5 Replies - 721 Views - Last Post: 04 December 2014 - 04:59 PM

#1 bgknp   User is offline

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What's the best path for me?

Posted 04 December 2014 - 04:29 PM

Hi all. I'm a guy with a dual bachelor's who's looking to completely change industries and get into software development. I've received a wide range of advice (sadly, most of it is conflicting) and thought I would ask here. I've been out of school for about 5 years but I've done quite a bit of military training - and when not at training, I'm in the military reserves and work for a local bar here in Southern California where I make a livable wage. I've had a very limited exposure to programming, and I found it at times frustrating but extremely interesting and rewarding. I got excellent grades (4.0s most quarters) for my undergrad but I was a humanities major so it's really not comparable to a hard science. That being said, I believe I have the ability and drive to succeed at anything I choose to do, and I'm ready for a challenge!

I'm looking at possibly doing the University of West Georgia online CS master's next fall (obviously it's not a for sure thing, but this is my tentative plan). I have gone through CodeAcademy on Python and JS but was planning on enrolling in a local community college in January to knock out some CIS basics or maybe some higher-level math. Is this a good plan? I'm trying to make moves in a timely manner as I'm 28 and don't want to be 34 by the time I get a decent job.

If it is a good/decent plan, what courses would you guys recommend I take? I was a humanities/foreign language major for my bachelor's so I don't have a hard science background.

If it's not a good plan, what would you recommend I do instead?

Thank you for your time/advice. It will all be invaluable to me.

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Replies To: What's the best path for me?

#2 macosxnerd101   User is online

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Re: What's the best path for me?

Posted 04 December 2014 - 04:40 PM

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I'm looking at possibly doing the University of West Georgia online CS master's next fall (obviously it's not a for sure thing, but this is my tentative plan).

I'd work on filling deficiencies first. CS Masters programs generally rely on you having some computer organization, data structures II (which is a junior level and programming intensive course), some discrete math, engineering calculus, linear algebra, stats and some CS theory. If you were a humanities major, I doubt you have much of this. You are making the problem worse by jumping into an online program. I would go back and fill those deficiencies before going for a CS masters. That is, if you want to go the academic route. Going back to community college is a good plan. You'll probably be in school for at least two years in community college to fill deficiencies. If your goal is a change of career, I'd focus maybe on a semester of calculus, some stats, discrete math, and a programming sequence. Take the intro to whatever language class, a data structures I course, and a computer organization course if offered. Then spend some time working on personal projects and coding. Depending on how quickly you progress, you may be able to get an internship doing some coding, and that's a big plus.

Also, given that a Masters degree takes about two years, I'd say just go for undergrad CS. I honestly don't think you will be ready from community college to really benefit from a masters in CS. In contrast, a solid undergrad program is much more likely to get you where you need to be. An internship will help with this gap as well.

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I have gone through CodeAcademy on Python and JS

It's great you are excited about programming and trying to work through some material. CodeAcademy doesn't account for much, though, so don't bank on it giving you a good foundation.
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#3 bgknp   User is offline

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Re: What's the best path for me?

Posted 04 December 2014 - 04:51 PM

Thank you for the informative reply!

So, this master's program is sort of unique in that it requires no prerequisite CS courses, just a bachelor's degree. I've spoken with someone in the program who managed to achieve a good internship from it (and he had no CS background), so if I do my current plan, I will be attending community college just for a semester to get some background before I attend this program. Again, this is all fluid and I'm constantly doing research to try and figure out the best path for me.

I've also had several people tell me just to do some projects on my own on github and demonstrate a proficiency in programming and that will be enough to get a software development job. So I'm sort of trying to figure out the best path between two extremes.

Also, you are absolutely correct that CodeAcademy doesn't account for much. I just wanted to express that I've at least dipped my toes into the waters of programming.

Also I wanted to thank you for opening my eyes up to the possibility of an undergrad in CS - it may end up being more expeditious in time, and I've heard master's degrees in CS aren't really much more helpful than an undergrad. I just wanted to try something more accelerated to make up for the time that I've lost already.
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#4 macosxnerd101   User is online

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Re: What's the best path for me?

Posted 04 December 2014 - 04:51 PM

I just looked up the program. It is really IT and information systems, not a real computer science program. So it might be good for what you want to do, which is get a job. This is not a research-track CS degree though, which is fine. Just be aware of this going into things.
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#5 bgknp   User is offline

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Re: What's the best path for me?

Posted 04 December 2014 - 04:56 PM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 04 December 2014 - 04:51 PM, said:

I just looked up the program. It is really IT and information systems, not a real computer science program. So it might be good for what you want to do, which is get a job. This is not a research-track CS degree though, which is fine. Just be aware of this going into things.


Would you recommend doing an undergrad CS over this applied master's if my goal is software development? I have a bunch of 4-year universities all around me (SDSU, UCSD, etc) and I could probably transfer over to a CS major with little difficulty after knocking out some prerequisites.
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#6 macosxnerd101   User is online

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Re: What's the best path for me?

Posted 04 December 2014 - 04:59 PM

I think the CS major will be better about getting you to think more rigorously and creatively. A good CS program will be more beneficial, in my opinion. That being said, this masters degree is more industry training. As long as you learn to program and adapt, then learning a language or two prescribed by this program isn't a bad thing. If you go the undergrad route and switch to information systems, the only advantage to this masters is that you will be in a classroom and have peers with which to interact. That is actually a big advantage though. So I'd opt in all cases to do a physical classroom program instead of an online program so you have peers and a professor with whom to interact.
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