I have a bachelor's degree in English. After a slow start, then five years working as a staff editor on a computer publication, I shifted sideways into another part of the company where I learned about software. I still work for the successor of that company.
I enjoyed my time at university, but mostly not for the right reasons. I'm intelligent, and I love reading and learning, but studying not so much. It was many years before I did any more formal schooling. For a couple years, I was an unclassified student at the University of British Columbia, taking courses in history, psychology, and political science. I was a much better mature student than I had been an immature student, but it still wasn't something that thrilled me.
Through UBC Continuing Education, I earned something more closely associated with my work—a Certificate in the Software Engineering Process (architecture, design, project management, and more). I took some actual programming courses at Langara College. I had a brilliant and entertaining C++ instructor, someone I will always remember. He and the course really improved how I did my job.
Quite a bit later, I earned a Certificate in Counselling Skills from Vancouver Community College. I did that completely for love. Going through the program and doing the practicum were personally enriching for me. The program changed my life in a good way. But I could not afford to take the kinds of jobs that I would probably be able to get with a certificate alone, and I can't (yet) bring myself to face the attempts to get into a graduate program in counselling. Someone suggested that I take undergraduate psychology courses, for myself if nothing else, and maybe I will do that at some point.
I am now at my fourth educational institution since I moved to Canada. I am a part-time student in the technical communications program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, pretty much always called BCIT. It's not for love, as counselling was, but neither is it for my current job. It's so I can keep on working once my software job goes away (as it will at some point). I am actually an experienced technical writer, but I was always winging it. I did it reasonably well, but I was winging it nonetheless, and I find that stressful. This program will give me a certificate to show prospective employers (they love pieces up paper in Canada) and also a sense of my own competence in the field.
I'm no better a student than I ever was, but I'm keeping up with the work, and I'm learning. I had hoped to take two courses a term and thus be finished in four terms, just over a year, but I'm finding that this pace is leaving me little time for other activities.
I'm not that young. I'm not at a point where I'm willing not to have a life so that I can achieve a goal. I want to reach that goal in a reasonable amount of time (preferably before I lose my job), but I can't just go head down on it. In addition to working full time, I want to read (for pleasure), have at least a bit of a social life, watch some TV, see movies, go out to dinner, make dinner (I love to cook), blog incessantly, read blogs incessantly, waste time on Facebook, turn my garden from disgraceful to beautiful again, play guitar and work on songs, and learn to play the drums.
Oh, music! It's all the fault of Ladies Rock Camp. I'm really missing time to play music and get better at my rudimentary percussive skills. I really want to get together with old and new musical friends to have fun (and who knows what might happen).
So next term, I shall not be taking two courses, unless I suddenly find myself receiving severance pay. One course is going to be plenty of work and take plenty of time. There aren't enough hours in the day for everything I would like to do, so I have to get a few hours back. And spend at least some of that with my practice pad and maybe finally finishing my first song in years.