Do I need to go to school for computer science?

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#1 lancerben  Icon User is offline

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Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 08 January 2011 - 05:53 PM

Hi,
I have always been interested in computers, graphic design, web design and programming as long as I have used a computer. Career-wise I am a practicing dentist, but I sometimes wonder what I might have been able to do with a computer science degree (or might still do). I have been big into graphic design since I was in high school, and have evolved a lot of that into a rising painting and art career. I have designed my own websites from a really simple html tutorial book I read when I was 12 (my active sites are benmollner.com and drmollner.com) and just what I have read online.

I feel like computer stuff has always come naturally to me, and I really love doing it. I feel like if I had been exposed more to other forms of computing I could be doing some really cool stuff with it. I see other people's programs and often think I could make something similar, or maybe even better. I have a lot of ideas for programs, including combining something with my current career for cloud-based dental software or something. I feel that a I have knack for arranging highly esthetic, but very simple and efficient layouts.

But here is my problem: I dont know what I really want out of all of this. All I know is that I would like to know more. Programming would be cool, but mostly I just want to absorb a lot of information about it all and see what I can make of it. I would not be relying on any of this for a career in the end, so that is not a concern. I do not have time to be a full time student, and dont care about a degree for degree's sake. Ive actually even thought about trying to get an online degree in computer science (is there even such a thing?) and just taking the classes when it was convenient. I have kind of craved the consumption of knowledge ever since I finished dental school, and am ready to take something on for real, but also just for fun. If you have ANY recommendations for someone like me, I would love to hear them, and would be grateful for your input.

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Replies To: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

#2 mostyfriedman  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 08 January 2011 - 06:09 PM

I think getting a computer science degree may not be the best move for you. from your post I have seen that you're mainly into graphic design and web design, you don't need a CS degree for that. A CS degree is not all about programming as a lot of people think, you will have to also study theoretical subjects and math, and i suppose a lot of people may not really like that. A lot of my friends at the university are very good programmers but they fail a lot of the math and theory stuff, most of them regret choosing CS for a major. So just because someone likes programming doesn't mean that CS is right for him/her. I don't mean to discourage you, but I also don't exactly know what do you wish to learn, from your post I just felt that you're more of a hobbyist and I don't know if you actually want to take on a career as a programmer. So my advice is, if you are a hobbyist who loves programming, then buy yourself a few books on programming and have fun with them, a lot of great programmers are self taught and don't have a degree, so that doesn't mean you can't be one too. There are also books that teach graphic design and using graphic design tools. On the other hand if you're thinking of changing your career and willing to take the time to get a degree in computing, then think of what you really want to study and make your decision about what kind of degree would be suitable for your interests. Best of luck
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#3 lancerben  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 09 January 2011 - 07:53 AM

The main reason I would want to do it as a degree would be the forced learning aspect of it. I think the more knowledge that I have, the more interesting things might come of it, and I may not dig as deep on my own than if I were following a program. The math is not too daunting, I have studied up through calc 2 in the past. If I did go with the self taught route, what is the best place to start? What sorts of languages, programs, setups, or even specific books would be good for everything from the basics to the coolest, most cutting edge software out there? Also, any idea about the possibility (or quality) of doing an online degree program? Thanks
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#4 hookiethe1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 09 January 2011 - 02:34 PM

There are online degrees out there, their quality has been the subject of some debate here in the past.
I would suggest you expand your hobby first, take on some other projects and maybe even side jobs. If you do a good job on your own websites they can be your resume, and you might know others who need websites built and would be willing to give you a shot. School is good for forced learning, but paid jobs are even better!
You could also pursue some of your own ideas, like your cloud-based dental software, get other dentists involved or even contact the relevant authorities about it, even aiming for the most basic functionality that project should be a considerable undertaking and cover a pretty broad range of concepts.
I assume since you're a dentist that you're used to having money and income, and after spending all that time at dental school it would be a waste to just walk away. If I were in your position I'd hang onto my day job for now, keep the ideas coming, keep an eye out for opportunities and gradually make the transition based on experience and accomplishments, because you have a pretty lucrative fallback.
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#5 RLB31384  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 10 January 2011 - 01:28 AM

I didn't goto an online school, but have taken a lot of online classes. I will say that most of them are about the same as going to class. Going to class all the professors usually did was read from a power point slide. Which came word for word from the book. I can read the book on my own so that was no help going to class. Its good if you have questions however ideally the professors should answer your questions in an email. I say ideally, but have seen otherwise quite often.

The math classes on the other hand are a bit harder to take online unless you have a good professor. Mine for Calc I and II used a program which showed what he was writing and he could talk. So it was a lot like being in class, again without questions.

The only real classes I had problems with online, were Pragmatics and Parallel. I did good in parallel though as it wasn't too bad, pragmatics was a bit of a pain for me. You basically have to be good at teaching yourself. I will say the forced learning thing takes a bit of a step back for online stuff, but you still have due dates and grades so its still there.

But yeah, its basically like reading some ebooks except you got a timeline, tests and grades to worry about.
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#6 lancerben  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 12 January 2011 - 08:37 AM

I typed a reply just a minute ago, but it never showed up, so sorry if this is sort of a duplicate post.

Any recommendations on what type of "school" to sign up for if I decide to go with the online school route? Also, any recommendations on what would be some good books to start with if I want to get into programming or just quickly expanding my knowledge. I am a good self-teacher, so I think I can handle even the heavy duty stuff (if thats what it takes) but need to start from the beginning. I dont care about graphic design, I have that one locked down, and web design I would consider myself to be a decent amateur, so would like to move in some new directions. Thanks
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#7 lancerben  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 12 January 2011 - 08:51 AM

When I say books to start with, I am referring to something that would be an alternative to a formal schooling. I just want to explore my options right now, so am open to either type of learning.
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#8 mostyfriedman  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 12 January 2011 - 08:54 AM

I'd say definitely go with self teaching for a lot of different reasons. What do you wish to start learning so we can recommend the right books?, and what do you already know?
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#9 hookiethe1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:11 PM

I don't understand why everyone's always looking for books. There's a ton of stuff online that you don't have to pay for. You don't even have to leave this site and you can find a metric shitload of tutorials on tons of different languages, and I'm sure a quick google search could bring up problems and exercises from entry level to expert. Just pick a topic and start googling!
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#10 mostyfriedman  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:21 PM

I believe books are the best way to go for someone who doesn't have much experience.

and with all due respect to the DIC community, DIC alone won't make you proficient.
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#11 Dogstopper  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:24 PM

Personally, I learn better out of (decent) books simply because I can focus better without distraction and the structure of a book is MEANT to learn. Sure, looking up specific topics on the internet will give you lots and lots of resources, but if you are learning a huge topic like a language, then the organizational structure of a book can be far less daunting.

However, for things like "How to log into a Database with MYSQL", assuming you know the languages you use, the internet is better, simply because it's easy to find.
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#12 hookiethe1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:53 PM

View Postmostyfriedman, on 12 January 2011 - 01:21 PM, said:

and with all due respect to the DIC community, DIC alone won't make you proficient.


I wasn't suggesting this was the one and only place, just an example of a starting point. And if you learn better from books then fair enough, but there are plenty of thorough, well structured introductory courses out there for just about any language you like completely free. Here's one for C#, I googled C# tutorial and this is the first link I clicked:

http://www.csharp-st...m/Tutorial.aspx

Right there is a list of 23 lessons from "getting started" right through to "working with nullable types." If you really want to buy a book, buy a book, it doesn't bother me. I'm just saying that the resources are available online and for a much better price.
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#13 Dogstopper  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 12 January 2011 - 03:16 PM

Yah, I was about to mention the fact that there are eBooks - free and not. Again, that's a matter of preference. The tangible pages have a special effect on my personal retention AND I can take it anywhere, even if there is no internet. I'm also not constantly flipping tabs and then suddenly getting an IM. It's sort of peaceful.

But yes, you are right in saying that there are enough resources on the Internet to learn things.
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#14 hookiethe1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 12 January 2011 - 03:51 PM

I know for myself at least, I've spent hundreds, likely thousands on what are probably some really great textbooks, and all they do is hold down my bookshelves and possibly look impressive. It's pretty rare that I go to them for answers, I always just look online instead. The only ones I've ever opened are the ones for which I had classes that assigned homework from the book. I know that's bad, but I'm just not a reader. Used to read books like a maniac, then one day I just stopped and haven't been able to read since.
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#15 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do I need to go to school for computer science?

Posted 13 January 2011 - 07:22 AM

I have a few books that I kept. Never keep a Java book, the internet has everything you need.
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