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Programming Education

Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science? 546

jjp9999 writes A college degree may not the best route when it comes to jobs in coding. Jobs for computer science majors flow aplenty, yet employers (and job-seekers) often learn quickly that the college grads don't have the skills. "This is because the courses taught in virtually all computer science curriculums focus on theory, and they only dabble in teaching practical programming skills," says Cody Scholberg on Epoch Times. This ties into a unique factoid in the world of programmers. Nearly half of the software developers in the United States do not have a college degree. Many never even graduated from high school. Instead, many aspiring programmers are turning to open source learning materials, or to the new programming bootcamps popping up around the United States. While theory does have its place, the situation raises the question of whether colleges are teaching the right skills people need to join the workforce, and what its place is amid the rise of open source learning.
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Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

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  • Re:False premise (Score:5, Informative)

    by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @03:28PM (#47819347)
    This is simply not the case today, especially as applied to 20-somthing trying to get a job. If you are still skeptical, I invite you to go to talk to HR and ask them what it would take to get entry-level job without a degree.
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @03:29PM (#47819359) Journal

    Nearly half of the software developers in the United States do not have a college degree. Many never even graduated from high school.

    What? I pored over the article and the US BLS link [] in it to find the source of these statements. Aside from a pull quote that appears as an image in the article [] but isn't even in the article itself and is unattributed, could someone find me the source of this statistic?

    Because I'm a software developer in the United States with a Masters of Science in Computer Science. All of my coworkers have at least a bachelor's degree in one field or another. And my undergrad very much so started with a sink-or-swim weed out course in Scheme and then another in Java. Yes, they were both easy if you already knew how to code but ... this article almost sounds like it's written by someone with no field experience. Granted that's a low sample set, I'd like to know where the other half of us are. Everyone keep in mind that a Computer Science degree is a relatively new thing and there very well may be elderly coders doing a great job without technically a degree in computer science.

    The only way I can see the misconception spreading is that people who use Wix to drag and drop a WYSIWYG site (for you older readers that's like FrontPage meets Geocities) erroneously consider themselves "software developers".

  • It's all bunk. (Score:4, Informative)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @04:23PM (#47819983) Homepage Journal

    The premise in the summary is wrong. Employers have not learned that actual skill outweighs the fact that someone survived college.

    The fact is that such a degree in no way indicates that obtaining it involved actually learning what was presented for longer than it takes to pass the relevant examinations.

    On the other hand, if the programmer presents a series of complex projects they have completed, this does positively indicate they have both the knowledge (what the degree should attest to, but really doesn't rise to the challenge) and the ability to employ that knowledge (which the degree does not assure anyone of, at all.) Those completed project should also serve to demonstrate that the required portions of theory have both been absorbed and implemented, presuming the project works well and as intended.

    Employers and HR departments are rarely focused on actual performance, except in the very smallest of companies. Most use a combination of bean-counting, related age-discrimination, and the supposedly valuable rubber stamp of a degree to winnow out programming job applicants. After all, if said employee screws it up, that's the employee's fault. Not the HR person.

    This, in fact, is why most corporate software goes out the door with so many problems, and it is also why those problems typically remain unfixed for very long periods of time.

    It sure would be of great benefit to end users and companies if actual skill *did* outweigh a degree. But that's most definitely not happening. It's wishful thinking, that's all. And if you're an older programmer, even your sheepskin won't help you -- you cost too much, your health is significantly more uncertain, they don't like your familial obligations, they don't like your failure to integrate into "youth culture" as in no particular fascination with social media... or even your preference for a shirt and tie. Welcome to the machine. You put your hand in the gears right here. Unless you've enough of an entrepreneurial bent that you can go it on your own. In which case, I salute you and welcome you to the fairly low-population ranks of the escapees.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham