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I don't have a post secondary education, having left high school in grade 11. However having worked alongside with, directed, and trained a number of graduate students I know the skills I've gained in my 25 years of work experience are sizable and with merit. (Computer and technical fields, specializing in system and server administration, geographic information systems, and a few small forays into programming.)

It wouldn't really be appropriate to start off at ground zero, 1st year computer science for example, but if launch in at a higher level I'd probably drown in some pothole or other of missing assumed knowledge. I know there are holes in my learning.

I'm wondering if there's a place or service a person could go to and find out what they don't know. Preferably online because I live thousands of kilometres from any major urban centre.

I don't have a particular end game in mind, other than some sort of computer degree or high level technical certification because that's where I have the most skills to trade on. I don't give a hoot about letters after my name, but others do, so lets get me some. A bit ago I didn't make the short list on a job I applied for, "high school drop out" being heard louder than the years of experience. Soon after the successful candidate asked me for advice on how to do the work. :-/

When I floated this question on meta alternate phrases suggested included:

  • How to best fill my educational gaps?
  • Is it worth the time to fill educational gaps after 25 years of work?
  • Would it increase opportunities in my career to get a degree after 25 years?

These are good and I want to know those answers, but it's the title phrasing which is most important to me. I still want to know where I don't know. I like learning for it's own sake and will make effort to remediate the gaps regardless of whether I decide to carry through to degree or certification.

  • If you are asking specifically about CS skills, a CS discussion area is likely to give you better advice than Workplace StackExchange. – keshlam Jul 23 '16 at 6:11
  • I missed your meta question but your question in its current state lacks the focus it needs to be on-topic. You're asking various questions like "How can I identify what skills I'm missing?" (which is difficult if not impossible to answer generally), "How can I study up on gaps once identified?", "Is this worth doing?" and "Is getting a degree worth it after 25 years?". All of that is also very close to personal advice which we don't do here either. The latter question is the only one that seems answerable to me. – Lilienthal Jul 23 '16 at 10:19
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I faced a similar problem in 2001. I was preparing to take the Computer Science subject test that existed at that time, as part of preparations for applying to a CS PhD program. My formal CS education was a master's degree I completed in 1975.

The most useful on-line resource I found was the ACM's CS curriculum guidelines. The current version is http://www.acm.org/education/CS2013-final-report.pdf.

I went through the ACM's recommendation for each area the GRE was going to test, checking whether I already understood the material. For anything I didn't understand, I looked for on-line tutorials and articles.

  • What is this "Computer Science subject test"? Taking a test and looking at the questions gotten wrong might be effective at delineating gaps and areas needing study. – matt wilkie Jul 25 '16 at 4:10
  • @mattwilkie The GRE has a general test and several different subject tests. There used to be a subject test for Computer Science, but it was discontinued in 2013. See ets.org/gre/subject/about. You may still be able to find practice tests. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 25 '16 at 4:13

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