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Ask Slashdot: Is Going To a Technical College Worth It? 309

Posted by samzenpus
from the cash-in-cash-out dept.
First time accepted submitter blandcramration writes "I have recently decided to further my education with a technical school associates degree. I am a first quarter student in my third week as an IT student. I have taught myself Python and have been working with computers for over 10 years. We've been learning C++ and though my instructor appears to know how to program, he doesn't really understand the procedure behind the veil, so to speak. In a traditional learning environment, I would rather learn everything about the computer process rather than fiddle around with something until I figure out how it works. I can do that on my own. I think the real issue is I'm not feeling challenged enough and I'm paying through the nose to go to school here. Am I even going to be able to land a decent job, or should I just take a few classes here and move on to a traditional college and get a computer science degree? I'm much more interested in an approach to computer science like From NAND to Tetris but I feel as if I should get a degree in something. What are your thoughts?"
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Ask Slashdot: Is Going To a Technical College Worth It?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @07:40PM (#41759227)

    My two centavos:

    No, no, and hell no. A technical college is likely not certified, so you will end up with a worthless paper in "fiber optics" or "homeland security" as a major... and have absolutely zero chances of job placement... coupled with student loans that are rapidly accruing interest which can't be discharged, EVER, through bankruptcy. Even a guy gambling his wages away and running up credit card debt can dump that stuff off at the bankruptcy court and walk away a free man.

    There used to be a pact: Students would put up with professors and deal with the "game" of getting an education. Once you graduated, then the other part of the deal is that you land a meaningful job, pay your loans back in a couple years, and actually have a meaningful career.

    Not any more. The "good" jobs are either owned by people there for 10+ years, or there is a H-1B having them. Management is usually whom is good at the golf course. The ONLY chance of getting anything meaningful these days is an internship where you have to behave like your job interview best for six months so you have a shot at something when you graduate college.

    I'd do some market research. A coder or developer is like being a meat packer or a textile worker -- was a good job, now is available for pennies on the dollar from offshore outsourcers. You can pay Tata $10,000 and get more coding done for your dollar than you can with five senior devs that run 100 grand apiece... and to boot, you don't have to deal with the payroll taxes. You also get an actual guarantee of code working as well.

    Want to run the school game? Get your B. S. and hit the law schools. Pass the bar, and you have a career for life. You would have to commit a felony or get disbarred. Once you have your bar membership, unemployment is up to you. No, you might not get the Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe senior partner, but you will always have somewhere at some company that is 9-5 and full benefits.

    Avoid trade colleges like the plague. They teach you nothing viable, and just take your money... and you have zero prospects of work afterwards.

    • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @07:52PM (#41759341)

      That depends on whether it's a public or private technical college.

      Public technical colleges often can transfer to public universities because they're likewise accredited, and they have programs in place to accept those credits.

      Private also depends, since many of those are also accredited. But they may not have transfer programs in place.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If you blew it in H.S., you can start at jr. college for general ed. prerequisites, and select C.S. courses as electives, then several months later get into software engineering when you transfer to a university. Google what you need, don't rely on jr. college counselors for academic advise. No one takes tech school certificates seriously. At best, you'll get a grunt job and stay a grunt as you're passed over on promotions. You could learn more from open courseware than you can from an overpriced tech (tra

      • by deodiaus2 (980169)
        U of Wisconsin at Plattville is cheaper than U of Wis at Madison. Students who transfer from Plattville to Madison after their 2nd year find themselves repeating many classes because the caliber of the teaching & competitiveness of the students is vastly different. You would have been better off going to U of M in the first place.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          And students who STAY at Platteville enjoy a higher pass rate on the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. Higher then graduates at UW-Madison.

          • Just teaching you how to pass a specific exam doesn't mean you actually learned and/or can apply the material.

            • by pod (1103)

              It's all on-the-job training and work experience anyways. Just do the minimum to get the piece of paper admitting you to the club.

    • Law school, really? (Score:5, Informative)

      by thesameguy (1047504) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @07:59PM (#41759413)
      Unemployment amongst recent law school graduates is the worst it's been in history, and there is no sign of that changing. I've worked in the legal industry for a long time now, and it's ugly. I wouldn't wanna be someone with a law school loan right now. http://chronicle.com/article/Unemployment-Among-Recent-Law/132189/ [chronicle.com] etc.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @09:16PM (#41759993)

        We just hired someone where I work who has a BS in Comp Sci and a Law Degree (fresh out of school at 25)... as an entry-level programmer. He couldn't find a job as a lawyer and had to fall back on his CS degree.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:10PM (#41759505)

      "Go to law school" has been the advice du jour for the past decade+, and the result is a saturated market. I can't speak to trade schools, but racking up $50-100K in loans to do an undergrad and a JD to enter a market where you're looking at competing with 100 other JDs for a $30K per year job does not strike me as good advice.

      Unless, of course, you're looking to go into intellectual property and be a patent attorney, but that requires you to sell your soul to the worst system of corporate control over humanity in existence, so I'm assuming that option is off the books.

    • by Motard (1553251) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:16PM (#41759553)

      'School' is neither worthless or priceless, but consider your (short term and long term) goals carefully.

      Technical schools might get you in the door at a company, but will never, in and of itself, lift you far above that.

      I think one (a self starter such as yourself) could do just as well by offering their services for free. Think of it as a series of self styled apprenticeships. Just be honest: "I don't have the resources to get myself a proper degree, but I am passionate about my craft and feel confident that I can help your firm if only I can get some real world experience...."

      This will work especially well at a local business (local bank, real estate agency, etc). Preferably one that has not developed an entrenched IT Dept (who will be suspicious of young upstarts).

      You may or may not be paid, but at least you won't be paying. And you'll be developing a resume - something virtually no 4 year student has.

      And if you do get to join a company as a proper employee, you can avail yourself of their tuition reimbursement program. Then, when you do get your degree there is an inherent expectation that it is valuable and should be rewarded.

      • by AuMatar (183847) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:01AM (#41761019)

        You realize that a company can't accept that offer, right? They'd see their company sued into oblivion. They have to pay at least minimum wage. Nor would any company ever respect someone willing to make an offer like that.

        His best bet is to get a real degree. Work nights, work weekends. Apply to every scholarship and form of financial aid he can find. You *can* get a job in programming without one, but it will be a shit job at a bad company that's lowballing wages. And you'll be there for most of a decade, because nobody who isn't looking for minimum skill cogs is going to hire someone without a degree or 4-5 years experience. The odds they don't know what he's doing are far too great, and a programmer who doesn't know what he's doing will cost them more (via wasting senior talents time) than they gain.

        • So just volunteer for a charity group instead. Still looks good on the resume, and a lot of local groups are in need of all the help they can get.

    • by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:18PM (#41759565) Journal

      Shrug. I suppose, for certain values of zero... I have a degree from a technical college, and peaked at six figures during the dot com boom. Like most in IT, I took a hit after dot com bust, but still making just a tad under six figures.

      Having a degree from a technical college means you will probably start below your skill set, (With a BSET I started as an engineering assistant, in a company where you couldn't be hired as a "member of the technical staff" without having graduated with honors from a very specific, very short list of colleges) but if you're worth anything, you will make up for it over time.

      The main issue as I see it is that you can't even get an interview in some places without a degree of some kind. Without letters after your name, at some companies HR won't even forward your resume, so the hiring manager never sees it. This doesn't mean you're completely shut out, but it makes the process more difficult, and may require some social engineering to get the manager's attention.

      There are people who make a comfortable living without any college at all. My nephew dropped out of CS because programming was "too hard". Later he managed to pass the MCSE and now manages to keep himself in raman noodles and xbox controllers by pushing brightly colored buttons. Shrug.

      There are almost certainly places of learning you could attend with zero benefit. You should be able to spot those and stay away. But putting all technical institutes in that category is demonstrably not accurate.

      All that said, out of high school I was accepted at two colleges, one conventional and one technical, and I wonder how things would have been different had I gone to a conventional college. For one thing, I believe there would have been more girls.

      • by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @09:35PM (#41760131) Journal
        I'm making six figures too; it's just that the first couple are zeros.
      • by snowraver1 (1052510) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @09:36PM (#41760143)

        I also went to a technical college (public). I also did not get laid.

        I didn't really learn a whole lot, but it wasn't too expensive. I think it was about 2k per semester. I would bet money that most of the people in that class are not in the field today. They just weren't IT people.

        I got super lucky and landed an entry level Help Desk job at a great company. I made 28.5k, plus a 1k non-guaranteed annual bonus. I was 21 and it was way more then I had ever made before, so I was thrilled. Two years later, we were outsourced. Most people lost their job, but I was kept and upgraded to application support. From there, I thought I would become a networking guy, so I got my CCNA. I didn't get into networking.

        I stayed there for a bit, and 3 years later the company wanted to replace the application that i was supporting. I knew the most about it, so I became part of the project team. We chose the vender and I started making it all work (with the help of others). Now, it looks like I might become a developer. I now, with the same company, make almost 3 times what I did when I started.

        Back to the school. I could not have got my job without the piece of paper. I don't even know where my diploma is now though. The paper may get your foot in the door, but you are on your own from there.

        I love my job. I am very fortunate. This is what I do:

        Be positive. No one likes a negative nancy.
        Be willing. Don't be lazy.
        Don't get taken advantage of. Don't be a shit disturber either. Be positive.
        Don't blame other people. Just fix problems.
        And most importantly, fix problems.

        Why did I say that most of my class didn't make it in IT? They weren't problem solvers. Either you are or you aren't. It drives me crazy when I don't 'get' a problem. I obsess over it until either I solve it, or something else makes me forget.

        Businesses want someone that 'gets shit done'. Usually, solving problems fits into that category.

        You sound motivated, and smart enough to dive in to the details to understand a system. That is what will make or break your career. Get the paper, find an entry level job, fix shit, be positive. It worked for me.

        Failure comes as passion goes. Remember that.

        • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @11:19PM (#41760805) Journal

          It drives me crazy when I don't 'get' a problem. I obsess over it until either I solve it, or something else makes me forget.

          This is key. I've noticed the primary quality of successful programmers is they don't give up. They run into a problem that makes you want to hit your head against the desk, but they keep going. Those who give up become QA.

          Note when I say 'successful' here I mean 'make money,' I've met plenty of people who are horrible programmers but still manage to make triple-digits.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          I would bet money that most of the people in that class are not in the field today. They just weren't IT people.

          Uh, I work in the field. Most of the people in the field aren't IT people either, unless you work at some place like Google.

          Much of corporate IT is more about manipulating people than manipulating technology.

      • by AuMatar (183847)

        That's a decade ago. Times change. The ideal of the high school dropout being a genius coder is dead (and good riddance). These days you need the degree, or you need years of experience. Getting that first job is nearly impossible if you don't have the degree, and it will be a shit job- doing boring, repetitive work on mind numbing apps that are just like the one you wrote last. And you'll be stuck there, because nobody is going to offer you anything better until you have 4 or 5 years experience.

        Why?

    • by Jeff- (95113) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:39PM (#41759711) Homepage

      This AC is mostly nonsense in regards to the state of the industry. I agree about technical colleges though.

      Companies would love to hire locally rather than H1B if there was talent. Blaming H1B is racist scapegoating. There are plenty of programmers out there. There aren't plenty of good programmers. If you learn the same web scripting language as everyone else and expect to make 6 figures right out of school you're in for a surprise. However, there are a LOT of companies who are hiring near 6 figures for talent immediately out of a 4 year program.

      If you spend your 4 years writing only those programs assigned to you I'm sure it is difficult to find a good job. However, if you take an interest in opensource, do a good internship, or show any capability outside of filling in the last 1/10th of the program that your professor left blank for you, you'll have no trouble getting a job in today's market. What you get out of it is proportional to what you get in though. You can't just skate through and expect someone to hand you a pile of money. You're not entitled to anything just because you went through the motions and did what was laid out in front of you. You're competing with all of the other people who did the same, including those in other countries.

      The crack at management is also unfounded. Everyone seems to know examples of mismanagement which lead to the failure of companies and the dissatisfaction and disenfranchisement of employees. Why then is it so hard to conceive that it is a difficult job that few people excel at? There are definitely good managers out there who can extract work from their reports at a higher level of satisfaction. You should learn to spot them and maneuver onto their teams at your earliest opportunity.

      • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:26PM (#41760461) Homepage

        > Blaming H1B is racist scapegoating.

        Nope. It's not racism. The H1B creates an underclass. That underlcass is in a weak bargaining position. This drives down wages. THAT is why most companies seek out H1B candidates.

        It's purely a matter of dollars an cents.

        There are a few valid H1B's out there in computing. You won't find them working IT jobs though since IT is pretty generic and mundane crap.

        Most H1Bs are hired as scab labor to drive wages down. It has nothing to do wtih "racism".

        An Indian with a green card is not helping create an underclass.

        • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

          Many employers shy away from H1Bs for different reasons. For the situation that the OP is in, where he can gap up above the competition is really in selling himself. The key, as another poster mentioned, is to fix problems. Be a problem solver, and seeking out opportunities is what sets the "go-getters" apart.

          My guess is that programming for big companies in the US is a dying profession. But, there is all kinds of things you can do in small businesses.

          My personal example: we have an engineering company

        • H1Bs have to be paid at least 100% of the average salary for their job in their location. This was at one point in my career 18% above the salary initially offered for a certain job. Easy raise. Yeah, they could probably take advantage of you if they were devious about it, but I guess I've been lucky with employers. Does it create pressure? Absolutely. Getting a green card would be a real weight off my back (and when the actually U.S. gets around to allocating me a number in a few years, I may have one). B
          • The big problem that I see with the H1B is that the holders of the H1B are at far too much mercy of their sponsor. Putting aside any talk of fairness for the foreign nationals, this is still a bad thing for domestic labor. By having a class of people beholden to their sponsor, it reduces the negotiating power of remainder. If the employer upgrades the job duties, the H1B holders can't balk at the request, without fear of reprisal.

            Years ago I had a junior technician working on my crew with an H1B, he wa

    • by franciscohs (1003004) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:48PM (#41759787)

      I will never understand how everyone puts the H1-B visas as the cause of jobs shortage. There are about 65k H1-B given annually and they last 3 years, so you have about 200k job positions occupied by H1-B holders, in a country with a population of 315 million. do you REALLY believe the H1-B visas have something to do with the problem?
      I'm not saying there isn't a problem, but I'm sure it's not H1-B visas.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        It's not just shipping "guest workers" here. It's also outsourcing the work entirely. A lot of computing jobs are really crap. They are support positions in non-tech companies that only see you as a drain on the business. Companies like this will try to cut corners any way they can regardless of whether or not it makes sense from a quality perspective.

        If you are seen as only a cost center, the MBAs will treat you like dirt.

    • by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:51PM (#41759805)

      coupled with student loans that are rapidly accruing interest which can't be discharged, EVER, through bankruptcy.

      False.

      That is the rumor, but the fact is: you can discharge student load debt on your SECOND bankruptcy.

    • by cruachan (113813) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @09:00PM (#41759875)

      Sure you can pay Tata $10,000 - you just end up with poor bug-ridden code thrown together with the minimal amount of rigor to meet whatever specification you sent. Even if your offshore coders speak the same language they don't understand your culture and what you get isn't what you want.

      I've been a developer for nearly 30 years, 10 years ago I was getting a little worried about the offshore developers - not anymore, I make quite a nice living charging people European rates to redevelop systems properly they've tried to get done for next to nothing offshore.

      Of course there are some success stories, but generally any potential client who thinks off-shoring development is a good idea is not one you want as a client.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Have to give the OP that.

      • tata ripoff (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Having dealt with tata before, I can agree with that and more.

        In addition to dealing with the shitty bug ridden code that barely meets spec.

        You will actually spend more time and money writing the perfect specs, having Product Owners, Process Managers, Business Analysts, Architects, SMEs and Sr. Engineers working on getting the specs and design to a point where the software is actually usable, than you would if you just built the software in house.

        Of course I've only been in the business for 15 years.

      • I make quite a nice living charging people European rates to redevelop systems properly they've tried to get done for next to nothing offshore.

        Yep. Absolutely. It's like the one about the two barbers across the street from each other: One puts up a billboard that says, "$10 Haircuts", and takes most of the customers; That is, until the other barber puts up their sign, "We fix $10 Haircuts."

        Mmm Hmm, exactly like that...

      • Microsoft and Amazon pay an average of $30K/year for experienced programmers in India. If you want that same talent through an off-shore contracting company, it'll cost you double, or $60K/year. Idiots who think they can get $100K worth of development for $10K paid to an offshore contracting company deserve the failure they pay for. Even if you pay for good off-shore talent, your source code will be stolen, no matter what the contracting company tells you, and you'll risk competing with an offshore compa

    • Just a general response to this bullshit post. Ignore it.

    • Actually, the H-1B excuse is bogus. I was able to recently talk to the head of HR at the company I work for. I discussed H-1B visas with them and was surprised when I was told that actually H-1B visa workers are expensive to setup and a ton of paperwork headaches. We were looking for a few database people to fill some positions and the HR person told me they turned down a high percentage of applicants because they were H-1B's. Now maybe for a company like Microsoft it's not a problem.. they have money and
    • by iggymanz (596061)

      law degree & passing bar will get you unemployment here in chicago. hundreds of those people compete for $45K a year job opening. going to take them a awhile to pay off $250K+ in school debt....

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @11:10PM (#41760753)

      Avoid trade colleges like the plague. They teach you nothing viable, and just take your money... and you have zero prospects of work afterwards.

      BULLSHIT. I can't speak for every instance, but YES, technical schools can matter. Why?

      I currently attend a technical school in Oklahoma. OSUIT. And I am learning something that is a lost art- Watchmaking.

      There is no place in the US other than currently about 4 schools, less than 35 students total across all of them, that are learning
      traditional hand-skills watchmaking, right now. I am one of those 35 or so people. 35 or so, in the ENTIRE UNITED STATES.

      I have a B.A. in Japanese Language & Literature from the University of Pittsburgh, in PA, and have worked abroad. I have even gone
      to college in Japan. So I have attended a "traditional" university in the US, a private university in Japan, and now a technical school in the US.

      Despite high intelligence, I could have studied on my own for 30 more years and not gotten to the high skill level as a watchmaker I am at now-
      without going to a damn good technical college. OSUIT is in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma, but by damn this is a good technical school.

      It depends on your degree. If you are getting a now dime-a-dozen IT degree, then yes, they might be worthless. And if you think I no nothing about IT,
      I used to build computers, and run a dual boot XP/Ubuntu setup, XP for 3D CAD engineering design. Self taught for the most part in Linux. Still it is
      Ubuntu, so yeah, I know, I'm not hot shit or anything.

      But if you are going for a specialized technical field (and it doesn't get more specialized than watchmaking- which has no further branches from it, unlike
      IT specializations), then a GOOD technical school is well worth the money. And I have people already offering me jobs, even once chase me down off
      the street to do so, and I haven't even left school yet. I will graduate to be within the top 5-10% in skill of all the watchmakers in the US, because of the
      ridiculously intense program here, and the incredibly skilled watchmakers that are my professors. We have had people go to work directly for Patek Phillipe.
      From school. And this is a TECHNICAL SCHOOL.

      So, in conclusion, you are a cloistered person, with no real experience behind what you say. I have seen it all at this point, and I think you are talking out
      of your ass, sir.

    • by GPierce (123599)

      It's almost certain that a technical school associates degree will be worthless as far as employment goes. If it does (by some kind of magic) help you get an IT job, it will most likely be a job that will bore you spitless. In the long term it will be useless for promotion into senior jobs or into management.

      If you've been out in the real world for ten years starting on a real education could be personally beneficial, but I wouldn't think of it as a way of getting IT employment (or any other kind of employ

  • CompSci? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by enigma32 (128601) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @07:42PM (#41759259)

    Sounds to me like you're more interested in _Computer Science_ than programming or "IT".

    Maybe you need to reconsider the program you are in, or attend a more serious education institution?

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      ...or he might be going for an architect position, which is still IT but requires more CS knowledge.

    • Yeah, I was thinking that too. He wants to understand how things work, the deep algorithms of the universe, he should do CS. As a bonus, if his program is competitive, he'll become a good programmer as well.
  • by Mike Buddha (10734) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @07:46PM (#41759273)

    For the money, an Associate's Degree at a Community College would impress me more than an ITT degree, and it would cost you a lot less. At a CC you can study CS or IT from people who know their subjects well, and have a passion to teach.

    Don't get me wrong, I think that a lot can be learned from a technical college, and I've met quite a few people who have taught there and know what they're doing, but bang-for-your-buck can 't be beaten at a Community College.

    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @07:51PM (#41759329)
      I had a chance to go through a lot of resumes recently, and the few with a community college degree did stand out. Better than ITT, and a CC with a University is better to me than University alone. If only because most of them have been working in the field part time while at a University...
      • by C_L_Lk (1049846) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:41PM (#41759729) Homepage

        Alternatively, you could follow the path I did (and several others I know, some of whom encouraged me to follow the path) - completed my 4 year in Computer Engineering with a minor in EE. Worked for a few years but really disliked the work I was doing (IT infrastructure), took a little time off, and signed up and went to a 2 year community college trades program in Industrial Electrician... What that did was introduce me to many people working for various companies and hugely expanded my "network" of industry contacts. I had 0 problem landing a 6 figure job as an EE specializing in industrial control systems before I even finished the trade program. My employer thought my background of both "practical electrician" training on top of my CmpEn/EE background made me an unmatchable asset - I know the theory and the practical applications.

        For the OP - perhaps going to a traditional Comp Sci program would be the best place to start - and then follow it up with a technical program afterwards where they have exposure to people in industry, and can "shine" as a well educated, brilliant programmer with sharp CS skills. They could even end up like I did getting several offers to teach courses at the community college level after I graduated. I am doing that now part time in the evenings in addition to my full time job.

        • by mkiwi (585287)

          I have mod points, but I want to chime in on this topic because I'm in the field and I know what the job market wants.

          Here is what you do:
          Find a University with a Software Engineering program. Software Engineers are in such high demand there are more jobs available for them than there are applicants. Computer Science more like an extension of Math. If you like Math, then ComS is fine, but if you just want to program, you'll find yourself selling yourself short with a typical ComS education.

          Next, find out

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:02PM (#41759439)

      I'd go along with this.

      1) The CCs are paid for by taxers you have probably already contributed to. So, although people talk about cheap, you and your family has already paid for the CC.

      2) Education is 99% learning and 1% teaching, so I believe you get out of it about what you put into it. IAW, there ain't no where your going to get a better education, as good, but not better.

      3) Most of the Tech school courses I've looked at give about 2/3 of what the CC course have. They all seem to cut some corners compared to the CC.

      4) If the CC instructor is bad, and I've had some horrid ones, it is easier to drop and get any money you put up back.

      5) CCs will sometimes have Internships, where you can get some coordinated practical experience. Granted internships very from good to bad, but all experience is valuable.

      6) In my State, CC units are easily transferable to the State Colleges & University. Tech schools classes, I believe, have to be vetted which can be a PITA.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      I agree with that. I went to a technical college but ended up backfilling at the local community college. Had I to do it over with, I would probably have done that in reverse order.

      The issue with me is that I was desperate to get out of my home town, and it would have been hard to explain to my family why I moved out of state to go to a community college when there was one practically next door to the family home.

    • by Kneo24 (688412)

      Yes and No. As you touched upon, the people who teaches the school are what makes the education worthwhile. I have known many people who went to a school like ITT and hated it, taking away nothing. I have met those who feel the same about community college.

      As an ITT grad myself, I feel as if I wouldn't have learned more going to a community college. While I can learn through books, I learn best through hands on training. I would not have received nearly as much of that at a community college. I also had

  • by jchawk (127686) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @07:47PM (#41759285) Homepage Journal

    It's very likely that it will cost the same or less and will lead to more gainful employeement later.

    The point of all the extra non-computer science classes is to teach you how to learn and process new material.

    Having a 4 year degree from an accredited and respected school will also serve you well.

    Here comes the rub... Most start-ups and even smaller mid-sizes might not care or hold it against you but then if you can impress them now why go to school at all?

    Just my two cents from a guy works in the fortune 200. Right or wrong I see good people held back by lack of a 4 year degree all the time.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      > The point of all the extra non-computer science classes is to teach you how to learn and process new material.

      Having gone to a technical institute, I have to agree. Some have humanities (mine did) but only the minimum necessary for the degree. I had to do a lot of backfilling later.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Up here in Canada, it's bit more...mixed on that. The general opinion of most companies is: If you want people who know and understand what's going on in the world, and have a good grasp of the theory and practical. You look college graduates. If you want people who know the theory, but fail at the practical components you look for a university grad.

      • by AuMatar (183847)

        In the US college and university are synonyms. We use them interchangeably. So that doesn't quite parse to US ears, and may make you rethink what some of these other posts have said.

        He's talking about a technical college, which is basically a business that sells degrees with minimal to no oversight. Usually the people teaching the classes barely know what's going on (or don't know). Pretty much it's the equivalent of not going to school at all.

  • Sure, why not. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm always amused at the people working for me who command ridiculous (eg, six figure) salaries with absolutely no college education whatsoever, who are for some godforsaken reason impressed with my completely useless A.A.S. in Computer Information Systems.

    But...

    technical school associates degree

    Go with an actual community college rather than a "technical school".

    Or consider ignoring the degree crap altogether. Ten years, you say - do you have actual job experience? If not, a degree isn't a bad thing. If you do, it quickly becomes usel

    • There are public technical colleges that are associated with community colleges, and their degrees transfer to a public university.

      For example, in Minnesota, they have a number of public technical schools like Saint Paul College (used to be called Saint Paul Technical College), which is partnered with Inver Hills Community College to earn an accredited associates degree.

      Not all classes will transfer, but most of the generals will. Psychology, Math, etc..

  • Depends... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I went to a technical college (state accredited, so it counts as a community college) directly after high school, as an alternative to the pricey 4-year universities. I earned an Associate of Applied Science in Networking in the first two years, and an Associate of Applied Science in Telecommunications with one more year of classes, due to overlap in the two programs. Immediately after graduation, I was hired at a nearby university for an open position with their IT team. They interviewed multiple people fo

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Many tech colleges hire from within, and if you can be a State employee that can mean a reasonable career path.

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @07:53PM (#41759351) Journal
    - and it's stuff you could do on your own - then it's already not worth it. If you're capable of learning it on your, which it seems you are, then my suggestion would be to put that money toward self-teaching, and then taking certification tests. No one will give a rat's ass that you have an associate's degree in IT from a for-profit technical school, but they'll drool all over your resume if you put just one semester's worth of tuition towards stuff like the CCNA or the MCSA.
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Well, at least the CCNA. MCSAs (at least the lower levels) are becoming a dime a dozen.

    • I went to one of those fast track adult education colleges that are advertized on late night TV. My classmates and I figured out that for the tuition we were paying to do a follow-the-bouncing-ball-style curriculum, we could have rented an apartment, kitted it out with up to date routers and switches, gotten some books and e-learning course material and done it ourselves. Fortunately we had the one thing that a DIY course wouldn't have: a great instructor.

      Still, a couple of months of diligent two hours,
  • by Clubbah (1796660) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @07:54PM (#41759363)

    The Nand2Tetris is a great resource and I am working through it myself. I wish there was something like this available when I started college 20 years ago. The start of our instruction centered around a variable, then loops, data types, etc. I assume it's because students could related to variables through Algebra. It worked well enough though.

    Don't go to a technical school. Go to a state sponsored 4 year university. They're cheaper, better value, and your professors, if you impress them, have some really good in's into hiring companies.

    Get your foundation there. Understand *why* companies are willing to pay you 6 figures. Understand the value of scalability and maintainability. Understand how to build a proper ERD. Understand your data structures and why coding something one way is inefficient and doing it another way will make it 1000 times faster. Become an engineer, not a mechanic.

  • by kwiqsilver (585008) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @07:58PM (#41759397)

    If you want to learn the behind the scenes parts of the language and the computer, get a BS in CS or CE. It will take a few more years, but your earning potential will be much higher than with a two year degree. You can learn all of that on your own, but it is difficult, and that piece of paper will get your resume in the door more easily than trying to explain autodidacticism to an HR drone.

    But never stop learning, whether it be through tinkering, online stuff like the NAND-Tetris course, or formal, for-credit courses.

  • by sycomonkey (666153) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:00PM (#41759421) Homepage
    It's really rare to go to a technical college for CS-related stuff and have it work out. The entire concept has been sullied beyond redemption by the ITT's and Devry's of the world. The best bet, money wise, it to take your first 2 years at community college, get all your prereqs like History and Calculus and CS101 out of the way for cheap. Then transfer to a traditional state 4-year for the last two years, even if its just a satellite campus. It's going to be much more expensive, and more challenging than CC, but you will hopefully end up with knowledgeable professors right when you need them, and after 50% of the class has dropped for lack of interest or plain immaturity. Also do your best to work with the school and line up an internship during your summer break between 3rd and 4th year. You'll have a degree that helps your resume instead of hinders it, a token amount of real world experience, and spend a bit over half as much money as just going straight to the 4-year.
  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:03PM (#41759451)
    I'm a high school drop out with a 6 figure income as a software developer.
    • Anecdotes are nice, but your situation is RARE in a coprorate environment. However, I'm close to the 6's myself, and am in a similar situation...

      To get where I am, I've also worked my but off, and frequently have to jump ship when I'm looked over for a promotion due to my "Condition." Only to land in a sea of work that is often more difficult, with longer hours, shorter deadlines, and marginally better pay.

  • The overall quality of instruction and graduates in many of these tech schools is often pretty low. Technical College not only costs more than Community College, but is an indication that you didn't have the academic chops to get through Community College. I can tell you how I would stack my resume pile if I was hiring and all that hr was providing was a brief summary: Experience+College, Experience (no degree), Self-taught limited experience, College Grad (no experience), Technical Trade School, No apparen

    • by mysidia (191772)

      Experience+College, Experience (no degree), Self-taught limited experience, College Grad (no experience), Technical Trade School, No apparent Qualifications.

      Interesting. Well, I would tend to say: dependent on the job. I would sort that differently:

      Experience (College or no degree treated the same), College Grad (no experience), Self-taught limited experience, Self-taught No relevant experience, No apparent Qualifications, Technical Trade School.

      I'm just considering, what it says about a person,

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:08PM (#41759485)

    Do a great job where you are that shows you can tackle a 2 year project and achieve great results.

    Nose your way into doing extracurricular activity you are interested in with a professor or private programming somehow, someway.

    You will never stop learning, and it is impossible to get more than a good introduction in 2-4 years so go for it. You never know where you will eventually wind up, so get everything you can in training at school.

    • by Dan667 (564390)
      meh, it is a liability. Why do a half assed job instead of a full 4 year degree? If you don't think people will wonder that, well they do when they are hiring.
  • I personally went that path so I can tell you that If you have better options then take the better option. However, where I lived 15 years ago if you wanted a Tech degree of any value you wouldn't have any real options. I took the tech school path only because the only real College that I could afford locally had a horrible reputation at putting out CS Majors. They were in the process of building a new Engineering department and I wasn't interested in being apart of their transition from a bad department to
  • I can't imagine a Public Technical School being that expensive. I have friends that earn 90K+ (Senior SQL Server DBA) and 115K+ (Senior Network Engineer) that both attended an inexpensive Technical College for Associate Degrees in I.T. specific areas. Both had technical certificates (MCDBA at one point, A+,Network+ for the DBA/Cisco for the Network Engineer) prior to obtaining Associates Degrees. The Network Engineer's employers have paid for additional vendor specific certificates for him. I attended an in
  • by cthlptlk (210435) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:45PM (#41759769)

    1. sex
    2. networking with other people who will be in your profession (try not to mix with #1)
    3. learning something from a genuine authority on a subject (try not to mix with #1)
    4. learning something that is hard to teach to yourself (music performance, foreign languages)

    If you are having trouble finding a job, it is probably where you live or your soft/social skills.

    A little comp sci theory is a good companion to the stuff (you say) you already know, but it can be self-teachable.

  • Get your generals out of the way at a community college or similar but be SURE the credits transfer to THE four year college you want to attend.

    This will save you thousands of dollars and you end up getting your BA or BS from the school you wanted.

    Think about marketing. Huge opportunities for growth positions and most marketing departments have a tight relationship with their corporate purse holders.

  • Check the box. Pick an easy major and get it done. Take as many CLEP tests as you can. Ten years from now no one will care what you got your degree in, and unless you go to a top school no one will care where you went. Skip the for-profit schools and find a nice affordable state school.
  • by leamanc (961376) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @09:43PM (#41760193) Homepage Journal

    ...I think you have already answered your question. You are spending a lot of money on something that will bring you very little in return.

    My priorities when choosing a candidate to hire in my company are:

    • 1. Experience
    • 2. Limited experience via internship or part-time job, combined with a four-year degree from a respectable university
    • 3. Limited experience via internship or part-time job, combined with a community college degree
    • 4. Four-year degree from a respectable university
    • 5. A community college degree
    • 6. Demonstration of useful skills outside of traditional workplace experience (that is, experience, but not in a job setting or for a commercial project, i.e., an impressive programming project you did on your own; in short, your portfolio)
    • 7. You are related (e.g., nephew, niece) to someone of authority in the company
    • 8. ITT or similar technical college
    • So, as you can see, you would quickly sink to the bottom of my pre-interview list of candidates. It's highly unlikely you would be called in for an interview. It's not so much that you are getting a bad education at the tech college, but that education is going to be very generic and give you little-to-no idea of what working within an IS/IT group is really like. These schools air commercials during the soap opera and Dr. Phil time of day for a reason: they target unemployed people without any skill sets. These are your peers in a tech college. They cannot be turned into IT wizards in two years. At best, they can get a very simplistic overview of the career field that is about equal to what you can learn on your own, online, for free.

      Sorry to be so harsh, but it's my reality, and I imagine the same for many other hiring managers in the field. We value experience over education (and certifications) because the most important consideration before we spend the time and money to recruit and hire someone is "do they have a career path here, long-term?" And the best way to gauge that is experience, plain and simple. That puts you in the age-old conundrum of "how do I get experience without a degree?"

      And my answer to that is internships. Work for free. Volunteer your time for a community organization. Have mom or dad or Uncle Joe get you something entry-level in their company. Show me that you not only know your stuff, but have a work ethic, know what you want to do with your life, and can work with the wide range of personality types found in any given company. Talent is everywhere; the ones that get hired are the ones I feel will work hard, get along with their colleagues, and have ambition to work their way up to something other than what they are interviewing for.

  • It's obviously possible to get a job in the field without a degree of any sort, but a degree will help immensely. And if the "From NAND to Tetris" syllabus is accurate, a solid computer science degree is exactly what you want, and works for the education requirement of almost any job in the field that requires a bachelors degree (a few closer to the hardware end might want an E.E.).

  • While I was an engineer, mostly C++ systems/embedded, for over a decade, I had to take some time off to deal with family issues. I did some side projects during this time, but rarely full-time. I did take some additional college science classes, more for myself, during periods of time when I had a light load. So, four years out of work, and I might as well be starting off again. I have noticed some new things though.

    There IS more of an interest in things that you do outside of the work day. I have seen

  • I know that when it comes down to the wire, experience will win over school credentials 95% of the time, but the fact is that a lot of companies do want, if not *require* an undergraduate degree. I'm in a similar boat right now, in that I'm working full-time, and trying to teach myself programming on the side. While I can do it, the structure of having classes helps me quite significantly, and I'm likely to learn more and faster in school than on my own. (And slightly off topic, if anyone has any suggestio
  • there is to much put on the degree part and not much on real skills.

    Traditional college have a lot of fluff and filler and some CS tend to be very theory based with big skills gaps.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:42PM (#41760589)

    Traditional college sucks as well and 4 years is to long for tech.

    IT needs a Badges system.

    • Traditional college sucks as well and 4 years is to long for tech.

      IT needs a Badges system.

      Badges? Badges! We don't need no stinkin' badges!

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:44PM (#41760603)

    IT needs trades based learning not college where to spend years in a class room with little hands on skills.

  • Then you're going to run into what I did. I did college later on in my early 30's. By then I'd had well over a decade of experience in programming and the I.T. field.

    So I just slogged through it and got the B.Sc.
  • Bill Gates thinks that current model of higher edu needs change.

    http://chronicle.com/article/A-Conversation-With-Bill-Gates/132591/ [chronicle.com]

  • Tech schools are tied down to the degree system and that makes have a bad rap and they don't get the respect they should get.

    Now some community colleges can be very hit or miss but they are more open to drop in and non degree students

  • Hmm. Assembly you say? "We need to go deeper..." I'll just leave this here. [vortexcortex.com]

    FTRMF:

    WARNING

    This software is ammunition for foot snipers. You will be editing the system's memory matrix directly, in real time, as it is running. It is strongly suggested you first use an artificial construct such as a Virtual Machine to familiarize yourself with using Hexabootable.

    If you edit a program as it is running a hung CPU is the most likely, but not the worst thing that can happen by far; Editing a working stack is just as dangerous. Your firmware and/or hardware could be seriously damaged if you are not very careful in there...

    The first page that appears (address 07C0:0000) contains the editor program that is displaying the text. Although some memory may be seen changing as the view and cursor move near the end of the program, you must resist the urge to edit this live machine code (unless you're prepared to face the consequences).

    See the Memory Map for your system, and also this program's memory map which is listed in the source code along with many other details.

Gee, Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

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