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Jamie Lynch
08-08-2014, 9:58 AM
It's Friday, time for the work week to be almost over... or not. I have to work the weekend.

Over the past few years I have been tossing around the idea of returning to school and getting a bachelors. Now that my son is here and already 9 months old, I realize that from here out I will continue to have less and less free time, itís time to quit just tossing around and play ball.

In 2008 I received my Associates in Electrical Engineering Technology. It has served me well and I have really enjoyed my career as an Electronics Technician, both home and abroad. I have thought about going back for a BSEE, but it really doesnít appeal to me. Business management or some similar discipline seems to be the direction I want to take.

Having little free time, and living out in the middle of nowhere makes going to a physical university difficult, though not out of the question. I have been searching online for accredited programs, but most of what I come up with is dubious at best.
Have any of you guys completed or are working on an online BS program? If so what university?


Thank you in advance for your input and advice.

Marty Gulseth
08-08-2014, 11:08 AM
Hi Jamie,

Speaking as someone who has been there, done that - an on-line program (not a BS) it can be done. So I'll simply say congrats on taking steps, and best wishes!

Regards, Marty

Mike Ontko
08-08-2014, 11:36 AM
Jamie,

I was in your shoes once--a growing family (two daughters, two cats, one springer spaniel), 40-60 hours/week job, lived remote and commuted long distances. And though I was relatively successful working as an electronics technician and a technical writer, jobs I'd acquired/leveraged based on my experiences and education in the Navy and from an Associate of Science (pre-engineering), I knew that my income and career growth would be limited if not squashed outright at some point in time if I didn't find a way to complete a bachelor's degree. It took me nearly 5 years to finish, with a lot compromising and sacrificing needed to juggle everything (including a distasteful divorce, a complete house renovation, a couple of job changes, and the continued care and support of my two daughters as a shared parent). And it was worth every penny, every minute of lost sleep, and every ounce of energy I'd put into it. I doubt I'd be where I am today (http://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeontko/) without the degree (a BS in technical communications, with an emphasis on information design and management) or the knowledge and experiences gained throughout the process.

I chose to go to a major state university (University of Washington), mainly because it was in between my work and home locations, but also because I knew a degree from such an institution would carry greater weight on my resume and support me in the event that I'd decided to pursue a Master's program. I commuted mainly via motorcycle, because it afforded me more agility in my schedule, was easier to find parking for, and gave me preferential boarding on my ferry commutes back and forth across the Puget Sound. And, I was fortunate enough to work for companies that offered tuition assistance as part of their total benefits package--which I totally took advantage of, for both my AS and BS. Most of the classes I took were in the late afternoon, though some were in the middle of the day. Fortunately, I had understanding bosses and worked in a field that allowed me to continue working even if I wasn't in the office.

Bottom line is--you can do it! Feel free to PM me if you'd like to know more, or have questions. - Mike

Chris Damm
08-09-2014, 8:45 AM
My youngest son (39) went to work at 18, completed his BS at 35, and his masters this spring. All while moving up to head the IT department of a huge multi-national company and raising 3 kids. Yes it is possible! It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice but it can be done.

Justin Ludwig
08-09-2014, 9:51 AM
You're in Oklahoma so you can look into OU's Outreach program without incurring out of state fees. All classes online and pretty much at your own pace. Good luck

Mike Henderson
08-09-2014, 11:25 AM
Try hard to get your classes through a recognized university - a state school is best. Some (many) of the private (for profit) schools do not have the best reputation and are red flags to a hiring manager.

The problem with the private (for profit) schools is that they are not rigorous. The classes are designed to pass everyone since they are collecting tuition. When you go to a state school they are not making money from your attendance. If you flunk out, they generally have a waiting line of people to take your place. You will learn at a school like that, or you won't survive - and hiring managers know that and will value your degree.

Mike

Harry Hagan
08-09-2014, 12:54 PM
First, congratulations on taking the initiative to further your education.

Thereís a lot of speculation these days about the viability of a BS degree due to the high rate of unemployment/underemployment and debt incurred among recent graduates. News reports in my area routinely cite high-tech industries that need employees with your skills who are willing to further their education at the employerís expense. Iím thinking an electrical engineering resume would be much more marketable, at least in my area; than a BS degree.

Good luck with your endeavor.

Shawn Pixley
08-09-2014, 1:21 PM
I haven't done in myself (graduate degree) but I have had several of my staff get either their MBA or BA/BS while working. Mostly they have gone to relatively close universities (UCLA / USC / Pepperdine / CLU). They have all had to develop a discipline / schedule to keep moving forward with the continuing pressures of work and family. Typically they have taken 2-3 years (1 course at a time) for an MBA. It will take a group effort, the student,work colleagues, and family all making compromises for this to be successful.

Jessica Pierce-LaRose
08-09-2014, 4:36 PM
Good on you. I find myself contemplating education again, myself, so I'd love to hear how things go for you and other folks here.

I'm even further behind you though, honestly. I took a little bit of college, and then got a job working nights in a semiconductor factory when I was 19, and have been there since. Struggling through a lot of personal issues (and making a lot of stupid decisions - and I don't blame anyone but myself for where I am), I'm still in the same place I was when I started 16 years ago. It looks like I have some opportunity to "move up the ranks" in the next few months, but a lot of my options (And the things I'd really like to do there now that I know more) are going to be unreachable with my limited education.

Now I'm realizing that what I was perfectly happy with in my 20s might not be enough going forward, and that regardless, this factory is most likely not going to be open long enough for me to make it to retirement (and that at the pace I'm at, retirement might never be an option . . . ) I've really got to figure out how to make education fit into my life.

It may be more applicable to someone like myself, who is trying to make a fresth start into education from a non-degree level, than someone like you, who already has a degree, but something I've been looking at is a couple of programs available through the state colleges in my area - one that allows you to basically pay to take an intensive series of tests for college credits in math and sciences, and one that is a semester long program ending with a presentation, that basically amounts to applying previous life-experience knowledge towards college credit. You have to be honest about these things with yourself, because in the end, having paper credits towards a degree without feeling like you have earned the knowledge might somewhat increase your career aspects, but isn't the same thing if you're more interested in improving yourself in a broader sense. But I have known individuals at my company who were limited by not having graduate degrees, (the company would not consider them for positions in which they were already doing the work because they didn't have the papers . . . ) and were able to take advantage of programs of this ilk that helped them finish graduate degrees in a time line that was much more helpful for them. It may be worth seeing what sort of programs are available through institutions in your state. Here in VT, there's a non-profit college assistance group that also offers career counseling for "non traditional students"; helping them find programs and ways to make things like this work for them. It may worth seeing if there's something similar in your area - they may have ideas of connections that make sense to your situation that you hadn't thought of before.

Jim Matthews
08-10-2014, 6:49 AM
I would ask what you hope to achieve with a degree.

If you are self-employed, your last client is an indicator of your skill set.
If you are working for someone else, management may guide you to a degree
that has applications within their scope of operations.

I would say that if you're returning to school, diversify.

Consider the schools offering financial assistance, first.
Costs matter.

Mike Henderson
08-10-2014, 1:30 PM
Let me make a comment about having a degree. For a lot of jobs, a degree is just a checklist item, but a required checklist item. Those people who have a degree never seem to think about it because they made the checklist and got to the next step. The people who don't have a degree are conscious of the fact that they're missing that checklist item and doors that are open to degree holders are not as easy for the non-degree person to get through. The non-degree person may be able to perform the job very well, maybe even be superior in the job, but they may not get a chance to present themselves without the checklist item.

It may not seem fair, but that's the way life is. The hiring person only has a limited amount of time and can't wade through all of the resumes - so they construct a list of "requirements" for the job, one of which is often a degree.

Mike

Jessica Pierce-LaRose
08-10-2014, 4:16 PM
It may not seem fair, but that's the way life is. The hiring person only has a limited amount of time and can't wade through all of the resumes - so they construct a list of "requirements" for the job, one of which is often a degree.


Bingo. I've talked to people who've had to hire for jobs, and that's something they've told me - especially since the downturn in the economy, they get so many applications, that something that weeds out half the applicants quickly makes their lives much, much easier. My mother was part of a hiring team at her place of employment, and she said they got *hundreds* of applicants for what was going to initially be a part time position. Anything that can help you weed is an asset in a case like that.

I've also talked to folks who were hiring internally at my company, and part of the reason they've required degrees for consideration/application, even with jobs that were only posted internally, is that it does in theory show something about the character of the applicant, and their ability to take on a long-term goal and follow through on it.

The only time it bothers me sometimes is when I've had managers and other folks above me on the food chain express desire for me to move into a position that I was unable to because of my lack of formal education. I only blame myself, of course. It was kind of funny once though, as I had been turned down for a job at my company, where I had gained the skill to complete the job through experience, but was unable to be considered because of the educational requirements and found myself assisting the candidate who was eventually hired complete basic tasks of the position because he didn't have the background necessary to tackle the job. In the end however, I think this individual was a better fit for the job, and his expertise and knowledge helped him grow into the job (and grow the job itself) in a way that I never would have been hard pressed to be able to do. Others times I've seen new hires crash and burn, but I think this is separate from the degree question, and really just relates to folks of any stripe who look good on paper and don't work out. At our company, it's most likely a failure of the interview process.

Steve Peterson
08-11-2014, 11:01 AM
I'm even further behind you though, honestly. I took a little bit of college, and then got a job working nights in a semiconductor factory when I was 19, and have been there since. Struggling through a lot of personal issues (and making a lot of stupid decisions - and I don't blame anyone but myself for where I am), I'm still in the same place I was when I started 16 years ago. It looks like I have some opportunity to "move up the ranks" in the next few months, but a lot of my options (And the things I'd really like to do there now that I know more) are going to be unreachable with my limited education.

I found myself in the same situation many years ago. I had a 2 year AA degree in electronics and had moved up to a position where I was doing jobs normally done by engineers with a BS or MS degree. I realized that I was stuck at that one company, since few other companies would hire me without an engineering degree. I decided to go back to school and get my BS in computer engineering. This worked out really well for me and opened up a lot of new opportunities.

Steve

John C Lawson
08-11-2014, 11:20 PM
I got my BS the traditional way at 21, straight through after high school. I then entered a field where degrees were not required, or so I thought, until I was 35. Then I was up to become the manager of the department, and the conversation was, "We would like to offer you the manager job, but we need to know if you have a bachelors degree." It was an HR requirement. I encountered the same thing at 43, and again at 54. If you don't want to manage, that's fine, but without the degree that door may be closed. I have gone from working alone on night shifts to managing 62 people doing 7 different things in four locations. In constant dollars, I have sextupled my earnings.

Jamie Lynch
08-13-2014, 1:18 PM
Thanks to all of you for the encouragement and advice!
After many more hours of research and shopping around I found that Oklahoma State University offers a BS in business administration, almost completely online. My Associates covers all the gen ed requirements, they're in state and not too far from home if I need to go to campus for anything.
I've submitted an application and hopefully will be able to enroll before the fall deadline. It been a crazy week. My boss has been completely supportive and has said that he will approve educational assistance through the company, which will be a huge help.
My wife is being extremely supportive and understanding and is almost as excited and nervous as I am.
The next 2-4 years are going to be crazy. I'll keep you guys posted on my progress.

Jessica Pierce-LaRose
08-13-2014, 6:26 PM
Jamie -

Congrats, and best of luck! It sounds like you found some great opportunities there; that's awesome.

Jason Kowell
08-14-2014, 2:06 PM
Good luck. I've heard a lot of good things about OSU, though not their business dept specifically.

Online programs are a great idea. I've done a few in high school, and whenever I get around to getting my Masters, it's going to have to be online. As much as I loved going to a physical college for my BA, it's really hard to do if you're not going right after high school - especially when you already work and have a family.

Jamie Lynch
08-19-2014, 10:48 AM
I've been accepted to begin the fall semester! Though I'll be a few days late due to an already planned vacation to Oahu.
I'm getting a bit nervous! I need to work on time management, this is sure to be the kick in the pants that really makes me work harder on that skill!

Jason Kowell
08-19-2014, 2:37 PM
I've been accepted to begin the fall semester! Though I'll be a few days late due to an already planned vacation to Oahu.
I'm getting a bit nervous! I need to work on time management, this is sure to be the kick in the pants that really makes me work harder on that skill!

Congrats! Higher education is fun, even if it drives you insane.

Mike Ontko
08-19-2014, 2:44 PM
I've been accepted to begin the fall semester! Though I'll be a few days late due to an already planned vacation to Oahu.
I'm getting a bit nervous! I need to work on time management, this is sure to be the kick in the pants that really makes me work harder on that skill!

Congrats, Jamie! You've already taken the biggest step, the rest is just a matter of time.

Jamie Lynch
10-29-2014, 11:22 PM
I have survived halfway through the first semester! Its been crazy! I start most days with lectures over my morning coffee, flashcards during breaks, and more study for lunch. I get about an hour at home with my amazingly understanding and supportive wife and son, then finish the day with 3-5 hours of more study and lectures. It's exhausting, but very fulfilling at the same time. I'm so glad I decided to do this now!
Thanks again for all the support and encouragement!

Don Morris
10-30-2014, 2:11 AM
I have 5 degrees including a doctorate, and am a retired clinical associate college professor. I've talked to a number of students in your shoes. I've had to look at a lot of resumes to programs I was involved in and I know that hiring people go through the same procedure. My wife worked for the chief head hunter for Marriott Corporation. I've listened to her comments, and they reflect those comments about having a degree as a minimal requirement as being absolutely dead on in this hiring environment. A major university degree is better than one from a "for profit" university..Mike Henderson is correct with his comments. My wife was 40 when she completed her degree because I was active duty. I got my last degree when I was close to 40 because I wanted to have the right credentials to be selected for a certain program...and was. Not easy at all, but doable. Takes planning and planning to take those courses from the right school that will give you the training and credentials that will "Mean something" to a hiring officer. Talk to a hiring officer of the career you want. You have to know what your End Plan is, then find out what it takes to get there. Your End Plan should be something that is worth something Significant to the hiring world and hopefully of interest and complements your background. Persistence, and keep you eye on the goal. A good friend of mine told me once: the best insurance is in yourself.

Steve Peterson
10-30-2014, 1:32 PM
Best of luck to you Jamie. It seems like a lot of work, but an engineering BS is definitely worth it.

Steve

Brian Elfert
10-30-2014, 2:18 PM
I was one course short in 1995 of a technical degree called microcomputer specialist. I went back to the school recently and they said I would basically have to re-do all of the technical courses from scratch because the technology I was taught is all obsolete. The silly thing is I finished the technical courses and never did my public speaking class. The school had a hard time even finding what courses were required in 1995 due to a school merger and computer system changes since then.

It isn't worth it to start over on that degree. I would be better off investing in a four year degree. I don't have the time or money to take the classes for a four year degree. I only wanted the degree so I could say I had one if I need a new job in the future. I won't gain any extra salary or anything in my current job. I make as much money as anyone with a degree and have no plans for another job, but you never know.

The moral of the story is finish your degree if you're really close. Don't get a job and put off that final class or two.

Ken Fitzgerald
10-30-2014, 2:59 PM
Glad to hear you are still at it Jamie! Hang tough! In today's world, it is important!

Jamie Lynch
01-06-2018, 7:37 PM
i know I’m resurrecting an old thread, but I think this is warranted. I graduated with my BS in Business!
It took 7 semesters of late nights, lost sleep, frustrations, coffee, coffee, coffee, espresso, tired days at work, another kid born, two promotions at work, one move across the city, and a very understanding wife.

Without the the support of family and friends I could have never achieved this. Thanks to all of you as well for the encouragement you gave as I started this!

Matt Day
01-06-2018, 7:54 PM
Congrats Jamie! Nice work!

Frederick Skelly
01-06-2018, 7:55 PM
CONGRATULATIONS JAMIE!!!
VERY WELL DONE SIR!

Fred

Matt Meiser
01-06-2018, 8:03 PM
Congratulations!

Jason Ost
01-06-2018, 9:41 PM
Way to Go, Good Job

Jim Becker
01-06-2018, 10:03 PM
Congratulations, Jamie!!!!

Scott DelPorte
01-06-2018, 10:42 PM
Well done!!!

Mike Henderson
01-06-2018, 10:56 PM
That's terrific. Congratulations!

Mike

Brian Kent
01-06-2018, 11:19 PM
Congratulations. I think you have made a good decision.

Perry Hilbert Jr
01-07-2018, 1:42 AM
congrats. My Mrs went back to school when our youngest turned 17. She went through a local college and got her Associates degree in Nursing, second in her class. Passed her RN license exam 10 days later and within two years after graduating, is making six figures. I could not be prouder of her. There where late nights drilling her on the bones of the body, the muscles, etc. I learned chemistry at the same time so I could help her. I was already good at physics and math, so I helped her with those too. it was not long before she whizzed right by what I could help her in.

Justin Ludwig
01-07-2018, 9:06 AM
'Atta boy!

Lee Schierer
01-07-2018, 9:31 AM
You are embarking on a tough path to success. I went back to school to get a masters when my kids were a bit older than yours and there were lots of conflicts. However, all of my courses were classroom types and you had to be there, no online stuff. I was fortunate that my employer picked up most of the cost for my courses. I also took a few correspondence courses and can assure you that it takes dedication to set down and do the work on the courses. I wish you luck and I can assure you it will be worth it in the end.

Ken Fitzgerald
01-07-2018, 10:51 AM
Congratulations Jaimie! Well done!

Jim Becker
01-07-2018, 5:57 PM
Folks, Jamie completed his degree...he's not just starting it. :) Read post #26...

Mike Ontko
01-08-2018, 9:42 AM
Jamie, hats off to you!

Mike Chance in Iowa
01-08-2018, 1:52 PM
VERY Impressive Jamie. That is a great accomplishment for you and your family. It is well-worth resurrecting this old thread and I'm glad you let us know!