Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

I am a grad-school dropout

ucla_seal_color.gif This makes it official. Today is the first day of the Winter 2003 quarter at UCLA, and I’m not enrolled in any classes. My short career as a part-time graduate student has come to an end.

I enrolled in the MSCS program at UCLA last year in part because I was hoping to round out my undergraduate education. I actually even considered doing a PhD, but I couldn’t really make up my mind as to whether I was more interested in artificial intelligence or computational theory. (I figured that if I was going to throw myself into a 5- or 6-year program, I should have a much stronger sense of what I wanted to research.)

Instead of rounding out my education, it felt more like I was re-hashing the same stuff I learned as an undergrad. Don’t get me wrong; UCLA’s Computer Science faculty is superb, and the department and university have some really good resources. It’s just that after working for 5 years in the industry, academia seemed to me like it was dealing with rather marginal problems.

Perhaps I didn’t give it my best effort. I was only in the program part time (I was too chicken to give up my full time job) and maybe if I had taken more classes and devoted more energy to the program I would’ve gotten more out of it.

Maybe doing a PhD would’ve been a better choice. A Masters degree wouldn’t have gotten me a significantly higher salary or qualified me do more innovative research. The best I could’ve gotten out of it was the ability to teach CS at the community college level.

Or, perhaps I got such a fantastic education at Brown that I don’t need me no mo’ learnin’. 😉

It’s hard to say why it didn’t work out. Apparently, I’m feeling a little melancholy about the whole thing.