13 Replies - 1132 Views - Last Post: 24 November 2014 - 11:03 PM

#1 ViiBit   User is offline

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Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 11:24 AM

Hello everyone,
I'm currently a freshman in college with a major in Computer Science with a concentration in Cyber Security. I've been put into two higher lever courses, Data Structures and Computer Algorithms, after talking to the head of the department. Now it's getting to the end of the semester and I'm scheduled for one computer science course next semester. But I'm a bit frustrated with college.

The head of my school's Math, Science, and Physics department waived the Intro to Computer Science and the Intro two computer programming courses I was supposed to take as a freshman after I told her my experience with programming.

I've been programming and working with computers since about fifth grade, every self taught basically because my school's computer classes weren't challenging enough. Eventually my grades in school started slipping because I knew what I wanted to study and pursue as a career but I was being taught it in school. I would catch myself daydreaming and thinking about bugs I have in my code or new ideas to implement when I get to my laptop.

Anyhow, come college and I told myself I wouldn't let myself slip because I would finally be challenged enough. But I'm starting to find myself feeling the same way I did in high school. I'm catching myself code in all of my classes cause we can have our laptops out. The two advanced classes I was put in aren't even as challenging as I thought it would be and the feel like high school honors classes or something similar.

Most if not all of what I know is self taught and I was wondering if it was possible to succeed in the IT field without a college degree by getting certifications on your own and proving you know what your doing through personal projects? Or possibly a different strategy?
Not that I'm thinking about dropping out, it's just hard to stay motivated when you know what your doing in the classroom is irrelevant to what you want to do with you career.

So if you think it's possible, how? If not, then why not?
Thanks in advance.
Also sorry if this is in the wrong field, I wasn't sure where else to put it.

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Replies To: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

#2 Martyr2   User is offline

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 11:37 AM

Well if you are not challenged, not learning anything new and not relevant to what you want to do in your career you are obviously in the wrong program. Why waste time and money? Is a degree necessary in the field? No not really. I have been a long time advocate of saying that you don't need one and as long as you have work you can show employers, good coding practices, get things done on time and on budget and can prove all that, most employers won't care. They just want people who can solve problems, do it is within constraints and likes to do what they do. Zuckerberg, Gates etc... all drop outs.

But there is also something to say for a degree. It shows that you committed and completed something, you can say you have some kind of "base knowledge" and prove it and may give you some resources into the industry (many universities also have connections into the industry you can leverage).

However, don't do a program you find wasteful. Get into another program, challenge yourself and if you still can't find your way through school, going into the industry may be for you. :)
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#3 jon.kiparsky   User is online

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 01:44 PM

The main concern I'd have is that you might be underrating the value of the material in a CS curriculum. You might be bored with the early-stage stuff, but that doesn't mean that there isn't something there for you to learn. There's a reason that hiring managers like to see a CS degree, and it's not just because it means you've learned the secret handshakes. It means that you've covered material that actually makes a difference for a programmer.
You should probably talk to your academic advisor and see if it's possible to ramp up the program to give you more of a challenge before you decide to bug out.

That being said, of course it's possible to work in tech without a CS degree - I do it every day. But I know that the lack of a degree in the field does make it harder, so I'd suggest you think carefully about that.
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#4 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 02:20 PM

Quote

I'm currently a freshman in college with a major in Computer Science with a concentration in Cyber Security.

How are the info assurance classes? Have you even started taking those?

Is your plan on using info assurance, or what, exactly?

Quote

if it was possible to succeed in the IT field without a college degree

Yes it does happen..

On that note - have you tried applying for jobs? Are you secure that you know all you need to know to be a entry level dev?

Quote

just hard to stay motivated when you know what your doing in the classroom is irrelevant to what you want to do with you career.

How so? Learning how to program, structures, group work, design, etc are fairly relevant to work.
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#5 Xaos   User is offline

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 03:01 PM

Change your major to something more challenging to you and CS related, something like Math or Physics or something with a CS minor, if you want to go through school and get the degree. If not, drop out and go the "hard route".
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#6 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 03:33 PM

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If not, drop out and go the "hard route".


Every route is the hard route. Just because you have a degree does not mean anything is going to be easy or given to you. Just as self taught does not better equip you to deal with problems in the real world, just because you are already operating in it. Just differences in exposure.

If your courses aren't challenging, is that because of the material? Lack of interest? Or you already know the material back to front? Can you CLEP out of the courses and go to a higher level?

This post has been edited by astonecipher: 24 November 2014 - 03:33 PM

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#7 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 03:36 PM

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Every route is the hard route. Just because you have a degree does not mean anything is going to be easy or given to you.

I think xaos was making a tongue-in-cheek referring to how the OP doesn't thing college is hard enough and is asking if skipping the degree will kick life up a notch or two in the toughness realm.
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#8 Xaos   User is offline

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 03:39 PM

Modi nailed it. Obviously neither path is easy nor will everything be handed to you.
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#9 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 03:41 PM

Eh, my mistake. In that case, sure. Join the real world and see how well you fare. Just take off a semester or two and see what you can handle. Life ain't a bowl o peaches.
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#10 Xaos   User is offline

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 03:44 PM

Take this with a huge grain of salt, given the info you provided, but have you considered transferring to a tougher school? Are you in a regional type school or a community college? If it is so easy, make good grades and transfer to a good/great school. Of course if you're at Harvard, disregard.
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#11 ViiBit   User is offline

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 03:57 PM

View Postmodi123_1, on 24 November 2014 - 02:20 PM, said:

How are the info assurance classes? Have you even started taking those?

Is your plan on using info assurance, or what, exactly?

My school actually doesn't privide an info assurance class, I looked on the required courses online.. I suppose it's poor school choice..

View Postmodi123_1, on 24 November 2014 - 02:20 PM, said:

Yes it does happen..

On that note - have you tried applying for jobs? Are you secure that you know all you need to know to be a entry level dev?

I have in highschool but I never gave it much thought at the time because I wasn't 18 which I assumed would be the minimum age requirement for most jobs looking for someone IT related.

View Postmodi123_1, on 24 November 2014 - 02:20 PM, said:

How so? Learning how to program, structures, group work, design, etc are fairly relevant to work.

That's the thing, there is no group work or design covered in those classes other than diagrams provided in the lecture powerpoint. And I knew most of the things covered and what I don't know I grasp easily and know how to implement it before the rest of the class and I just have to sit there until we move on to the next topic. I just feel I would learn more on my own because I can go at my own pace.


I understand neither route is easy and going the know degree route is going to be tougher. I just want to know if it would realistic of me to do so.
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#12 Xaos   User is offline

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 04:15 PM

Maybe you just aren't attending a school where your peers are on the same level as you. The teachers have to/do teach so the majority of the students. It'd be like a Harvard-level student attending a community college. I know I said that, but I feel that way even more after this most recent post.
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#13 jon.kiparsky   User is online

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 09:31 PM

View PostXaos, on 24 November 2014 - 06:15 PM, said:

Maybe you just aren't attending a school where your peers are on the same level as you. The teachers have to/do teach so the majority of the students. It'd be like a Harvard-level student attending a community college. I know I said that, but I feel that way even more after this most recent post.



I have to disagree with this assumption that the school you go to makes a difference in what you can learn. The most important factors in a student's learning are:
1) the student
2) the teacher
3) the other students


The student will be the same in all of these cases. The teachers? Well, Harvard, Stanford, etc don't hire professors to be great teachers. They hire impressive researchers, who may or may not be great teachers. Community colleges, state colleges, and so forth, are much more focused on hiring great teachers, because that's what they're selling - so there is no reason to expect the level on instruction at a place like Harvard to be better than at a place like UMass Boston (where I've taken some courses, from truly great instructors). I don't mean to say that all community college instructors are brilliant - but you have to go and find out for yourself. As for the other students - no matter where you go, eighteen-year-olds are about the same. In any class you take, there will be some students engaging with the material, pushing the discussion, helping other students, and generally getting it. You want to be one of those students, and you want to be engaging with those students. There will be more students who think they're trying, but just aren't really getting it. You want to be helping those students to get it. This is how you really learn your subject - by explaining it, over and over again, until it makes sense.

You can do this anywhere. The advantages of an elite school are essentially a social signalling factor: you can tell the world that you were smart in high school, smart enough that Harvard wanted you. But frankly, by the time you're graduated from college, you probably want to be done bragging about your high school days, so this is really of limited value.

(the real advantage comes if you go for an MBA - since there are no actual metrics for judging a candidate for a managerial position, the people hiring for those slots typically overbid for people who graduated from the elites - but someone hiring for a technical position can do things like figure out whether you understand the fundamentals of computer science, whether you can solve problems you haven't seen before, and so forth - so the badge value of a name school tends to be pretty low, except when you're talking to exceptionally stupid recruiters)
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#14 e_i_pi   User is offline

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Re: Succeed in the IT field without a degree?

Posted 24 November 2014 - 11:03 PM

Yes it's possible, I've managed it. I did do a Maths degree and in final year did a lot of computing related subjects (Crypto, Information Theory, Data Mining) but I had only done one subject in CSCI, which was the basic 100-level subject. I started with some basic jobs doing VBA in Excel spreadsheets, then VBA in Access, later some Sharepoint admin work, then on to web design, BI, reporting, SQL DBA, and now .NET programming as an Analyst Programmer. That spans about 7 years all up. Not one step was easy, but I think that's what makes a good IT person - being able to adapt to change and overcome challenges. If your heart is in it, you'll succeed. Good luck!
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