2 Replies - 526 Views - Last Post: 03 June 2015 - 06:30 PM

#1 Jrlanear84  Icon User is offline

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Am I enrolled in the right program?

Posted 03 June 2015 - 05:45 PM

Hello all!

I am currently enrolled at the University of Phoenix for Software Engineering. I am also a mother of four working full time from home so I don't have much time to attend a physical campus. My concern is whether I will be passed over when I graduate just because of my attending a for-profit college strictly online. I have read in several threads that gaining experience may make a difference in whether I am passed over. I have not started any programing classes yet so I am hoping to get some advice.

Do you think I will be passed over? Will experience make a difference and if so, how do I gain experience? If UoP is not the right choice, does anyone have any recommendations for a better online program. I am spending a lot of money to get my degree so I want to make sure I will be able to use it.

I really appreciate any advice that you can give.

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Replies To: Am I enrolled in the right program?

#2 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Am I enrolled in the right program?

Posted 03 June 2015 - 06:04 PM

Moved to Student Campus.

I can't speak to UoP's credibility, as I'm not familiar with them. Personally, I tend to shy away from for-profit programs. Old Dominion University in Virginia offers an online CS program at $345/credit hour to out of state students. It's a solid online program and a reputable degree. So that's a plus.

My advice is to go through a community college, though. Not everything needs to be done in person, but I'm a big advocate of taking programming classes in person. We see a lot of folks come through here taking online classes, and they are very frustrated if they don't have prior programming experience. One of the benefits of a physical classroom setting is human interaction. Much of what you will learn in computer science comes from your interactions with your peers. Especially early on, this is important. I can empathize that it is hard for you to make it to a physical campus, but I would definitely advocate trying to make it to a physical campus for some important classes.

The important classes to take in person are Intro to Programming, then the follow up course on Data Structures and Algorithms I. Aside from these courses and any required math courses, the rest of the CS curriculum is really project-based learning. I've found myself to be very autonomous in these types of courses.

In order to be ready to program at a conversant level, I'd suggest the following:
-Intro to Programming
-Data Structures and Algorithms I
-Discrete Math
-Data Structures and Algorithms II
-2-3 courses at the junior/senior level that are project intensive

So to bottom line it, I'd suggest going to a community college for a few courses. Then if you want a BS CS, transfer to ODU online. If you want purely online, I'd look at ODU, as I think it will be cheaper and higher quality than UoP.


Will experience make a difference and if so, how do I gain experience?

Experience in many cases makes a bigger difference than a degree. I'm presently at a big company (a name you would recognize), and I have coworkers doing software development that majored in Journalism. Craig328 was a history major in college. So experience is a big deal. Generally, the way to get experience is through an internship, which are generally paid.

Another way to get experience is to work on personal projects and showcase them on github or a personal website to serve as a portfolio. This is less valuable than an internship, but still important. It goes a long ways towards showing employers you can write clean, maintainable code.

Hope this helps some!
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#3 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Am I enrolled in the right program?

Posted 03 June 2015 - 06:30 PM

A lot depends on you - who you are, what your motivations are, what your background is, and so forth. Different people thrive in different situations. However, like mac, I've found that a live class setting is often the best way to pick up the fundamentals, if the teacher is at all decent as a teacher (they don't have to be a brilliant programmer, as long as they know more than you, but they have to be engaged in what they're doing, which is sometimes lacking) and there are at least a few students who are there to learn and not just to get the credits and the degree. Learning is a communal activity, and it works best when you do it with others, in real time. If you get a misconception in your head, and you're talking with others, it'll get cleared up pretty quickly. If you don't have those other heads around you, it's easy to keep a wrong idea for a long time.

However, I think it's possible to learn just about anything you need, if you're serious about your work and you really care about the material. Make lots of mistakes, you can learn a lot from them. And participate in forums like this one! You can learn a lot by asking good questions (see Eric Raymond's essay "How to Ask Questions The Smart Way") and by answering them - and you'll be surprised how quickly you find that people are asking questions that you've already struggled with.
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