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Need some advice on career/school dilemma

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In 2006 I finished college and got a BS in Biochemistry. For the past 5 years I have been working in medical research and have been completely unmotivated and bored. Why I picked this path in the first place was probably poor judgement on my part combined with unexpected life changes (i.e. I wanted to go to med school but had a kid while in college....). I've gone back to school to pursue a degree in comp sci and have completed all the necessary pre-reqs for graduate school.

I've run into a problem with the letters of recommendation requirement for the grad program. Since I also work full-time (and am now up to three kids!), almost all of the comp sci courses I've taken were online and there is not one person in my current field that knows a thing about computers. The college states that the letters need to come from someone who is qualified to assess you abilities with the field. I have no idea who to turn to for letters.

So my dilemma is this: do I just finish the BS degree and get a job or should I do enough of the undergrad courses to get in with professors and have the letters for grad school. Finishing the BS degree would be a bit quicker. I would be happy either way as long as I am working in the industry (games or medical software or whatever).

I should also add that at my current job I get tuition reimbursement so most of the courses would be free. Thus I would like to stay at this company for as long as needed to get the reimbursements.

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Hi Frank,
To respond to some things you said:

[quote name='tv's_frank' timestamp='1329408995' post='4913689']I've gone back to school to pursue a degree in comp sci and have completed all the necessary pre-reqs for graduate school.
I've run into a problem with the letters of recommendation requirement for the grad program.
... almost all of the comp sci courses I've taken were online[/quote]

So I take it that negates what I was going to suggest -- that you go to your counselor (at the school where you're taking your CS degree) and ask for his/her advice. Perhaps this should be chalked up to another mark against online degrees.

[quote]The college states that the letters need to come from someone who is qualified to assess you abilities with the field. I have no idea who to turn to for letters.[/quote]

There is no one, if you can't get in actual contact with the instructor of your online course. You might need to build a portfolio (and real human contacts)

[quote] So my dilemma is this:
do I just finish the BS degree and get a job
or should I do enough of the undergrad courses to get in with professors and have the letters for grad school. [/quote]

I recommend you make a Decision Grid. See FAQ 70 (you can get to this forum's FAQs on this forum's "Getting Started" section).
And you need to have your wife chime in on the making of the decision grid.

[quote]I should also add that at my current job I get tuition reimbursement so most of the courses would be free. Thus I would like to stay at this company for as long as needed to get the reimbursements.[/quote]

You should also add this ethical question into your decision grid, then. Most companies would rightly expect you to stay for a couple years after taking advantage of the education benefit.

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Thanks Tom! Your site is great btw.

I should probably clarify some things. The university I am going to is the state university and I am taking the online version (if available) of classes due to time contraints, so it's not an online degree is the sense of something from Phoenix, etc. I will be speaking to my counselor about this as well I just wanted to probe for some opinions beforehand.

I don't really have an ethical dilema with the tuition reimbursement. It's made available after two years of service and there is a penalty if I quit within a certain time after being given the funds. The benefit is for career growth and does not have to be related to my current job so I am within their rules.

I'll give the decision grid a shot. I guess my problem is one of both impatience (for wanting out of my current career and to start earning more) and insecurity. None of the pre-req courses I've taken involved projects, everything was basic stuff like data structures and discrete math. Most of them were really run by assistants.

What it comes down to is should I bother taking an extra year (that could be spent getting job experience or building up my portfolio after a BS degree) getting a master's if my ultimate goal is to work in the games industry?

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[quote name='tv's_frank' timestamp='1329422038' post='4913733']
should I bother taking an extra year (that could be spent getting job experience or building up my portfolio after a BS degree) getting a master's if my ultimate goal is to work in the games industry?
[/quote]

I recommend you make a decision grid. Together with your wife.

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