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Ask Slashdot: Fastest, Cheapest Path To a Bachelor's Degree? 370

Posted by timothy
from the assume-the-identity-of-a-current-holder dept.
First time accepted submitter AnOminusCowHerd (3399855) writes "I have an Associates degree in programming and systems analysis, and over a decade of experience in the field. I work primarily as a contractor, so I'm finding a new job/contract every year or two. And every year, it gets harder to convince potential employers/clients that 10-12 years of hands-on experience doing what they need done, trumps an additional 2 years of general IT education.

So, I'd like to get a Bachelor's degree (preferably IT-related, ideally CS, accredited of course). If I can actually learn something interesting and useful in the process, that would be a perk, but mainly, I just want a BSCS to add to my resume. I would gladly consider something like the new GA Tech MOOC-based MSCS degree program — in fact, I applied there, and was turned down. After the initial offering, they rewrote the admissions requirements to spell out the fact that only people with a completed 4-year degree would be considered, work experience notwithstanding."
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Ask Slashdot: Fastest, Cheapest Path To a Bachelor's Degree?

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  • Check out WGU (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FictionPimp (712802) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @12:55PM (#46575663) Homepage

    http://www.wgu.edu/ [wgu.edu]

    Solid course material. Industry standard certs tied to the courses as finals, and fully accredited.

  • by Shados (741919) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:15PM (#46575935)

    I once interviewed for one of the big investment banks (not gonna give a name, but its one of the big evil wall street banks that everyone knows about). That one has the usual silly "4 year degree with 3.0 GPA or we don't even talk to you, no exception, not even if you're a well known superstar in the software world" rule.

    I didn't know that, and I only have a 3 year degree (from a country where thats common). I aced the interview as that particular job wasn't even very computer science-ish, and they had been looking for someone for months to fill that position. Then they noticed the little issue of me not having the mandatory degree.

    The hiring manager (not someone from an agency, but someone on their payroll) just modified my resume without telling me and passed it over to HR for final signoff. I got hired.

    Fast forward a year, they're updating the HRIS system and verifying that all the info is correct. I get an email from HR asking me to confirm that I indeed have a 4 year bachelor with 3.0 GPA from Big Name College XYZ with my boss CCed.

    My boss quickly replied, before I had time to go "WTF?!", that I indeed had such a degree.

    Needless to say, him and I had a little talk afterward. That was awkward.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:18PM (#46575975)

    You often can get a decent rate at part time taking some classes at your local state University. You can often take classes before you are admitted to the school. Usually after you prove that you know your stuff and get a few good grades, the school will normally let you in the program.

    As for experience. Experience does matter, however from my own personal experience hiring developers, a college education usually gets employees that don't have those odd holes in their skills, which makes bringing up to speed sometimes a little more difficult.
    These gaps vary from person to person... However some of the common ones are.
    1. Not understanding details of data structures. Why am I getting a negative number when it is clearly 5 billion!
    2. Recursion seems magical. I admit it, in college it took me a bit to get Recursion, after a class in LISP it cleared it right up. Also when you get the details realizing how often the system is stacking stuff together means there is a limit on how much Recursion magic you can do.
    3. IPC (Inter Process Communications) Dealing with threads can get sketchy if you don't have a way to get them to talk.
    4. Complex Boolean logic with short circuit evaluation. Yep after that one function returned true that second function won't run in your or clause. You know that one for some reason you made to update some data.

    Now for those of you without degree who feel insulted by this, don't be this is what I find are often the most common issues. There are a lot of really good developers without degrees, many who I will admit who could kick my butt at coding. But for a company trying to hire, it is normally better to weed out some good employees then it is to hire a bad one.

  • by Rinikusu (28164) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:31PM (#46576131)

    I've always wondered what it is that prevents us from creating a fully accredited* Computer Science Degree (bachelor's) completely online, for cheap. I'm not talking code-school, I mean let's learn Computer Science, with all the math and non-shortcuts that entails. The "industry" might want programmers, but *I* want to be more than that, and I'd like a formal education to get it without spending $30-40k/semester and would prefer to do it at my own pace while I continue working in the field. Perhaps this needs to be a Y Combinator style start-up. Courses from Algebra (yes, Algebra), Geometry, Trig, first principles kind of stuff focusing on the WHYS not just rote memorization. Sure, you'd still need the social sciences and what not (and I would be happy to just take those at the local community college for $cheap and transfer them in), but the real meat at the real school. Hell, it doesn't even have to be accredited if you actually learn something.

    This also brings me to self-taught computer scientists: I've begun an adventure down "Teach myself math from scratch" lane because, at age 40, I'm still rather annoyed at my math education in high school. I was more concerned about learning to the test, not the concepts, and that's haunted me ever since. Anyone have recommendations for learning math starting from, say, Algebra I or II level (high school) that will actually teach in a way that will be useful rather than taking a test? Stuff that will carry over into future classes as the proper building blocks, etc?

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @03:50PM (#46577571) Journal
    I hired a guy who was in a small time band for 20 years after high school. Traveled all over US. No one ever paid an admission price to hear them. Hotel lobby. Restaurant. Etc. Decided to get a degree at age 40. 20 years of travel showed him the cheapest place in USA. Upper peninsula of Michigan. Mich tech or some such place. Finished degree in three years with summer session. Started as entry level coder at age 44. One of the smartest guys I have met. He joined and enjoyed our London times cryptic crossword puzzle group. So go north young man.
  • Re:Hi... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rabun_bike (905430) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:50PM (#46579417)
    Very true but you can still teach an old dog new tricks. I went back to school for the third time to get my under graduate coursework in CS out of the way so I can apply to a MS program when my youngest starts 1st grade (in about three years). I started taking CS classes in my late 30's and have 2 more courses to go and I am now in my 40's with 2 kids. What I found is that even though I have a minor in Mathematics it provided me almost no help in Discrete Math. Honestly Discrete Math taken at a large engineering university was an eye opening experience for me. The only thing that helped me was Linear Algebra and some graph theory I already knew. And it really made me angry that the US education system had shorted me so severely on what I would call classic mathematics. To catch up I put in many, many hours to do well in that class. And I did OK with with a B+. Going back to doing proofs after 20 years was a a challenge but it was not impossible. I already have a MS in Computer Information Systems but my heart is in Computer Science and so is the type of work that I do. You can take challenging courses later in life and I think it can be very rewarding. In my Data Structures class the final project was an impossible task for undergraduates. I spent hours working on the project which combined graph theory, and many different data structures and related concepts into a large final class project. I put the effort in and got a 100 on the assignment along with a single fellow classmate also in his 30's taking coursework for another masters program. We both got A+ grades in that class. The class average for that assignment was a 45 which included our two perfect scores. I then went on to take Computer Architecture and Assembler programming and had a similar experience. The undergraduate kids did pretty well on the tests and it was difficult to beat them but when it came to the projects the older students like myself could beat them hands down. We simply have many more years of experience in building things that work as well as tenacity in completing the projects to our best ability. It takes a lot of work to go back to school and complete challenging coursework but I personally have found it very rewarding.

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