College degree

This is a discussion on College degree within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; Since I was nine I have always known that I was going to go to college. Until I got a ...

  1. #1
    Allways learning cs_student's Avatar
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    College degree

    Since I was nine I have always known that I was going to go to college. Until I got a computer my freshman year in high school, I wanted to be an astronomer. Since then I have wanted to be a software engineer (in which specific field I am still unsure). I do know that I want to continue to contribute to the open source community throughout my career, be it through my spare time or within my career itself.

    However, I also want to be able to get a high-paying job to allow me to obtain all the amenities that I seek to have in my life.

    I'm in the beginning of my senior year in high school and soon will have to make a decision on the school I wish to attend. Money is going to play a huge role in this decision. I am able to live at my parents house while attending a local university. Though I would not be able to experience "dorm life", I would be able to cut room and board from the costs of college. My other option is to go to a more prestigious college (still in-state for tution fees). However, this would cost me more in tution as well as the added fee for room & board.

    My question is, how heavily do employers weight were you received your degree? Once I get an internship and show my wide skill set and unique capabilities, will this be more substantially motivating to employ me than where I received my degree from?

    The university I live near is Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. This is located in a large city, so I think it will make it easier to find an internship.

    Since I'm only able (willing to take out enough loans) to pay in-state tution, I'm limited to universities in Virginia.

    Another option I have is to go to my local community college. They offer a program to where I go there for two years, for a fraction of the cost of anywhere else, then I can transfer to any college in Virginia as a junior to complete my bachelors degree. Since I've actually taken a few night classes there, this would be about a semester sooner. All the classes I have taken will transfer to any college in Virginia.

    What are your opinions on the matter?

    Thank you for your time and effort,


    cs_student
    Last edited by cs_student; 11-07-2009 at 08:42 PM.

  2. #2
    and the hat of sweating
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    When I lived in Virginia, a lot of the people at my company went to ODU.
    I got my Associates degree after I already got a nice job. I went to Thomas Nelson College & Strayer University (2 courses/semester) while I was working, since my company was paying for it...

    I think having a degree from a fancy school matters in some snobby companies, but a lot of others only care that you have the degree. Having a lot of work experience is probably more useful.

    I'd say, go with ODU.
    "I am probably the laziest programmer on the planet, a fact with which anyone who has ever seen my code will agree." - esbo, 11/15/2008

    "the internet is a scary place to be thats why i dont use it much." - billet, 03/17/2010

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    My first choice is to go with the best school available. 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. Dorm life and living away from home can also be an excellent experience (and I'm not talking about just social life either).

    Second choice to me would be the community college. That would be a great way to save money in the beginning, then you can transfer to the better school. Your degree will still be from the better school, but it will be cheaper. The downside is that you lose out on some of the freshman and sophomore experiences at the four year university, as well what will usually be better instruction.

    Any of the choices will be fine. If you work hard and do well you'll be able to find a good job regardless. But if one school has a better Computer Science program than another, then you'll probably have a few more choices by going to that school, and you just might learn more, too.

  4. #4
    Woof, woof! zacs7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cs_student View Post
    ... I have wanted to be a software engineer (in which specific field I am still unsure).
    Don't worry, I'm a 3rd year SE student and I still have no idea.

    Don't just go to the "best university" because you think it will give you the best SE/CS degree. Being "the best" doesn't mean they're highly regarded in the field of CS/SE. There are some really good universities with very, very poor CS/SE departments. At least in Australia anyway
    Last edited by zacs7; 11-08-2009 at 02:59 AM.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    The myth of saving money and/or time at a junior college is all but busted IMO. Most colleges do not allow you to transfer even half of your credits from another college regardless of the grade you received. As well most colleges have 'college-proprietary' courses that are designed so that you must take the class at college X to graduate. You cannot pick these up at a junior college and you might be surprised that there are more of them than you may think. Of course transferring credits is all about the school you are transferring from and the one you are transferring to...but in most cases I did not have much luck and ended up a career sophomore b/c of it.

    I would invest in a 4 year school if you are sure of your degree. If not you should definitely solidify your degree choice as it will save you tons of money in the long run.

    I'm not saying the CC route is a bad one but don't take it for granted that anything you do at CC will decrease the cost of your education b/c it can increase it if you end up taking most of it over again at the 4-year school. If you choose the CC route make sure your choice of CC is plugged into the program you are in and plugged into the 4 year school you intend on finishing up at.

    Don't worry, I'm a 3rd year SE student and I still have no idea.
    This is a bad place to be. The more indecision you have the more you will spend to get to the final degree you want. It's impossible to know exactly what you will like in the future or won't like but good planning can save you a lot of money. The worst thing you can do is switch degrees midstream b/c it ends up costing a whole heap of money.
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 11-08-2009 at 03:05 AM.

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    Woof, woof! zacs7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    This is a bad place to be. The more indecision you have the more you will spend to get to the final degree you want. It's impossible to know exactly what you will like in the future or won't like but good planning can save you a lot of money. The worst thing you can do is switch degrees midstream b/c it ends up costing a whole heap of money.
    I mean in terms of specialisation/what sort of SE. I defiantly want to be an SE, I haven't got any electives until 4th year ... so it's not like I can pick the "right" ones. Changing my degree to CS, IT for Business or IT Systems would not cost me a cent, or add extra time anyway
    Last edited by zacs7; 11-08-2009 at 03:25 AM.

  7. #7
    & the hat of GPL slaying Thantos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    The myth of saving money and/or time at a junior college is all but busted IMO. Most colleges do not allow you to transfer even half of your credits from another college regardless of the grade you received. As well most colleges have 'college-proprietary' courses that are designed so that you must take the class at college X to graduate. You cannot pick these up at a junior college and you might be surprised that there are more of them than you may think. Of course transferring credits is all about the school you are transferring from and the one you are transferring to...but in most cases I did not have much luck and ended up a career sophomore b/c of it.
    Wow, what crappy state do you live in? I did the JC thing and transfered about 90% of my credits. The ones that didn't transfer were the lower level classes I took (intro chem, algebra 2 [I had been out of school for 4 years so did some relearning], etc). Since I knew what I wanted to major I talked to the school counselor and they brought up the transfer agreement that listed all the courses I needed to take in order to transfer. I transferred as a Junior with only one lower division class that I needed to take at the 4 years since the JC didn't have an equivalent course.

  8. #8
    and the hat of sweating
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    What's a "junior" college, and how does it differ from a regular college?
    "I am probably the laziest programmer on the planet, a fact with which anyone who has ever seen my code will agree." - esbo, 11/15/2008

    "the internet is a scary place to be thats why i dont use it much." - billet, 03/17/2010

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    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    Community colleges usually fall into the realm of junior colleges. Some other 2 year pre-degree or degree-prep schools also fall into this category. Often junior colleges do not offer a complete 4 year degree and often only offer associates or applied associates degrees. Again I'm not saying the CC route is bad but you must do your research before embarking on that path or you might be surprised at the outcome. It does you no good to take courses at a CC and b/c of one nitpicky thing or another are forced to retake the same type of class at the 4 year level. If you plan it correctly and make sure your CC is plugged directly into your college of choice it could end up being cheaper. However as with everything else in life there are catches to this and it's not as simple as most people make it out to be.

    Before you attend the CC make sure you check these things:
    • Which courses will transfer and what grade does the 4-year college require in order to successfully transfer the credits
    • How many of your core courses will replace the core courses required at the 4-year level. Replace as in you do not have to take any of them again at the 4-year level.
    • How many 'proprietary' courses are required for your degree at your college of choice. These are courses that absolutely cannot be taken at a CC or any other 4-year college.
    • How many of your courses at the CC or junior level are 'proprietary' CC courses - these will not count towards your degree at the 4-year level and are, in a sense, a waste of time and money. They do exist at all levels so watch the courses you take and make sure they apply to your degree (as in they will accumulate credits towards it even if it might be something hideous like English Literature )
    • How many hours are required to attain your degree at the 4-year level. Most colleges have programs that take more than 4 years. Are your CC credits going to shorten that down to 4 or is it still going to take 4.5 to 5 years to complete?


    Just be aware that every college wants their money to stay afloat and they will find new and interesting ways to get it from you and every other student. I've had friends who taught while they were getting their masters and most of them said that behind closed doors money was usually the biggest factor involved in curriculum decisions.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    Community colleges usually fall into the realm of junior colleges. Some other 2 year pre-degree or degree-prep schools also fall into this category. Often junior colleges do not offer a complete 4 year degree and often only offer associates or applied associates degrees.
    Hmmm... I didn't know there were any colleges that had Bachelor degrees. I thought that was the difference between colleges & universities.
    "I am probably the laziest programmer on the planet, a fact with which anyone who has ever seen my code will agree." - esbo, 11/15/2008

    "the internet is a scary place to be thats why i dont use it much." - billet, 03/17/2010

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    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    I thought that was the difference between colleges & universities.
    It is. That's why they are called junior colleges. However I have seen some junior colleges offering more than just 2-years. I'm not saying they offer 4 year full fledged bachelors but they are offering more than just the typical 2 years.

  12. #12
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpjust View Post
    Hmmm... I didn't know there were any colleges that had Bachelor degrees. I thought that was the difference between colleges & universities.
    I think that is a Canadian distinction. In Canada, a "college" and a "community college" are the same thing (and there is no "junior college"). In fact, there is really no such thing as a "college" except as a subset of a university (eg, Trinity College is part of the University of Toronto). But there are independent "community colleges".

    In the US, a "state college" is identical to a university -- altho regulated more like a Canadian university, financially (eg, tuition is capped) and usually less prestigious -- but that is a variable. Certain arts degrees from (eg.) Evergreen State College (in Oregon) carry more "prestige" that equivalent degrees from full fledged or even ivy league "universities". So I think the word "university" is simply reserved for exclusively private institutions (which do not really exist in Canada).

    But yeah, in Canada nothing called a college can confer a Bachelor's degree, they can only give certificates. I might be wrong about that tho: Ryerson gives degrees, but maybe it is considered a university like MIT, and it is not called a college either.
    Last edited by MK27; 11-08-2009 at 12:32 PM.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

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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.

    I agree with Thantos on this (although that might be because we went to the same school). Depending on the area, there are often programs that make clear what transfers and what doesn't, and even programs that allow automatic enrollment in the four-year university as long as you meet certain class and grade requirements.

    I think Bubba gives great advice to make sure ahead of time that the transition from community college to university will be easy, but I disagree with the skepticism that it will be.

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    At least in Canada (and where I live), for the most part people only go to community colleges if they can't get into a university. It can have an effect on the average "quality" (in terms of academic performance, hardworking-ness, druglessness, enthusiasm, genuine interest in course material, etc) of your peers. I think that's one perk with universities that are hard to get into. It's not just the profs, but also the students. And if the students are smarter (and/or more hardworking), the profs will be able to teach faster, instead of keep repeating the basics, and skip the fun stuff.

    I go to a fairly prestigious local university here (for my program, the admission average from high school was 85% or something, 90% for science, since most people just want to go to the med school), and just about all my friends are the same kind of people as me. It's a feeling of belonging. The same cannot be said for my friends going to community colleges. Of course, there are exceptions. Some very smart and hardworking people don't do well in school. But for the most part, that's true. And then, more prestigious universities tend to attract better profs, too.

    Like people said, you'll probably do well in life no matter what school you go to. But a more prestigious university can certainly make your experience better.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK27 View Post
    But yeah, in Canada nothing called a college can confer a Bachelor's degree, they can only give certificates. I might be wrong about that tho: Ryerson gives degrees, but maybe it is considered a university like MIT, and it is not called a college either.
    Well it's called Ryerson University, so I would assume it's an actual university; although I think it used to be called Ryerson Polytechnic something or other before.

    Yeah, one thing I found that's strange about Canadian colleges is that they don't have Associate degrees. All they have are Diplomas (3 year degrees) or useless certificates. When I go for an interview, almost everyone asks what an Associate degree is.
    "I am probably the laziest programmer on the planet, a fact with which anyone who has ever seen my code will agree." - esbo, 11/15/2008

    "the internet is a scary place to be thats why i dont use it much." - billet, 03/17/2010

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