What's your take on a CS degree?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by charlieegan3, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. charlieegan3, Mar 28, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012

    charlieegan3 macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

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    #1
    Aside from when the 2012 MBP comes out the biggest worry in my life is the go to uni/ don't need uni question.

    This is the situation:
    -I have applied to universities and have received three offers to Computer Science (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow)
    -I have done quite a lot of programming for someone of my age
    -I am quite sure if I want to work in computing

    The question for the forum is:
    -Have you any experience to share about a CS degree?
    -Are you an employer? How do employers value a degree as opposed to experience?
    -Any general suggestions (such as: where to repost this, any good articles etc.)

    I think I ultimately want to work in the computing industry.

    I have tried to keep this post as short as possible and am happy to provide more information if that would help at all.

    Thanks:)
     
  2. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #2
    At least in the US, unless you get very lucky or know the right people, you're not going to get a job in programming out of college without that degree.

    I went to college for 4 years for a Management and Information Sciences degree and in those 4 years, probably didn't learn anything I didn't already know going into college, but I don't think I'd have a job in this field without it.
     
  3. charlieegan3 thread starter macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

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    #3
    that's the other thing, I have just applied to computer science because it seemed to be the kind of generic one? do employers see the different degrees at different values?

    It seems a shame that you have two go through 4 years learning stuff that isn't necessarily going to help you in a job but some reason helps you get a job.

    What do you do exactly?
     
  4. eric/ Guest

    eric/

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    #4
    Agreed, for the most part. The problem is getting your foot in the door.
     
  5. charlieegan3 thread starter macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

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    #5
    ahh I thought we might have opposition...

    EDIT: oh, you changed your post.
     
  6. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #6

    MIS is the more generic of the two. At my university, it was a little bit of programming, little bit of networking, little bit of project management (I hated that part), little bit of databases, etc. Computer Science is pretty much all programming (and the theory behind it).

    I'm a software developer, Java specifically. At my employer, CS and MIS degrees are almost interchangeable. I'm an MIS doing what's typically considered a CS job. There are CS guys on the networking and database side of things. Of course, a lot of it is based on skillset. There were people I went to school with who got the same degree I did that probably aren't the greatest programmers, but they're experts on Oracle or SAP or something like that.
     
  7. charlieegan3 thread starter macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

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    #7
    @yg17: no one at your place of work (at your level anyway) has taken root without a degree?

    One thing I have noticed about the degrees I've applied for is that they all seem to do a huge amount of math, in the early years almost as much as the computing side of things. I don't understand why this is necessary, surely the best way to learn how to solve programming problems is by programming the solutions?
     
  8. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #8
    I work for a huge company, around 300,000 employees (not sure how many are in IT though), so I can't answer that for sure. Maybe somebody knew somebody high up who owed him a favor. But no one I work with on a daily basis got here without a degree.

    The math is one reason I didn't do CS, because I'm terrible at math and didn't want to take all of the advanced math courses. It really depends on what you're doing. If you're programming the guidance system for the next space shuttle, you're going to need some serious math. If you're writing the billing system for a company, you probably don't need anything beyond basic arithmetic. I've only used basic math in my job.
     
  9. charlieegan3 thread starter macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

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    #9
    the maths issue is an odd one because surely you can take a joint degree in maths and computing if that is the area that you want to go into?

    I'm okay at maths but I'm worried that I wouldn't manage the University level stuff, is it the kind of stuff that you can't understand regardless of how much studying you put in?

    does anybody have any detailed information about the kind of structures/algorithms etc that will be studied? I have already covered a few of the basic sorts and searches, what else do they cover?

    Thanks for all the info so far.
     
  10. Macman45 macrumors demi-god

    Macman45

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    #10
    Speaking as someone who has been an employer in the past, a degree did not impress me as much as real world hands on experience. Yes a piece of paper is worth having, but I turned down quite a few graduates because they simply didn't have the real world knowledge of situations.

    I'm not trying to dissuade you from going...Far from it. But with a good grounding in IT already, and A levels behind you is it really necessary if you want to work in the industry? I'd say no.
     
  11. charlieegan3 thread starter macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

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    #11
    when you were choosing between people with degrees and people with experience how had the people with experience got their experience?
     
  12. steviem, Mar 28, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2012

    steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #12
    As somebody who didn't get a degree, I'd say go get your degree, even if it's just something in a subject you have some interest in, yet not necessarily CS (if you're only interested in CS, go with that though).

    I pick concepts up and learn things quickly, but that bit of paper makes a very big difference when you are just starting out. Even if you consider emigrating in the future. (I was incredibly lucky to get employment in my field when I moved to the US, but that's another story).

    I'm not a programmer and every company that I have worked for with developers usually look for people with an academic background for their development teams.

    Re: experience;

    I started working for an ISP as a customer support engineer at 18, at 19 I went to work for a local small business doing customer and IT support. I then went on to a start up at the beginning of it's growth at 19 still doing Windows/AD support and admin (they couldn't care less about their internal infrastructure) with 70 people, when I left 3 years later, they were at 300 users with the same infrastructure bursting at its seams. I was out of work for a few months, then worked for an IT solutions company as Onsite support for a large publisher. Then I moved to the US in 2011.
     
  13. charlieegan3 thread starter macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

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    #13
    at this point in time degrees/requests for degrees do seem to come up a lot in job adverts.

    however, when I'm done 4 years down the line do you still think this will be the case? will I really be better off than someone who spent that time getting experience or working their way up?
     
  14. Macman45 macrumors demi-god

    Macman45

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    #14
    Generally, from DIY projects at first, building systems themselves, learning the high end ins and outs by trial and error, moving on to networking at home and on from there....I specialise in music based stuff then...( I'm a one man band now) But if the candidate displayed that type of knowledge, coupled with obvious enthusiasm, they would atnd more of a chance with me than a fresh graduate. I don't think it's just IT either, most employers these day's prefer the people who have actually DONE things in real life...Learning from books is fine, but it's not the be all and end all.
     
  15. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #15

    I think a degree is necessary to get your foot in the door. If in a few years I want to go work someplace else, my degree will probably be meaningless compared to my real world work experience, but when you're out of college and don't have real world experience, you need a degree.
     
  16. charlieegan3 thread starter macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

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    #16
    thanks for all the info.

    It does seem to be an issue that people don't seem to be able to agree on. Which is why I'm finding it so hard to work out.

    A sort of wonder if I'm just fussing and that either route would probably be okay, but I can't help but worry, it's such a big decision.
     
  17. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #17
    Remember, during this time, go for internships, you can also volunteer on Open Source projects, or even spend the £100 for an Apple Developer Account and start building your own iOS apps. That way you will be able to show them you know the theory and also how to use those skills in practice.
     
  18. Macman45 macrumors demi-god

    Macman45

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    #18
    A decent employer will usually allow time to study away from the workplace for essential certification too...I did.
     
  19. charlieegan3 thread starter macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

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    #19
    this is a really good point, clearly any extra work will help. do employers ever ask for anything like a portfolio?

    Does anybody have any suggestions about spare time programming projects to do that would be generally very useful?

    ----------

    I notice you're from the UK too. Can I ask what the "essential certification" is?
     
  20. (marc) macrumors 6502a

    (marc)

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    #20
    Unless you're an absolute genius, you are definitely going to learn a lot by studying CS.

    Yes, CS requires math. In my first year, I had to attend the same math lectures as math students and take the same exams.

    You'll probably understand most things eventually by studying, but it really is different than school maths. The lectures are fast-paced, so if you don't work regularly, you'll get "left behind" (especially since nothing is compulsory, so you can chill whenever you want to).
     
  21. charlieegan3, Mar 28, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2012

    charlieegan3 thread starter macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

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    #21
    I don't want the extra subjects to make me fail my first year! more than happy to put in the time required. The notes in lectures and things will surely be posted on Internet?

    Also kind of worried that the maths and extra courses will put me off.
     
  22. Macman45 macrumors demi-god

    Macman45

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    #22
    That will depend on what you plan on doing....Windows? Microsoft MCE qualifications, Apple have their own...It pains me to say it, being an Apple guy through and through, but MCE is still mainstream...You can actually do these on a pay as you go basis...At least you could, I'm going back aways...I guess it comes down to what your ultimate aims are and exactly what you would like to do. A toughie, but what your main interests are will dictate the must have certification....Only you can really answer that one.
     
  23. (marc) macrumors 6502a

    (marc)

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    #23
    Some lecturers do, some don't.

    Don't worry - you'll understand (almost) everything if you set your mind to it. :)
    Also, you can try to attend fewer lectures than recommended if you feel overwhelmed (many students do this).
     
  24. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #24
    The best way to look at it is if you are serious about programming, then do the degree. If you want to just work in IT, then you don't need it quite as much (although from experience, I wish I went to university for a CS degree, because it could have got me earning much more much quicker).

    Junior devs at the start up were on around £45,000, senior devs and architects were getting much, much more. All had university educations.

    ----------

    These are generally for support/admin roles rather than programming. You'll see a few perl/bash scripts in your time doing this, but be warned, if you want to sit in front of a computer and code away with little to no 'user' interaction, this isn't what you want to do.
     
  25. aarond12 macrumors 65816

    aarond12

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    #25
    The company I work for ONLY hires employees with a 4-year degree. Of those, CS degrees make significantly more money than any other degree. (We are a software development house.)
     

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