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#1 Zero Cool  Icon User is offline

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Successfully studying computer science at a state university

Posted 02 November 2012 - 10:02 AM

Hi DIC community,

I have decided to go back to school at night at a state university for a computer science degree while working full time. It looks like it's only going to take me about 2 years because all the generals from my first bachelor's transferred as well as all the calculus courses I've taken (took everything but multi-variable).

My question regards the particulars of my school. The school is very small and not a university in the normal sense (think a 2 year community college type school that offers 4 year degrees). The reason I chose this school was because it would only cost me about $6,000 (bare in mind I already have somewhere around $50k in student loan debt from my first bachelors- long story) to complete a four year Computer Science degree.

I have read most of the stickies and threads on here about how to take advantage of being in school and how to get involved outside of just required class work. However, from what I have seen so far, there is nothing outside of the classroom that is specifically tailored to Computer Science offered at this school.

My best guess would be to get involved in projects and internships outside of school ASAP to start building my resume (the best I can- I will be working full time at my day job and going to school full time at nights).

Does anyone have any experience with a school like this or have any relevant advice on how to make the most of my experience and come out of school with the best possible chance to land a full time developer gig?

I am a huge mathematics guy so my dream job would be somewhere where I could combine my love of writing code and working with math and developing systems involving mathematical models. So the end game would maybe be working on developing software/systems that has applications in mathematics, physics, or something similar.

Thanks everyone for reading! Here are a bunch of Mr. T smileys for your time...

:fool: :fool: :fool: :fool: :fool: :fool:

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Replies To: Successfully studying computer science at a state university

#2 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Successfully studying computer science at a state university

Posted 02 November 2012 - 10:37 AM

We have the internet. You can work on anything you want to.

A few thoughts:
1) The degree is a foot in the door, but I find that a lot of the skills I pick up on my spare time are integral to my success. A portfolio, past projects, and experience are at least as important.
2) You say there's not much related to Computer Science outside of the classes - start stuff. Make things happen, bring new ideas to the campus.

If you like math, find applications for it, and keep a blog. Show off cool programs you write that utilize your math knowledge to do cool things. If you're trying to find a developer gig, Computer Science is a smaller part of it than being a skilled software engineer, so practice that.
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#3 Zero Cool  Icon User is offline

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Re: Successfully studying computer science at a state university

Posted 02 November 2012 - 11:21 AM

View Postxclite, on 02 November 2012 - 05:37 PM, said:

We have the internet. You can work on anything you want to.

A few thoughts:
1) The degree is a foot in the door, but I find that a lot of the skills I pick up on my spare time are integral to my success. A portfolio, past projects, and experience are at least as important.


That's the biggest takeaway point I've gathered from a lot of the "help me be awesome at school" posts. The reason I want to get the degree is because with the job market being so competitive, I'm competing with a bunch of developers that have degrees. So, even if I was as good as them, they still have the upper hand. Especially to an HR person that knows nothing about computers.

The other reason I think a degree program is good for me is that they will guide my studies. I don't need to spend all the extra time figuring out what I should be learning, critiquing myself, and assembling all the appropriate materials I need to absorb. It's also nice to have professors to help you when you get stuck.

The other, other side of it is that it's a lot easier to tell a girlfriend/mom/friend/etc. that 'I have to do my homework tonight.' That flies a lot farther than 'I want to sit and do math all night tonight.' Or 'I just want to sit on the laptop all night and develop a program that [insert math concept here].'

View Postxclite, on 02 November 2012 - 05:37 PM, said:

2) You say there's not much related to Computer Science outside of the classes - start stuff. Make things happen, bring new ideas to the campus.


That's a great idea, and I have no idea why I didn't think of that. Once I get on campus I will reach out to someone and see what hoops I have to jump through to kickstart something.

View Postxclite, on 02 November 2012 - 05:37 PM, said:

If you like math, find applications for it, and keep a blog. Show off cool programs you write that utilize your math knowledge to do cool things. If you're trying to find a developer gig, Computer Science is a smaller part of it than being a skilled software engineer, so practice that.


That's really good advice. I started working on C++ programs that would do everything I learned in my first year physics book. It was basically a bunch of programs that took the input you were provided with and then performed the calculations they taught you to reach the solution they were looking for.

It was inspired by a TED talk that encouraged teachers to focus more on identifying the problem and learning the proper solution and why, rather than spending so much time on calculations and rote memorization of techniques (http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover.html).

And good advice on the developer gig. I wish there was a major at my school that was "software developer". But, alas, I think computer science is the catch all major for most techy related careers (they probably lump them all into one major for economical reasons).

Thanks a ton for the input- that was really helpful for me. I'll be around DIC so after I get some experience at this school I'll come back and revisit this post and try to post some stuff I learned that might help others going into a school like mine.
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#4 jaay5389  Icon User is offline

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Re: Successfully studying computer science at a state university

Posted 13 November 2012 - 07:03 PM

I was also in the same position as you. I was looking for a open source project or anything to get involved in. After a while, i decided to just start my own projects. So far i ended up learning XHTML/CSS and javascript so i can build my own portfolio website. Then i learned directX and started small projects that consist of remakes of classic SNES games (not the whole game but just the general feel of it). I want to build a portfolio so that when i start applying for internships for this summer, the employer can have something to look at.
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#5 YasuoDancez  Icon User is offline

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Re: Successfully studying computer science at a state university

Posted 22 November 2012 - 06:03 PM

View PostZero Cool, on 02 November 2012 - 11:21 AM, said:

That's really good advice. I started working on C++ programs that would do everything I learned in my first year physics book. It was basically a bunch of programs that took the input you were provided with and then performed the calculations they taught you to reach the solution they were looking for.


Nice thought, I'm taking Physics next semester, and I think I'm going to follow this.
I started doing something similiar with Chemistry, but that class is not going to well, and I'm going to focus on Physics instead.

I also likes jaay5389 idea of remaking classics.

Starting a portfolio is great. I did this also to put up all my school projects.
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