currently, and I'm doing a later-in-life undergraduate degree in physics at Columbia. I was a a software developer from ages 15-22, but it eventually killed my wrists, so now I'm switching careers. Actually, physics was always my primary passion, so it was a blessing in disguise that wrist troubles forced me out of the software business.

    I don't think 27 is too old at all. I'm taking classes part-time and working part-time, so I still have another 6 years left. Plus I'm planning on doing a PhD afterward, and then a postdoc, so I'll be in it until my late 30's or early 40's. The key thing is enjoying the journey. I'm really not it in for the degree or the end reulst. Getting to do high level physics on a daily basis is its own reward.

    I had no high school degree when I applied here, and I had a weird life background, but Columbia accepted me on my own merits. They have a program called "General Studies" which is functionally identical to their usual undergrad program, save for an admissions policy which is more forgiving of awkward background. Also they have rule which allows for students to take part-time classes, which students in Columbia's standard undergraduate program are strictly prohibited from doing.

    Sarah Lawrence is another top school which is especially forgiving of unusual backgrounds, but their science program is probably too weak for your interests unless you're really good a learning everything independently.

    There are probably other good schools which will take you despite your age if you show genuine interest and talent in your application. MIT in particularl is likely to take you seriously provided that you sit for some SAT II's in Math or CS and get good scores, regardless of your age.

    It's true that you'll meet some resistance being older, but the places of work or study that will give you the most resistance are probably the sort of soul crushing places that you wouldn't want to be at anyway, so I wouldn't worry about it too much. That might mean it'll take more effort to find a place where you fit it, but it'll be worth it, and it's doable.
  7. Apr 16, 2015 #6
    Haha I went back to school and got a CE degree at 30. So I sure hope its not too late for you!
    I had no issue finding a job :)
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