Prepare yourselves for me talking about my academic studies. At the end of this post I'll share with you a dilemma to discuss.
For those who haven't had the chance to read my intro post, I'm 21 years old and I'm a freshman in The Open University of Israel, I mean I'm just technically a freshman and I'll explain the technicality in a bit. The studies in an open university aren't much like a regular university by all means.
Everyone can enroll. No prerequisites whatsoever. Yet the level of the studies is uncompromising and usually way harder than any other college or university. It gives a wonderful second chance for people who didn't graduate from high school, for example.
The campus is EVERYWHERE
In an open university, the campus should be accessible from anywhere. So there are dozens of campuses all over the country in which classes are taken (mostly simultaneously) and a web-based platform called Zoom, for online classes which are suitable for students living abroad or me, who studies when commuting on my daily train to and from work. All courses are available on the physical campuses and most of them available using Zoom.
What? Attendance is in no way mandatory. Let alone that the basic tuition fee includes a 3-hour long lecture every two or so weeks and the extended tuition includes a 3-hour lecture once a week. Which sounds like nothing for a full-time student in a regular university. In an open university, most students are working full-time and studying in the evenings and weekends. Don't let the low number of lectures in a semester fool you - it's not that the syllabus is dull. You just have to study by yourself. No one pushes anyone to do anything. You have to be motivated and disciplined in order to succeed in an open university. And that's what is hard for most people.
Attendance-wise, taking a final exam is mandatory. Everything else is optional. Statistically, only 2-3% who enrolls in this university graduates. It's madness.
Tasks and Exams
Courses are very demanding. Especially when you're working full time. I took only two courses this semester, both mathematical, both having 11 tasks to complete in a semester. I have to hand in a task on average once a week. Oh, and they don't accept scanned handwritten tasks! You have to either type them (typing mathematics isn't fun since I'm allergic to LaTeX) so I find myself making friends with the clerk at the post office!
Since I do not attend physical classes, I have only virtual classmates. Which I don't know very well, or at all. We mostly chat about the learning material but we almost never get to shoot the shit together (not literally!). That's quite a bummer and one of the cons of a remote university.
I can take any course at any time even though I didn't take other recommended courses since they assume I have gained this knowledge from another source. (i.e I can take Advanced Java before Intro to CS) that's cool, especially for me because I have prior knowledge about development.
The OpenU Refresher
Okay. The learning management system (abbr. LMS) that my university uses is called Sheilta which translates to "Query" but enough about bad namings and more about their security implementation. If a user is not active for 30 minutes, he automatically logs off (I WAS WATCHING A 3 HOUR LONG LECTURE, OF COURSE, I'LL BE INACTIVE!!!). Let's forget the fact that my bank deserted this "security approach", it's annoying. And if my facebook can stay logged in for good as far as I'm concerned. My Sheilta can as well.
So, as expected from a rebilious web developer as me, I've created a Chrome Extension which refreshes any OpenU tabs every now and then so I'll stay logged in until I die. It is also open source, there's the Github repo
MY studies and my dilemma
So I study Computer Science. Or Science with an emphasis on Computer Science. I don't know. On one hand, the Computer Science is the conformist way - it is well known and future employers will acknowledge. On the other hand - the Science degree is MUCH more intersting. I get to choose about 6 scientific courses besides 15+ CS ones! Any of my choice!
But I'm afraid that this degree is not as apreciated as the regular one. So I don't know what to choose. For the next two years though, I take courses that are required for both degrees.
What do you think I should do? Follow my heart and make my studies more enjoyable for the sake of under appreciation in the job market? Or should I be a conformist and go with the flow?
When I'm expected to finish my degree, I'll have 5 years of practical experience in developing, so keep that in mind!
I'm really excited to hear what you have to say about that. Hope you enjoyed my post