College degree

This is a discussion on College degree within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; As someone who is currently in their 2nd year of college, and a paid software developer at the same time, ...

  1. #16
    Disrupting the universe Mad_guy's Avatar
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    As someone who is currently in their 2nd year of college, and a paid software developer at the same time, I'll say a few things: IMO, it is worth going to any college simply due to the people you'll meet (I happen to be lucky enough to go to one of the most culturally diverse campus' in the entire US.) I didn't get my [ridiculously super-duper awesomely sweet] job as a programmer right now with a degree, I got it because I had the skills and I had a friend who gave me a good reference!

    And yes, I mean this in the "life lesson" sort of way - more often than not I've gotten places I wouldn't otherwise have, not with a piece of paper, but with someone helping me out or backing me up. Networking with people is a crucially important skill, especially if you are aiming for a career in a field like software development, but it still goes beyond that for almost any real-world situation. For this, you may want to move out of home and move into dorms, but that doesn't mean you couldn't otherwise achieve this if you don't. However you go about it, I happen to think this is the #1 best reason to go to a college. You'll get to network with a lot of people and learn a whole bunch! Social interaction, WHOOO!!!

    I wanted to originally go because I wanted a degree that would make me lots of money and that was my #1 reason, but I eventually came to the conclusion that is unnecessarily equating money with happiness, and there were other reasons I'm here. And there are: I have plenty of opportunities to think about myself, what I want, and how I can do it. It's not all about the post-game procedure, some of it is about now.

    If you're only in your senior year, I wouldn't worry too much about it honestly. All state-schools have the exact same accreditation process regardless of where you are. The degree you get in the end may impress some managers because of the name on it came from, but they're all the same piece of paper, and more importantly you want to think about what kind of atmosphere you're going to be in. You're in your senior year of HS, right? Your high school will probably give you excused absences if you tell them you're going to tour a college. Go to a couple of them and look around at the people, places and think about what's there. Go into some random classroom and sit through a lecture. Think not only about what college but what environment you think will give you the most opportunities. Talk to their CS departments etc about what programs they have open, what companies they might be partners with, what research they have going on, etc.. You don't need to go to MIT in order to have really good opportunities or experiences, trust me (I met an MS rep. through a seminar, and they really wanted me for an internship in the Core Windows Team last year, but I had to keep my grades up over the summer so it wasn't possible. )

    Choosing the right college is important, but don't let dollar signs get in your eyes because you want to go somewhere extremely prestigious and try and make top-dollar straight out of your degree. That happened to a few of my friends; they didn't want to go where we are now, but they came to understand the name isn't of significant difference. They wanted to make lots of money with business-y majors, and are changing because they really don't want any of that stuff, because it's boring and uninteresting.

    It kind of sounds like now I'm only spouting hippie nonsense or something, but I thought I would try and spread some wisdom from somebody who is both a college student and now a full-time worker, but still young like yourself. This post is totally void of anything to do with getting a job as a developer, it is more general advice in the "life lesson" sort of way. On that note, I can only tell you to have skills. tl;dr: don't be persuaded or worried by $$$$ right now, you're too young for it. Do yourself justice and pick the place you think you have the most opportunities open to you, not some place you think is 'just better' or somewhere that everybody you know happens to think highly of. Don't let those opportunities get past you, either. If you want it, whether it be an internship or job, you're going to need the skills and dedication to get it. You're also going to want people helping you get there, trust me. I don't think any degree will help you any more than those two things possibly could in the long run.
    Last edited by Mad_guy; 11-08-2009 at 07:40 PM.
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  2. #17
    Allways learning cs_student's Avatar
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    Most colleges do not allow you to transfer even half of your credits from another college regardless of the grade you received.
    Virginia (the state government that is) has set up some sort of agreement between the public universities and community colleges. I can take my first two years at a local community college and they are guaranteed by the government to transfer (100%).


    I feel like having an on-campus experience would be great. While many of my friends are very smart, I don't know anybody who has an interest in CS as I do. I think meeting new friends who have such interests would be a great experience. When I took classes at my local community college, it seemed like I was surrounded by idiots. In my intro to CS class everyone was 21+, except for me. I was the only person passing the class (with a 101), so they offered me booz to do their work. I eventually reached a compromise that I would tutor in exchange for money (they didn't seem to want to learn). I'm really not sure that I want to have to attend classes with people who can't even (or don't want to) pass the simplest of courses.

    I'm also looking forward to undergraduate research projects and need to investigate what types of programs different colleges offer.
    Mad_guy, thanks for your post as it was real helpful. I think I will see if I can't travel upstate, to one or two of the colleges, so I can see what they're like.
    Also, it's nice to know you can get employed while still at the university. I can't wait until I can stop working at grocery stores && restaurants to get a real job.


    Thanks to everybody for their time and effort,


    cs_student
    Last edited by cs_student; 11-08-2009 at 08:13 PM.

  3. #18
    l'Anziano DavidP's Avatar
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    So you want to be an engineer?

    I definitely suggest going to a 4-year university from the get-go if you can get in to one. Even with the guarantees you can receive from the Virginia state government (that's quite nice of them to do actually), I think the experience of a 4-year university is simply better and you grow more. Of course 2-year community colleges are still excellent institutions, but if you have the chance to go to a 4-year university, do it.

    Finances aren't always the easiest thing. If it comes down to finances, be smart about it. Look into the options of working while at school. Most universities have several student programming positions, and TA jobs are plentiful. Are your parents willing to help out in some of your college education expenses? If you really can't find the money, then of course going to a community college first will work, but I think the 4-year university experience is invaluable.
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  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cs_student View Post
    When I took classes at my local community college, it seemed like I was surrounded by idiots. In my intro to CS class everyone was 21+, except for me. I was the only person passing the class (with a 101), so they offered me booz to do their work. I eventually reached a compromise that I would tutor in exchange for money (they didn't seem to want to learn). I'm really not sure that I want to have to attend classes with people who can't even (or don't want to) pass the simplest of courses.
    I think you'll be seeing a lot more of that no matter where you go. I was always the designated tutor in all my classes. Group projects are even worse, since you'll probably be the one doing most of the work, unless you hit the jackpot and actually get some other smart people in your group.
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  5. #20
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    Virginia where I live... I would looked very seriosly into Virginia tech vcu and uva... just my opinion though and defianately virginia tech thats where i plan to go

  6. #21
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    I think you'll be seeing a lot more of that no matter where you go. I was always the designated tutor in all my classes. Group projects are even worse, since you'll probably be the one doing most of the work, unless you hit the jackpot and actually get some other smart people in your group.
    I don't find that to be the case at all in my classes. I used to be one of the smartest guys in high school, everyone would come to me for questions and things, and I would usually be the first one to finish math/physics exams and get one of the highest marks, etc. Didn't take any notes or did any optional (for practice) homework.

    In university I am just a bit above average. Maybe that's because of the insanely high entrance requirement for my university (due to supply and demand, not necessarily reflecting quality, since there aren't many good universities on Canada west coast). We have loads of very smart people from all over the world. Our classes are about 20% Caucasian, 5% black, 20% chinese, 20% indian, 20% from the middle east, and the rest from other places. In our labs, at any given time, there are probably 3-4 languages being spoken, since many groups have people all from the same place, and they would speak their own language. My group has 2 indians, 1 egyption, 1 malaysian, and 1 south american, and I am asian, so we are kindda forced to speak English . Unfortunately not quite as diverse in terms of gender. We have exactly 12 girls in our ~120 people class (electrical and computer engineering), when the university-wide ratio is 40:60 (male:female).

    It's great to be able to befriend and network with all kinds of people with very different backgrounds. Gives you a broader perspective and also communication skills. I'm guessing people don't usually fly overseas to attend community colleges.

  7. #22
    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    > when the university-wide ratio is 40:60 (male:female).

    Things won't be so cool when that ratio widens and suddenly there is pronounced violence over breeding males.

  8. #23
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    If you think you're at all capable, then you'll be able to repay any debt or other financial hardships you accrue by going to the more expensive college.
    Though from most studies I've seen - that takes the majority of your life. I've personally seen several people pay for PhD's on loans, and even though they left school making six figures, they're going to be in debt for at least the next 20 years. When you take our net profit into account, I'm pretty sure I make more than they do with my pre-graduate part time job. I personally see that as an incredibly stupid decision, and would count it against a person if I was to evaluate their worth as an employee.

    If your question is how much employers weight where you got your degree from, it varies. Some schools get more attention from recruiters than others - and if that's how you plan to get a job, than it's a huge deal. If you were to interview for jobs, it's a whole different game. A "community college" certainly doesn't look as good on your resume, but if it's a 4-year school that doesn't have a bad reputation, most people don't notice what school it is.

    My personal feeling is that it's up to the person - a smart person can learn a lot at a bad school, and a dumb person can leave a great school and still be a moron. I'm inclined to say that it doesn't matter much what school you go to, since you ought to make an effort for your own learning anyway. If you really do put a lot of effort into your own learning, a college degree becomes very much a piece of paper, because you're not going to look back at college and say, "boy I'm glad I went there, because if it wasn't for them I wouldn't have learned all that!"

    edit: Also, I wanted to echo what other people have said about the benefits of college for networking and social growth - you should consider that, too. But again - it's up to you how you do that, really.

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    Things won't be so cool when that ratio widens and suddenly there is pronounced violence over breeding males.
    haha accelerated natural selection?

  10. #25
    Woof, woof! zacs7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean View Post
    Though from most studies I've seen - that takes the majority of your life. I've personally seen several people pay for PhD's on loans, and even though they left school making six figures, they're going to be in debt for at least the next 20 years.
    The trick is to get the University to pay for your PhD :-)

  11. #26
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    >> Though from most studies I've seen - that takes the majority of your life.

    I was thinking of an in-state school and a bachelor's degree, which shouldn't be too expensive. Going to a prestigious private school or out of state or getting advanced degrees can certainly make the loans add up.

    If you feel pretty competent, then you should be able to find a job that covers life expenses plus loan repayment. It might take a large part of your life, but that's usually with a manageable payment schedule, not some terribly difficult burden. It also helps to be going into an industry with decent paying jobs available.

    I'd be more concerned with having money to live now than I would be about being able to pay back loans later, again assuming that you feel confident you can succeed in the program and the workforce. If you were just getting by in high school or struggling a bit at the community college that might not be a safe assumption, but since the OP felt like he (or she) excelled at the CC while still in high school, I'm going to assume that shouldn't be a problem.

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