I am thinking strongly about going back to school to get a master's in computer science (machine learning) and possibly continuing from there to a PhD. Before I start the master's I'll need to do a number of semesters of undergraduate prerequisites.
For the last 10 years I have been working as a self-taught software engineer, since my undergraduate degree is in Government (Political Science). I have found that I really like 1) learning, 2) digging very deep into problems to figure out what's really going on.
As a side note I think this probably hinders my work performance, because instead of finding the fastest answer I often find the "right" answer. I continue doing this even though I know I could get higher ratings the other way, because of the pleasure I get out of doing it, and the anxiety I feel when I haven't looked at all possibilities. I have OCD but I think it's also just my personality and intellect.
Anyway, all this makes me think that I might be very well suited to research. But before I pull the trigger and leave my job, I wanted to ask around to see if I could learn more what it's like. What's a good way that I could learn more about what it's like? Would it be similar to anything I might already have done?
PS: One point that might occur to you is, "Why not just continue learning on the job, taking Coursera (etc) courses, reading textbooks and wikipedia, etc?" That's a big separate question, but ultimately 1) I think I could get up to speed much more quickly by working on it full-time, 2) I think I'd end up with more expertise this way, 3) If I actually want to do research then it isn't an option. I've been taking Coursera courses but the math was hard for me (even though it was basic calculus), and that experience is part of what's pushing me in this direction. I want to learn it more deeply.