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Does a CS Degree carry any weight anymore?

Jim Panagiotopoulos
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 05, 2001
Posts: 11
I am currently working on my C.S. with BA degree and love it. Topics such as Data Structures,Assembly language, etc. are part of the curriculum. Java comes with alot of these already in the API.Am I really going to use assembly language?
Whats really in demand is J2EE skills, which arent tought as part of the curriculum. So as a result I'm studying EJB,JSP,Servlets,JDBC,etc. on my own in addition to my CS studies.
I want to get my BA in CS but I feel that it wont teach me the necessary skills for employment.Will learning J2ee in addition to my school studies be enough?

Any advice would greatly be appreciated.
Sincerely,
Jim
Donald Nunn
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 11, 2000
Posts: 200
Hello, Jim. Well to be quite honest it's hard to tell nowadays. I have a BS in CS and a MS in Software Engineering including being SJCP2 and I haven't seen much of a difference, however, I suspect the economy has a lot to do with it right now. Education is important and I for one think you should get as much education as you deem important, however, it doesn't move mountains and it also depends on the company your in. One thing to keep in mind is get the degree(s) for you and that way you won't be dissapointed.


<b>Donald Nunn</b><br />Sun Certified Programmer for the Java 2 Platform
Jim Panagiotopoulos
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 05, 2001
Posts: 11
Thank you for your advice and insight Mr. Nunn.
Sincerely,
Jim Panagiotopoulos
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Generally speaking, I liken a CS degree for a software engineer to a physics degree for a mechanical engineer. It's the basis and theory, but doesn't cover many practical skills. I would not hire anyone without a CS degree, those without it tend to come up shot in basics such as data structures and object oriented skills (again, this is a generalization, there are exceptions). I can't tell you how many candidate I rejected because they couldn't explain what a hash table--yes, you do use them regularly.
Of course, EJB, JSP, Servlets, JDBC aren't core skills either, no more so then assembly language. I'm not saying don't study them, just that these aren't a replacement for where the CS degree programs come up short.
Bottom line, CS degress are not very good for software, but they're the closest most academic institutions offer.

--Mark
Joshua Kueck
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2002
Posts: 71
I got my BS in computer science last May. I had a 3.8 and received the Computer Science Award for the school. However, because I changed from an art major at the beginning of my junior year (no starving artist of me ), I have no real software development experience. I've been stuck in the "we cant hire you because you dont have any experience"/"I cant get any experience because noone will hire me" scenario. I am hoping getting my Java certification will help me out, as Im getting married in like 3 months
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Don't feel bad, a kid who was a CS major for all 4 years doesn't really have any more significant experience then you do. Academia is quite different from the real world.
--Mark
Charlie Sturman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 04, 2002
Posts: 112
Originally posted by Joshua Kueck:
I got my BS in computer science last May. I had a 3.8 and received the Computer Science Award for the school. However, because I changed from an art major at the beginning of my junior year (no starving artist of me ), I have no real software development experience. I've been stuck in the "we cant hire you because you dont have any experience"/"I cant get any experience because noone will hire me" scenario. I am hoping getting my Java certification will help me out, as Im getting married in like 3 months

This is a bit late for you but hopefully someone preparing to go to college or in college will find this advice helpful.
Choose a University with a Top Notch Rating and get into the School's internship program your junior year.btw if the school does not have an internship program look elsewhere.
Vijayalakshmi Srinivasan
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 29, 2002
Posts: 18
Hi Jim and Joshua,
Wanted to ask how difficult it was for you to change from an arts major to computer science. You encounter subjects toatlly new to you. Doesn't that need a lot of hard work?
I am an International student and did my Bachelors in Arts before coming to the US. I will probably have to do GRE+TOEFL too, right? (If I want to go for a CS degree, that is)
Thanks
Beksy Kurian
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 254
Hi vijaya,
I was also an international student some years ago. My bachelor degree is in chemistry and I earned a associate degree in pre-medicine after coming here. I jumped to cost accounting and then slowly to computer science later on( and I am not going back!). I did a MS(Computer science)in US. I took several pre-requisites or individual computer courses to get a good grip(c, c++,cobol,cics,visual basic, MS access,data structures,assembley language,multimedia etc).Yes, it is difficult first to grasp the concepts when we move from a totally different field. But you will get used to it(with a lot of hard work of course!). I am now a oracle DBA(junior you can say!) and a web application developer/web designer now. And as far as I know my employer is happy with my performance.
Good luck!
Beksy
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
Generally speaking, I liken a CS degree for a software engineer to a physics degree for a mechanical engineer. It's the basis and theory, but doesn't cover many practical skills.
Of course, EJB, JSP, Servlets, JDBC aren't core skills either, no more so then assembly language. I'm not saying don't study them, just that these aren't a replacement for where the CS degree programs come up short.
--Mark

I have a feeling that worldwide CS is taught in "upside-down" mode. I got some theoretical courses when I was a student, but they didn't cause any resonance - if you do not have enough practical experience, there is nothing to resonate. What could excite an experienced programmer is abstract and boring for a novice.
Perhaps it would make more sense to teach practical skills first - EJB, JSP, Servlets at all. for, say, two years, and allow for the next level only after few years of working experience.
Joshua Kueck
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2002
Posts: 71
Well, it wasn't really a big jump for me. I have been playing/building computers since I was little. I just never really got interested in it until I took a programming class and was flying through it while everyone else was failing As far as art went, I must have one 20 different art awards my last two years of highschool (a coupel grand ) But, in college, I wasn't having any fun in my art classes. They were so far behind me, it was just a waste of money. A couple classes I was even helping teach. I don't want to lose my passion for art.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

Perhaps it would make more sense to teach practical skills first - EJB, JSP, Servlets at all. for, say, two years, and allow for the next level only after few years of working experience.

Personally, I don't that those skills are that valuable either. If you are smart and understand the fundamentals, including some things a CS degree does cover, you can pick up any particular technology. It's the other engineering skills, like requirements gathering, communication, and testing which need to be taught (although a context is helpful for teaching these topics).
--Mark
John Fontana
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2002
Posts: 235
Originally posted by Joshua Kueck:
Well, it wasn't really a big jump for me. I have been playing/building computers since I was little. I just never really got interested in it until I took a programming class and was flying through it while everyone else was failing As far as art went, I must have one 20 different art awards my last two years of highschool (a coupel grand ) But, in college, I wasn't having any fun in my art classes. They were so far behind me, it was just a waste of money. A couple classes I was even helping teach. I don't want to lose my passion for art.


It was nice to read this message...My degree is in Music and that is a barrier to many programming jobs that want to see a CS degree...But so many programmers are artists and musicians, and I believe that a team mixed with people of artistic and technical backgrounds can really make some innovative software.


www.websiteandsound.com
"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Here you can see what happens when you try to teach fundamentals to people who didn't eat enough "practice" to be able to appreciate "theory"!
Shura Balaganov
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 22, 2002
Posts: 664
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

I can't tell you how many candidate I rejected because they couldn't explain what a hash table -yes, you do use them regularly.
--Mark

Mark, hate to come across your path in other threads.... I'll promise not to do it on purpose
Interesting, so CS graduates are it... How about thousands of Indians, Pakistanies, Chinese and Russians who have very solid science/engineering degrees, like Math or EE? My younger brother is graduating from Drexel with CS degree (and it is considered one of the better IT schools), and I personally know how TERRIBLY POOR his education is.
I've got rejected once because I was asked what polymorfism was, and I just went blank (interview pressure) Same interviewer told me that Application Server (like WebSphere), when it produces HTML page, it sends it to a console?!?!?! When I asked "what if App server is on another machine, how does web server pick it up in order to send it to the web?" he was "well it sends it to a port, but to a console..."
And you are talking about hashtables...


Any posted remarks that may or may not seem offensive, intrusive or politically incorrect are not truly so.
RusUSA.com - Russian America today - Guide To Russia
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Shura Balaganov:

Mark, hate to come across your path in other threads.... I'll promise not to do it on purpose

Am I that voracious a debater? (I like to think so :-)

Originally posted by Shura Balaganov:

Interesting, so CS graduates are it... How about thousands of Indians, Pakistanies, Chinese and Russians who have very solid science/engineering degrees, like Math or EE? My younger brother is graduating from Drexel with CS degree (and it is considered one of the better IT schools), and I personally know how TERRIBLY POOR his education is.
...
And you are talking about hashtables...

Well, I do feel my physics background was more useful then my CS at a fundamental level. Let me back up a second...
CS programs do give you the necessary fundamentals. The do not teach you practical engineering skills. CS programs also do not teach analytical problem solving skills as well as math of physics degrees.
--Mark
Luther Adon
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 27, 2002
Posts: 51
I would hope you folks would consider ITI an exception when you say you are mostly looking to hire people with a computer science degree.
To get in you need a university degree and have to pass a competence test.
You learn UML, Access (including VBA), DB2, VB 6.0, Java, VisualAge for Java, ASP, JSP and others. YOu also get used to getting project requirements, meeting deadlines, and working in teams.
I took a university level computer course and hated it. They were getting me to learn a dead computer language called Turing. No one uses Turing! So I graduated with an Hon Gen Arts Degree then went to ITI. There I think I learned immediately valuable skills, just need to get that first IT job now...
Wish me luck
Rob Ross
Bartender

Joined: Jan 07, 2002
Posts: 2205
I like using my music analogy for this issue.
There's a difference between being a musician, and say, being a guitar player.
One is theoretical, one is technical. Both are important.
For example, if you are in the studio recording a song, you might want to hire a session drummer to lay down your drum tracks, because this drummer is very technically proficient and you want your beat to be sharp and precise on your albumn. The drummer you hire might not be an accomplished musician, but he knows his instrument well and can play it better than you.
Now, ask that session drummer to compose a musical piece, and you might end up with a different result. A true musician, one who has studied the craft of making music, knows how to write for and arrange a variety of musical instruments. He might even be able to pick up several of them and play them, since he has a basic understanding of all of them. During the actual recording however, he will probably want to use musicians who are technically proficient at them.
My point is that a college education is analogous to learning how to become a musician, whereas a tech school teaches you how to play guitar. But if you try to get a gig as a piano player, you're going to have a harder time than the musician, for whom a piano is just another instrument to express his musical ideas.
I also don't want to imply that someone without a college education cannot become a general software engineer; but in college you are exposed to many higher-level abstract concepts just for "theory's sake", that you probably wouldn't otherwise be exposed to on your own. There are exceptions to everything, of course.
[ April 27, 2002: Message edited by: Rob Ross ]

Rob
SCJP 1.4
John Fontana
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2002
Posts: 235
Hmmm...this makes me wonder. Unrelated to Bob's music analogy, I got my degree in music 12 years ago, and have spent the last 10 years with computers (about 5 with graphics, and 5 with programming.). How should I feel about the CS degree requirement? I have had many great gigs mostly leaning towards advanced web programming - JSP/Cold Fusion/Director Lingo and some exposure to C++/openGL, Visual Basic and others. I also have a SCJP.
I think about getting a CS degree, but then I wonder if it would just slow me down to study the fundamentals when I could spend that time staying on the self-taught/real-world path. I guess my real question is: Would it advance me, or just take me down a completely different road?
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by LutherAdon:
I would hope you folks would consider ITI an exception when you say you are mostly looking to hire people with a computer science degree.
...
You learn UML, Access (including VBA), DB2, VB 6.0, Java, VisualAge for Java, ASP, JSP and others. YOu also get used to getting project requirements, meeting deadlines, and working in teams.


Well, hopefully you'll tell us more about ITI, but I think you are exactly the type of person I refer to in my other posts about people without CS degrees. I generally won't hire people coming out of 6-12 month technical institutions. I think Rob's analogy is very accurate, and far more eloquent then any of my previous explainations.

--Mark
Matthew Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
What is the general feeling about an Associate's Degree in CS?


Matthew Phillips
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Matthew Phillips:
What is the general feeling about an Associate's Degree in CS?

I've never hard of one. Can you point me to a URL with the course descriptions.
--Mark
Matthew Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
This is the school I am attending: http://www.gwinnetttechnicalcollege.com/new/aa_files/aa_frames_course_outlines.asp
 
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