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Some questions about college

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May 18, 2012 3:30:45 AM

Hello everyone,

I'm looking into going to college. I was wanting to maybe go for software development. I was hoping maybe someone with college experience can provide me with some insight as to what i should major in? Whats a good thing to go to college for now a days? I was also looking at web designing. I want it definetly to have to do with computers! What are some good college options for online college? Like actual names of some colleges. I was looking at University of Phoenix. Anyone got any comments on that college? I've heard some good and bad things but more on the good side. I was just hoping to get some un-biased information on it. Well I sure hope i posted this is the right section, didn't really see anywhere else this may have belonged (including where i posted it).

I appreciate any information provided!

Thanks,

Jacob G.

More about : questions college

May 20, 2012 5:00:03 PM

That's nice to know :sarcastic: 
May 21, 2012 1:31:34 PM

JacobG said:
Hello everyone,

I'm looking into going to college. I was wanting to maybe go for software development. I was hoping maybe someone with college experience can provide me with some insight as to what i should major in? Whats a good thing to go to college for now a days? I was also looking at web designing. I want it definetly to have to do with computers! What are some good college options for online college? Like actual names of some colleges. I was looking at University of Phoenix. Anyone got any comments on that college? I've heard some good and bad things but more on the good side. I was just hoping to get some un-biased information on it. Well I sure hope i posted this is the right section, didn't really see anywhere else this may have belonged (including where i posted it).

I appreciate any information provided!

Thanks,

Jacob G.


IT Insider secret: It is more about you than a college degree. While the college education can help you get started in the right direction, it will really come down to you. I would say IT as a degree is fairly worthless as it quickly becomes outdated compared to almost all other degrees. With that being said, many colleges will provide good training as a basic level. Few will reach into the advanced training that would be useful. I would recommend a two year degree for IT to start. If you want to expand from there the opportunities will be present. U. Of Phoenix is good from the people who I know that used it. They are very pricey though and that is there to make people want to attend and be serious about it.
Having an actual instructor present can be useful though to fully direct attention to you and expand on a learning point, whereas online it really comes down to you and your ability to communicate your exact problem or question.

Overall, the University of Phoenix is good if you need college direction to get a foothold.
Related resources
May 21, 2012 2:36:04 PM

Be careful when selecting your college. Some of the "for profit" universities are very expensive and encourage you to get all sorts of grants and loans to finance your education. This can leave you with a large debt after graduating (even if you don't make it all the way through!).

I suggest using a local "community college" or "Junior college" to start your college career if you can't afford a public named university. You will get a good basic education where I suggest you concentrate on math and science. Then you will have much more experience to choose the right way to finish your education.

As riser says, an IT degree will become obsolete very quickly because the technology is ever changing. But completing a degree from a reputable college shows that you have the gumption to finish things and employers like that!
May 21, 2012 4:42:37 PM



+1 to using a local "community college"

And the second you set foot on that campus, start net-working with all the professors who will take the time to talk to you. Don't 'pigeonhole' yourself too early with a 'major' -- enroll in some general IT courses on programming, web design, graphics, networking, etc., and see what might stoke your fires.

After 12-16 months, start asking around your 'network' about part-time jobs, work/study programs, internships ... that may be open in your local community. This helps you further refine your interests and builds up your resume. If you don't know something - in the classroom or workplace - don't BS (unless it is somehow related to a potential sexual partner!) - admit it, ask questions and find answers.

In North Carolina, most CC hours transfer to state colleges and universities - see what the rules are in your state. Find the higher-level public institution which offers the best degree in the IT area that has stoked most of your interest. Get as much credit as you can with the CC hours toward your degree. Keep net-working, building your resume, and knocking back course hours toward your degree.

The thing about being a "Phoenix" is public institutions will not accept your hours.

May 21, 2012 5:00:39 PM

JacobG said:
Hello everyone,

I'm looking into going to college. I was wanting to maybe go for software development. I was hoping maybe someone with college experience can provide me with some insight as to what i should major in? Whats a good thing to go to college for now a days? I was also looking at web designing. I want it definetly to have to do with computers! What are some good college options for online college? Like actual names of some colleges. I was looking at University of Phoenix. Anyone got any comments on that college? I've heard some good and bad things but more on the good side. I was just hoping to get some un-biased information on it. Well I sure hope i posted this is the right section, didn't really see anywhere else this may have belonged (including where i posted it).

I appreciate any information provided!

Thanks,

Jacob G.


If you are interested in software development and computer hardware/electronics, computer engineering can be a great degree to pursue. As with any engineering degree, you have to have good math skills, for the programming part you'll need good logic abilities, and for the electronics portion it helps to have some understanding of circuit theory.

A good computer engineering program will teach you everything you need to know from the basics up, but a good grasp on the basics does help. As a computer engineer, I learned C and C++ programming, as well as Assembly and C in embedded microcontrollers, along with a big amount of circuit theory, electronics, digital signal processing, logic gate and FPGA design. You will learn the basic building blocks of how a computer works (more abstract than concrete, you won't actually design a GPU or anything).

You can get a wide variety of jobs with this sort of degree, as you have a strong background in programming and a competent understanding of electronics and circuit design.

Edit: I second the Community college approach, though it can slow down your college career (I took 5 years to complete, because year two at the community college level I began running out of classes to apply to my degree, however I got a few 'practical electronics" classes that served me well at the university level).
It would help to know what areas you are looking to attend school in, my guess is AZ :) .
May 21, 2012 5:08:25 PM

I happen to have a BS in Software Engineering, so I can provide some insight.

1. Software Engineering (or Computer Science, a very closely related degree) are NOT IT degrees. Getting a degree in IT from some crappy school like the University of Phoenix Online is not going to prepare you for a job as a software designer. Most people with degrees in CS or SWE will get quite offended if you refer to their degree as an IT degree. CS/SWE programs are much, much harder. For example, challenge you to find an IT degree where classes in operating system design are mandatory, while virtually every CS/SWE degree requires one. You're going to be hard pressed to find a decent job as a programmer with an IT degree. It's hard enough with a CS/SWE degree.

2. For profit private colleges, like the University of Phoenix, greatly inflate the value of their degrees while trying to hide the true cost from you behind loans. There are currently a few lawsuits over these deceptive practices, along with U of Phoenix being singled out for defrauding the government in their loan/grant practices. Many recruiters will not even consider you if your degree came from one of these schools, as the quality of their education is generally considered to be of the lowest caliber. Why interview the guy from U of Phoenix when you got 200 resumes from people from vastly more reputable schools?

3. Go to a community college first and take some classes in programming if they're available. Community colleges are going to be much easier than a university, so they're a good place to get crap like Literature and History out of the way so you can focus on the important classes at a more demanding school. A couple years at a community college not only saves you money and makes a lot of classes easier, but will give you a chance to try out intro classes in a number of fields. Who knows, maybe you'll end up really loving chemistry?

If you want to be a programmer, you want to look at Computer Science or Software Engineering programs. Software Engineering is less common, but teaches a lot of design process stuff you don't see in Computer Science, while CS is heavier into the technical stuff and you'll get more experience with things like embedded design. Some employers value Software Engineering degrees higher than CS degrees, but if you can point to relevant course work (like a Design Patterns class, or a Software Process class) they won't care which degree you have.

My wife got her MS degree through Drexel entirely online, and it's a very reputable school. I don't know about any CS programs they have, but online degrees are not limited strictly to bottom of the barrel institutions like the University of Phoenix.
May 21, 2012 5:22:37 PM

As a college student myself, i would strongly recommend you use community college for as main basic credits as you can. Its far less expensive and smaller class sizes...

Math, Math, Math

any degree field heavy in math studies, its typically better over one that is not...
May 21, 2012 5:30:01 PM

mobrocket said:
Math, Math, Math

any degree field heavy in math studies, its typically better over one that is not...

Agreed. Designing an efficient algorithm (one of the most difficult aspects of software design) requires you be proficient at time complexity analysis. This requires calculus. If you didn't get calculus, you're not going to get algorithms.

Typical CS/SWE programs will require a LOT of math. My own required Calculus I-III, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Calculus based Statistics and an option to take either Physics I and II with Calculus or Chemistry I and II (I took both sequences).
May 21, 2012 5:32:26 PM

One additional note on the community college path:

The classes you take at a community college do not count towards your GPA at your final university. This can be a good and bad thing; I personally was very glad for this, I did fine at the community college, and focused on learning what I needed to learn, and keeping a decent GPA, (though my gpa did get taken into account for entry into university, and for scholarships there).

Once I got to the University level, I had a clean slate for my GPA, with no silly electives riding on my record, it was almost all engineering courses that comprised my final GPA. For me this was good, I did significantly better in challenging classes focused on my area of interest than in my electives and social/humanities classes. However, if you struggle with your engineering courses, you will have fewer elective classes to work in your favor.
May 21, 2012 5:44:39 PM

No one has asked this yet, but what are your expectations as far as lifestyle goes? In other words, what type of environment would you see yourself working in, and what kind of things would you like to buy? What are your career aspirations? Do you plan on grinding away at code your whole life? Climbing corporate ladders? Working from home?

This is important as where you want to end up can drive how you need to start. Would you buy a video card without first asking "what game do I want to be able to play with it"?

Saying "I want to work with computers" is almost as vague as "I want to work with people". Because almost everything has you working with both. The computer field is freakin HUGE. Even saying "webpage design". In that category alone you have a coder (maybe 3 different kinds), a functional analyst, a process owner, a marketing type, a project manager......all probably coming from different academic beginnings.

I would start by taking some general classes, and whatever you do, take some business classes to supplement them. Then, as soon as you possibly can, try to get an internship, or just find a way to spend some time with different people actually out in the field. Watch and talk to them. Don't wait until you've graduated to go "oh crap, you mean I have to do THAT all day with my degree?"
May 22, 2012 1:52:39 AM

Man! You all have given me such great answers and information, I really appreciate it all.

I never really gave you guys much background on me so I will do that now. I've been pretty much teaching myself how to use computers since I was young. I've been the one to trouble shoot and fix any problems that we and any of my neighbors had when i was younger. I've been working with a Sheriff's Office for three and a half years (mainly in the jail). Somewhere along those three years the administration found out I was handy around computers. The person that was doing the IT work there in the office just up and quit. Once he quit they decided to stick me into his position and told me to fix and maintain everything. So yeah i went from working at my house and fixing and building my own computers to now running a whole sheriff's office myself. I mainly maintain about 35 computers on a domain, I handle all the active directory stuff, manage 2 different servers (one with the active domain stuff and the other a file sharing server). I've pretty much learned everything I do off the internet (alot from this site) and winged most of it. So far i feel I've been pretty lucky haven't really ran into anything to big that i couldn't manage.

Anyways, I've been doing the IT Admin thing for about 8 months now and I honestly am not a big fan. I've run into so many things that people have done or can't figure out that are now just driving me crazy because I've shown them thousands of times (like putting a sd card into a floppy drive thinking thats where it needed to go to get his pics... That was one of the worst ones). I feel its just boring and repetitive, I don't think I see myself doing it in the future.

I'm going to take your guys advice and go to a community college for my associates degree, then once thats complete I will search for a reputable college for my bachelors. The problem that I'm running into is that computer engineering or software engineering requires lots of math. Honestly I really am not the best at math, that was really my kryptonite when in highschool. So I'm still not completely sure what I want to major in. I'm looking for something that will be interesting and keep me entertained, I want to stay busy and I want the work to be challenging. I've considered web designing I think that would be interesting work. I've also thought about Computer Science because I've heard that covers alot of different aspects of the computer world, including web design. I've been thinking about this for the past two weeks non stop, been doing lots of searching on the internet and been trying to figure out what it is I want to be doing in the future.

Any insight you guys give is great! I appreciate you taking the time to read my story.

Thanks!
Jacob G.
May 22, 2012 2:25:27 AM

you dont buy a college education when you go to college youre buying the colleges name. Big names can be more selective thus giving them a better name. not because the school is better but because it has better students.
May 22, 2012 2:05:57 PM

cbrunnem said:
you dont buy a college education when you go to college youre buying the colleges name. Big names can be more selective thus giving them a better name. not because the school is better but because it has better students.

Totally untrue. Different colleges will have wildly different qualities of instructors. The most well respected engineering colleges (like MIT, GA Tech, USC, etc) will have the best professors, and the best professors are the most demanding. You can get away with a lot in the less reputable schools.

For example, my Computer Architecture teacher was initially a professor at Virginia Tech (in the top 15 for engineering). He came to my school not because the engineering program was better (it's not), but because they could pay him more and he would get tenure faster.

He just brought his coursework over from VA Tech, where he'd received no complaints about the difficulty of his course. At my school, about a third of students failed his course, and he had very vocal complaints each semester. One student even went to the Dean to complain about how he hadn't rounded a 59.6 to a 60, even though his syllabus clearly stated that there would be no rounding and 0.0-59.9 was a F. She also accused him of being unfairly difficult, and called him a bad instructor.

He verbally eviscerated her in front of the Dean for what he rightfully considered being extremely rude and disrespectful, and she dropped out of the program.

It's foolish to think that different schools will not have qualities varying with the public perception of the university. Why do you think that perception exists?

Also, being more selective does give you better students.You don't just arbitrarily pick students, you pick the best students that applied. That's the whole point.
May 22, 2012 3:17:19 PM

JacobG said:
Man! You all have given me such great answers and information, I really appreciate it all.

I never really gave you guys much background on me so I will do that now. I've been pretty much teaching myself how to use computers since I was young. I've been the one to trouble shoot and fix any problems that we and any of my neighbors had when i was younger. I've been working with a Sheriff's Office for three and a half years (mainly in the jail). Somewhere along those three years the administration found out I was handy around computers. The person that was doing the IT work there in the office just up and quit. Once he quit they decided to stick me into his position and told me to fix and maintain everything. So yeah i went from working at my house and fixing and building my own computers to now running a whole sheriff's office myself. I mainly maintain about 35 computers on a domain, I handle all the active directory stuff, manage 2 different servers (one with the active domain stuff and the other a file sharing server). I've pretty much learned everything I do off the internet (alot from this site) and winged most of it. So far i feel I've been pretty lucky haven't really ran into anything to big that i couldn't manage.

Anyways, I've been doing the IT Admin thing for about 8 months now and I honestly am not a big fan. I've run into so many things that people have done or can't figure out that are now just driving me crazy because I've shown them thousands of times (like putting a sd card into a floppy drive thinking thats where it needed to go to get his pics... That was one of the worst ones). I feel its just boring and repetitive, I don't think I see myself doing it in the future.

I'm going to take your guys advice and go to a community college for my associates degree, then once thats complete I will search for a reputable college for my bachelors. The problem that I'm running into is that computer engineering or software engineering requires lots of math. Honestly I really am not the best at math, that was really my kryptonite when in highschool. So I'm still not completely sure what I want to major in. I'm looking for something that will be interesting and keep me entertained, I want to stay busy and I want the work to be challenging. I've considered web designing I think that would be interesting work. I've also thought about Computer Science because I've heard that covers alot of different aspects of the computer world, including web design. I've been thinking about this for the past two weeks non stop, been doing lots of searching on the internet and been trying to figure out what it is I want to be doing in the future.

Any insight you guys give is great! I appreciate you taking the time to read my story.

Thanks!
Jacob G.


A significant issue people have in this field is what you pointed out. Few people want to take the initial lumps of learning the day-to-day crap and troubleshooting. It is very necessary to learn this though. Once you experience what it is like on the 'end-user' side of things, you as an administrator can move to a position to make them "push button monkeys" and really refine your environment. Granted, you are in a small environment where you'll hold many different hats. The larger the environment, the more of a silo you will find yourself in which is where things can become really fun. You get to dedicate more time to specific issues and less time troubleshooting/dealing with the end user. I found working in a small company is a great way to get a start in your career because you have hands on with so many different things which allow you to pick your path. Personally, I like working for large companies. I've worked for a few Fortune 100/500 companies over the years. When you go into a place, help identify some issues and resolve them because you have developed that skillset.. that's a pretty dang good personal reward feeling. After that I jump ship and go do it elsewhere. I have no shortage of companies offering opportunities to me and I'm not even a consultant.
All that being said, you may want to look at a large company that will really start utilizing the environment and the stucture. I would imagine you're managing a single site, single DC site and not using much of the technology. The larger the environment the more fun it can become and the bigger challenges you will get faced with. On top of that, I very, very rarely deal with end-users and am mainly left to myself to determine what I need to do to improve the environment and increase the end user experience.

A small company will be routine.. but a large company you'll get presented with projects that have meaning and you can fully dedicate yourself to them.

Years ago I started a company that was doing some basic full touch deployment of Windows XP systems. I created a LTI installation (Light Touch Install) and over the course of 4 years I saved the company $2 million per year in labor. In the same time I created a custom script to work with a third party vendor for document imaging and ordering how imagines were saved into the central store. I merged over a thousand group policies down into less than 30 for an entire organization, saving hundreds of hours of wasted time troubleshooting issues, log on/off times, and creating higher efficiency for the end user and less replication issues. Another big one was purchasing of other companies and merging their existing AD environment into our AD environment through hydration or learning their environment and replicating it into our environment to complete a merger.

You can't really do that until you take the lumps and know what the day to day stuff is. Then you can work like to hell to get rid of all that crap so you can focus on the fun stuff. Then you get to a point where everything is working smooth and you can dedicate more of your work time to learning up coming technologies.

Though, the downside of being a System Administrator/Engineer/Architect is that you find yourself constantly relearning your job as new platforms and software is being released.

It really depends on your environment. If you like a challenge and want to avoid the day-to-day maintenance without progress, find a larger company to work in and expand your horizons.
May 22, 2012 3:33:54 PM

i am also interested in this, i am currently studding engineering at my college (UK college not a university college) but i am changing to do a "computing course" that does anything from programming to hardware to Photoshop, i really like the idea of program engineering, do you think with both of these diplomas under my belt i would be a good idea?

also if you want to look at the courses one is a btec level 3 sub diploma in engineering and the other is a btec level 3 extended diploma in computing.

cheers tom.
May 22, 2012 4:21:00 PM

mercer95 said:
i am also interested in this, i am currently studding engineering at my college (UK college not a university college) but i am changing to do a "computing course" that does anything from programming to hardware to Photoshop, i really like the idea of program engineering, do you think with both of these diplomas under my belt i would be a good idea?

also if you want to look at the courses one is a btec level 3 sub diploma in engineering and the other is a btec level 3 extended diploma in computing.

cheers tom.

It really depends on your coursework. When job hunting, employers care less about your degree than your experience. As a recent grad, your experience is your coursework, plus any internships, co-ops, etc. you may have done.

Here are the courses that seemed to impress the people I interviewed with the most, in no particular order.

Computer Architecture. This class is an extremely detailed look at the techniques used to make processors more efficient, like by exploiting pipeline depth, along with the issues caused by these techniques, and the various solutions to these issues. Extremely difficult course, by far the most difficult I ever took. More than half the class dropped in the first month, and half of those that remained failed.

Introduction to Algorithms. This is where you learn how to do time complexity analysis beyond the most basic cases of counting loops. Covers the implications of recursion in depth (short story: it's bad) and how to make algorithms more efficient using techniques like Dynamic Programming (which is a great buzzword for interviews, if you can back it up). Second most difficult course I had. Lots and lots and lots of math, some of which is calculus.

Artificial Intelligence. Contrary to popular belief, AI is not about sentient computers. Instead, expect a lot of talk about pathfinding, genetic algorithms and things like that. Fun course, not very hard. You can use your semester project (if there is one) to do cool stuff like making an AI for a video game.

Introduction to Networking. Computer networking is a complex subject, and any intro course is going to be of the "inch deep mile wide" variety. You'll get introduced to how networking works, from the physical layer all the way up to the application layer, as well as in depth analysis of popular protocols such as ethernet, IP, TCP and UDP and how they work together. Expect this to be a bit math heavy compared to some other courses.

Design Patterns. This class teaches you common solutions to complex problems and the benefits to using them. It's all about not reinventing the wheel. Most of the class is actually learning how to produce and read the documentation associated with high level design (most commonly UML), which many employers will positively love.

Software Process. This class is about the business side of software. All about tracking progress, estimating deadlines accurately and employing the various processes available. Not a hard class, but it was a lot of work. Will arm you with a ton of buzzwords to impress interviewers.
May 22, 2012 8:31:32 PM

riser said:
A significant issue people have in this field is what you pointed out. Few people want to take the initial lumps of learning the day-to-day crap and troubleshooting. It is very necessary to learn this though. Once you experience what it is like on the 'end-user' side of things, you as an administrator can move to a position to make them "push button monkeys" and really refine your environment. Granted, you are in a small environment where you'll hold many different hats. The larger the environment, the more of a silo you will find yourself in which is where things can become really fun. You get to dedicate more time to specific issues and less time troubleshooting/dealing with the end user. I found working in a small company is a great way to get a start in your career because you have hands on with so many different things which allow you to pick your path. Personally, I like working for large companies. I've worked for a few Fortune 100/500 companies over the years. When you go into a place, help identify some issues and resolve them because you have developed that skillset.. that's a pretty dang good personal reward feeling. After that I jump ship and go do it elsewhere. I have no shortage of companies offering opportunities to me and I'm not even a consultant.
All that being said, you may want to look at a large company that will really start utilizing the environment and the stucture. I would imagine you're managing a single site, single DC site and not using much of the technology. The larger the environment the more fun it can become and the bigger challenges you will get faced with. On top of that, I very, very rarely deal with end-users and am mainly left to myself to determine what I need to do to improve the environment and increase the end user experience.

A small company will be routine.. but a large company you'll get presented with projects that have meaning and you can fully dedicate yourself to them.

Years ago I started a company that was doing some basic full touch deployment of Windows XP systems. I created a LTI installation (Light Touch Install) and over the course of 4 years I saved the company $2 million per year in labor. In the same time I created a custom script to work with a third party vendor for document imaging and ordering how imagines were saved into the central store. I merged over a thousand group policies down into less than 30 for an entire organization, saving hundreds of hours of wasted time troubleshooting issues, log on/off times, and creating higher efficiency for the end user and less replication issues. Another big one was purchasing of other companies and merging their existing AD environment into our AD environment through hydration or learning their environment and replicating it into our environment to complete a merger.

You can't really do that until you take the lumps and know what the day to day stuff is. Then you can work like to hell to get rid of all that crap so you can focus on the fun stuff. Then you get to a point where everything is working smooth and you can dedicate more of your work time to learning up coming technologies.

Though, the downside of being a System Administrator/Engineer/Architect is that you find yourself constantly relearning your job as new platforms and software is being released.

It really depends on your environment. If you like a challenge and want to avoid the day-to-day maintenance without progress, find a larger company to work in and expand your horizons.


If you don't mind me asking, what did you go to school for? What kind of degrees you got?

May 22, 2012 9:56:24 PM

willard said:
Totally untrue. Different colleges will have wildly different qualities of instructors. The most well respected engineering colleges (like MIT, GA Tech, USC, etc) will have the best professors, and the best professors are the most demanding. You can get away with a lot in the less reputable schools.

For example, my Computer Architecture teacher was initially a professor at Virginia Tech (in the top 15 for engineering). He came to my school not because the engineering program was better (it's not), but because they could pay him more and he would get tenure faster.

He just brought his coursework over from VA Tech, where he'd received no complaints about the difficulty of his course. At my school, about a third of students failed his course, and he had very vocal complaints each semester. One student even went to the Dean to complain about how he hadn't rounded a 59.6 to a 60, even though his syllabus clearly stated that there would be no rounding and 0.0-59.9 was a F. She also accused him of being unfairly difficult, and called him a bad instructor.

He verbally eviscerated her in front of the Dean for what he rightfully considered being extremely rude and disrespectful, and she dropped out of the program.

It's foolish to think that different schools will not have qualities varying with the public perception of the university. Why do you think that perception exists?

Also, being more selective does give you better students.You don't just arbitrarily pick students, you pick the best students that applied. That's the whole point.


haha i am in one of those schools for engineering right now and i still believe you buy a name not an education. Some random employer is not going to know what professors a certain school has and they change year to year. the only thing that they know is that a certain college has carried a good name for X amount of years. On top of that employers DO sort applicants of equal merits based on the college.

The ONLY reason i got my current internship was because of the school i am attending. my boss openly told me that. 95% of the engineers at the place are from two colleges in the state.

it kinda sounds like we are both kinda saying the same thing but dont realize it. at least it seems that way to me.
May 22, 2012 10:19:12 PM

cbrunnem said:
haha i am in one of those schools for engineering right now and i still believe you buy a name not an education. Some random employer is not going to know what professors a certain school has and they change year to year. the only thing that they know is that a certain college has carried a good name for X amount of years. On top of that employers DO sort applicants of equal merits based on the college.

The ONLY reason i got my current internship was because of the school i am attending. my boss openly told me that. 95% of the engineers at the place are from two colleges in the state.

it kinda sounds like we are both kinda saying the same thing but dont realize it. at least it seems that way to me.

Heh, I missed a "but" in your post and misinterpreted it. Thought you were saying that you were buying the college's name, not a better education. I see now that we're in agreement. My bad!

Anyway, I've actually heard the claim numerous times that the school you go to doesn't matter and that the big name schools like MIT are overrated. It always comes from people who went to miserable schools like U of Phoenix (apologies to anyone who went there, but it's not a good school). My guess is they're trying to make themselves feel better about not getting accepted into schools without open admission policies like U of Phoenix (seriously, they will let literally anyone in).

I kind of feel bad for dissing U of Phoenix over and over again, but I just can't think of a better example of a joke school. Their entire purpose is to get as many students to enroll as possible so they can get paid through the huge amount of debt you take on to get a near worthless degree. They even go so far as to file fraudulent financial aid claims for students and are not only the target of a class action suit over these tactics, but are being investigated by the US government.

They don't care if you graduate, they don't care that students routinely rack up in excess of $100k in debt, they don't care that their nonexistent academic standards result in your 100k degree being worthless with most graduates failing to recoup even a fraction of their investment. They just want your money.

If you can think of a school more deserving of derision, feel free to let me know.
May 22, 2012 11:01:03 PM

in my opinion its not that U of Phoenix is a bad school its that it doesnt have a name for itself therefor employers do not know what they are getting.
May 22, 2012 11:07:17 PM

cbrunnem said:
in my opinion its not that U of Phoenix is a bad school its that it doesnt have a name for itself therefor employers do not know what they are getting.

Actually it's quite the opposite. It does have a name for itself, it's just a very, very bad one.

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2007/02/univ_phoe...

It's been known for several years that it's a joke school that exists solely to extract loan money from its students. U of Phoenix doesn't care, because they're targeting people who can't get into better schools with false promises of a better life afterward. Their income is not dependent upon a high opinion of the school, like most colleges. It's based solely on the number of people they can enroll, which is why their recruiters are paid based on the number of people they pull in (previously unheard of).

Employers know exactly what they're getting with a U of Phoenix graduate. They're getting somebody who couldn't get into a better school and who didn't have to work very hard for their degree.
May 23, 2012 12:48:34 PM

JacobG said:
If you don't mind me asking, what did you go to school for? What kind of degrees you got?


My degree coursework changed four times in two years. Windows NT to Windows 2000 pro/2000 Workstation to Windows XP, and there were some Novell changes back in that time as well.

I think the name on the degree is Information Systems and Network Support. It has changed so many times that I keep forgetting what it is labeled.
May 23, 2012 1:06:51 PM

Community College. Plus, if you qualify for the Pell grant, you'll probably end up getting paid to go - like me ;) 

And I totally disagree about needing Calc to understand algorithms. I haven't had any problems and I didn't take any of it, and I really don't remember anything besides arithmetic, basic algebra and geometry, and statistics. I just finished my Web Programming class with an A.
May 23, 2012 2:11:40 PM

jessterman21 said:
And I totally disagree about needing Calc to understand algorithms. I haven't had any problems and I didn't take any of it, and I really don't remember anything besides arithmetic, basic algebra and geometry, and statistics. I just finished my Web Programming class with an A.

We must have had very different courses then.
May 23, 2012 11:48:42 PM

jessterman21 said:
Community College. Plus, if you qualify for the Pell grant, you'll probably end up getting paid to go - like me ;) 

And I totally disagree about needing Calc to understand algorithms. I haven't had any problems and I didn't take any of it, and I really don't remember anything besides arithmetic, basic algebra and geometry, and statistics. I just finished my Web Programming class with an A.


cool, take advantage of the system. thats ok though because everyone does it right?
May 24, 2012 2:28:32 AM

cbrunnem said:
but on a serious not, the work engineer is way over used.

Agreed. To me, engineering means something very specific. It is the application of a set of well defined rules and processes to solve problems and continually improve upon the processes you apply. In programming, you can be an engineer or not. Just because you're writing code doesn't mean you're engineering.

If you're curious what is generally considered "engineering" in software, glance at the Wikipedia page for CMMI. If you're part of a team that's certified at even CMMI level 1, you're probably an engineer. That's not to say you need to be part of a CMMI process to be an engineer, and in fact I know quite a few people who apply solid engineering principles without using CMMI. It's just one of the more common things you'll run into. But CMMI encompasses a lot of engineering concepts.

CMMI also happens to be a handy buzzword in an interview. Your interviewer may not know about it, but if you ask about their CMMI certification and can ask some intelligent questions related to it, they'll usually take that very positively. If they say they're CMMI level 5, however, be prepared for a ton of pain in the ass documentation and paperwork. CMMI 5 is not fun. Highest level I've ever worked in was CMMI 3, which is already a lot of paperwork.
May 24, 2012 12:28:03 PM

cbrunnem said:
cool, take advantage of the system. thats ok though because everyone does it right?

Well, it's our amazing government's fault that they provide a set amount no matter what the tuition is - and then send a check for the remainder (no questions asked) after tuition and books are paid for. And we wonder why we're $15.7 trillion in debt?
May 24, 2012 2:14:34 PM

Pell grants are for more than tuition and books. They are also to cover the miscellaneous expenses of college. Not everyone has parents who can afford to pay their rent, buy their gas and groceries, pay their power bill, etc.

College is expensive, especially if you go to a university and don't live with your parents.
May 24, 2012 2:34:26 PM

1) I went to 3 schools, ended up with a BS in computer science and an extra ~50 credits because I changed majors mid-stream. Between the 3 transfers, I lost probably ~15 credits of coursework because the classes didn't transfer.

Because of this, I would recommend you pick a 4 year university and go to it. Live on campus, enjoy the life. My 3rd hop was to a division I school and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything, totally amazing and awesome, and the caliber and availability of coursework was infinitely better than the smaller schools. There is undoubtedly a school in your state that is known for its technical prowess, that's where I'd start looking.

2) Agree with "willard" on many fronts, computer science or computer engineering all the way.

3) a BS at a minimum will open a ton of doors and likely demand a significantly more substantial salary, not at all something to scoff at.

4) it's a lot of work and as someone else said, what you put into it is exactly what you'll get out of it.

Good luck!
May 24, 2012 2:44:51 PM

newbcakes said:
1) I went to 3 schools, ended up with a BS in computer science and an extra ~50 credits because I changed majors mid-stream. Between the 3 transfers, I lost probably ~15 credits of coursework because the classes didn't transfer.

Because of this, I would recommend you pick a 4 year university and go to it. Live on campus, enjoy the life. My 3rd hop was to a division I school and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything, totally amazing and awesome, and the caliber and availability of coursework was infinitely better than the smaller schools. There is undoubtedly a school in your state that is known for its technical prowess, that's where I'd start looking.

2) Agree with "willard" on many fronts, computer science or computer engineering all the way.

3) a BS at a minimum will open a ton of doors and likely demand a significantly more substantial salary, not at all something to scoff at.

4) it's a lot of work and as someone else said, what you put into it is exactly what you'll get out of it.

Good luck!


Yes, that.

Also, major companies absolutely target the higher quality schools. It's been a few years but recruiters used to use a Gorman Rating as one of the criteria. They will also target schools known for producing great grads in certain fields.

Not to mention that the better the school, the better placement programs they will have. Ask your colllege "What is your placement percentage?" My school had a 98% placement, they worked with major companies and had them on site doing interviews, etc.

Good luck!
May 24, 2012 2:46:11 PM

newbcakes said:
1) I went to 3 schools, ended up with a BS in computer science and an extra ~50 credits because I changed majors mid-stream. Between the 3 transfers, I lost probably ~15 credits of coursework because the classes didn't transfer.

I lost 12 credits in my transfer (most of a semester). Forgot to mention that.

You can actually call up an adviser and make sure classes you're planning to take will transfer in. I just didn't think to do it. I'm guessing I could have avoided losing the credits entirely if I'd just checked in with the university first.

I also had some issues with the school claiming I hadn't taken some classes, though I suspect this was an internal glitch and not related to the transfer. Calculus III was a requirement for both Diff EQ and Linear Algebra. Took Linear Algebra one semester, then the next when I signed up for Diff EQ they booted me out of the class a week before the semester started saying I hadn't taken the prereqs. Talked to the adviser and somehow some of my transfer credits had been erased. Got it all sorted out, but it was a headache I really didn't want at the start of a semester.

Also, a note on getting into a university. If your grades in high school aren't that great (mine weren't, I was lazy as hell in high school), try to get a really high score on the ACT or SAT. The SAT seems more important to ivy league schools and private colleges, while the ACT is more important for other schools. It's definitely worth preparing for if you don't normally do well on standardized tests, and a good graphing calculator is worth its weight in gold on the math section (if you know how to use it). Be sure you get one that's allowed, though. Not all of them are.

Lots of kids in my graduating high school class only took the ACT once, got a 17-18 and left it at that. I wasn't satisfied with my 27 I got in 10th grade, so I took it again in the 11th and got a 31. Was accepted into every school I applied to, but wasn't offered any scholarships (due to my grades in high school) except to a nearby community college. That's ultimately why I went there first, it was a free ride and I had a chance to not go through all that "weeder course" bullshit at the university level.
May 24, 2012 3:30:40 PM

If you said what state you were in, people might be able to give more specific advise.
May 30, 2012 5:06:38 PM

Wow I’m happy I found this thread. It has given me a ton of insight on what I would like to accomplish.

I do have a question. I have seen a few people state that U of Phoenix is not a good place to get a degree. Are there any quality online College or universities anyone can recommend. I am in the military and because of deployments and sometimes unpredictable work hours an online environment works best for me. I am currently taking classes at American Military University but I will be transferring as soon as I am done with my Undergrad classes. They do not have a degree for Computer Science or Software Engineering.

Thanks for any and all advice.
May 30, 2012 5:17:18 PM

Most colleges have online programs these days, though I couldn't tell you which ones offered degrees in computer science or which ones were good. You'll need to do some research yourself, unless somebody else wants to step in.

In general, though, you want to avoid for profit private schools. They have little to no incentive to provide a good education, since they make their money off the government and don't need to maintain a good reputation to remain profitable.
May 30, 2012 5:29:58 PM

willard said:
Most colleges have online programs these days, though I couldn't tell you which ones offered degrees in computer science or which ones were good. You'll need to do some research yourself, unless somebody else wants to step in.

In general, though, you want to avoid for profit private schools. They have little to no incentive to provide a good education, since they make their money off the government and don't need to maintain a good reputation to remain profitable.


Thanks Willard,

I'm going to set up an appointment at my education office on base and start searching around myself. I really want to get the best education I can and I am more than willing to work hard for it.
May 31, 2012 1:44:08 AM

As far as online colleges go, I can't offer any recommendations as I haven't used them. However, I'm currently majoring in MIS (Management Information Systems) its really a great cross between a CS degree and a Business degree. At my university it is taught through the business school, but it covers all sorts of computer topics including multiple programming languages, database admin, networking, etc. What is great about this degree is if you are very technically inclined, you will be able to get many of the same jobs as people with CS degrees, while if you find that you really like computers but don't want to always sit in front of a computer and code it allows you to take a job as more of a business analyst or a project manager. Its also great if you don't want to take all the math course usually required for a CS degree.

If you really like the hardware aspect of computers though, you may want to look into Electrical Engineering.

Hope this helps.
!