What colleges have you attended?
I feel like this question might be a little US-centric? Or at least, not UK-friendly! The question doesn’t translate well because of transatlantic differences in our higher education systems (even after I skimmed a guide to higher education across the pond).
Let’s try instead enumerating the education establishments I’ve attended post-school. There’ve been a few!
Nowadays young adults are required to be enrolled in education or training until the age of 18, but that wasn’t the case when I finished secondary school at 16. Because my school didn’t yet offer a “sixth form” (education for 16-18 year olds), I registered with Preston College to study A-Levels in Computing, Maths, Psychology, and General Studies.
The first of these choices reflected my intention to go on to study Computer Science at University1. Psychology was chosen out of personal interest, and General Studies was a filler to round-out my programme.
Then known as the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, this became my next academic destination as I pursued an undergraduate degree in Computer Science with Software Engineering.Originally intending to spend five years doing a masters degree, I later dialled-back my plans and left with only a bachelors degree (although I still somehow spent five years getting it). This was not-least because I was much more-interested in implementing Three Rings than in studying, although I at least eventually managed to get away with writing and handing in a dissertation based on my work on the project3 and was awarded a degree and got to wear a silly hat and everything.
Since then, I’ve used my Software Engineering degree for… almost nothing. I started working at SmartData before I’d even completed it; the Bodleian required that I had one but didn’t care what the subject was, and I’m not certain that Automattic even asked. But I still appreciate some of the theoretical grounding it gave me, which helps me when I learn new concepts to this day4.
Almost a decade later, the academic bug bit me again and I decided to study towards a foundation degree in Counselling & Psychotherapy! I figured that it I were going to have one degree that I never use, I might as well have two of them, right?
The Open University
Almost another decade passed then I decided it was time to break into academia a further time. This time, I decided to build on my existing knowledge from my first degree plus the subsequent experience and qualifications I’d gained in ethical hacking and penetration testing, and decided to go for a masters degree in Information Security and Forensics! I even managed to do some original research for my dissertation, although it’s terribly uninteresting because all it possibly managed to prove was the null hypothesis.
Something I’d discovered having been a student in my teens, in my 20s, in my 30s, and in my 40s… is that it gets harder! Whereas in my 20s I could put in an overnight cram session and ace an exam, in my 40s I absolutely needed to spend the time studying and revising over many weeks before information would become concrete in my mind!6 It almost feels like it’s a physical effort to shunt things into my brain, where once it was near-effortlessly easy.
People have occasionally suggested that I might push my field(s) even further and do a doctorate someday. I don’t think that’s for me. A masters in a subdiscipline was plenty narrow-enough a field for my interests: I’d far rather study something new.
Maybe there’s another degree in my sometime, someday, but it’s probably a bachelors!