I’m in my late thirties and am six months away from finishing a Bachelor of Science degree in Cyber Security. I am really regretting this path.
I want to say first and foremost, I think college is great. I believe it needs to be available to anyone who wants to expand their knowledge. It is also very hard, and burnout is bound to happen. So, before you go to college, figure out what you’re passionate about and pursue that. Don’t do what I did.
I started my second attempt at college in 2015. I started out looking to get a degree in Japanese Literature. My goal was to move to Japan and become an English teacher. That was the easiest path to Japan, and I love writing, so it seemed to fit quite well. Just like my first attempt at college in 2002, finances were a problem. I ended up moving which changed my degree as my college of choice changed, but it was to a degree in Japanese language. Not too much different, and I really didn’t care as my only goal was to move to Japan.
But finances remained a problem and I had to move again, and I realized I can’t attend a brick-and-mortar school. So, I looked online. No Japanese degrees.
Up until this point, I had been in tech support, so figured tech may be a good choice, especially since it tends to pay well. Great! Maybe get better opportunities in Japan. I started a degree in Information Security. I knew math was going to be a major component, and I prepared for that. I hated every moment of it, but I pushed through it. What I didn’t account for was disliking programming. I was excited to learn. I loved the idea behind it. Python wasn’t too bad. I felt Java was similar. I hit my wall when I was introduced to C++. I hated C++ with a passion. I ended up just not caring and pushing through it, not really learning much.
I joined a cyber security league where we are taught various hacking techniques and we play games. I had a ton of fun doing this. It was all interesting. So, once I saw Cyber Security was available as a degree now, I decided to switch to that. I wanted out of programming. Honestly, I should’ve done more research. I went the Data Analysis route and now, six months to completion, I’m hating myself.
Learning the actual techniques for hacking was fun. I still enjoy it. The other stuff, however, makes me want to drop out of school. Of course, this could be a mix of life issues and being frustrated with school, and I can pretty much guarantee the universe has thrown almost everything it can at me to get me to give up, and at this point, I am ready to.
I work in the tech field repairing server hardware. I love the company I work for, which is very rare, but I no longer love the job. I’m no longer excited for cyber security. And even worse, I’m no longer excited to move to Japan, when for the past six years, it has been my driving force. I’ve given up. Six months from graduating, and I’m done. I regret attending online school. I may have done better at a brick-and-mortar school, and I probably would’ve done better with a degree not related to the STEM.
Honestly, after not being able to get my degree in Japanese, I should’ve gone with a degree in history. I love history and have for many years. Why didn’t I go that route? I am not sure. I made rash decisions throughout my college career that ultimately made me hate the journey. I had one goal and I no longer care about that goal. My decisions extended my degree an extra two years. Had I gone the history route, I would’ve been done as of last year.
History is fascinating, and I clearly love to write, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing on here and other places. So, this is now a looming mystery to me. I had my chances, and now I regret not taking it.
So here is my advice, life will do everything it can to stop you. Your brain will do everything to stop you. Before you attend college, figure out the finances. I could’ve stayed in Seattle, and I should’ve. It would’ve been tight, but I shouldn’t have cared. After finances, figure out your degree. If life forces you to change directions, figure out what you are passionate about if your original plan isn’t possible. If you need to take a break to readjust, then do so. Don’t just jump in and hope for the best.
And finally, know your own weaknesses. This doesn’t mean don’t do a degree you’re passionate about because you’re terrible at a subject. For example, if you love physics but are terrible at math, don’t let that scare you away. Yes, you’ll be doing math your entire time there, but if you love physics and you know you love it, then do it. I am sure there are plenty of physicists who are terrible at math. I’ve heard some admit they always have to look up formulas.
Just don’t be like me and not really be passionate about the subject. I wasn’t. I loved some aspects, but I really should’ve gotten out once I realized I hated programming. Now, if I finish college, I’ll have a degree I will probably never use because I want out of tech. So, use me as an example of what not to do. Or maybe you think I’m being overly dramatic, and you’re probably right. Burn out sucks.