Graduating University in 2 Years: An Accelerated Schedule to Test Myself
It was in college that I began to implement project management techniques for the first time in my own life because I had the ambitious goal of completing my 4-year Computer Science degree in only 2 years from the top rated University of California at Davis.
Considering the iron triangle of project management—the so called triple constraints of scope, schedule, and cost—there was a lot to gain from an accelerated schedule, but it wasn't going to be a small feat to accomplish given the huge scope of work required.
The scope of work was borderline insane as I planned and executed up to 6 classes per term, the majority of which were upper division, core Computer Science courses covering advanced topics in algorithms, theory, and software engineering. Simultaneously, I was taking time-consuming courses in calculus, linear algebra, probability theory, and physics.
Strange as it may seem, my motivation for completing the coursework in such an expedited timetable was not solely driven by the huge cost savings to be achieved (i.e. 50% in tuition and boarding fees), but my primary motivation was to run an experiment. My objective was to test myself to see what I was capable of achieving on my own. As T.S. Eliot emphasized: Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
In the end, carefully planning my attack and closely monitoring my execution allowed me to achieve my goal right on schedule and well below the typical budgeted cost of attending university.
Before starting university, I planned an entire 2-year program for myself to understand the "work breakdown structure". I had to understand the full requirements of the degree program while formulating a coursework plan that addressed multiple constraints and risk factors. Namely, there are numerous dependencies to be fulfilled prior to enrolling in specific courses and given the expedited schedule, I needed to create contingency plans in case I was unable to complete a specific course on the first time around or if the course was not offered, canceled, or postponed.
I delegated much of this initial planning work to my older brother to leverage his existing experience as a third year student at the same university. And once I was able to verify his assumptions and my own capacity, I committed to the project by enrolling in my first 4 courses: Discrete Mathematics, Introduction to Programming & Problem Solving, Introduction to the Theory of Computation, and Calculus III.
My entire 2 year journey through university was a bootcamp training in project management and a balancing act for my life. It was very challenging at times, but I was able to achieve my goal and retain my sanity thanks to the project management practices I was quickly forced to learn and implement. Everything from task management to scheduling to documentation fit together perfectly for a successful 2 year graduation.
And because I went as far, fast, and hard as I went, I felt extremely prepared for the rest of my life as I entered the workforce and the world at large. As I like to say: "I only went to university to learn how to teach myself."