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For people who plan on becoming future web developers, would having online education be worth more than earning a Computer-Science related degree?

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I'm currently a rising sophomore in college, who is majoring in Information Technology, with a concentration on Web and Mobile Development. The reason I'm addressing this question is that I want both other students who are interested in the same/similar field of study, and I, to be able to make a better personal investment. To be clear, attending college can be worthwhile, but also more expensive than taking an online course, which typically costs less than a grand ($10k). Indeed, I really enjoy web development myself, especially during my free time, and hope to make the "Internet of things" better. #information-technology #software-engineer #information-systems #computer-savvy #learning-technology

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Loida’s Answer

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Hello David,


This is a very interesting topic. It is widely debated, whether a 4 year degree is required for a Computer Science degree. Honestly, no one can give you the answer to your question, because that is a personal choice that depends on your ideals, career goals and financial situation. However, that being said, do you need a degree to be a programmer or to work within the field, no. Would employers look for it, honestly it depends on the employer and requirements of the company. The idea of attending a College or University is to have a well rounded education. One that will help you explore the different areas that may be of interest to you, but most importantly to develop your reading, writing and analytical skills, all of which are important in any field you choose, Computer related or not. If you are looking at it from a purely financial standpoint CUNY has several colleges (2yr or 4yr) that are really affordable. I suggest you go to a 2 year college, work part-time and them transfer into a four year. School is about networking as well, so sure you can go to a school and pay 10k, but the networking component is often lost and that is the beauty of attending school. Meeting people and/or companies that require someone in your level of expertise. Big companies recruit in schools almost exclusively, so think about all that valuable information, connections and opportunities going to waste. Yes, education is an expense, but it's an experience that you/or your parents invest in. Alternatively, you could just go to a school that specializes in that, but remember many companies want to see a degree and although technology has open the playing field for those that have went the non-traditional route, the vast majority of companies are not open to that idea. For instance, as a recruiter, if I have 50 applicants and 30 have a degree, I will only interview those that have a degree. Unfortunately, this is the view point of many recruiters/companies, especially in New York City. Weight your options. I would look at the stats in various colleges and trade schools/certifications or find companies you would love to work in and ask them what are they requirements for hiring applicants. Do all your due diligence now, so you don't cheat yourself in the long run. Good luck!

Thank you Ms. Otero. I'll keep that in mind as I prepare myself for my future career. May I also express my stance? Thanks. I agree with your notion that having a degree secures a person from unemployment, especially during poor economic times. On the other hand, I would not say that my question is unanswerable. Your advice is already in the process of honing my perspective on my investment in higher education, and I appreciate it. At the same time, I do believe that there could be more experiences that others can relate to questions similar to mine, because as I transitioned into college, I find that I'm not the only student who is struggling from time to time, and am one among many at my college who would be thankful for career tips like yours. David L. Translate
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Mike’s Answer

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There are many options now for getting into a career as a computer programmer. I took the traditional route and got a Bachelors and Masters in Computer Science. I have colleagues that have different educational backgrounds, one got a degree in Math, one never finished his degree, another has a traditional degree like me.


I'd say that a lot of it depends on your learning preferences and what kind of programming you want to do. If you want to be a front end web developer, there are online courses and programs as well as dev bootcamps that can help jumpstart your career. The trouble with these non-traditional approaches is that larger companies will likely filter you out before anybody sees your resume. But if you can find a company that is willing to take a risk on you, you can start to build a career.


Once you're in the industry more than 3-5 years, I rarely look at educational background as a filter, more as an interesting side note. It generally comes down to if the person can code or not and do they have a similar software development philosophy.

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Elizabeth’s Answer

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Good question - clear thinking. Answer: It depends. Do you want an entry level position to assess your options? Do you plan to earn a degree part-time while working full time (taking advantage of tuition assistance that several companies offer as a benefit)? I've hired high school interns in the past to help clarify options - its a good place to begin exploring different avenues. However, all that said, the majority of the folks I work with have at least one degree if not an advanced degree or multiple degrees. It become a distinction at the more senior levels. I've hired junior and mid-level engineers based on tenacity and subject matter expertise, however, if I want the individual to stay in the company for a long time, I encourage individuals to develop a width of experience not just a depth of knowledge. You're definitely demonstrating critical thinking skills - and that is a skill to have and nurture. Weight your options and enjoy the journey. Be well, Liz

Thank you for the notion, Elizabeth. I'll also keep your words in mind as I continue with college. David L. Translate
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