Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

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46 Replies - 12091 Views - Last Post: 15 September 2012 - 06:02 PM

#16 blankwall  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 11 September 2012 - 08:51 PM

Im a sophmore and many of the people I hang out with and program with are higher up. SFSU is known for being the easiest college in the bay area and that is one of the main reasons I am trying to transfer somewhere with a little more prestige
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#17 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 11 September 2012 - 08:53 PM

CS has never been a prestigious degree, but it's always been a hard one, and it's still hard if you do it right. If it's easy, either you're a genius or you're getting ripped off.

Hint: most people aren't geniuses.
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#18 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 11 September 2012 - 08:53 PM

So it sounds more like a problem with the school than with CS in general.
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#19 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 11 September 2012 - 08:57 PM

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So it sounds more like a problem with the school than with CS in general.


Yep. Riddle me this: It's never been easier to get programs running, but CS is harder than ever. There's a nice paradox for you, no?
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#20 NecroWinter  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 11 September 2012 - 09:26 PM

I started programming when I was about 13. I started college pretty late, but im basically getting it as a piece of paper because i know that some companies do care about that. I feel that im ready to enter the work force now, but my college schedule is so freaking weird right now that its prevented by most job offers that come my way, I even had an organization that I interned at call me out of the blue recently trying to figure out a way for me to get back there to no avail :(

i have worked with people who only started programming since college, and some of them are really not cut out for it imo, but others are, so in general i think college does an ok job at preparation for the work place

This post has been edited by NecroWinter: 11 September 2012 - 09:27 PM

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#21 farrell2k  Icon User is online

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 11 September 2012 - 10:54 PM

You can learn just as much from your public library as you can with a comp-sci degree, but most HR departments look for the degree. Are compi-sci degrees worthless? No, but I am convinced that they are overpriced. If you want to break into the world of programming, have no degree, and don't want to go through the expense of 4 years of comp-sci, there is always a two year degree in web development for a fraction of the cost.
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#22 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 11 September 2012 - 10:58 PM

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You can learn just as much from your public library as you can with a comp-sci degree,


Out of curiosity, where's your degree from?
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#23 The Architect 2.0  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 11 September 2012 - 11:13 PM

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View Postfarrell2k, on 11 September 2012 - 11:54 PM, said:

You can learn just as much from your public library as you can with a comp-sci degree,


you mean from the internet connection at the library right?

...that or you have the most up to date library in existence.
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#24 nick2price  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 12 September 2012 - 02:14 AM

Ok, this is coming straight from the source, as I found myself finishing uni not so long ago and looking for a job. Just to point out, I was at uni for close to seven years, and in that time, I got a first class BSc in computer science, and a first class MSc in Multimedia. So, I got the highest grade possible in both degrees, and if it wasnt for the stupid cost of study here in London, I would have gone on to a phD.
So, uni finished, time to look for a job. With my degrees, this shouldnt be a problem, right? Well, apparantly, all the top companies I wanted to apply to only accept degrees from a red brick university, meaning they are in the top 10 list of universities for your country. So, in the UK, that is Cambridge, Oxford, LSE etc. In America, its basically the ivy league colleges, harvard, yale, etc. So, no chance of getting a job with Google, Microsoft, big banks. Infact, I couldnt even go pass the first line of the application form because of this!
So, I decided to look a little lower, and go for a medium sized company. Did I get a job, no? One thing it appears a lot of companies prefer over education is experience. I struggled to find one job whose first requirement was at least 2 years commercial experience. So, a million more jobs out of the question.
Now I ended up getting extremely lucky, and I was contacted by a smallish company to attend an interview, to which I got the job. I couldnt ask for more with this job, such a nice environment, work is fun.

So, in summary, I personally dont think degrees mean a lot, unless you get them from a prestigious university. What you should be looking to get instead is some commercial experience with a small company, before you aim higher.
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#25 baavgai  Icon User is online

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 12 September 2012 - 04:25 AM

I simply don't trust any certificate that claims someone has absorbed knowledge. All classes can be taken, training attended, tests passed, degrees awarded, and it really doesn't indicate if ideas have been transferred.

HR departments will delude themselves that the educational history on the resume means something, but it's more a statement of intent than accomplishment. This is why experience is so highly valued; because it speaks of applied knowledge. However, it can also be crap. Honestly, finding decent people for any job is much harder than you'd expect.

I minored in CS, so many moons ago. This thread got me to thinking about my professors. By far the best was Charlie Goldberg. I wondered if he was still around, but he's not. Looks like the school set up a scholarship in his name. Strangely, he shares it with another professor I'm familiar with. People would rearrange their entire semester to avoid Stormin Norman, but he was usually the only one who taught Data Structures and other key classes.
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#26 time4f5  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 12 September 2012 - 05:26 AM

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I think some people have the wrong expectation from a college degree. It will not teach you all there is to know about a subject, regardless if it's CS, Law, Engineering, Teaching or Education, etc. I'm at a pretty large engineering firm (75,000 employees) and we get new hires all of the time who have a knowledge of the basics but don't really know how any of it really works together. They are always paired with an experienced engineer, typically 2 years. IMO the degree doesn't imply that you know everything or that you are even good at it (lol) but it shows that you have an aptitude to pick up the concepts. Once you get into your specific environment at work, then you'll learn what you need to know and how apply it. At least you're not having to teach the 'new guy' the basics of OOP. it really takes years of experience to get good at what you're doing. (teaching, law, CS, engineering, ect) colleges can't prepare everyone for their specific role. It's a journey.

This post has been edited by time4f5: 12 September 2012 - 05:30 AM

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#27 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:20 AM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 11 September 2012 - 11:40 PM, said:

I find this hard to imagine. What school is this where you get a CS degree without taking hard classes?


For as much as I think an expensive piece of paper is helpful when seeking professional employment, I have to back up the other guy here. The school I work for offers an AAS in CS. This semester, the entire extent of our CS offerings are:

Intro to Computers
Word Processing Applications
Desktop Publishing
PC Maintenance & Repair
Intro to Networking
Intro to Animation
Computer Programming I (which the catalog describes as using "an object-oriented language")

That's it. We offer a web development class every spring. It teaches Dreamweaver. No scripting, no databases, just Dreamweaver.

I would be exceptionally leery of hiring anyone who finished a CS degree here based on this information alone... when you add in that 90% of our student population are required to take developmental math and reading (not exaggerating... I can provide supporting documentation to back up this outrageous percentage), it would make me doubly leery.
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#28 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:24 AM

Good gravy. Why would anyone go to this school? Do they think that the guy hiring them can't look this stuff up?

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Computer Programming I (which the catalog describes as using "an object-oriented language")


Oh, well that's okay then. I was worried for a minute, but they use an object-oriented language, so we're all good.
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#29 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:45 AM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 12 September 2012 - 02:24 PM, said:

Why would anyone go to this school?

You're missing (or just overlooking?) a lot of the frustration with the questions we get here. Look around & you'll answer that question quickly. American's have the idea that education can be purchased. & when they find out it can't, they post here (or elsewhere) & ask for the answer. It isn't the education they seek, it's the completion.

For every 100 or so useless idiots that will wind up flipping whoppers for smokes & booze, there are schools that tell them they can be video game developers, or the next Bill Gates/Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg.

Just sign & pay, my dip-shit little droogies, just sign & pay!
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#30 AdamSpeight2008  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a computer science degree worth the paper it's printed on?

Posted 12 September 2012 - 01:37 PM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 12 September 2012 - 07:24 PM, said:

Why would anyone go to this school?


Target Practice? (or is it too soon.)
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