I’m taking a Real Class again. I’ve taken a few Semi-Real Classes on edX over the past few years—learning about Python, Java, etc.—and have rolled through some classes on MIT’s OpenCourseWare. But those were low risk. Start a class, finish it if you want. Learn a bit along the way, sure. Pay the optional fee for some, just to keep the train rolling along for others. But it’s not the same quality as the classes I used to take while at school, nor do I expect it to be.
Now I’m enrolled in CS411 Database Systems at the University of Illinois. I’m in the tank with all these undergrads and grad students in a top 5 CS program. So it feels like something worth working hard for, and finishing, and doing well. And it has a Real Price Tag (which the company is picking up, thanks guys). But it’s fun to get in there and push it and try to keep up with a bunch of kids that are, I assume, a lot brighter than me.
I didn’t care much for CS when I was studying engineering a hundred years ago. I took one CS class during freshman year. Something something C programming. I went a few times—honestly I don’t remember going to lecture often (at all?), but I remember going to lab classes. And that was it. Probably got a C in that class. Didn’t see any future for myself in any kind of programming work. Which was a casually idiotic thing to think. I was a disaster as a freshman.
Now I’m also applying to go back to Illinois and take the online CS masters degree program. After about five years of writing code as tools for what is a largely untechnical job, it seems to me to be a good way to make a change. But first: the first class.