Asked on 13 Oct 2019
I have just graduated a few months ago and taking home $2.2k a month, saving $1k+ and repaying $500+ per month. I’ve $10k+ worth of loan left for uni - at 4.5% per annum.
I would like to pursue another degree in computer science where I would have to loan around $20k at 4.5% per annum.
Should I pursue the degree earlier and possibly get higher pay than what I am earning now in my current industry or pay off my current uni loans first before pursuing the second degree?
How about doing a part-time higher degree to spread out the costs across the years while not losing the years of working experience?
Experience matters in our local context. So part-time pursuit will ensure you don't lose out.
Another consideration is that being away from school for too long is going to make adjustments harder when you return to structured learning.
Then, you can also service the loans at the same time.
Do explore grants, subsidies and scholarships too. Don't leave money on the table. Never try, never know.
Pursue later, stabilise your cash flow and clear off your first loan first.
My advice is don’t jump into getting another degree just because you’re currently in the industry. Things will change. Why not instead of paying the degree in your own, speak to your HR or some of the seniors in the company? There might be programs or bond that you can apply that the company will pay for your degree while you work for them.
Having said that, I would still suggest you work for at least 1 year first to figure out what you want to do.
Given that you sound pretty young - I would say to get a few more years of work experience first. It could be the case that you might not want to pursue computer science post your work experience, or want it even more.
Re: the argument of 'possibly getting a higher pay' - I do believe that relevant work experience counts more than another degree.
From a cash flow perspective, it also makes sense to pay off your uni loans first, instead of being loaded with another loan, making your total loans $30k + at 4.5% p.a.
Perhaps you should explore your motivations for wanting to pursue a CS degree.
Are you hoping to transition into a programming career with this degree? Or do you want to pursue a CS degree because you are interested in the science and math involved in it?
If it is the former, then it might help to know two things:
CS as a discipline is very theoretical in nature, and differs quite significantly from programming, which is of a more practical nature. People who pursue CS degrees and then go into programming often comment that the latter is a very different ball game, and that their CS knowledge is often not directly applicable (although it provides a good theoretical foundation).
A CS degree is not the only route to becoming a programmer. There are several options for industry switchers nowadays, such as bootcamps (e.g. General Assembly) that help career switchers like yourself transition to tech.
There are also government initiatives aimed at supporting Singaporeans in their switch to tech through hefty subsidies as well as career placement. An example is the Tech Immersion and Placement Programme by IMDA - may be worth checking out!
Ultimately, if your final goal is to go into programming, then there are other cost-effective, and directly relevant/applicable ways to go about it compared to a uni degree. Hope this helps!
Firstly: Aim to hit 3 years of work experience before embarking on a new degree whether full-time or part-time.
Secondly: In addition to your current job and personal finance status, here are some heuristics to consider,
What do you aspire to get out of the Computer Science degree?
Where do you want to build your competitive advantage?
How can you position yourself today to achieve superior returns?
Comment on #1 There are many routes to become a front-end, back-end, data analyst, data scientist, data engineer among others. A computer science degree is certainly helpful, though not essential. It is with the assumption that the piece of paper does not matter.
Comment on #2 If your first degree is in Mathematics / Physics, then maybe you should not do Computer Science. There are online courses to complement. However, if your first degree is in sociology (or any other social sciences) or in marketing (or business administration in general), you could consider re-inventing yourself with a Computer Science degree.
Expansion on Comment #2 But no matter what you do, you will need to think whether you can build sufficient competencies to become one of (many) roles mentioned in Comment #1. And that is the hardest thing to do right now.
Comment on #3 This is another tough question that I have personally faced and seen MANY others encounter. It will have to do with the degree you would be seeking, the crowd you would be hanging out with among MANY other FACTORS...
To conclude: You do have a difficult journey ahead, we all do.
Hope this helps to trigger your thinking process.
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Of course the earlier the better BUT please pay off your loan first, the only number that stuck to my head after reading your post was 4.5% and it's your loan interest.
You can always consider Masters, Degree when you have cleared your loan.
Meanwhile, pick up other languages by yourself and certifications too since they are cheaper.
After working in society for a few years, you would have a better understanding of what your interest in life is, and what you want to pursue in life. You may also have a better understanding of what academic certification is utterly useless or overpriced and what is useful.
The more mature you are in society, the better you would understand what is needed in life :)