Struggling to fund school

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#1 conure   User is offline

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Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 04:26 AM

Hi all,

I have asked a similar question in the past but wanted to focus my query.

I have paid off one year of University (Bsc Software Engineering) but have two more to get through. I am considering going part time with study to spread the costs over a longer period of time but I'm becoming increasingly interested in the idea of making money as a freelance developer to fund my studies.

I am under no illusions really, I understand it'll be a lot of work for not a lot of money when I start out, but I'm massively passionate about coding. I currently spend maybe 12 hours a day learning and over the last month I've learned a significant amount of CSS, HTML, JS, MySql and PHP, as I felt these skills would be well suited to freelance work.

I would prefer to earn minimum wage as a freelance developer than earn double that working in some mundane office job for the next two to three years whilst I try to finish degree. Motivation isn't a problem as I love the craft, and I don't need a lot of money...About 300 p/m would tide me over nicely, so about $500 pm.

Do you think this is attainable?

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Replies To: Struggling to fund school

#2 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 04:48 AM

It is possible, but you are in for some extreamly hard work trying to make it on your own as a freelancer until you have a steady client list. Finish school. You may feel you can compete now without finishing, but it would be worth it to complete what you have started. There is a lot you can still learn while in school and the hands on training in an entry level job opening is something you will miss out on if you figure you can just start freelancing now and for go finishing your education.
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#3 conure   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 04:57 AM

Hi astone cipher,

The aim is to finish school! I need to fund it though. I've got two options with that, either work in a non IT based office job (which I find tedious and irrelevant) or fund my school through freelancing. I would only need a small amount of income through freelancing to fund school and I am so sick of being in jobs I despise, that the idea of paying for my studies through freelancing seems really nice.
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#4 Xaos   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 05:37 AM

Get a stable job like a cashier if you want minimum wage and a steady flow of funds. Freelancing is not that. Surely someone will comment in this thread about joining the military to pay for school or taking out loans.

See if your school has a work study program. Work in the it department and the school pays for some of your tuition kind of thing.
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#5 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 05:44 AM

View Postconure, on 22 April 2014 - 07:57 AM, said:

I am so sick of being in jobs I despise,


Bite the bullet. There is nothing that says you will enjoy your first few IT jobs! (I am going to assume you are in the US, as I don't know about other countries) have you looked into scholarships and grants?
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#6 conure   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 05:47 AM

I'm actually in the UK - so funding is much cheaper here. I have to raise a total of 10,000 to finish studying which, over a period of 2.5 years isn't actually too much!

You're right, I'll probably have to end up getting an office job. It's very hard to get basic IT work here. It's a shame because if I could make a small amount of money through freelancing I'd have a great CV right after study!
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#7 Ryano121   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 08:59 AM

Did you not take the student loan?

But yeah the only thing I can say really is suck it up as bad as it sounds. I don't think freelancing is the way to go. As was said above you aren't going to get much work until you have a lot more experience. Besides the type of work you would be aiming for is massively competitive with people overseas working for much much less.

Finish your degree as soon as possible is the only thing I can say if you are having money troubles. You will be in a much better place to pay back when you have graduated and are more likely to land a decent paying job.

As far as your CV goes, yes it would be very good for you to add some experience to it. The graduate job market is very competitive and even a small amount of experience to differentiate yourself can go a long way.

Placements are definitely something to look into. They land your vital experience in the workplace and you get paid for most of them. Check with your University to see if they support them. Most people do them in their 3rd years and then go back to finish their degree afterwards.
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#8 modi123_1   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 09:36 AM

Maybe it's just me, but I would take a look at cutting out the romanticism b/s and take a hard look at what you are saying. Taking an assured source of income - "mundane" as it may be - and get done on time, or try to flounder around in the freelancing world. Though, interestingly enough, taking the office job doesn't mean you cannot 'freelance'. It is not a zero sum issue.

Have you ever tried a freelance gig? Would you know what to ask? To charge? How much work to put in? Dealt with contracts and customers as they drag on changes? Where/how to advertise?

Prioritize your goals. What is your current goal? Right now it sounds like "finish my degree". Great! Why disrupt the current sustainable income, and stretch out the duration, because you are having a mid-career conniption? Most folks would consider this gravy and go with it, but not to chuck it out for some sort of hipster/street cred of "well - it may have taken me four more years and I lived out of my car, but I finished my IT degree based on my own freelancing abilities" *swoon*.

Yes, sounds like a wonderful tale of "sacrifice for the craft" while trying to generate some sort of 'real programmer' rep by doing it.

Of course your current goal may be to just throw all your finance papers in the air, drop a dookie on your boss's desk, and walk out (with middle fingers held high) to a series of timed fireworks and jet fly-overs. Maybe you just hate your job, hit a mid-life crisis, and figure "freelancing" sounds ultra-kewl. *shrug* What ever you figure you are doing, it is best to stop kidding yourself and get some order in what you want to do.

Who knows which you really want to do, but if it is the former then reasonability should win the discussion, but - as I stated - this is not an "either or" situation. I am not sure why you painted it as such, but that is flat out wrong. Plenty of people have a day job, go to school, and do side work in the process.


http://www.webdesign...e-a-freelancer/


View Postconure, on 22 April 2014 - 06:26 AM, said:

...
I am considering going part time with study to spread the costs over a longer period of time but I'm becoming increasingly interested in the idea of making money as a freelance developer to fund my studies.
...
I would prefer to earn minimum wage as a freelance developer than earn double that working in some mundane office job for the next two to three years whilst I try to finish degree.
...


View Postconure, on 22 April 2014 - 06:57 AM, said:

...
I've got two options with that, either work in a non IT based office job (which I find tedious and irrelevant)
...
I am so sick of being in jobs I despise, that the idea of paying for my studies through freelancing seems really nice.
...



View Postconure, on 22 April 2014 - 07:47 AM, said:

...
It's a shame because if I could make a small amount of money through freelancing I'd have a great CV right after study!

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#9 conure   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 10:23 AM

Thanks for the replies all.

There is absolutely nothing in terms of 'street cred or some hipter ideology' influencing how I want to approach things. I would just prefer to work in a field I enjoy and wanted to explore all options. I have fairly extensive experience of contractual obligations, deadlines, working for myself (in a different field), and I would charge the market average and gauge for responses (then adjust accordingly).

I do understand what you're saying though, and perhaps it is a bad way to approach it. I have found quite a few internships where they take on tech interns for 3-6 months if they can demonstrate good knowledge of the technologies. I think I'll spend another month learning so that I'm in a very strong position in terms of my CV and interview.

If I don't manage to land a tech internship I guess part time work it is.

(I've spent the last 2 years in part time work to fund this degree - if you'd spent the last two years in low end sales you'd be calling it mundane and desperate to get out too!)

By the way Modi - I was speaking more about the small projects on websites like rentacoder, as opposed to effectively starting my own business. I only need a small amount of income to fund the study as it's fairly cheap in the UK. Still, maybe it's completely unrealistic (which is why I asked!).

This post has been edited by conure: 22 April 2014 - 10:26 AM

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#10 modi123_1   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 10:25 AM

I was an inbound phone jockey for a credit card company during my college years and a bit after, so yeah.. I have a fairly good idea how to handle a consistent job/paycheck while studying for my degree.
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#11 conure   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 10:38 AM

View Postmodi123_1, on 22 April 2014 - 10:25 AM, said:

I was an inbound phone jockey for a credit card company during my college years and a bit after, so yeah.. I have a fairly good idea how to handle a consistent job/paycheck while studying for my degree.


Ah if I could get an inbound phone job that'd be great - I'm struggling to find much other than face to face highly targeted sales with a monthly "you'll get sacked if you don't hit target". I'm apparently over qualified for everything but development..
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#12 tlhIn`toq   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 04:48 PM

View Postconure, on 22 April 2014 - 05:57 AM, said:

... I am so sick of being in jobs I despise,


Welcome to the grown up world. Accept it. You have another 60 years of it to look forward to.

View Postconure, on 22 April 2014 - 05:57 AM, said:

the idea of paying for my studies through freelancing seems really nice.


I'm sure it does. But if you are still in school for coding the simple fact is you don't have the skills to earn a living at it yet. Let's be honest: If you got a contract to do the homework for a student just 1 year in advance of yourself you couldn't do it. So what makes you think you can write professional code that would pay significantly more; enough to pay your living?

Just a thought: Do a 4 year stint in the Army, do as much as you can toward your education WHILE you are in, then use your college fund when you get out to learn the rest.
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#13 Xaos   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 05:26 PM

View PostXaos, on 22 April 2014 - 07:37 AM, said:

Get a stable job like a cashier if you want minimum wage and a steady flow of funds. Freelancing is not that. Surely someone will comment in this thread about joining the military to pay for school or taking out loans.

See if your school has a work study program. Work in the it department and the school pays for some of your tuition kind of thing.



View PosttlhIn`toq, on 22 April 2014 - 06:48 PM, said:

View Postconure, on 22 April 2014 - 05:57 AM, said:

... I am so sick of being in jobs I despise,


Welcome to the grown up world. Accept it. You have another 60 years of it to look forward to.

View Postconure, on 22 April 2014 - 05:57 AM, said:

the idea of paying for my studies through freelancing seems really nice.


I'm sure it does. But if you are still in school for coding the simple fact is you don't have the skills to earn a living at it yet. Let's be honest: If you got a contract to do the homework for a student just 1 year in advance of yourself you couldn't do it. So what makes you think you can write professional code that would pay significantly more; enough to pay your living?

Just a thought: Do a 4 year stint in the Army, do as much as you can toward your education WHILE you are in, then use your college fund when you get out to learn the rest.


:whistling:

Not sure how the British military handles college stuff.

I'm not downright shooting down the military idea, but I don't think its the best for his problem described in the thread. He's got a short time of school left, and not too much to pay, and he wants to get his degree and get into the field as soon as possible. So why would he 'waste' 4 years in the military when getting a normal job would be enough to pay for the rest of his school and allow him to reach his goal.
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#14 tlhIn`toq   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 22 April 2014 - 06:57 PM

Because he obviously has a lot of growing up to do. I was trying to side-step saying it but you didn't really leave me a polite way out of it.
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#15 conure   User is offline

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Re: Struggling to fund school

Posted 23 April 2014 - 01:30 AM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 22 April 2014 - 06:57 PM, said:

Because he obviously has a lot of growing up to do. I was trying to side-step saying it but you didn't really leave me a polite way out of it.


Wow - I have a huge amount of growing up to do purely because I would love to leave work I don't enjoy and do something I do enjoy, whilst simultaneously massively improving my employability post university? What led you to believe I have growing up to do? Did I say I was about to jump ship on my current job? Absolutely not. I merely came to what I presumed was a friendly advice forum for some advice. I received the advice, took it on board, and realised my plans were not feasible. How this results in "a lot of growing up to do" is beyond me.

First, I am 29 years old and have already been in the military (I served for four years). I joined at the age of 17 and spent 6 months in Afghanistan and 6 months in Northern Ireland as active tours of duty. My name is <edited by myself in hindsight> and I was a member of the PWRR (Princess of Wales Royal Regiment) 2nd Battalion of mechanised infantry. Military identifier <also edited in hindsight> and I'm sure there's some evidence of this somewhere online.

Following leaving the Army I studied for a further three years in economics at the University of Bristol and worked as a broker for three years in London. By the age of 29 I have seen combat in the forces, studied at a top university and had a successful but short career as a broker. I absolutely resent the statement that "I have a lot of growing up to do".

All I did was ask for some advice. This is a forum I shan't be returning to.

This post has been edited by conure: 23 April 2014 - 06:09 AM

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