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Degree over and done with!

I'm a self-taught programmer, been doing it for years unprofessionally, had a few jobs totaling 3 years (spread over 10), released my own app (only £300/$600 per month).

Got sick of stacking shelves so I decided to get an IT degree, at a well respected University in the UK.

I've now completed it (awaiting results), and I honestly beleive degrees are completely over-rated.
Out of the 7 people I studied with, there's only 2 who I'd trust anywhere near a computer, and that's only due to their prior experience.

The majority of the crap taught was relevant 10 years ago, the assignments were spoon-fed, and the exams were "open-book, but don't tell anyone". Is this the norm??

That said, I've already been getting *offers* for jobs I wouldn't have dreamed even applying for 4 years ago!

My advice if you're self-taught: just go for it. If you can operate Word, use Google+Wikipedia, and have working ctrl, c, and v buttons, you'll breeze through it. Just don't let on that you know your stuff or the others will bleed you dry!

That's my rant over. See you all in the battle field!
ex-student
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
I'm in the US not the UK so I am guessing when you say you got an IT degree that may be equivalent to a MIS (management of information systems) degree or similar in the US.  Here those degrees are given by business schools.  They are generally considered easy since they train one for a business support position.

On the other hand a CS degree is usually through a school of science or a school of engineering and entail a lot more.  They usually have a significantly tougher course work load, require a lot more math, etc.

I obtained my BSCS 12 years ago and my MSCS 3 years ago from relatively good universities (I was working as a programmer through most of this time span too).  IMHO, what I learned 12 years ago is just as valid today as what I learned 3 years ago.  While the sugary wrapper that envelops the industry keeps changing in color and taste, the core hasn't changed much.

So it is possible if one goes through a watered down program (and so many are today) and they only teach from the perspective of the sugary wrapper one will mistakenly believe everything has changed.
mellow
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
"If you can operate Word, use Google+Wikipedia, and have working ctrl, c, and v buttons, you'll breeze through it."

Sounds like you didn't go to a very good school or get a very hard degree, well respected or not. That stuff wouldn't have gotten me through school, unless you are condoning plagiarism, for which I've seen a few people get expelled.

Or have things really changed that much in the last 13 years?

What crap were they teaching that was relevant 10 years ago that isn't relevant now? Just curious.
Bart Park
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
"While the sugary wrapper that envelops the industry keeps changing in color and taste, the core hasn't changed much."

Good analogy.  The core of computing has not changed radically in a long time.  Much of this is because CS grew out of mathematics and logic which once uncovered doesn't change.

It is sad we are turning out all of these kids today that don't understand this.  They know about the thin veils of specific programming languages, frameworks, and tools, but they seem to have no idea of what everything is built on top of.
Mr. Engineer
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
"I decided to get an IT degree"

I interpret this to mean he went through some vocational program or a business school program not CS or EE.

If that is the case he took the easy way out for someone that claims to be such a programming genius.  So it would not surprise me if he doesn't have the foggiest idea about the underlying concepts.
zeal
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
It kind of reminds me of a guy I know that opted for a BA in CS rather than a BS.  I asked him why and he said it was so that he wouldn't have to take so many math and science classes and he'd be able to keep his GPA up.  Similarly some people go for these IT and MIS degrees for the very same reason.  The word lazy comes to mind.
Mark
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
It's a BSc, not business/management.

I don't condone (nor attempt) plagiarism, but it's what got people through.

The (exaggerated) irrelevance was Turbo Pascal + VB6. Yes, it teaches the fundamentals & foundations of programming.. but come on!

I agree, the course was weak & watered down. But it's a still a "Bachelor of Science Degree", as good as any other? This is the point I was trying to make...
ex-student
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
I got my BS CIS 10 years ago at a US university and thought the classes were crap then too.  A LOT of the teachers seemed to have developed a syllabus at the start of their career and never bothered to update it.  For what they were being paid, i can't actually blame them.  My MS CIT 3 years ago was WORSE.  Outdated software, outdated professors, under interested students.  There aren't many of either I would want to work with or have working anyplace that held my personal information.  (OK, how did you get to the upper level classes and think that copying and pasting your code 8 times to iterate through the date was a better choice than a LOOP?  WTF?  )
Me2 the Sql Send private email
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
Sometimes, it's not being lazy but the fact that some of us are really, really, REALLY bad at math.  I have trouble with basic Algebra (damn you, linear equations!) - the two or three advanced Calculus classes required for your average CS degree would be suicide for me (not to mention the two or three prereq classes I'd need before even getting to take it).

And besides, for someone who wishes to move up in the ranks to manage an IT department, an MIS degree provides a more rounded skillset as opposed to the nose-down, churn out code Comp Sci degree.
WayneM. Send private email
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
Wow, lemme see if I understand this correctly:


"Got sick of stacking shelves so I decided to get an IT degree, at a well respected University in the UK."


"That said, I've already been getting *offers* for jobs I wouldn't have dreamed even applying for 4 years ago!"


"My advice if you're self-taught: just go for it. If you can operate Word, use Google+Wikipedia, and have working ctrl, c, and v buttons, you'll breeze through it. Just don't let on that you know your stuff or the others will bleed you dry!"

What does "just go for it" mean?  It sort of sounds like run with not getting the degree.

@Mr. Engineer, EXACTLY!  In other words, they lack the mental capacity to understand the theory behind why things work the way they do.  Something you can get through experience but how do you know you have the full picture so to speak?


@Zeal,
"I interpret this to mean he went through some vocational program or a business school program not CS or EE."

Totally agree.  Buy hey, give the guy credit for getting the degree even if he doesn't fully understand why he got it!

LOL
~Eric
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
>> The majority of the crap taught was relevant 10 years ago <<

The same thing was true for me in 1990.  I had a prof who taught us how to sort using 1/2" reel tape drives.  Yes, the algorithms are in Knuth (merge sort, essentially). 

I knew I'd never see a tape drive in real life, but it taught me to pay attention to some of the mechanical limitations of computers (drive heads, controller striping, etc) in order to get the best performance.
xampl
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
"VB6 [...] Yes, it teaches the fundamentals & foundations of programming.."

<shudder>
The Original Henry
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
"CS grew out of mathematics and logic which once uncovered doesn't change."

I strongly agree with this - it's now 20 years since I graduated with my Computer Science degree from a fairly theory heavy course and I'm very happy at how well the concepts I learned in that course have stood the test of time.

Some concepts from that course that have been directly relevant to my day job in the last week:

- Petri nets
- Functional programming
- Finite fields
- Text difference algorithms
Arethuza
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
"I'm a self-taught programmer, been doing it for years unprofessionally,"

Priceless.

Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
Maybe things have gotten easier? 

When I got my CS degree from a mid-rate US university 15 years ago we had to write a protected-mode operating system (loadable modules, a basic file system, the thread scheduler, etc), a compiler and linker that could compile fairly complex pascal programs, and a windowing GUI for Unix (somehow related to X--don't remember how).  Not to mention physics, calculus, statistics ...

I thought all CS BS degrees were like that.
Doug
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
ok, I'm being made out to be more of a retard than I really am.

"unprofessionally" meant "not paid for" or "hobby". heh

@The Original Henry:
I don't beleive that..

@Doug:
I wish!
ex-student
Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
I'm glad you were able to remove an obstacle in the way of getting the job you want.  Too many people would have sour-graped about it and done nothing.  Cheers!

Monday, June 23, 2008
 
 
"But it's a still a "Bachelor of Science Degree", as good as any other?"

Not.
quant dev Send private email
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
''the exams were "open-book, but don't tell anyone". Is this the norm??''

No. Not even slightly.

''Out of the 7 people I studied with''

Who the hell runs a proper CS department with seven students? This might explain things a little. Your degree is... well... A proper one? Accredited and stuff.

Where is this place?
Katie Lucas
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
I'm still struggling with the concept of an "IT degree" - clearly things have changed in the decades since I troubled the academic world.
Arethuza
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
"ok, I'm being made out to be more of a retard than I really am."

Don't sell your self short. With a little work I'm sure you'll develop into a world class retard :)
Financial programmer
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
Yes Katie, it is a "proper" one. I should have mentioned I actually *attended* a College (mosty courses for 16-19 year olds), perhaps this explains the shoddiness. But the course curriculum and cross marking does come from a proper hat & gown Uni.

@Financial programmer: and posting on here takes me closer to my goal.


OK, I'm not trying to belittle Degrees, but hopefully the intelligence norally found in this forum can understand that due to this experience I've lost a lot of respect.

There is probably one thing I am (a little) bitter about, is the fact that there's jackasses (yes, like me if you wish), running around with a peice of paper that, in my opinion, didn't work hard for. Based on the few stories read in this thread alone, I'm sure people will agree.

OK, I'm done.
ex-student
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
This may explain to you why people are as interested in where you went to University as what course you did there. Sometimes rather more so.
Arethuza
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
"running around with a peice of paper that, in my opinion, didn't work hard for"


Most of the time you just have to pay for it. It's nothing more than a frame-able receipt from a heavily subsidized corporation.

I guess you could count me in as one disillusioned with the real value of a college education. Education is a life-long process for people willing to learn, not something you go heavily into debt to purchase all at once from a diploma factory.
The Original Henry
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
First of all, you don't go to college to learn how to build the next map-reduce or to learn all the INs and OUTs of the current languages....

Ready for this?




You go to college to learn how to think, reason, and deduce things logically.  And to do so in the field of engineering or study you signed up for.

There are other reasons but this is the first and most important reason you go to college.


We can argue all day long whether or not you can get the same through experience but you'll never find an employer that will hire you with a salary equal to those who have their degrees.  I will mention the obvious disclaimer that there are exceptions to the rule; yet it's not the norm.

The other reasons have to do with showing you grasped concepts outside of your field and were able to pass.. Example, EE taking ME courses... Where I went to college it was mandatory for EEs to take a subset of the ME courses and it was mandatory to take the PE exam after you received your degree... It definitely made me a better engineer for it.
~Eric
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
"Sometimes, it's not being lazy but the fact that some of us are really, really, REALLY bad at math.  I have trouble with basic Algebra (damn you, linear equations!) - the two or three advanced Calculus classes required for your average CS degree would be suicide for me (not to mention the two or three prereq classes I'd need before even getting to take it)."

This is the EXACT problem I ran into with CS.  I really suck at math (basic Algebra as well) and I wouldn't have made it through Calculus, etc.  I did very well in discrete math, though, and I loved statistics.  Go figure.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
I also struggled through the calculus courses, but I made it through first two calculus courses.  I really didn't like the math department at my university.  All the calculus courses were taught by graduate assistants that were often not prepared and were very difficult to understand.  Then, at the end of each calculus course there was a departmental final that didn't match up to what was taught by the graduate assistants.  Fortunately, linear algebra was taught by a professor with her own final exam and I enjoyed the class.
Dan
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 

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