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Re: Formal Education Required?

by dragonchild (Archbishop)
on Jul 13, 2001 at 22:00 UTC ( #96500=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Formal Education Required?

There's two questions here.
  1. Does what I learned when I "earned" my CS/Math degree help me do my current (or any) job?
  2. Does the fact I have a degree help me get a job?
I would be willing to put forward that very few monks, or CS professionals for that matter, would feel that the answer to #1 is Yes. Everything job-useful that I learned in college was done by the end of freshman year. (This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the other 4 1/2 years of college I took ... it just wasn't very useful.)

Now, the answer to #2 is a resounding YES. In fact, I wouldn't have a job without having a piece of paper. The one time I did get a Perl/CGI job without it, I was earning $7.50/hr doing basically what I do now for $25/hr.

Please, please think through the fact that I went from $15k/year to $50k/year solely because I have a degree. No additional knowledge/skills required. Just the degree.

In closing - the degree is useless (from a technical standpoint) but completely indispensible (from an economic standpoint).

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Re: Re: Formal Education Required?
by Sherlock (Deacon) on Jul 13, 2001 at 22:30 UTC
    I wholeheartadle agree with dragonchild on:

    Does the fact I have a degree help me get a job?

    Not only does the fact that I have a degree help me to get a job in the first place, but it also gets me a much higher income.

    However, I can't say that I agree with:

    Does what I learned when I "earned" my CS/Math degree help me do my current (or any) job?

    I think this is somewhat subjective and I'll tell you why. If all I wanted to do was be a code-monkey (nothing against simply writing code), I could have left school after my first year. However, I really wanted to learn to design large software systems in addition and that is just what I did for the next few years of college. So, in my case, college was very useful for me. Granted, I didn't learn the details about what I'd be doing in my future job, but I did learn enough theory and developed the means to apply that theory to help me in my current job.

    Just as dragonchild mentioned, I went from a job where I made $7.30/hr and now, without a great amount of change in the work that I'm doing, I make $25/hr.

    If you really need to get away from where you are now, I think you can probably get a job doing programming or at least within the IT industry, but be prepared to be underpaid. Without a degree or some sort of certification, you're just not going to make as much money as you'd probably like to. But to this, I want you to ask yourself a question: If I have two employees, both apt individuals, and one has a degree in what I ask him/her to do and one does not, who do I pay more money? How would you answer that question?

    Best of luck to you in whatever you decide.

    - Sherlock

    Skepticism is the source of knowledge as much as knowledge is the source of skepticism.
      In my defense, I should explain my assertion concerning the lack of school's applicability to real-world situations.

      Yes, general problem-solving skills are emphasized in school, and the exposure you get is invaluable. For that alone, I would reccomend going to school full-time between the ages of 18 to 22.

      However, I remember back to "Operating Systems", "File and Database", and similar courses. While the concepts were useful to come across, I don't use any of that as a programmer. Most of my practical OS knowledge comes from having my own Linux box, not what I learned in a classroom.

      Language courses are even worse. I learned 3 languages while at school. I don't use a single one. In fact, I have only ever used C (learned at an internship), JAM (learned on the job), and Perl (learned while working during a year off). I don't use PASCAL, QBasic, or the ASM flavor I learned while taking Assembler. *shrugs*

      Now, of course, learning all those languages helped me learn how to learn langauges.

      I guess the best way to put it is this:

      • If you're looking to school to teach you things you will use in the workforce, you'll be disappointed.
      • If you're looking to school to teach you how to learn what you will use in the workforce, you'll be pleased.
        I think dragonchild hit what I was getting at on the head. Going to college didn't necessarily teach me what I now do on my job (I learned a new language and a new architecture since I've gotten here), but it taught me how to learn these things. I think that's what most employers see in a college degree. Granted, you might be an awesome Perl programmer but what happens in 5 years if your company decides to change to a JSP architecture? Will you know how to learn that? IMO, many employers feel that they are buying that flexibility when they hire someone that has a degree over someone that doesn't.

        - Sherlock

        Skepticism is the source of knowledge as much as knowledge is the source of skepticism.

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