Why a Computer Science Degree?

As I’ve now officially been admitted to Goldsmiths* for my degree program(me)**, it’s time for the long-overdue promised blog post about “why the heck am I getting a computer science degree?”

It’s a question posed to me by a couple of people familiar with the games industry, who wondered why I wasn’t pursuing a more specific games design degree or doing some third thing that employers would find more appealing.  So let me get this out of the way:

I’m not doing this because it’s what employers want to see a resume.  Employers don’t want to see a 50*** year old woman with BPD, so nothing else I put on my resume is going to matter.  Whatever path I take, it’s not going to involve sending out resumes.

So why get a degree at all, especially at my age?

  1. Knowledge.  Literally everything I do both for work and for play revolves around my desktop computer and internet.  I’m tired of needing other people to rescue me when something’s on the fritz.  This degree covers everything I need to know to be my own “IT Guy”: the web, security, graphics, algorithms, and of course the inner guts of the beast and what they all do.    As for my future plans for starting an indie game project: the artistic and marketing side of creating things is not going to be a problem for me.  But I also want to be able to fluently communicate with the members of my team who are doing the technical stuff, even pitch in and help if necessary (I’m not going to be working with a huge number of people).
  2. Practicality.  While I won’t get any fancy jobs with my resume, I might be able to get some entry-level IT support work if I really need it.  I will be, at a very basic level I’ve never been, employable, even if the stuff I’ll be writing in the meantime doesn’t sell.  Any job I could get with this degree will make me even more fluent in the knowledge I’m trying to acquire once my indie project finally gets off the ground.
  3. Accessibility.  I’m not some 18 year old with straight A’s and a sash full of Girl Scout badges.  Universities aren’t offering me a smorgasbord of options.  Due to my disability and my kids, I also have to get my degree entirely from home.  That leaves very few options that aren’t scams, and of those options, most of them demand paperwork proving that you’re worthy.  The whole problem is that I don’t have that.  Goldsmiths was the ONE university I could find that happens to be a real university with a real campus doing regular university things and ALSO has a completely online program that you can get into just by having a high school diploma and proving you can pass the first two classes.  Honestly, I’m so grateful for that stunningly reasonable approach that I want to reward them for it by paying them money.  But aside from that, it’s pretty much my only option for a legitimate degree aside from business and marketing, which brings us back to, what do I actually want to know about?  See point one.

Is Goldsmiths the best university in the world?  Well, it’s in the top twenty worldwide — for communication, arts, and design.  Which is why they would never let someone like me into any of those programs.  But remember: I’m not going for prestige.

Employers are never going to like what they see on my resume… because what’s on my resume is me.  So I need a program of study that works for me, not for game companies or random strangers asking where I got my degree.  I need a program that gives me the actual knowledge I’m currently missing to make me a good leader and communicator on a small indie team.

Most of the advice well-meaning people will try to give me doesn’t really apply to my path.  I can’t walk the path that neurotypical young folks walk, because I’ve already missed my chance.  But you know what they say about tree-planting.  It boils down to: I can either be a 50 year old woman with a bachelor’s degree or a 50 year old woman without one.  Those are my options, and I prefer the former.  While it may improve my chances for low-level employment, it’s not, ultimately, about that.

Gaining employment is about getting strangers to review your life history and decide they like what they see.  My life history is ravaged by BPD, and no one other than myself has any reason to believe that I’m any different now.

Plus I’m old.  No employer likes that.  So I have to be the one to give myself a job.  And this is just step one.

Stay tuned for more updates!

* As mentioned on the new Netflix Sandman series!  “Just because a Goldsmithseducated princess wants to marry some naff winger, does not mean she needs an exorcist.”  Did you see it?  I did!  I squealed!

** British spellings are already starting to infect my brain.  As are British words.  Did you know ‘specialism’ is a thing?  I didn’t.  But now I’m going to have one.

***The age I’ll be when I’m finished, not the age I am now.  I am not ashamed of my age, but let’s not get TOO ahead of ourselves.


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