воскресенье, 19 мая 2013 г.

Heading West

These days I am working hard on my diploma project. The defense is scheduled for the 26th of June, so I have a great and nervous month ahead. Obviously, finishing the six year course of study is an enjoyable achievement. Being an ending of one significant period of my life, this event will at the same time mark a beginning of another one and this new beginning worries me because I am still uncertain not only about the things that it will bring, but about the direction I should go from there as well. One particular opportunity to which I am encouraged is continuing my education in the form of pursuing Master's degree in CS in USA or Canada.
The idea is great and there are lot's of reasons to try. First of all, I like the process of learning new skills and getting knowledge, so the chances are high that I will enjoy another couple of years at university. At the same time, the fact that I lack trust in Russian system of higher education makes me look for an opportunity to deepen and broaden my own education elsewhere. Moreover, even if my assumption about the quality of university education being higher in America doesn't hold, it would still be great to explore new grounds and se what do things look like there. Another feature that makes a degree obtained abroad more valuable for me than one got in Russia is that, as it seems to me, western MS is valued much higher not only in US, Canada and Europe, but in Russia as well.
However, while there are huge benefits offered by Master's program in a good university, I see drawbacks as well. The most important of these is the fact that the path I want to go is the path of a software engineer. While mastering this field indeed requires descent education, what is even more crucial for a developer is actual experience in tackling real-world problems. Since I will hopefully get diploma in a month it may be better for me to get into industry instead of spending another 20 months or so on education. This point is made even stronger by the fact that I am almost 24 now and still have only minor job experience. Put another way, I feel it's time to focus on producing things - not only preparing myself for that. I acknowledge that it is possible to create great stuff even while studying at a university, although the word 'focus' is important here and the availability of numerous MOOCs allows me to not merely trade further education for job but to get both at the same time.
One more thing that really frightens me when it comes to studying abroad is money. The education alone costs a great deal and one has to take into account the cost of dwelling and other stuff as well. The price really seems too high for me and I am not sure whether I will be willing to pay it - no matter through loans or from my parents' pocket. On the other side, I do believe that generally these costs are fully justified by the merits one gets from university in the form of skills, new contacts and the degree itself. Although, because I am close to getting a degree it is not that easy to estimate the value of such an investment in comparison to going straight for a job.
Even with all the arguments laid out it is still very difficult for me to make any reasonable decision. The idea that should I choose to pursue Master's abroad it is better to do this as soon as possible also doesn't make the decision easier. Fortunately, these days I have to concentrate all my efforts on the diploma and put most other issues aside.

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