I currently have a well paying full time job as a web developer, I am also currently going to college part time taking about 6 credits per semester. At this rate it will take me much longer to finish school than if I were to attend school full time. Should I leave work to finish school quicker? I feel like I am trapped between school and work and I would like to finish school sooner rather than later. I receive job offers quite frequently so I'm not worried about finding a new job once I graduate. If I do decide to leave work, I plan on taking out a loan for my expenses. Thanks.

  • What country do you live in? Feb 10, 2017 at 19:15
  • 2
    What will your degree be in? Do you expect to get a significantly better job than what you have with a degree? Lots of successful programmers do not have degrees as work experience often is weighed more heavily for experienced roles.
    – D Stanley
    Feb 10, 2017 at 19:21
  • My degree will be in Computer Science, as a web developer, my entry level salary (with my experience in NYC) will be around 85K. Feb 10, 2017 at 19:30
  • I would check with recruiters and see how much a degree will actually help. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for investing in yourself, but you may find other ways to further your career that don;t involve as much time and money.
    – D Stanley
    Feb 10, 2017 at 20:09
  • @AndrewPuig - how much do you make now without the degree? How long would it take you to finish the degree if you keep working vs if you stop working?
    – TTT
    Feb 10, 2017 at 20:15

5 Answers 5


I was working 40 hours and taking 12-15 credit hours per semester while I was in school, so maybe the first step is to see if you can handle an increased load.

Another issue to look at is when your school is scheduled to offer each of the classes needed to graduate. I found that 24 credits worth of classes were available in a single semester that would cut a year off the time to graduation given the class schedule when those classes would be offered again. (Not all classes were offered every semester.) Given that I only had to take 17 weeks away from work, it was an easier decision to load up on classes for a single semester and get another job after that sprint.

The right answer for you might be a combination of those things. Find a place that will let you move to part time or come back after a leave of absence for a heavier semester of school. By continuing to work through school, I was able to graduate with no debt. This allowed me to upgrade my housing situation just the year after I graduated, and I was able to upgrade one of my cars the year after that.

Debt is just fine when used appropriately and with discipline, and especially when there are no other options, but delaying gratification and avoiding debt will generally speed you on your path to the real goal of financial independence.


Information Technology differs from many other professional industries in that having a college degree matters most for getting your first job, and then becomes less important as you get further into your career. This doesn't mean having the degree isn't worth it- some companies require it, some companies pay more if you have it, most companies prefer it, and it will probably make you a better developer. However, in your case, since you already have a solid job as a Web Developer, the experience you currently have (along with references from your current employer) will matter much more than the degree when applying for future jobs.

I realize that you aren't asking if you should get a degree, but whether it makes financial sense to get your degree sooner. IMHO, since you already have a "well paying job" and could land another one if you wish, there probably isn't much advantage to getting the degree sooner. The exception to this is if you're confident that you could make significantly more once you have completed the degree. For example, if you currently make $15/hr and would jump up to $40/hr when you get the degree, then that would be a pretty good candidate for taking out loans and getting it done ASAP.

  • 2
    This is a somewhat dangerous statement. A college degree isn't a requirement, and experience counts a lot, true, but the combination has real synergy. You can explain how the job helped you put the theory in perspective, making the classes more relevant.
    – MSalters
    Feb 10, 2017 at 23:40
  • @MSalters - Yeah, I could have phrased that better. I just edited it. Thx for pointing it out.
    – TTT
    Feb 11, 2017 at 2:00

If I do decide to leave work, I plan on taking out a loan for my expenses.

This makes me say that no, you shouldn't leave work. Find other part-time work, or try and rearrange your schedule to make more time for school, but don't take on student loans if you don't have to. Here's my reasons why:

  • You generally take out more than you need (take extra classes, buy new books instead of used, use borrowed money for school and spend cash on "fun" stuff, etc.)
  • You don't "feel the pain" of borrowing money until it's too late to change your mind (if you started paying back loans sooner you might decide not to borrow any more, and there's nothing you can do to change it, unlike selling a car or house that you are tired of making payments on)
  • They are not bankruptable - the only way to get out of them is to die
  • They are generally amortized over up to 30 years, so you are encouraged to keep them around way too long
  • When you do get a job after college you are tempted to increase your lifestyle (new cars, house, etc.) instead of paying off student loan debt.
  • 1
    I generally agree with this answer. You'd be much better in scaling back on hours at work but maintaining at least enough of the job to bring in the income you need to pay your expenses including school tuition and books. If you could scale back to 20 hours per week at your job while you increase to 12 hours per semester at school, you'll finish school quickly and without the student loan burden. You'll need to run the numbers with your school, but at some schools 12+ hours is 'full time' and the tuition cost per semester can be lower than taking 11 hours and paying the hourly rate.
    – Xalorous
    Feb 10, 2017 at 21:18

As you have noticed from people's many questions, there is not enough information in the question to even make a guess. For some people it makes sense to drop out and finish school quickly, for others the reverse is true. Instead of focusing on my guess, I will outline the things you should think about

Pros of staying at work

  1. No debt and you get an income throughout the time you are in school. This may or may not be a big deal depending on your projected income increase and tuition/living costs. You mention NYC, which sounds like very high costs to me, and you mention an $85K salary, which does not sound like a ton of money, but I don't know your current salary, so I don't have a baseline. Consider living in a cheaper location or attending a cheaper school if these are possible.
  2. Your career and experience will advance due to your work experience. In a field like computer science, work experience can enhance your resume as fast as or faster than a degree. Are you talking about an undergraduate degree? If so, maybe the degree is more important. Masters and above? Not so clear.
  3. Reduced risk. Your current career path and education are a "bird in the hand." By staying the course you don't expose yourself to the possibility of unemployment with student loans staring you down.

Pros of quitting and going to school full time

  1. By not dividing your attention, you may do better at school. There is a good chance right now you are doing a poor job at both school and work. You will need to answer this for yourself.
  2. Finish school earlier and start with the higher paying job sooner. The value of this depends on your jump in salary due to the degree. Notice that if the job market is good the year you come out, this will work out. If not, you will be in an unfortunate place. So there is additional risk here, as well as upside.
  3. When you get a job you will be able to focus on it and do a better job, which will help advance your career.

If you are talking about an undergraduate degree, I'd will venture a guess that your current job isn't that great and your degree will make a big difference. I would quit my job in that case if I were you. If we are talking about an advanced degree (just my guess) you should probably keep your job.

Right now you work full time and go to school part time. You have suggested dropping work completely and going to school full time. I didn't see you consider going to school full time and working part time. That's what I did and it worked out quite well (and I was able to end up with no debt). Depending on your capacity and the characteristics of your job or potential part-time jobs this could work out well for you.



You say

I currently have a well paying full time job


I receive job offers quite frequently

So, I fail to understand why you want to go back to school.

Slightly longer explanation: some countries will may graduates more than non-grads, doctorates more than grads, but it is not a huge difference, and reduces with time. You must offset against that the cost of obtaining qualifications, both in money and in time.

If it costs $50k to go to college to get a qualification that pays $5k extra, if it worth it, if you expect to be promoted to a higher pay grade, is it worth it?

Bear in mind that, if you stop studying, you will have a lot of free time for side gigs, which very are easy to pick up for web developers, or to start your won company, or even work on your own "next FaceBook" project. I currently work 40 hours & side-gig about 30. When side-gig (which is much more fun) income exceeds income from day job, I will drop my day job).

Also, once you have a degree, high school qualifications cease to be important. And once you have a few years experience in industry, your degree diminishes in importance. If I am recruiting someone with as little as 3 years experience, I don't really care what degree, if any, they have. I want to know what they have done in the real world.

Btw, I think that question might have been equally well, possibly better, asked on https://workplace.stackexchange.com/

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .