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

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46 Replies - 11579 Views - Last Post: 15 September 2012 - 06:02 PM

#31 Skydiver  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 - 03:02 PM

View PostAdamSpeight2008, on 12 September 2012 - 01:37 PM, said:

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.)


If the school allows concealed carry, it maybe a reason to choose that school over a school with more draconian rules. :)

This post has been edited by Skydiver: 12 September 2012 - 03:03 PM

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#32 Skydiver  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 - 03:22 PM

View Posttime4f5, on 12 September 2012 - 05:26 AM, said:

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.


This is so true. I tell some people that it's kind of ironic that the best education I got in college was from my coach and interacting with my teammates. Every year without fail, somebody will complain to my coach "I don't think I'm learning enough with the classes I'm taking. It's outdated/regimented/not practical/etc." My coach would then take that student athlete aside and say to him/her something along the lines of "College won't teach you all the skills that you need for industry X. What it will teach you is how to learn and think. You'll hopefully pickup the skills and discipline of being able to do research on your own, write about it, discuss what you've learned, and most importantly, apply some critical thinking and come to your own conclusions. You're here to learn how to learn. You are being trained to think. Now go do your homework and don't show up for practice unless it's done." :) I got that talk late in my junior year when it was my turn to whine, but it set everything in perspective for me. Senior-itis wasn't too big an issue.
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#33 NecroWinter  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 - 03:50 PM

Computer Science degrees are really useful and important if your programming job actually requires computer science. Programming and computer science are two different skillsets sometimes. Obviously, if you are creating new data structures and algorithms etc youll need CS, but in many situations, especially in business, you just have to use the libraries and such. Ive met a lot of people who program professionally that dont know how to tell if binary search is lg n, they also probably dont care either
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#34 jon.kiparsky  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 - 07:56 PM

View PostNecroWinter, on 12 September 2012 - 05:50 PM, said:

Ive met a lot of people who program professionally that dont know how to tell if binary search is lg n, they also probably dont care either


Ironically, this is almost certainly because languages have gotten much better, and also because of Moore's Law. (Though I think the former is much more important here than the latter) As languages and libraries develop, the skills required of the working programmer are changing, and it is no longer necessary to implement basic routines that once occupied so much time. This is a good thing, obviously - I'd rather write a piece of software in Python than in Java, and I'd prefer Java to C, and I'd prefer C to assembler and transitively on to machine language - but it's important to consider the side effects as well: I'm not required to be nearly as good a programmer as someone writing twenty years ago, so I'm probably not - even though I can certainly develop more interesting software in less time than I would have been able to twenty years ago. And that's precisely because I can develop more interesting software in less time.
Fundamentals that would have been taken for granted twenty years ago are now indications of a odd and crankish devotion to archaica - and the same thing could have been said twenty years ago.

There is a lot to be said about this, I think. Certainly, there's a lot that's been said, some of it interesting, and there's a lot here that I haven't thought of, but the most important thing is to really grab onto this: It's not a matter of a decline and fall, it's not an end of days, and any call for turning back would be idiotic. On the other hand, a simpleminded clinging to the tow-rope of progress is certainly idiocy. The best programmers I know are the ones who go both ways, who are curious enough and crankish enough to want to understand how a game like Adventure would have been written if Donald Knuth had executed it, and also curious enough to explore the newest tools as they come down the pike.

Thinking about this, I would say finally (as this has become a bit of a ramble) that it is clear to me that the basic virtue of a programmer - standing above even Larry Wall's trio of "Laziness, Impatience, and Hubris" - is curiosity. Which, by a strange coincidence is really the one interesting virtue of a human being, from which all others derive.

And this is something that no CS program can guarantee to produce, but every worthwhile teacher of programming must seek to inspire. That is, a good CS program produces good programmers but great program produces curious programmers - which is something only the smartest employers value highly.
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#35 Lemur  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 - 09:14 PM

Truly brilliant people with passion will succeed with or without a degree.
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#36 Korupt  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 - 09:48 PM

Quite a lot of college bashing here, so I just wanted to put in a good word here. I attend the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and while at a first glace the price is completely ridiculous (~$56,000 per year), almost no one pays that much. I come from a low income family; we hardly have the money to make mortgage payments, let alone save up anything for a college fund. And still I can afford to go, because the college took it upon itself to pay for my tuition, housing, and even food. From my last bill, I own -$700 (yes, they're actually giving me $700 to spend on w/e I want). And this is not a rarity, everyone who comes here pays basically however much they can afford, and the institute takes care of the rest. The only people who would actually have to pay in full have parents who make millions and are willing to pay. Many of the other top schools including the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, UoC, etc. do the same. So for anyone here worried that they can't afford to attend some of the best schools in the world, don't be. Just do your best in high school and the rest will work itself out.

As far as the CS program is concerned, I can't comment too much because I've only recently started and before you start taking more advanced classes here, you have to complete core (5 physics classes, 5 math, 2 chem, 1 bio, and 2 labs). But from what I've heard upperclassmen say, a lot of the classes are quite useful and well thought, not to mention the countless opportunities to talk to professors one on one and even conduct research with them. A lot of the CS majors here also get summer internships at Google, Facebook, Apple, Wolfram Alpha, etc. quite easily which is great industry experience.

I just thought I put that out there, colleges are not all bad and some things you can't just pick out of a book. Trust me, some of the math like Complex Analysis and Numbers Theory is near impossible without professors and TA(s).

This post has been edited by Korupt: 12 September 2012 - 09:49 PM

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#37 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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

Posted 13 September 2012 - 04:09 AM

... and if tuition costs were more reasonable, they wouldn't be shelling out over $56K per student to attend their institution.
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#38 baavgai  Icon User is online

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

Posted 13 September 2012 - 04:13 AM

Colleges aren't bad. If you can go, go. What's mostly being said is that a degree is no guarantee of employment or even competence. They are sold as both.

For any form of education, you get out what you put in. If you go to college and really learn, then you're a valuable resource that any employer would want. However, the sheep skin alone doesn't tell the employer your level of knowledge, only that you've put in your time and passed requirements. This is why its value is questioned.

This post has been edited by baavgai: 13 September 2012 - 04:14 AM

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#39 RudiVisser  Icon User is offline

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

Posted 13 September 2012 - 04:19 AM

We automatically turn down university graduates without at least 2 years experience in the field of the job.

I've come across far too many retards who have been taught absolute shit and can't code for crap without thinking of the most abstract convoluted and complex system, even for the most basic of tasks.

We ended up with a 3000-line assignment system for linking product images to products a year or so ago.

EDIT: Let me clarify the "automatic turn down", we require 2 years experience in the field anyway, and essentially this makes the university degree or whatever count for nothing. It really is that meaningless from experience.

This post has been edited by RudiVisser: 13 September 2012 - 04:34 AM

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#40 smacdav  Icon User is offline

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

Posted 13 September 2012 - 05:55 AM

View PostSkydiver, on 12 September 2012 - 06:02 PM, said:

View PostAdamSpeight2008, on 12 September 2012 - 01:37 PM, said:

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.)


If the school allows concealed carry, it maybe a reason to choose that school over a school with more draconian rules. :)


The school in question is clearly a community college (aka a junior college). These colleges offer two-year degrees and are not allowed to turn anyone down based on academics (other than requiring a high school diploma or GED). This explains why so many people at these schools have to take developmental (below 100-level) classes.

I taught at a community college at the time when our state first started offering AAS degrees and was in on the development of the degree. This is not intended to be an employable degree--the entire point of an AAS is that it gets you the first few classes needed for a BS in Computer Science. If the community college has a valid articulation agreement with the university the student transfers to then they can probably complete the degree in a total of four years. Before the adoption if the AAS, it would typically take five years simply because of the sequence in which courses needed to be taken. This is not a reasonable program to expect to lead directly to employment, so is not really the type under discussion here.

This post has been edited by smacdav: 13 September 2012 - 05:56 AM

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#41 rgfirefly24  Icon User is offline

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

Posted 13 September 2012 - 06:02 AM

I disagree with you about the AAS not being an "Employable" degree. The College I went to had an AAS degree that was non-transferable and was meant to get you the skills needed to be able to get a junior developer position. I went to STCC (Specifically for this degree), and feel that although the degree lacked severely in any kind of math it did give me the practical programming skills I needed.

This post has been edited by rgfirefly24: 13 September 2012 - 06:04 AM

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#42 xclite  Icon User is offline

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

Posted 13 September 2012 - 06:28 AM

View PostAdamSpeight2008, on 12 September 2012 - 04:37 PM, said:

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.)

Classy.
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#43 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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

Posted 13 September 2012 - 06:29 AM

View Postrgfirefly24, on 13 September 2012 - 09:02 AM, said:

I disagree with you about the AAS not being an "Employable" degree. The College I went to had an AAS degree that was non-transferable and was meant to get you the skills needed to be able to get a junior developer position.


This. x 1,000. An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree is a workforce development program meant to take the student from college freshman to fully employable in two years time. An Associate of Science (AS) degree is meant for transfer students.
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#44 xclite  Icon User is offline

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

Posted 13 September 2012 - 06:32 AM

An Associate's Degree can be a good way to really reduce the cost of a Bachelor of Science.

There were a few classes I took during my college studies that I just wouldn't have been able to replicate via self-study, and definitely not with the same speed and rigor.

However, there's about $30,000 - $40,000 of garbage I had to wade through for those 3 or 4 courses. They are worth taking, I'm not sure I agree the price of the degree is worth it. How does it cost that much to provide an education?

This post has been edited by xclite: 13 September 2012 - 06:33 AM

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#45 JackOfAllTrades  Icon User is offline

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

Posted 13 September 2012 - 06:44 AM

Quote

American's People have the idea that education can be purchased


FTFY. It's certainly not unique to the US. Tally up the sources of "Gimme Teh Codez" posts as proof.
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