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First post, by keenmaster486

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Very long story short - I have been struggling in college (CU Boulder), in part due to having strong symptoms of ADD/ADHD and failing to properly address them. I have had some very good semesters and two total bomb-outs, one of the latter being this current semester. The first time this happened, I was struggling in my major at the time (aerospace engineering) and decided to change it. Due to the way my scholarship works (without which I couldn't afford the school), I had to withdraw from the school and re-enroll the next semester in my new major (Technology, Arts, and Media). The next semester (spring 2018) went pretty well, largely due to my dad acting as a very active accountability partner (I still hadn't directly addressed the issue of ADHD). Over the summer I began having some serious doubts about the track I was taking, and questioning the usefulness of my education - partly due to my new major being a little less attractive than I had thought, and partly due to the fact that I had been driving myself through school with a sort of "raw effort" without trying to understand more how my brain works and how I can cope with having ADHD, the result being that I constantly felt like I was banging my head against the wall, and definitely not working up to my full potential. I went into this semester without resolving this debate in my mind, and the combination of that and ADHD symptoms caused me to fail rather drastically. I had to pull the same shenanigan as last year - withdrawing from the school with the option to return at a later time.

The long and the short of it is, because I was able to withdraw from those two bomb-out semesters, my GPA wasn't affected by them and is still at a good place. The big financial drawback here is that moving forward, the scholarship for those two semesters has already been used up, and I can't re-use it for the two additional semesters that I would have to go through to make up for it. Plus I need one more semester because of changing my major (making 9 non-aborted semesters total), and the scholarship won't cover that either.

I'm pretty tepid about returning to the university next semester. I don't want the same thing to just happen again, and if I feel like I'm still banging my head against the wall I know I can't take that for the 2.5 or 3 years that I'll have to go through in order to finish my degree. I do have a different attitude now; my second aborted semester kind of shocked me into finally going in to counseling for ADHD and behavioral modification techniques, etc. Ultimately I do have to conquer the issues I have apart from school anyway; I don't want them following me around into my career. But there is still a large part of me that really does not want to go back to school.

For a while the only alternative I was considering was simply aborting school altogether and entering the workforce cold. After weeks of job searching and research, it's been pretty clear the non-McDonald's jobs I am most qualified for and am most attracted to are in the IT/programming world. What's been holding me back has been, predictably, the fact that though I have a lot of natural skills in that field, good coding instincts and solid basic knowledge, I'm ultimately unprepared for the world of corporate IT and/or development, even if someone would hire me.

So I've been looking at maybe going to a tech bootcamp school - probably one of the reputable and well-known ones in a major city - and utilizing that as a step up into the world of web development (the most likely field I would go into). It would be a pretty major change for me, but I know I'd be good at it and, knowing how I tend to function, I could much more easily put my nose to the grindstone for a 18 week long bootcamp with 40-50 hours/week, than 4-5 classes per semester stretched out over 3 years. It's also way cheaper than spending ridiculous amounts of money on finishing school in Colorado.

One more aspect to this is that I need to stay in Boulder at least until August, which is when my lease runs out - and the only tech bootcamp in Boulder is Galvanize, which gets some pretty ominously mixed reviews compared to a lot of the other ones. There are some good ones in Denver but I do not have a car at this time, which limits me somewhat.

Ultimately I want to do something that
A) I am able to do
B) is practical; i.e. I can get a good job in a city I like and keep the job

Right now the tech bootcamp idea looks pretty attractive. I guess I'm posting here partly as a way to brain dump and organize my thoughts, and also to get the opinions of others who don't have a direct interest in what I end up doing.

I'd appreciate any thoughts or advice anyone could give me here.

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.
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Reply 1 of 12, by gandhig

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The way you have projected your thoughts into writing is pretty clean & clear. Thread title has the words big 'life-change' and that is something I could relate to immediately. Past few months had been like that to me. Without going into the details, the conclusion is that it was a life-defining experience once I took a decision to plunge into whatever I wanted to always believe...throwing out the minuscule disbeliefs completely. It all started with music...that was the trigger. Currently I'm more stable than I had ever been in the past 20 or so years.

These are not advices per se...just sharing personal experiences and some thoughts. Also I don't know much about the local conditions and other relevant factors at your place and hence it is difficult to provide specific inputs to your needs. Still there are some common things that could possibly turn out to be useful.

Based on all the inputs you have shared, this is what I could make out about the situation. The financial aspect in case of continuing with school, addressing ADD symptoms, landing an immediate job and joining a tech bootcamp. If I were in your situation...by assuming certain things about the unknown local conditions, these are what my thoughts would have been...

1. Continuing with School:

Unless something could be done about the financial aspect either by cutting down on expenditures or exploring new avenues for enough earnings to take care of the costs, this path doesn't hold much promise. Otherwise this would seem to be the normal, logical & possibly risk-less step, considering the fact that you are pretty young.

2. ADD/ADHD:

I will share my thoughts later as I need some time to gather the thoughts.

3. Joining the workforce:

With the natural skills, knowledge & instincts in hand, this is what I would have selected under normal circumstances. If one throws ADD/ADHD into this, then it could possibly change, but I'm not sure about it. Personally speaking, my first job, which I'm still in, that I joined within few months after my studies...took me to an unknown place on an unfamiliar assignment, nothing related to my studies. It was a challenge all right, but, they seem trivial on hindsight. The fact is I didn't have much theoretical knowledge about my first assignment, but, I learnt gradually by observing others and by applying common sense albeit with as much dedication I could muster. I firmly believe that there is no Gain without Pain...in a permanent sense. So, if you could put your back on whatever unknown environment you will be thrown into, there is a bright chance that it would turn out to be an eye-opener.

4. Making use of Tech bootcamp:

I had to google to understand the word. So I don't have much thoughts to offer. From what I could grasp, it seemed to be a tailor-made program, a relative quick-fix, to prepare a person for a future work assignment. One thing I would like to point out is that if you could manage to plough through a 18 week/40-50 hrs a week program on a favourite subject...the symptoms of ADD/ADHD sort of contradict that. Most probably, I maybe wrong and you would be the right person to asess that. One more thing I would like to share is that if there is such a thing that a person doesn't like to do but bound to...it is understandable that one has to force themselves to do that. So, whether the main subjects, 'rocket-science' and 'T,A & M' were interesting to you or not(?), just asking.

Please do consider sending me a PM for some knowledge-sharing, well, apart from things related to your local conditions. All the best...

Back to debugging...DOSBox, Body & Mind

Last edited by gandhig on 2018-12-04, 15:36. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 2 of 12, by cyclone3d

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I will just add one thing about ADD/ADHD.

Have you tried getting a prescription for medication? As someone who had really bad problems with being able to concentrate, especially in regards to college classes and assignments, Ritalin can be a huge help.

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Reply 3 of 12, by spiroyster

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If you want a job in programming... get writing code! Any prospective employer is going to want to see your code! A degree would certainly help getting your foot through the door, but isn't always mandatory... it just makes life easier, and since you are so close (financial logistics aside) I would say keep at it if you can.

Also, I can honestly say I've not met a 'normal' person (myself included) in this industry (software development). Everyone I have met, is somewhere on the 'spectrum'. Goes with the territory... 😉

It's not all fun and games though, coding takes a fraction of the time. Testing, deployment, bug chasing, documentation, arguing with reviewers, complaining about users ... coding standards compliance... booo 😀. Not trying to put you off, just saying there will be times that you need that 'raw effort' and should be prepared to work on a project for a period of time that isn't very interesting to you.

Just make sure you enjoy your subject (whatever you choose to do), it makes life easier, the compulsion will come from within with little mental effort on your part.

/2cents

Reply 4 of 12, by SpectriaForce

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During my studies a couple years ago I have seen quite a lot of people change their minds about the study they were following. Some simply didn’t earn enough points to pass. I did manage to get my degrees, thanks to my interest in most of the subjects, my perseverance and maybe some luck, despite some personal (health) issues. It wasn’t always straight forward, it has been boring sometimes, sometimes some things felt like a pain (also literally due to health), I’ve felt a lot of pressure because of tight deadlines, I did question a lot and I’ve got very little help from others. Hence a degree is not something that falls out of the sky, but I think that you know that by now. Furthermore, I would try to not feel like a victim of your health issues, but instead move on. Don’t let it get the upper hand.

Some time ago I decided that I don’t want to work for just any organization in my field of study (I started my studies without properly researching the job market), so I continue working in the same job, that I have created, when I was a teenager. I don’t say that’s a smart choice, nor that I earn enough money with it, nor something that’s going to work on the long term. What I recommend is to do what you like most (or hate least). This is probably the best time of your life. Don’t do things that you believe others want you to do or where society asks for (demand on the job market changes all the time). A lot of parents (who usually are not so highly educated themselves) want their kids to become engineers, but guess what? Most kids (or young adolescents) don’t want to or can’t just become engineers.

Looking back, now I would have chosen for a study in computer science, electrical or marine engineering.

Changing your mind and failing are just part of life and certainly part of young people like us. It’s never too late to make a 180 degrees turn, to take a different route. What you choose to do today, doesn’t completely define tomorrow.

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Reply 5 of 12, by snorg

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The only good advice I can give you is switch jobs every year or two, keep your skills up
and don't stay in the same role too long.

If you’re young, I’d get your degree and think about starting your own business.
That has its own problems but at least you’re not stuck waiting for 3 departments to make
a decision about something.

Last edited by snorg on 2018-12-03, 03:45. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 6 of 12, by nforce4max

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Here is different way of looking at it that the current cookie cutter education system isn't helping and the way many of these courses are setup that you are bound to the class pace which makes it all the worse. As for having ADD/ADHD it is not The problem but rather something to come to terms with, learn from, and deal with rather than just medicating. If it were not for being locked into the class pace a large part of college/university classes could be done very quickly should one decide to grind it through, the quickest I've done one was only just 4 days for a semester worth of work.

Once you get into the workforce and gain employment be mindful of the cancer that is "office politics" as it can be ruinous, mainly the gossip and back biting that is common with the vast majority of jobs today.

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Reply 7 of 12, by keenmaster486

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Thanks for all the advice, guys - I'm still processing everything, meeting with people, talking with my parents, friends, etc. etc. I have to make a decision by Saturday 😵

I'll reply in more detail later.

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.
World's foremost 486 enjoyer.

Reply 8 of 12, by BloodyCactus

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I would say, school is easier than work. Work has more formal and informal rules and stresses.

One other thing you need to check on, if you start work you may be obligated to start paying back your school loan immediately. A lot of school loan payments are not due when currently enrolled in school, once not currently enrolled, they are due payments.

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Reply 9 of 12, by keenmaster486

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In case anyone is wondering, this ended up turning out very well for me in the end.

I went to a programming bootcamp school for 3 months in 2019, the best one I could find in Denver. This jumpstarted me in terms of coding skills and getting up to speed on newer web technologies (Java, JS, Python) rather than the BASIC or C/C++ that I grew up with and used in college. It was a great experience and really something I could sink my teeth into in terms of really applying myself to my work.

This started me on a job search that lasted 4 months from the time I "graduated" from the bootcamp. I applied for dozens of jobs around the Denver/Boulder metro area, got a few interviews, but nothing that really caught my fancy, or I theirs, except for one particularly attractive job at a smaller defense contractor. A friend who worked there was gracious enough to put in a referral for me, and after two separate interviews (the first one they screwed up and interviewed me for the wrong team, lol), I got the job.

I've been working there for 8 months now. I love my job. I'm writing software that gets used in the military/intelligence world, and literally saves lives every day out in the real world. It pays very well, on the higher end for a junior developer. The culture is great and my coworkers friendly and professional. The company is also currently sponsoring the process for me to get a security clearance. The situation has been mostly stable through the pandemic nonsense, which has made me even more grateful to have this job.

Right after the tech school I started dating a wonderful girl who's everything I could have hoped for. In a week we'll have been dating for a year.

I just moved in to a new apartment south of Denver, close to work. I got a great price on a 2 bed, the 2nd bedroom of which is now the dedicated computer/hobby room that I always wanted.

Everything seems to be looking up. It's hard to believe how my life has turned around in the last year and a half, but so far at least it seems to have been the right decision to take the leap of faith to leave college and go out into the wild west of software development!

Last edited by keenmaster486 on 2020-06-15, 17:51. Edited 1 time in total.

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.
World's foremost 486 enjoyer.

Reply 12 of 12, by TheMobRules

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Glad it worked for you, both on personal and professional levels. It's really important to work on something you love doing (assuming you have the choice)! I LOVED programming and software development from my teens, through college and during the first few years of work, but I gradually became disenchanted with it after taking jobs that were well paid but really unsatisfying on a technical level ("business" this, "business" that, negotiating with clients, managing people)... it's too late now, but if I could go back I would do things differently, so it makes me happy when someone else makes a bold choice at the right moment!