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#1 patrickm129  Icon User is offline

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Life decisions for teen programmer...

Posted 01 June 2011 - 04:06 PM

Hi all,
I'm 15, a high school freshmen, and I've been thinking lately what I will be doing with the rest of my life. I'll be honest my grades aren't great, lower 80's. I have experience with PHP (of course HTML), C++, DOS, and Python. I think that I want to go forward in the Web Development field and I have a few questions I'd like to ask you for the future.


Questions:
1. How important are grades?
2. How important is college?
2.5. How important is where you go to college?
3. What are employers looking for in a web designer (ie: experience, BA/BS in Comp Sci, etc.)
4. What are some good colleges (in the US) for this field?

Other:
1. What do you regret?
1.5. Why?

Once again thanks, I just want some info on the community and what they think is a good foundation for an aspiring teen.
Thanks guys!
-Pat

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Replies To: Life decisions for teen programmer...

#2 I X Code X 1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Life decisions for teen programmer...

Posted 01 June 2011 - 04:48 PM

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Hi, first of all, you have a lot of time. You're only a freshman. If you think you are truly interested in pursuing Web development, take some classes in your high school (assuming some are provided). You should focus on grades in high school, but mostly what you want to do is get rid of as many college credits in high school as you can. Take AP classes and make sure to study well for them. It will pay off in the long run.

1. Grades are important in high school. Anywhere from 85+ is very good academic standing. Colleges will look at you if you fall into this range. Being in the top 15-20% of you class is also important. Try to do well on SATs as well. However, grades are not everything. Colleges look at a lot of things. Grades are just one of them.

2. College is important. These days it's very tough to get a good paying job without at least completing a 4-year school. Notice I said tough, not impossible. If you have the skills people will look at you, but with a degree and skills you stand a much better chance.

2.5 I don't believe the college you go to is that important. That's not to say that graduating from Harvard or Cornell won't look better, but you can get just as good an eduction at a state school that you can from a large university.

3. I think I've pretty much covered this above, but employers are looking for something that will make you stand out from everyone else. Everyone might know Java or C++, but does everyone have an internship or participate in some academic club? No. Skills are important to employers, but they want to see that you stand out from all the other applicants!

4. Like I mentioned above, the college you go to is not everything. You can learn a lot wherever you go. Assuming you take the time and effort. However, to answer your question: Carnegie Mellon University, MIT and Stanford are all excellent schools for Computer Science.

Other:

1. I don't really regret a whole lot. I actually might regret not learning more computer science stuff in high school. I did nothing related to the field until I actually got into College. So, word of advice, start early!

2. If you learn the basics of programming early you will be better prepared for the work when you get to college.
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#3 phil1000  Icon User is offline

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Re: Life decisions for teen programmer...

Posted 10 June 2011 - 07:40 AM

1. Grades are really important during college when trying to get an internship. Some places have a minimum requirement, and will request a transcript; yet after college, the GPA isn't as big of a deal, but if it's good (above 3.0) then put it on there to give yourself an edge. A degree is a degree.

2. School is actually really really important, and not just a trade school, an actual 4 year college is almost a minimum if you want to do something with a career in IT.

2.5 The choice school *can* be important, but in the end, if you're amazing at what you do, and they know it, it doesn't matter, just be as good, if not better, than everyone else.

3. Experience, experience, experience, side projects will help you tremendously. I've gotten calls back from career fairs whenever I told them about a side project I was passionate about. It's hard to get experience from jobs while in school, so make your own experiences, it's almost as good.

1. Regrets? Not being more ambitious early on, and not taking advantages of breaks to learn more.
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#4 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Life decisions for teen programmer...

Posted 10 June 2011 - 07:50 AM

Quote

2. School is actually really really important, and not just a trade school, an actual 4 year college is almost a minimum if you want to do something with a career in IT.

While I agree that school is very important and useful, the above statement is false. You can do very well in IT without a college degree.

Quote

3. Experience, experience, experience, side projects will help you tremendously. I've gotten calls back from career fairs whenever I told them about a side project I was passionate about. It's hard to get experience from jobs while in school, so make your own experiences, it's almost as good.

This is really more important than which school you went to, unless you're looking to get into research.

This post has been edited by xclite: 10 June 2011 - 07:50 AM

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#5 Unen  Icon User is offline

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Re: Life decisions for teen programmer...

Posted 16 July 2011 - 10:05 PM

First off, I'm a college sophomore. Now for my two cents.

1. Grades are important but highschool grades arent the end all be all for where you go in life (I graduated with a 1.9 gpa if i remember correctly).
2. College is important for two reasons, one the knowledge you gain and two it opens doors for you.

2.5. As said before if you graduate from MIT or Harvard it will certainly look great on a resume, but from the people Ive talked too its more important to choose a college with teachers who are competent in their fields and enjoy teaching (aka none that slack once they get tenure). Also consider starting out at a community college, its not like this everywhere but I know most of my professors at my community college (Austin CC) also teach at other major universities (Such as university of texas) so I end up getting the same education for a fraction of the price. My biggest suggestion with this path (and what I wish I had done) is before you start set up a 'plan of action' as to which classes you are going to take at which college, whats classes have pre-reqs, what classes transfer, etc.

3. It all depends on where you want to work, larger companies will require BS/BA degrees, for others (small 'family' companies) it would be nice to have. In the end a degree is more of something to get your foot in the door and make your resume look good.

4. Not sure, I just went with local colleges.

Other:
1. A) I wish I would have tried harder in high-school, and B) had a better plan of action when I got into college.
1.5. A) personal pride. B) would have had a better chance at finishing in 4 years.

Edit: Think of everything as stepping stones, good highschool grades help you get into a 'better' college, which helps you meet professors (who have worked in the industry and have connections) and get degree that makes you look learned which helps you land a job. After the first couple jobs your future employers will most likely care more about you having the experience working in the field than where ever you received your degree (if at all).

This post has been edited by Unen: 16 July 2011 - 10:13 PM

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#6 Arxos  Icon User is offline

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Re: Life decisions for teen programmer...

Posted 17 July 2011 - 12:40 AM

I was in the same situation as you when I was in high school.
I'm an incoming college Sophomore this Fall at a private college near Boston.

I graduated high school with a crappy under 3.0 GPA. I was just unmotivated in high school. However, now I have a 3.95 in college, and will intern at some software firms this year.

College is VERY important, especially if you want a career related to computers. Want to be a successful software developer without a college degree? My friend did it, but it's difficult, and you have to be extremely dedicated.

With college, besides getting an education, you are networking with potential employers, and will make lifelong friends in the process. That will pay off in the future.

I knew I wanted to do something computer-related since I was in middle school, and am now majoring in computer science and applied math. I'm also going straight into graduate school after, because that will make you much, much more marketable.


My regrets? I was a straight A student until 9th grade. From then on, my grades plummeted. I wish I had tried harder. The main reason I even got into my college was for football.

Take AP courses, do extracurriculars, and GO TO COLLEGE. It's worth it.
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#7 Gavisann  Icon User is offline

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Re: Life decisions for teen programmer...

Posted 17 July 2011 - 10:48 AM

Questions:
1. Grades are important, good grades will help you when applying for colleges and aid, such as grants.

2. College is very important. Yes, you can get a job as a web developer without a college degree, but they will pay you considerably less and other applicants with degrees will take precedence over you.

2.5. The name of the college is important to some interviewers but not all of them. For example, if two people applied for a job and one went to the University of Phoenix and the other to MIT, the interviewer will most likely pick the MIT graduate.

3. What employers want differs from job to job and depends on the job you are applying for. It is common to ask for 3 years of experience in the field, and a BS or MS in a field relating to your job.

A few people recommended AP courses which will help you, but I would recommend dual enrollment, if you can get your grades up. Being dual enrolled means you take college courses and receive high school and college credit. The downside is that most schools will not allow you to dual enroll unless you are a senior or you call yourself a home schooled student.

Wow, I didn't notice how old this was...

This post has been edited by Gavisann: 17 July 2011 - 10:50 AM

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#8 elgose  Icon User is offline

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Re: Life decisions for teen programmer...

Posted 18 July 2011 - 06:15 AM

Questions:
1. How important are grades?
Good grades are helpful, and bad grades can be debilitating. I graduated bottom 5% of my HS class (lazy to an extreme, focused on other things instead of school), did a couple years of a Bus. Admin. degree and did marginally better, then quit school altogether. Years later, when after working a job that requires only a HS degree, I realized I had missed the boat. I went to a community college for a year, basically had to start completely over, and kept a 4.0 for a year (full-time student, full-time worker). With that, and a pretty good essay about what I've come to learn, I was able to get into a tier 1 university despite my HS and initial college grades (have since kept a 3.9 GPA at university, which means I've had 2 A-'s and A+'s won't raise it up :-(). If you decide you want to do college and set your eyes on a good school, don't use my method, get good grades now and save yourself a couple of years.

2. How important is college?
It can be important. I personally feel it's easier to get your foot in the door with a degree (or, get an intern/coop while pursuing a degree and slapping that on your resume), but you can make it without any college. Is this the norm? I don't think so. Can you become equally as successful? Yeah, plenty have done it. But college is playing it safe, which sometimes is good.
2.5. How important is where you go to college?
If it's a top school (i.e. MIT, CMU, UT, Stanford, etc.) it helps you stand out, which is nice, but a degree from MIT won't land you a job if the kid from the "less impressive" local university can code/design/etc. circles around you. I'd avoid the iffy schools (many have an aversion for schools like University of Phoenix), but otherwise once you're in a university do extracurricular activities (IEEE or community service groups, for example). A suggestion: don't let your learning end with what the textbooks cover - you become awesome by constantly learning on your own and doing side projects, not by doing just what's covered in class.
3. What are employers looking for in a web designer (ie: experience, BA/BS in Comp Sci, etc.)
Can't say, I'm not a web designer. I can say as a student in a BS Comp Sci program that I do not study web design, since at my school most of the classes focus on the "science of computers" (not being sarcastic, but some people don't realize how much theory/science is often in a CS degree) and programming in Java. My only experience in web design is personal side projects. I'd suggest looking into degrees that focus more on web design if that's what you really want to do (but keep in mind you can still become an awesome web designer with a CS degree, it might just be more outside of class work for you).
4. What are some good colleges (in the US) for this field?
Plenty have talked about it. I made it a goal to get into a tier 1 school, but I don't think that means my education will be better than 80% of the other colleges/universities just because of where I go. Also and again, comp sci doesn't necessarily mean web design.

Other:
1. What do you regret?
In the end, nothing. I'll explain it in the next part, but still - learn from my mistakes.
1.5. Why?
I wouldn't be as good of a student if I didn't goof around in HS and college the first time. By getting into the real world, I didn't just know college was a good route for me, but I also came to appreciate the knowledge I could gain. Also, I did that 'let's have fun'/'party!' phase the first time around and got it out of my system, so now I'm extremely serious about my school, my performance at work (IT coop), and learning outside of class - this means I often opt to do extra work or read about a new subject in my field rahter than watch TV, play video games, or go out too much... it sucks, but my life experiences have brought me to a point where becoming the best I can in school is truly my main focus. I want to try and graduate summa cum laude just to prove to [i]myself[i] that I always could (top 5%), despite my grades before (bottom 5%).

Sorry, it's a long post - but hopefully there's a nugget or two in there.
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#9 NeoTifa  Icon User is online

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Re: Life decisions for teen programmer...

Posted 18 July 2011 - 06:50 AM

I "duel-enrolled", and it was the worst mistake of my life. My GPA dropped from a 3.6 to a 1.3 in a span of a quarter, meaning that's what I started out with in college. They kicked me out, sent me back to high school, and left me 3-4 weeks to catch up on 2 high school quarters worth of work. By the time I graduated, I got my GPA back up to a 3.2. DO NOT do it until you're truely ready. See, I got caught with the whole "No Child Left Behind" bullshit, and got pulled down to the unmotivated tards' level, with the high school teachers basically holding our hands, and I epic failed that one quarter, and the whole first year of real college. Your teachers may say "oh, we're preparing you for college". Bullshit. Do your own thing, and be careful.

High school GPA only matters to get you financial aid, scholarships, and to get into your college in geneal (but that barely matters at all). What really counts is your ACT/SAT scores. Do well on those and you should have no trouble getting into college. The college you pick doesn't really matter, just so long as you don't go to those janky ass scam schools like DeVry and University of Pheonix. You don't need to go to a super esteemed school to get a job, but it would help. A lot of employers like people with a common alma mater as well. Just something to keep in mind.

The thing I regret is nothing. My whole first year of college I basically fucked off, because, you know, I was "prepared" according to my high school. Yes, I guess I do sorta wished I wasn't a whole year and a half behind my peers, but hey, would I have learned the lessons I have or gained the motivation to work hard had I not? No, I wouldn't. I wished my high school was a little more realistic in the preparation department, and I had a few more people I coulda looked up to and talked to about college, but I didn't. What I did I did for myself. Don't worry about other peope, just do your own thing the best I can. Don't be afraid to say "no" either. You don't have to go to every party or club. (also I raised that 1.3 GPA to a 2.4 now and still going. Raising GPA in college is hella lot harder than high school).

This post has been edited by NeoTifa: 18 July 2011 - 06:56 AM

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#10 ipushmycar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Life decisions for teen programmer...

Posted 18 July 2011 - 07:41 AM

Questions:
1. How important are grades?
2. How important is college?
2.5. How important is where you go to college?
3. What are employers looking for in a web designer (ie: experience, BA/BS in Comp Sci, etc.)
4. What are some good colleges (in the US) for this field?

Other:
1. What do you regret?
1.5. Why?


My background, Sophomore in college, graduated high school.

1. Everyone has seemed to answer this. Do your homework, pay attention, study a little. Worked for me graduated with a 93/100 GPA. I am not naturally smart.

2. I would suggest some sort of higher education. I am currently interning at my state's capital and most of the network team I am working with has a 2 year degree and are doing quite well. However, like pointed out degrees will normally mean more money. I chose to attend a private university that has a 5 year program that allows me to obtain 1.5 years of work experience. I start my first job this fall and look forward to the real world experience.

2.5 Where you go to college will usually help you land the first job. Maybe they know the program, have alumni working their, or have heard good things of the school but after the first job it is experience.

3 Started to touch on this. Experience is what can set you out from the crowd. Everyone is going to have a degree or schooling but who has the real world experience. Like I said above, I will graduate with 1.5 years of work experience. This will show I can hold a job, do my job, and I have the real world experience.

Regrets

1. Not taking more AP test. I only took two, AP Calc and AP Comp. Sci. This worked out well but I wish I would have taken a science and I wish I would have taken the AP US History exam. Not only will this set you ahead of your class it will open your schedule for whatever you want.
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