Do employers really care about college accreditation?

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#1 farrell2k  Icon User is offline

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Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 24 September 2011 - 08:29 PM

I'm 33 and have been in sales and real estate for the past 10 years. My gross income is good, anywhere from $80 to $100k/yr, all from rentals these days. I've been working about 10hrs per week for the past few years and have become increasingly bored. I want to get a B.S. in Comp Sci, but absolutely refuse to put myself $40k+ in more debt. I am considering UOPEOPLE.ORG. If I have a good portfolio and can prove I know my stuff, would an unaccredited degree be held against me so much that finding work would be too difficult? Or, should I just pay $7k USD to get an assoc degree from a community college and see where I get with that?

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#2 NeoTifa  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 24 September 2011 - 08:54 PM

Avoiding all the calls from student loans collections should be entertaining enough. Get your BS.
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#3 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 24 September 2011 - 08:59 PM

Mostly employers want experience. How are you going to be an asset to the proposed available position?

A lot of students entering the marketplace don't have experience, but they have an education.

After a few short years, experience easily outweighs educations, as experience is always first hand & current (with said technology) & classroom experience is usually aged. Even two years out of the best school is two years behind you.

So school isn't always necessary. It's about proving that you are better than the next guy, than every candidate for that position.
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#4 DimitriV  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 24 September 2011 - 09:05 PM

You need both experience and education - although everyone employs me cos I'm so damn sexy!
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#5 Mikhail  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 24 September 2011 - 09:18 PM

Education is overrated, I've been slowly working on my degree, and I got a very nice job, only because I have experience and references. How does experience come to you? By doing it, if all you got is education and no experience, you might get hired but if you don't perform to their standards you wont last long.

-Experience.
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#6 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 25 September 2011 - 09:36 AM

Also, another point to consider is that computer science is theory-heavy. You'll be doing a lot of math, data structures and algorithms, AI, natural and formal languages, computer organization, etc. It's a lot less practical, and you won't be using a lot of it in the workplace. So if you're going for a CS degree b/c you want job training, you will probably be disappointed. Generally, the 1-2k courses are the instructional programming courses, and the upper level CS courses (3k+) focus more on theory. If you're going for a CS degree b/c you like CS, then more power to you. I enjoy a lot of the theory, personally, so I don't see it as a bad decision.
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#7 Tarkenfire  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 25 September 2011 - 09:58 PM

To add to mac's point, if you want a BS with a more pragmatic focus than a CS degree, try and find a 4 year school near you with a CIS (computer information systems) BS program.

As to the topic of employment, the general point is thus: experience will always be more important in getting a job than education, but education will make it easier to get experience.

To be blunt, there are plenty of people who get degrees and don't deserve it (and employers know that), so while degrees might raise the employers expectation, it's skill (or enough charisma to fake it) that will get you the job.
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#8 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 26 September 2011 - 06:41 AM

I'm on year 13 or so of my 2nd career writing application code and my degree was in history with a minor in German.

To a prospective employer, a degree conveys that you set a goal and then achieved it presumably on the force of your own drive and will. That's a plus in pretty much every situation. After that, a demonstration of your skill either via testing, a show of portfolio or a resume of previous similar employment accompanied by letters of recommendation from those employers becomes the predominant qualities an employer seeks when evaluating a candidate for hire.

That said, you say you're 33 and make between $80K and $100K per year by working 10 hours per week. If this is the case, why would you seek a job wherein you're an employee? That kind of income and free time is tailor made for doing your own thing. Just 2 years ago I was making that kind of money and I'd have killed for that much free time to work on my own business.
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#9 farrell2k  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 26 September 2011 - 05:08 PM

View PostCraig328, on 26 September 2011 - 01:41 PM, said:

I'm on year 13 or so of my 2nd career writing application code and my degree was in history with a minor in German.

To a prospective employer, a degree conveys that you set a goal and then achieved it presumably on the force of your own drive and will. That's a plus in pretty much every situation. After that, a demonstration of your skill either via testing, a show of portfolio or a resume of previous similar employment accompanied by letters of recommendation from those employers becomes the predominant qualities an employer seeks when evaluating a candidate for hire.

That said, you say you're 33 and make between $80K and $100K per year by working 10 hours per week. If this is the case, why would you seek a job wherein you're an employee? That kind of income and free time is tailor made for doing your own thing. Just 2 years ago I was making that kind of money and I'd have killed for that much free time to work on my own business.


I own a few rental properties, so I am tied to the North Eastern PA area, which is absolutely terrible. My ultimate goal is to pay down my mortgages, sell the properties, bank as much cash as I can, then get the hell out of dodge. I want to travel more, maybe hopping from state to state for a while, ultimately retiring on a beach in Thailand.
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#10 stackoverflow  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 27 September 2011 - 12:39 AM

Don't bother with a BS.

I went from an arts BA degree (in east asian studies)-- and after a couple of years teaching English in a public school I applied to graduate school for an MS in computer science. I am going to finish my MS next semester.

If you have the cojones and enough experience with programming jump straight to an MS-- regardless of your undergraduate degree. You can get an MS in a year full time or 2 years part time. Employers don't give a damn what your undergraduate degree was if you are walking around with an MS in CS.

This post has been edited by stackoverflow: 27 September 2011 - 12:43 AM

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#11 Nikitin  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 28 September 2011 - 05:22 PM

Or maybe do bother with BS and begin working in academia 4 years ahead of those who are studying something completely unrelated. So by the time you're starting your MS you are much more experienced in programming and research. More likely to get into a good grad school as well (which matters a lot).
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#12 elgose  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 28 September 2011 - 08:22 PM

View Poststackoverflow, on 27 September 2011 - 01:39 AM, said:

Don't bother with a BS.

I went from an arts BA degree (in east asian studies)-- and after a couple of years teaching English in a public school I applied to graduate school for an MS in computer science. I am going to finish my MS next semester.

I thought your post was a bit misleading, especially since I had just come from this thread that made it sound like you completed all but your senior year of a BS-CS degree. That's far from BA-EAS directly into an MS-CS program.

On topic, getting a degree from an unaccredited school might cause you trouble if you later decide to pursue a higher degree, especially going from an associate's to a bachelor's. On that note, some employers (my past job included) do not consider someone with an associate's as a college degree holder, and you only got that designation when it came time for promotions/raises if it was a bachelor's+.

For accreditation, remember that accreditation means that school has met a certain set of standards for their organization, course topics, etc. An unaccredited school isn't necessarily bad, but you might want to ask why that school isn't accredited rather than what employers will think of it. As long as you get what you're supposed to out of the education, the degree itself doesn't matter as much (some would say it's just a piece of paper).

macosxnerd101's info on computer science is very relevant. My studies on algorithm analysis, mathematics, and computer architecture are extremely fascinating, and I feel like a better programmer because of the concepts I now understand. But that doesn't directly equate to programming skill (in fact, I'd say 90% of what I've learned beyond the basics are solely from personal projects or work, not school). In all honesty, my degree (by itself) is not preparing me to jump into the field, and I sometimes envy the SE track for how much more application they do, but I love what I am doing and learning in school. I love those nitty gritty details and removing that magic-black-box fog of how a computer is doing all those things I ask it to.

So anyway, make sure you really want to go down CS (versus more programming-centric options), and don't be shy taking a stab at it - Craig328 and stackoverflow are hardly the only two members on DIC that spent a good amount of time in another industry before programming (my move to comp. sci. was my second career change). Besides the issue with your degree being recognized if you pursue an even higher degree, ask yourself if you'd be embarrassed to tell people you're a UOPEOPLE.ORG alum? If not, and there isn't a disparaging reputation/sound reason surrounding the school's un-accreditation, then go for it. In full disclosure, I chose an accredited university despite the cost.
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#13 stackoverflow  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 28 September 2011 - 09:02 PM

View Postelgose, on 29 September 2011 - 03:22 AM, said:

View Poststackoverflow, on 27 September 2011 - 01:39 AM, said:

Don't bother with a BS.

I went from an arts BA degree (in east asian studies)-- and after a couple of years teaching English in a public school I applied to graduate school for an MS in computer science. I am going to finish my MS next semester.

I thought your post was a bit misleading, especially since I had just come from this thread that made it sound like you completed all but your senior year of a BS-CS degree. That's far from BA-EAS directly into an MS-CS program.

On topic, getting a degree from an unaccredited school might cause you trouble if you later decide to pursue a higher degree, especially going from an associate's to a bachelor's. On that note, some employers (my past job included) do not consider someone with an associate's as a college degree holder, and you only got that designation when it came time for promotions/raises if it was a bachelor's+.

For accreditation, remember that accreditation means that school has met a certain set of standards for their organization, course topics, etc. An unaccredited school isn't necessarily bad, but you might want to ask why that school isn't accredited rather than what employers will think of it. As long as you get what you're supposed to out of the education, the degree itself doesn't matter as much (some would say it's just a piece of paper).

macosxnerd101's info on computer science is very relevant. My studies on algorithm analysis, mathematics, and computer architecture are extremely fascinating, and I feel like a better programmer because of the concepts I now understand. But that doesn't directly equate to programming skill (in fact, I'd say 90% of what I've learned beyond the basics are solely from personal projects or work, not school). In all honesty, my degree (by itself) is not preparing me to jump into the field, and I sometimes envy the SE track for how much more application they do, but I love what I am doing and learning in school. I love those nitty gritty details and removing that magic-black-box fog of how a computer is doing all those things I ask it to.

So anyway, make sure you really want to go down CS (versus more programming-centric options), and don't be shy taking a stab at it - Craig328 and stackoverflow are hardly the only two members on DIC that spent a good amount of time in another industry before programming (my move to comp. sci. was my second career change). Besides the issue with your degree being recognized if you pursue an even higher degree, ask yourself if you'd be embarrassed to tell people you're a UOPEOPLE.ORG alum? If not, and there isn't a disparaging reputation/sound reason surrounding the school's un-accreditation, then go for it. In full disclosure, I chose an accredited university despite the cost.


I am not sure how I was misunderstood. In the other thread I specifically stated,

Quote

"When I returned to university I was suppose to kick up my Computer Science classes and finish one year late-- but due to studying abroad crippling my wallet I couldn't finish (or even start) computer science."


I was unable to start any CS classes prior to studying abroad and after. My degree plan was to study abroad to finish my EAS degree-- return home and finish the CS track. However, I wasn't able to do so and as a result I was unable to take any CS classes besides a measly intro class which was ridiculous. My degree itself is a BA in EAS with a minor in Japanese. Completely unrelated to CS. Sorry if the other post was unclear~

I do agree with your point and the user above you about getting into graduate school. I don't mean to say it was easy to hop from an unrelated degree to an MS program for CS. It wasn't easy at all. I was rejected twice and had to jump through hoops to show I could handle the course work. What I meant by it is the fact that it isn't impossible, and if there's a will there's a way.

When I read the ops post I read it as they are 33 and have been in an unrelated field. I assume they already have a 4 year degree-- if not then an undergraduate degree will be required. I assume they have a degree to be working in their field and I assume time is important (since they clearly stated they are 33). That is why I wanted to make it clear jumping into an MS program may be a viable option.

If the op doesn't have a 4 year degree already (in any field) then I don't see any way around it. Most graduate schools have a minimum requirement of a 4 year degree. Even then it won't be easy as I said earlier. It's just a viable option that is better for time-- since you can finish it in a year and at around half the price of a 4 year degree.

As for accreditation, I totally agree with your point. I wouldn't suggest ever going to an unaccredited school-- and furthermore, learn as much as you can about different kinds of accreditation: local, regional, national etc. There are many "schools" that try to spin themselves as accredited but are trying to cleverly screw you.

If you want to learn by distance I suggest public state schools that offer online degrees (same degrees as on campus students, only available by distance).

Another option may be to forget about degrees entirely-- you could shoot for certifications from universities like Stanford (has online CS certificates) and other major certificates. Along with some certifications try to find simple entry level CS jobs and do a lot of programming in your spare time and make interesting software to show off. When you apply to jobs you may be able to slide by.

I don't recommend it because it's less likely to work but it's an option.

This post has been edited by stackoverflow: 28 September 2011 - 09:03 PM

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#14 elgose  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 29 September 2011 - 05:07 AM

stackoverflow, that was my bad. Yeah, I misunderstood the dual major aspect + finish 1 year late meaning you had completed all but the last year. It makes sense now after your explanation. And actually, with your assumption that he has a degree (I assumed the opposite), your post in this thread (about not bothering with a BS) seems many magnitudes more relevant. :)

farrell2k - if you do already have a bachelor's degree, as stackoverflow raised as a possibility, then a second bachelor's would be a waste (some schools require permission to pursue an undergrad after you've completed a bachelor's degree, which may cause additional troubles). In that case, you may have to either take some key classes as prereqs to an MS program or take a test to prove your competency to jump into the core classes for the MS.

Since you're even considering an associates degree from a community college, I'm guessing you may not have any post-secondary degrees. For this situation, stackoverflow brought up some good additional concerns about unaccredited, and even being wary of just any old claim for being accredited. Here's two links you might find educational about the matter, one with the US Dept. of Education's explanation of accreditation in the US, and also Wikipedia's list of accreditation organizations in the US.

This post has been edited by elgose: 29 September 2011 - 05:08 AM

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#15 Redalin  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do employers really care about college accreditation?

Posted 06 October 2011 - 11:46 AM

I got a lot of job offers when I left the military because of what I did. I didn't have a degree, but I had the experience. However, I had to undergo rigorous classwork to know how to do my job. If I had a degree, I would have been paid twice the amount. So, if you're going to get a degree -- don't expect to get over $50k salary without experience, go do an intern position or coop program.
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