Currently I am enrolled in a 4 year college, taking a double major in computer science and computer information technology. Some financial issues have come up and after thinking things over, I have a few questions I can't quite get over. Anyway, my questions are:
How much will having a 4 year degree help me in the long run in the IT industry, over having an Associate degree and maybe some certifications and such?
Also, does anyone feel that the degrees become dated too quickly when 4 years is spent on them? Taking a 4 year degree complete with as many Gen ed classes that are required is starting to seem like its not going to pay off by the time I would get to use it. My reason for thinking this, is that I seem to learn more on my own by curiosity and private studying. After 2 years in college, I don't believe I have learned hardly a thing at school, but have excelled in many things because of my own interests.
I currently have a job that is going to allow me to work on some high level java projects and also step into some network admin experience. This is seeming more worthwhile than spending 4 years in college doing things that I already know how to do.
I wouldn't waste your time on computer information technology. If your computer science department teaches real theoretical computer science (algorithms, theory of computing, etc) and software design (paradigms of programming, good practices, etc), then your 4 year degree will prepare to tackle anything that arises in the future.
Compare to a certification, which teaches you something already existing without giving you the tools to learn something new.
All depends on what you see yourself doing in the future.
If you want to have a career in computing as a programmer, developer, etc...then I am not too sure about how much a degree would help your career.
That is, most employers these days look for experienced programmers and developers...over those who have gained degrees, master, PhDs. Passing exams does not necessarily mean that you are a good developer or a good programmer.
However, If you want to be a researcher, or an educator, then you would definitely need to educate yourself in order to have a career in this field.
Above all else, you can still undertake your degree and take a part time job in computing. That would be a plus....as you would have both, the experience as well as the education.
Personally, I have done both...worked and studied. and now thinking about going back to University to do a PhD. Hopefully, starting from Feb 2007.
I disagree with ess. Employers looking for programmers definitely look at degrees. I know I do. Degrees are definitely important in teaching someone the theory of how and why things work, which allow them to tackle many problems. It's terribly frustrating to have employees that don't understand the difference between something that is faster by a constant and something that is faster by an order of magnitude (some gawk at the phrase itself).
However, getting the right degree is important. If you're going to a school sponsored by MS, as many of my friends did, chances are some of the professors don't actually teach general theory, they teach MS practices. I've seen schools give an entire operating systems course about windows, and never even discuss the merits of the theory that goes into designing an OS.
Programming isn't about laying down code like so much brick and mortar. It's about problem solving, thinking through to several solutions and coming up with an answer that matches the needs of the situation. Jobs that simply ask you to lay down code are quickly disappearing to cheaper development companies overseas.
I guess that's the difference between a programmer and a software engineer or architect. You don't have to be in education or research to benefit from understanding algorithms and efficiency, design paradigms and patterns, and other great information you get with a good Comp Sci education.
If you REALLY want to succeed though, I wouldn't couple Comp Sci with anything from that side of campus. Do a psych, comm, business, or sociology major. If you really want to wow your employers, you don't just need to be the best at what you do, but the best at working with others, working with your bosses, and playing the game. Also, a degree in business will help you understand business needs better so you can develop more effectively for businesses. Which won't be lost on potential employers.
Best of luck, and don't give up now. Certs won't get you very far these days.
Bottom line, the importance of your degree is only as important as the person who's hiring you thinks it is.
I know a lot of companies value a degree to such an extent that they actually will not hire anyone without one. That, IMO is a HUGE mistake. I'd rather have an employee that is self taught over a "college grad" any day. Th e self taught individuals in my experience have more "passion" for programming. They love a new challenge, and take it head on. College grads seem to want to over analyze, and more often than not, let their ego play a role in how the project needs to progress.
That's my experience, and I know there are going to be plenty of people with opposite experiences. Hence the first line of this post
I agree with bcarl here. I've had a few experiences working with developers and egineers that let their ego overcome their abilities. I hear alot of conceptual prototypes and such...but when it comes down to doing the actual work it rarely comes out how you expect.
I'm not saying this is how every college grad comes out, it's only from personal experience with some that i've worked with. I think a definate quailty that is needed in computer programming is problem solving ability(as was stated in early posts) the ability to take on a new challenge with enthusiasm.