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Programming IT

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

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @07:49PM (#41759313)

    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.


    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 useless, especially if you learn that networking (as in, person to person social stupidity) is far, far more important than any actual talent at doing your job. :p (As horrible as it is - you can always learn on the job, if you have any skill whatsoever.)

  • 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 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 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.


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

  • 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 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.

  • tata ripoff (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:25PM (#41760449)

    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.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @11:28PM (#41760855)

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

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