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Old 3rd November 2008
DrJ DrJ is offline
ISO Quartermaster
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Gold Country, CA
Posts: 507

You have some things working in your favor that you should be aware of. You would count as a "non-traditional" student, and that makes admissions and getting financial aid much easier. You count as that because you are older, are living independently (namely, not with mom and dad) and were home schooled. You would also be surprised how much work there is available on a traditional campus for people with computer skills.

The rest you could do with loans. I know you want to be cash-flow positive, but schools in GA are very inexpensive. A quick search shows that state schools cost between $12K and $15K per year for everything. That is very low, all things considered. You could probably get some aid, work a bit on campus, and take on $5K/yr. in loans. That's not too bad, all things considered.

Let me give you some idea of the possibilities. A friend of mine runs a theoretical chemistry institute at UGA (he almost won a Nobel Prize a few years ago). "Theoretical chemistry" in this context means that he calculates molecules, so he has an on-going need for computer support people. These sorts of positions are available to students, even if they are undergrads, if they have skills. You do.

There are work-study programs available on campus for a variety of tasks. There are also research programs available that hire undergrads. I did that, and it paid decently and I learned a great deal.

You also have Georgia State and Georgia Tech available in Atlanta, instead of Athens for UGA. Tech is outstanding.

The message is that you might be able to attend a traditional four-year school if you are willing to take on some debt. Interest rates are low for these loans, and what you gain back in good-paying opportunities is worth it.

I wouldn't worry too much about deciding what it is exactly that you will be doing. As an undergrad, I learned to design petroleum refineries. My Ph.D. had a topic of nuclear waste disposal. I'm now in the intersection of biology, chemistry, medicine and electrical engineering. You will likely have many different careers too. That will come.
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