Reflections on Completing a Semester of Grad School (January 7, 2011)

Posted: January 7, 2011 by Mike Hubbartt in Academia
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By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

I enrolled in Software Engineering and Web Application Design classes in graduate school last fall and completed all coursework, exams, and projects for both classes on December 21, 2010. The class projects really added to the workload of reading and homework assignments – more than I expected. Something I learned from both classes is to start any project in future classes the days they are assigned, because the homework and exams and reading assignments don’t slack up until the semester is over. And yes, mid-term exams are not easy.

I learned a lot in my first semester as a grad student. Both of my classes exposed me to unfamiliar tools and technologies which can only help my career as a developer. I probably grew more technically than any semester or year at the undergrad level.

Knowing what I know now, I’m glad I went on with my education after completing my undergraduate degree. The pace of grad classes is much faster and in far greater depth than comperable undergrad courses, but the knowledge gained is well worth the effort spent reading the textbooks and researching the subjects.

I’m looking forward to resuming school in the spring. I’ve enrolled in 2 classes: Database Systems Management and Design, and Advanced Web Application Development. I had two database classes as an undergraduate, and one of the classes used the same textbook as the grad school class, so I get to save $100+. The only required book for the advanced web book was available on Amazon for $10 + s/h, so my textbook expenses are minor this semester.

I believe this career move is good regardless of the age of the student. The only warning I would give prospective grad students is that you must sacrifice time spent on leisure activities (TV, golf, flying, etc), as you will spend a lot of times hitting the books and working on your computer. You must establish and follow a regular study schedule, and reading ahead of the topics covered in class is a must. I’d suggest new students buy a good laptop, even though we didn’t need them when on campus at St. Thomas.

The experience of being in classes on campus, being with teachers and fellow students is great. I have no doubt I’d much rather attend classes in person than take them from an online university. I look forward to completing my Masters degree and expect I’ll continue to take classes after I’ve graduated, as I truly enjoy being back in school.

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