Back to Debating Choices

17 09 2009

Well, my plan was to do a double major in CSE and math, but that plan is now dead after dropping advanced calculus and deciding I really don’t like math that much. Now I’m back to the same academic dilemma I had before, but with one option scratched off the list.

Option 1: Take three more semesters of 17-18 credit hours and summer classes to graduate in 4 years, with no time for other classes outside of major, or even the tech electives I wanted to take inside major due to no spare credit hours.

Option 2: Try and do a CS/CSE double major. This would be an extra year (graduating in 5 total), but I’d have a nice couple semesters of 15-16 credit hours with lots of extra tech electives and some interesting looking classes.

Option 3: Try to do the CSE BS plus CS Master’s program. This would also be only one extra year if all went well.

The fastest would be pure CSE with maybe some summer classes, the easiest would probably be CS/CSE, and the best looking on a resume would be the CS master’s. Choices choices.. how to decide?

On one hand, the way things have been going lately, I’m tired. Tired of waking up at annoyingly early times to catch a bus (or 3) to Tempe, worrying about exams and quizzes, and sitting through boring lectures. I’d rather be coding something than sitting around doing recurrence relations on recursive algorithms to determine tight bounds. Living at home and not being a very social person, college so far has been far from glamorous. On the other hand, the job market right now is horrible, and an entry level programming job 40 hours/week isn’t going to be very glamorous either (though at least I’d have enough money I could probably buy a car, move out, etc). Pushing hard and finishing early certainly seems a bit tempting, but the main turn off is the heavy load that it would require.

As for option 2 and 3, an extra year isn’t really a problem. I’ve thought and planned for some time that it would probably take me 5 to graduate. Both options have their downsides. A dual degree in CS/CSE is the more tempting, because then I would be able to focus my CSE tech electives on EE courses and my CS tech electives on programming. The combination fits my interests well enough. However, in the future I’ll likely be specializing in either hardware or software, and the second degree being so close to the first means it won’t really have any effect for a resume.

The downsides of the master’s program are fairly obvious. Increased tuition costs, harder 500 level classes, and researching/writing a master’s thesis. I know plenty of people that get stuck on their thesis and end up in graduate school longer than they originally planned.

Decisions, decisions…

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