So I'm nearing the end of my first semester at college. I've been looking into different majors, and have been having a hard time finding definitive answers on the differences between majors and which programs are good. Basically I'd like to get into OS development or Network Security, or something similar to one of those. I don't want to be in school for a long time - I'm a big self-teacher, so I'm really just getting a degree so I can say I went to college and have a degree.
I've been looking at Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Information Technology, and Information Systems. Of course, even between different schools these majors mean different things. When I've gone to different professors and department advisors, they all give me answers favoring their department. From what I can tell, CE is just a mix of the CS and EE courses. CS focuses on algorithms, data structures, and programming theory. I-Sys is just a business degree with a very heavy focus on computing. IT seems to be a general computer-technology degree that touches on everything a little bit in moderate detail (classes on circuitry, robotics, electronics, wireless communication, networking, OSs and filesystems, software dev...)
I've heard some not-so-good things about how the IT and CS programs at our school rank nationally. Honestly, the list of classes in the IT program are the ones that interest me most, and have the least number of classes that I consider completely irrelevant to me. Computer Engineering will take me about 6 years to complete - a LOT of classes, and I'm working half-time. The other degrees will take me 4 years.
CS and I-sys don't interest me that much.
If I may, let me present my plan to you guys, and if those of you that are in the industry could give me some feedback, considering what I've said above about my preferences and goals, I'd really appreciate it.
1) I have a programming job that's 20-hours a week during Fall/Winter, and 40-hours a week Spring/Summer. I have a VERY good reputation with the management and I've progressed very quickly. It's Java and ActionScript - a lot of Client/Server communication in various protocols, a few massive batch processing projects, and a healthy dose reverse engineering code. By the time I graduate, I will have been there 5 years.
2) I'm gonna do the IT major - it's reputedly an easier, shorter major, although lower-quality, but it's also more focussed on things that actually interest me. On the plus-side, it gives me more time for 3 and 4, and I would enjoy it, on the down side - it doesn't get as many recruiters
3) I'm going to put more effort into getting a CCIE in Security (or at least as far as I can). I'm already working on the material for the CCENT and CCNA.
4) I'm going to work on some bigger personal projects to use as samples - specifically a small OS and some networking utilities.
What do you think? Do you think the extra efforts make up for a lower-ranked major? Do you have any suggestions? I'm really trying to avoid taking lots of classes that don't interest me much - I don't have the patience for that, and I'd like to be out of school sooner than later. I'd rather spend more energy on the CC's.
And if you're wondering - the reason I don't pack up and go to a school that IS ranked higher in the major I'm working on - is that I don't think I can find a school that's ranked this high on average that helps me so much financially (BYU).