Today I drove to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and purchased a motorcycle parking permit. This is just the latest in a series of actions which, at this point, seem to indicate that I’m going back to school.

A few months ago, I decided to apply, because if I later decided to go to school, I’d have to have applied. It turns out that was a lot of work, and cost $50. Just to apply. I also had to pay all four of the other universities I’ve attended, plus my high school, for transcripts. Then I had to pay the College Board $23 to send me test scores. I think, at that point, it was inevitable that I might as well attend after expending that much effort. I went ahead and applied for financial aid, registered for classes, bought books… And now bought a parking permit. So, I guess I’m going to school.

There is, of course, the huge fact that I’ve been unable to find work as a pilot. Admittedly, I’ve only really been looking for jobs that would allow me to continue to live in Colorado Springs. I could probably find a job if I were willing to move, but the prospect of moving just so I can get a job that pays less than Jonah’s currently making just hasn’t made sense to me. It’s also probably related to the fact that Colorado is the first place I’ve ever lived that I actually like. I’m reluctant to leave a place I like, even though there’s probably other places I’d like better.

I suspect that in a few years there will be a great demand for pilots. In the meantime, there’s none. In December 2007, Congress decided that pilots could fly until they were 65 years old, instead of 60. Lots of pilots decided not to retire, aided in their decision by the cutting of pensions from airline benefits, and the declining values of their retirement accounts. Starting December 2012, they’re not going to have a choice. Furthermore, there aren’t very many people learning to fly right now because of the current pilot surplus and low demand for pilots. All this points to a pilot shortage in a few years.

So, what should I do in the meantime? Considering that there aren’t really any jobs available, save for picking strawberries (and I wouldn’t want to steal jobs from Mexicans), I might as well do something, and it’s getting harder to come up with good reasons for not going to school. The biggest reason is that it’s probably a bad economic decision. A degree will cost me about $25,000 (which I’ll have to get loans to pay for), which is about the same amount of money that becoming a pilot cost. Only, this doesn’t have such clear economic benefits. Sure, I’m slightly more likely to get hired, and I have the possibility of eventually working for a major airline, where I wouldn’t without a degree. But in the long run, I’m not sure I’m that much better off. On the other hand, if I lost my medical for some reason, being able to have some skill might be a good thing.

So, I’m trying to get a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. I suspect it’ll take me about 2.5 years if I take classes in the summer, depending on what I can take in the summer. I’m signed up for Calculus II, Physics II, Data Structures & Algorithms, and Programming in C. On the one hand, I’ve taken enough humanities classes that I don’t have to take any more. On the other hand, I’ve taken a couple years worth humanities classes that aren’t going to count for anything. At least I shouldn’t have to write any more papers.

Apparently UCCS is unable to use any Colorado state funds to pay for parking structures. As a result, the parking lots and garages have to be paid for by the sale of parking permits. Which means that despite the fact that we’re in a place with relatively cheap land, parking at UCCS is $330/year. There’s an option to park a few miles away and ride a bus, but that sounds like a pain. Fortunately, I discovered that motorcycle parking is only $42/semester. This means I’m going to be a motorcycle commuter, and if there’s snow on the ground or forecast, I’ll park and ride the bus. We’ll see how that goes.

I’m really not looking forward to losing my freedom in a couple of weeks.

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