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Ask Slashdot: CS Degree Without Gen-Ed Requirements? 913

davidjbeveridge writes "I'm interested in getting a CS degree. I've been programming since I was 13, and like many of us, taught myself. I am familiar with a number of languages, understand procedural, functional, and object-oriented paradigms; I'm familiar with common design patterns and am a decent engineer. I learn quickly. I work 2 jobs and I have a life. I want to get a CS degree from an accredited school (a BS, that is), but I have no interest in wasting any of my precious time taking classes in English, Philosophy, History, Art and the like. While these fields are useful and perhaps enriching, they will not contribute to making me better at my job. Moreover, I attended an excellent high school that covered these fields of study in great detail, and I feel no need or desire to spend more time studying these things. I want a BS in Computer Science with no general education requirements. Any suggestions?"
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Ask Slashdot: CS Degree Without Gen-Ed Requirements?

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  • US-only problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jawtheshark ( 198669 ) * <slashdot@ja w t h e s h a r k . com> on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:35AM (#36567848) Homepage Journal

    I guess this is a US-only problem. When I started my computer science degree at the University of Antwerp, it was pretty much only computer science. We had a few credits in economics, but that was really just general economics and that's it.

    However, what are you expecting from studying CS? It's most likely not what you think it is. It's basically math, automata, algorithms, computability theory and stuff like that. If you plan to be a computer programmer and only that, you already have the skills required (even though, you probably make certain avoidable mistakes by if you don't know about computing theory).

    If it is to have better chances to get a job interview, I can understand...

    I don't regret having a computer science degree, it was very interesting, but it's not a course "how to become a better programmer".

    Anyone considering computer science, should ponder the words of one of the greatest computer scientists of all times: "Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes", Edsger Dijkstra.

    • Yeah, I do believe this is a US only problem. I've friends studying in Europe, the UK, and many in Australia, and none of us have to study English, Philosophy, History, Art, unless it's to do with the subject, such as the History of Economics.

      So, maybe there are some US Bachelor of Science degrees, which don't require Gen-Ed. I also agree with the asker, in that, while they may be enriching and beneficial, I'd rather focus on studying my discipline/speciality. If I wanted to make it more rounded, I would.


      • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

        A bachelor's degree, depending on where you go and what you major in, is somewhere between 114 (photography, russian literature) and 145 (aeronautical engineering, pre-law) credit hours, each class being 3-4 credit hours (3hrs + 1hr lab). This is roughly 4 years @ 15 credit hours per semester for a total of 8 semesters.

        Some majors only have 30 hours (two semesters) worth of major specific required classes, with another 30 hours of major related electives, the rest being general education and unrelat

      • Re:US-only problem? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Restil ( 31903 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @12:36PM (#36569158) Homepage

        What percentage of the degree is taken up with Gen-Ed? If it's just 1 or 2 courses, then maybe it's not that bad.

        About a third. With a 4 year degree, the final two years will be entirely related to your subject matter. Of the first two years, even of the general education courses, some of them will be computer related, and therefore relevant.

        If you really want to get technical about it, beyond the computer related general education courses, all of the math, science and English courses relating to writing are also at least somewhat relevant. A lot of computer science is math related, especially the subjects of discrete math, and some venturing into probability/statistics, etc. A course in ethics could certainly find application in a computer science career, and understanding the workings of government shouldn't be written off either. All told, the number of completely unrelated courses would be very few, and you might find that a class in something completely unrelated to your major could actually be a welcome change of pace when you're burning out with 4 other classes.


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't think it is US only and I *really* don't think it is a problem. Where I did my B.Sc. getting a degree meant you had to have a certain number of credit hours and a certain number of those had to be in 3rd & 4th year courses of your "Major", e.g. in CS. People also routinely earned "Minors" in one or two other subjects along the way by accumulating enough upper level credits in those areas. So you might get a major in CS with a minor in Physics (more likely the other way around though). If you wan

  • SOL (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:35AM (#36567854)

    A BS covers general education and major course work.

    Your best bet is an AS degree. Then, come back later and get your BS.

    • CLEP Tests (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ranton ( 36917 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:26AM (#36568408)

      Just take the CLEP tests if those Gen-Ed classes really have no value for you. You can complete almost your entire first two years of schooling with those tests. I just finished up going back to school (harder to move up now without a BS degree), and I saved a boat load of time and money taking CLEP tests for Gen-Ed classes that I didn't finish in community college a decade ago.

      For truly well rounded self educated people, they should be a breeze. If it is hard to pass them, then you really do need those Gen-Ed classes (those areas of knowledge really do have value). But plenty of people who actually like to read (non-fiction) have no need to waste their time in 100-level Humanities classes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:35AM (#36567858)

    Go take your gen eds like the rest of us. Do you think we enjoyed them? No.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by anagama ( 611277 )
      Take the general education topics because the more areas you know about, the more likely it is you will be able to see an area with undeveloped potential, and the more likely you are to then use your programming skills to contribute something new. Without exposure to different areas, you may find yourself only working on other people's ideas which increases the likelihood you'll just be a grunt. With more exposure, you increase your chances of being the person who identifies an unmet need which increases
  • Good luck with that. It has been my experience that higher educational institutions just want your money. I'm sure if you donated enough of it to them, they would give you a piece of paper just for that merit alone. Once you understand that motivation, you will know why they want to purchase as much of their product as possible.
    • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:09AM (#36568250)

      It astonishes me how many people don't understand that college is about learning to be a life long learner rather than setting one up in a particular specialty. If one wishes to ignore the breadth requirements, there are always apprenticeships and vocational training schools out there.

      A school that produces a bunch of simpering morons that can't be employed tends not to last very long, as it's hard to get endowment checks coming in or new applicants when folks that graduate can't find gainful employment.

      • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @12:03PM (#36568782) Journal

        I went to college, and that is not something I learned in college. What I learned at the University was that there were a bunch of colleges there that would not have a single student in them except for the general education requirements that forced a bunch of people to take stupid classes to fill out those GE Requirements.

        And the sad thing is, that most of those liberal studies college degrees didn't require reciprocal cross training in hard sciences and math. And when they actuall did require it, it was hard watching all the future teachers struggle with basic math classes which would have been hilarious, except knowing that they were going to be teaching future students. And the most astonishing thing I can tell you, after working in education is that many (if not most) teachers don't actually want to learn anything beyond what is actually "needed".

        I've found that most people who are into technology have a much broader discipline range in regards to learning, and that is caused by our general need to keep learning new stuff or get left behind in the "real world". I love learning, but only after having hated it during school.

        This is nothing more than a classic example of "theory vs application". The difference between theory and application is that in theory, theory and application are the same, in application they are not.

  • by bokmann ( 323771 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:36AM (#36567872) Homepage

    I think you underestimate the value of those things. Most of these classes aren't strictly about history, english, and the like, but enhance your overall mental ability - such as the ability to write, comprehend, and reason, which frankly, is generally missing from those in our field.

    If you don't have those things, that's fine, but that's not a BS or a BA, thats a trade school education.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You hit the nail on the head, regardless your career courses like that make you a better person at any job. In fact I work for a very large insurance company doing financial work, and we are being giving English and writing classes at work, so we can communicate better with customers and co-workers. In addition things like history and philosophy, make you a better person over all, and as there is much more to any job than walking through the door and walking into an office until you clock out companies want

    • by CMonk ( 20789 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:43AM (#36567956)

      +1 I don't think this person is looking for a college education, I suggest they seek out a vocational school. This will be funny when a google search before a job interview pulls up this post. I don't hire engineers that aren't interested in learning.

      • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:58AM (#36568126)

        This is my reaction too. I wouldn't want to hire someone who is always looking for shortcuts.

        • by cratermoon ( 765155 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:26AM (#36568418) Homepage

          In my very limited experience as a senior programmer (but not a manager) given opportunities to interview and provide input on hiring decisions, I would never recommend hiring this guy.

          Oh sure, there's probably some entry-level position on a short-term contract gig where he could contribute without much fuss. But as far as I'm concerned he'd be a liability in any full time position with possibility of advancement and significant contribution in development efforts of high business value. Someone who only cares about what he thinks is the important stuff will never be the motivated life-long learner that can advance in his career.

          Sure, businesses these days are more than happy to ignore the larger picture in pursuit of the quarterly returns and the stock bump, so a real hiring manager would probably be fine with this -- they'd consider it "motivated, task-focused, and results-oriented". Said business would get the blinkered, half-working, user-unfriendly software that instead of doing what it should be doing only does what the programmer thought it should do.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It seems obvious that he is looking for the BS degree because of career goals (like not having to work 2 jobs), not because of the education. Sadly it is getting harder and harder to get work in IT without a degree, regardless of your skillsets.

        And while I agree that Gen-Ed courses have great value, I don't think it's fair to assume this guy doesn't like to learn. He seems to be self taught in software development (although who knows how well). Just because he would rather be learning design patterns, pr

      • by xero314 ( 722674 )

        I don't hire engineers that aren't interested in learning.

        So you hire mostly self taught engineers? I mean nothing shows an interest in learning than actually doing it, on your own time, of your own choosing, with no other benefit other than the knowledge itself. Few people go to college to learn, most go to receive a degree. I could be log but your seemed to imply that lack of general education at a university implies a lack of interest in learning, and really a university degree and desire to learn are completely unrelated (though you could of course have both)

      • by Ed Bugg ( 2024 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @12:44PM (#36569230)

        I don't think that the person isn't interested in learning, he just doesn't see the value in learning outside what he feels he needs. The grandparent post is more spot on, he doesn't see the value in the other courses. Of course when he has a job in the profession and he's told that he needs to write a document on requirements or a system design, he'll sit there and tell himself "Well if only I had an example to work off of." If only he had those courses in Writing and was forced to write the papers and thesis' all the different types of writing assignments that college level courses make you grind through, he'd have the experience. He wonders why he'll need a class in Speech, when he just wants to be shut in a dark room, downing Mountain Dew like it is going out of style. Then when trying to do a presentation to a group or a conference, he'll wonder why people are loosing interest in what he's saying, or he'll wonder maybe there was a better way of arranging the material.

        I never saw the value of many of the classes I took in college, while I was taking them. But between then and now, I've had projects and requests in which the experience and the things I learned in those classes came in handy. It's not to say I could live without them, but it sure made things easier that I already knew them at the time and didn't have to learn it at the drop of the hat, or that what I learned previously gave me a different perspective that allowed me to build a better system.

        My 2cents, time learning something is time spent well.

    • by emolitor ( 129606 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:48AM (#36568008) Homepage Journal

      Absolutely correct, if you don't want an all around education what you want is a vocational school and there is nothing wrong with that. However you will need that all around education to qualify as an engineer.

      Given a choice most employers also prefer that you have that all around education. As someone who has hired 100+ engineers for his company I can tell you that a well rounded education is often what sets candidates apart.

      • by definate ( 876684 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:30AM (#36568458)

        As someone who works at a large international company which works with many people from around the world, some of the least "educated" / skilled people I've worked with, have been American. When put next to, british, australian, french, and german engineers and accountants, even the ones who've come from fancy american universities, seem almost retarded in comparison. (I said engineers and accountants as they're the ones I primarily come into contact with)

        While I wouldn't say everyone, but it's become a bit of a joke at our various head offices. We get candidates who have studied for 4-6 years (sometimes more), and yet it's almost like they've only done introductory courses.

        Perhaps you should focus less on Gen-Ed, and more on your specialization, at university. Gen-Ed is to be done on top of your specialization, not as part of it.

        Me thinks you're mistaking correlation for causation.

        • That's funny, because as an American Engineer I've been hired to fly to most of those countries to solve problems they couldn't fix themselves.

          Granted it was only their electric power industry. Not like they got any of the good local engineers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I started wondering about the merits of the points in your comment. Then I realized you are an accountant, and accountants are morons. You should post that fact at the top of all of your comments to save slashdot readers some time.

    • by haystor ( 102186 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:49AM (#36568034)

      Being able to read/write/reason are all fine and good. But I'm not sure the effort and annoyance of those classes yields a payoff in those areas. You get very little feedback other than a handful of grades. All that for a ton of time and $1-2k for a class. At a whole lot of schools, these classes have become little more than perfunctory checks on writing and attendance. They seem wholly designed to make sure a certain amount of money is extracted from each student. The liberal arts ideals which mandate these classes are simply dead.

      • They seem wholly designed to make sure a certain amount of money is extracted from each student.

        If the cost is a problem, take those classes at a community college. I went to a 4-year school, but because of a snafu (which I blame wholly on the administration) I had to take a history class at a nearby 2-year school in order to graduate on time. It was the best non-technical class I took in my entire college career (and better than most technical classes too).

        The number of students was small, the teacher was fully engaged and very passionate. And from what I've heard since, that is the norm, not the

      • by f16c ( 13581 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @01:51PM (#36569756)

        Reading, writing are for communication. After a couple of decades in electronics and engineering development I can tell you the engineering documents written by illiterates are a major source of rework, specification missed targets and general mayhem over the years. Engineers have to be able to read and write, communicate with both words and math and make things work on paper even if they brass-board before producing initial prototypes. Some of this is because producing a single wafer worth of parts just for testing can run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. I spent a lot of time as an engineering technician editing and cleaning up engineering information documents used by other engineers who's work was supposed to interface with what the first engineer was building. Documentation had to be concise, clear and accurate. I also ended up reading the IC data sheets to them when their brass-boards didn't work quite right and it was usually missed because they were just too busy.

    • by Idbar ( 1034346 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:59AM (#36568130)
      Furthermore, if he knows programming already does that make him a CS? As far as I know, there's more to that, such as algorithms and proper techniques. If he things he knows all he should try to explore new areas as well. Let's say, electrical engineering and learn some circuit design as well.

      I'm not CS, but somewhat feel like people that know programming they should get an immediate degree without learning the basics. Programming is probably only one course of the degree and to me, it's not all you need to know to become a CS.

      Yes, it's expensive to go to school, but some people really underestimate what they can learn in school.
      • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @12:40PM (#36569200)

        Not only that he describes himself as a 'decent engineer'.

        He's not even a CS yet, but he's already an engineer.

        No shortage of ego in the original poster, that's for sure.

        To the original poster: All incoming freshman CS students that will ever amount to anything already know how to program. CS is not programming school. Engineering even less so.

      • by xystren ( 522982 )

        He keeps using that word "CS" - I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

        Granted, I'm an older student now. When I was young I had the same attitude - Teach me what I want to know, and don't bore me with that other crap. Now, I really appreciate "all that other crap" that I took. As crazy as it may sound, I find that I use my Philosophy classes more in my life than any of the specific courses course I took.

        Don't get hoodwinked - education is not just about learning stuff - it more about learning how

    • by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:59AM (#36568132) Homepage

      There is a benefit to those non core courses.

      You might not see it now, and some people never do, but it's there.

      One thing that the more technical people have trouble with and I think turns them off is the softer nature of some of these courses.

      History is important becasue it shows the effects of technology and consequences, it's also quite big on the important of context. Things that are right in one situation are disasterous in others. There are strong cases for many of the fields.
      I have to say I've found some of those basic courses like philosophy, psyche 101 etc much more useful in the real world than some of the grad level math courses. I think those that discount them are missing the difference between "higher eduation" and "job training".

    • by definate ( 876684 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:22AM (#36568366)

      Holy shit!

      What you're saying is almost EVERY University outside of the United States is just a trade school.

      You see, everywhere else in the world, university is the place you go to learn and specialize in your field. They don't baby you, they don't teach you to "write", "comprehend", and "reason", that's what your high schools, and lower educational facilities are for.

      Why should a university be trying to teach you, what you should have already learnt? If you don't have these skills, then you're going to fail, or at the most pass very poorly.

      The only students who need to learn how to write, are the international students, and they usually do courses beforehand.

      As for reasoning and comprehending, well fuck me, if they need to teach you this sort of thing at that level (beyond that which is required for your specialization, eg, the ability to understand programs), then your universities must be remedial universities.

      • Which is why the US college system remains the gold standard when it comes to higher education. The only reason why colleges in most of the rest of the world don't have to teach those skills is that they've typically already weeded out the people that don't have them prior to being admitted to college. It's extremely dishonest to pretend like the status quo here for college education is worse when it's so handicapped. And even with the handicap it's still a highly valued degree.

        It's quite a bit easier to ed

      • "Why should a university be trying to teach you, what you should have already learnt?"

        This sort of reasoning is based on an exaggerated premise. Most people who begin an undergraduate degree are still legally - and developmentally - children. Their brains have only been capable of abstract reasoning for a few years at best. Even under ideal circumstances they will have been exposed to only a bare introduction to the enormous breadth of critical thought that is recognized and valued in a university edu
      • Holy shit!

        What you're saying is almost EVERY University outside of the United States is just a trade school.

        You see, everywhere else in the world, university is the place you go to learn and specialize in your field. They don't baby you, they don't teach you to "write", "comprehend", and "reason", that's what your high schools, and lower educational facilities are for.

        Congratulations, you've hit upon the exact reason why a "diploma" from a High School in the rest of the world is equivalent to a bachelor's degree here in the US.

        Why should a university be trying to teach you, what you should have already learnt? If you don't have these skills, then you're going to fail, or at the most pass very poorly.

        Yes, you should have already learned those skills in High School, the rest of the world totally does. But here in the US, we don't learn shit in High School. (I knew a German foreign exchange student who took all electives while he was here, because he wasn't going to get credit for any of it anyways, and was going to have to repeat the year once h

  • by putaro ( 235078 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:38AM (#36567892) Journal

    I finished off my degree while working full-time as a kernel engineer. By the last year, the Gen Ed classes were the ones I looked forward to the most.

  • .....reading Slashdot and having a life is generally mutually exclusive! That said, studying "other things" is a good idea to provide context and balance to your life (i.e. have a life ). To paraphrase, all programming and no other interests makes Jack a dull boy. At the very least, the "other things" can be inspirational and help look at your programming problems in other ways. Consider taking some management, marketing or communications courses so you can understand the business life going on around you
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:39AM (#36567906)

    What you just want the piece of paper?

    I spent a good deal in college CS classes, learning stuff that I already had a good idea what to do.

    When it came to the real world I was quite prepared for anything computer related. It was every other subject that killed me. It was my lack of art classes that kept me from good design. My lack of English classes that kept me from good copyright. My lack of Business classes lead me to make wrong decisions.

    Now I'm considering going back to school. But I'll stay as far away from CS as possible.

    I once read somewhere that the things you don't know become your Achilles heal. Very true.

    Go to school for an education. Not a piece of paper.

  • to put it politely? Nope, can't think of a gentle way to say it, so quite bluntly, you are an idiot.

    You may be the best programmer in the world, but without studying the things you now consider to be a waste of your time, you do not know how to think or communicate.

    Being better at what you consider your job is not everything. You need general education to be able to handle all of the other work-place and meat-space things that are not programming related.

    • You may be the best programmer in the world, but without studying the things you now consider to be a waste of your time, you do not know how to think or communicate.

      No. This is simply wrong. If you're the best programmer in the world you don't need a general education. How can you say he doesn't know how to think or communicate. I thought his question was very well worded and thought out.

      You need general education to be able to handle all of the other work-place and meat-space things that are not programming related.

      This is absurd. It's amazing how the majority of the world can get along without their 4 year degrees telling them how to behave in the real world! Also, perhaps you didn't get your BS recently, but let me point out that the cost of 4-year schools is excessive. Perhaps he doesn't have

      • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:28AM (#36568444) Homepage
        The spreadsheet is probably one of the most valuable software contributions in history -- it's used in sciences for data analysis, business for financial analysis, small clubs for keeping organized lists, small businesses as a data source for mail merges ... the list is probably miles long.

        While a student at Harvard Business School, Bricklin co-developed VisiCalc in 1979, making it the first electronic spreadsheet[dubious â" discuss]. It ran on an Apple II computer, and was considered a fourth generation software program. VisiCalc is widely credited for fueling the rapid growth of the personal computer industry. Instead of doing financial projections with manually calculated spreadsheets, and having to recalculate with every single cell in the sheet, VisiCalc allowed the user to change any cell, and have the entire sheet automatically recalculated. This turned 20 hours of work into 15 minutes and allowed for more creativity.

        Dan Bricklin didn't become super rich, but he literally changed the world. I saw a documentary once in which an accountant or some type of professional said that the first time he saw a computerized spreadsheet, he cried, because it took out so much drudgery it could make his work fun again.

        If Bricklin had not been getting an MBA, would he have gotten the idea? I'm guessing he looked at hours of paper and pencil boredom recalculating cells, and realized that there was a better way to do it because of his computer background.

        Moral: Bricklin's background in computer-science when coupled with exposure to an unrelated area, showed him a need and in the process, he changed the world.

        Alternate Moral: If accountants and MBAs had stepped outside their study area and looked at computer-science, they could have changed the world themselves

    • by Covener ( 32114 )

      You may be the best programmer in the world, but without studying the things you now consider to be a waste of your time, you do not know how to think or communicate.

      Being better at what you consider your job is not everything. You need general education to be able to handle all of the other work-place and meat-space things that are not programming related.

      Do you really think there's some abundance of extraordinary programmers that are incapable of thought, communication, and working in an office because they didn't spend 36 hours "studying" Philosophy in college? Can your barber or cleaning lady think, communicate, or "handle" living in society? Is this argument the result of some superior general education curriculum during your BS?

  • Skills besides programming are very important unless you want to be an underpaid code monkey. You say you have already taken or otherwise have the needed "Life Skills". Well find a good University you want to go to then figure out how much of their Gen-Ed you can skip through by transferring your credits in or getting life skills credit. Other than that if you are looking for programming only, it is called a trade school here, and is worth little more than previous experience in the field.
  • You've discovered the fundamental flaw in higher education: it's full of academics, and fundamentally exists to produce more academics, not people who actually get things done. There's more and more thought that the degree is simply not worth the paper it's printed on, much less the crushing debt of student loans.

    Give it long, hard, careful thought - and then ask yourself if you need the degree at all. I'm not going to kid you: there will opportunities forever closed to you because the hiring authorities ca

    • by augustw ( 785088 )

      Since you haven't got a degree just how do you know it comes with "railcar loads of bullshit"? Sounds to me that you are simply trying to justify your choice. Which doesn't really need justified beyond being your choice

      And, to the original questioner: go to an English university. They (mostly) don't believe in broad education, and if you so a BSc in CS there, that's pretty much all you will do.

      • I've done time in US universities. I simply didn't come out of the experience with anything to show for it but lousy memories.

        • How is it their fault? Seriously, I hear that a lot, and it's usually somebody that shouldn't have been in college to begin with. I personally learned a ton in college, because I put forth the effort to learn, to study and to discuss with my classmates what was going on and how it might be significant.

          No teacher can force a student to learn, the student has to step up and take some responsibility. But, there's also the bit where you have "done time" in US universities, you don't learn simply by doing your t

  • Intelligent managers (managers that understand the position they are hiring for, as opposed to PHBs that are looking to fill an empty seat) will understand that experience can be more valuable than education. Four years in an active CS position will teach you more than you're likely to learn in the same amount of time in college.

    This does limit your options though - there are going to be PHBs in hiring positions for jobs you may be interested in and very well-suited to, and a lot of them refuse to consider

    • by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:17AM (#36568326)

      Intelligent managers (managers that understand the position they are hiring for, as opposed to PHBs that are looking to fill an empty seat) will understand that experience can be more valuable than education.

      And good managers will know (from experience) that hiring someone like this guy can be incredibly detrimental to a software team. Here you've got an idiot (seriously) who thinks he doesn't need to know something -- he already gets it. Dude, after learning about it in high school? Chances are, this person is difficult to communicate with, egotistical, combative instead of merely argumentative, and unwilling to think outside of defined corridors. He'll probable be hostile when asked to do something out of the ordinary. Quite likely, he's an asshole who will drown your entire team in bad feelings. He's a bad idea.

      • by cratermoon ( 765155 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:41AM (#36568574) Homepage

        You have the right of it, as they say. While it's possible to make a credible argument for focusing on learning the core set of skills for a career while minimizing time spent on associated topics in some circumstances, let's look at the actual words used.

        I have no interest in wasting any of my precious time taking classes in English, Philosophy, History, Art and the like. While these fields are useful and perhaps enriching, they will not contribute to making me better at my job.

        Phrases like 'my precious time' and 'will not contribute to making me better at my job' are huge red flags for a inflated sense of self-importance. Dismissing the entire range of liberal arts as merely 'useful and perhaps enriching' betrays a level of arrogance that has the potential to incite team-destroying conflict.

  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:43AM (#36567954)
    The fact that you don't understand why you need to learn some humanities, and that you think your secondary education "covered them in detail" only shows that, if you want a career rather than a job, you do need to spend some time on them. Improving your knowledge of English (or philosophy) will make you better at any job where you have to communicate. Learning a bit of history will rapidly teach you why The Art of War is not a useful guide to management, and help you find your way around the companies you will work for, as the same kind of issues constantly come up and get resolved in the same way - as Hegel observed, those who know no history are doomed to repeat it.

    Also, since the tone of your post suggests you are male, can I observe that exposure to the humanities tends also to enable you to meet (and discuss interesting subjects with) women? I'm not talking about sex, but improving your familiarity with the people you will meet as soon as you step outside the IT department, some of whom will influence your career.

  • You will not be able to get a good degree without the general education courses. However, you can always pick up a few CS books and do your own research. It's a lot cheaper than paying tuition.

  • They will help with your life. When your boss asks you to do something unethical, what do you do? When you vote in an election, who do you vote for? When you realize that zeros and ones are not all there is to life, what do you fall back on? I am happy if you went to a good high school that gave you the basics. That will prepare you for a good college that will challenge you further, to think and learn in ways that you do not expect.
  • by porsche911 ( 64841 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:47AM (#36568006)

    Beware: If all you can do is code there's a great chance your job will end up in India. You have to have broader skills now to be competitive. Instead of taking classes in an area you obviously know well (i.e. coding), why not take more general business classes or in the sciences so you can use your coding skills as a tool to solve critical problems rather than being a coder waiting for a problem to get assigned to you? 99% of the people you will need to work with aren't coders and if you don't have any general skills you won't be able to work with them as effectively.

    Good luck,

  • Like many people, I had life happen and dropped out of Uni a year in. Trying to fit in the classes now, some 20 years later, to finish a CS degree it is very hard to find the CS courses during non-work hours. Any hints on schools that offer transferable credits to get these CS classes done? The gened classes are easy to find from my local university in an online my own hours schedule.

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:53AM (#36568072) Journal

    I know it seems like a big waste and such, but seriously... do the general ed. classes. The last thing you need to do is to end up so single-minded that you can't even see a wider world out there.

    You know the big stereotype about how geeks can't function socially? Remaining willfully ignorant of everything outside your chosen craft is a big symptom of that.

    You may *think* that your high school covered all of that, but honestly, they likely did not. Even if it seems like total crap, you'll likely learn things about art, philosophy, English, history and the like that a high school class could never cover.

    I remember thinking the same thing you did a long time ago, while chasing an EE. Then I took the required history class, and gained such a passion for looking into the past, that I minored in it. All it took was a prof that really loved what he taught, and expressed it in a way that touched off an intense curiosity to learn more. The more I learned on my own and beyond, the more I fell in love with where we've been as a whole, and in exploring the past.

    Hell, it even helped out in my eng. classes. Proof? Researching why RMS Titanic's electrical systems held out for so long in spite of all that seawater coming in made for one of the most kick-ass papers I'd ever written, and it gave me an incredible respect for electrical technology back then. I wouldn't have given a shit if I wasn't interested in history, and my classmates were too busy analyzing and making shallow papers on the tech-du-jour (mostly centering on what they thought about the upcoming 1993 NEC).

    But - you know the biggest reason why you should diversify? My degree is in Electrical Engineering. I took a couple light classes in programming (C++, FORTRAN, PASCAL...), and thought it was a waste at the time, but I had to fill electives. I'm a Sysadmin, have been so for 15 years, and have done programming professionally on occasion. I haven't done jack in the EE field since 1996, and my last license renewal expired a little over a decade ago.

    Your career will likely diverge too, and having more than a single-minded subject under your belt will help you greatly, as well as give you alternatives and avenues that you may have never thought of.

    • In most of the world, what you call "Gen Ed" is what we are taught in secondary school. Most countries degree programmes specialise completely in the subjects pertinent to the course and are the better for it. Since you only have 3 years, with *very* long holidays scattered throughout the year, you need to spend as much time as possible studying your chosen subject, not wasting it on irrelevancies that have nothing to do with the field you wish to enter.
  • by krlynch ( 158571 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:54AM (#36568078) Homepage

    Fraud is really your only choice. Seriously. No accredited program awarding a BS is going to let you skip out on General Education requirements; your two demands are mutually exclusive. That's intentional. BS programs are not technical college programs (which have their place), and they are not skills certificate programs (which also have their place).

    If you don't want GenEd, you have two choices: an AAS degree, or a non-accredited BS/BA program. Few if any of those credits will transfer to an accredited program in the future, however. Accreditation provides a minimal guarantee of "quality", which is why colleges go through the (significant) effort required to obtain and maintain the credential. Caveat Emptor.

    A final comment: a few additional things the General Education requirements are likely to teach you are 1) that you don't know as much as you think you do, and 2) a little humility.

  • by hymie! ( 95907 )

    Waaah. I don't want to be a well-rounded person able to hold an intelligent conversation with the people around me. I just want to single-minded-ly pursue learning only the few things I want to learn, and not be bothered with knowing anything else. If somebody makes a reference to Big Brother or Jesus or Ahab, I can just look it up on Wikipedia later.

    One of the things that happens in college is Growing Up. I highly recommend it.

  • The question I would have is why do you want a degree? Many of my friends without college degree, some who did go to excellent high schools, and taught themselves skills, have jobs. I assume that the issue is that the two jobs you have is not programming, and they do not pay enough to support 'the life'. People assume a degree in computer science will get a person a job programming computers. Not true. Many, many, many jobs that are available with no professional experience requires a masters. I know
  • Do a three-year computer science degree in the UK. You will only see computer science.

  • I really would hate to work with someone like you.

  • by burnin1965 ( 535071 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:59AM (#36568134) Homepage

    First, participating in general education classes is in no way a waste of time. Practicing and learning skills and knowledge in an array of topics is always beneficial and has a greater impact on an individuals effectiveness and ability to interact and collaborate within a society, within groups, and with other individuals. And whether or not your high school education covered the same topics it is unlikely the teachers and material will be identical and unlike many technical courses the general education classes can often provide new perspective and insight simply because you are learning from a different teacher and different book.

    Second, if you truly do want a CS degree then stop wasting time trying to figure out how to work your way around the general education requirements and just take the damn classes. The time you spend taking these classes is a drop in the bucket compared to the probable amount of time you have to live and work in a career and hopefully even go back later and take more classes to expand your knowledge, experience, and perspective. It always astounds me when I see intelligent people who have the opportunity but waste precious years not getting an advanced education and usually it is due to the most minuscule barriers such as "I don't want to take the general ed classes, they are a waste of my time".

    Just do it.

  • Because that is what getting a "real" BS entails, getting a "well-rounded" education.

    Instead, it sounds like you are wanting a vocational/technical school degree, which is subpar, compared to getting a BS.

    Do note that many colleges allow you to CLEP your way out of certain core requirements courses, which means you take a comprehensive test for that course and, if you pass, you get credit for it with whatever grade you get. The tests still cost money, but not usually as much as the full course. Of course, i

  • by esme ( 17526 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:04AM (#36568188) Homepage

    While these fields are useful and perhaps enriching, they will not contribute to making me better at my job.

    That's where you're wrong. Speaking as a developer with a BA in English, I can tell you that your English, History, and Art classes will make you better at your job. They will make you better able to relate to people outside IT fields, better able to reason and argue logically, and give you a broader perspective of your (and your code's) context.

    I can't tell you how many CS graduates I've seen at my workplace, lamenting how worthless their CS classes were because the tools we work with, and the problems we're trying to solve, bear no resemblance to their coursework. I've never heard the same from a liberal arts graduate, because everybody knows the point of a liberal education is to make you able to think critically, and give you the foundation you need to learn anything you need to learn later in life.

    • Isn't this our encounter with Sherlock Holmes, unable to see the merit in knowing that the Earth revolves around the sun? At the end of the day, if he does not subscribe to the theory that an educated person knows something other than their trade, or if he has no room for the linguistics which led Larry Wall to perl, or ascribes no value to learning about the aesthetics which motivated Donald Knuth to explore problems of computing, or care that "Alice in Wonderland" and Monty Python — with their absur

  • Most schools will let you test out of courses - you just take a test at the beginning of the semester to demonstrate that you already know what they were planning on teaching you, and they give you the credit. Saves a lot of time. The second time I went to college, I tested out of basically everything but "computer lab," did all my lab work for the trimester the first week (I had been working as a programmer for 2 years and could type 90wpm), and then spent the next few months hanging out in third-year ne

  • I kinda did this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:05AM (#36568202) Homepage

    I was in a similar situation, here is what I suggest:

    1) Take the Comp Sci AP test to get you out of the introductory CS courses and get you some credits from the start. The gen-ed courses weren't that bad to take: It may be the CS 101 classes that drive you nuts. "This is a for loop... this is a while loop..." and looking around at all the Art majors who think they can go into Comp Sci for the money and don't understand the concept of a variable.

    2) Take any other AP test you think you can. Worst-case you lose money, best case you skip some courses. There is nothing wrong with getting a poor score on an AP test other than the loss of money. But talk to someone who has taken and/or teaches AP courses to get an idea of what you need to know. If you are still in high-school then taking the AP courses is the best approach.

    3) Use community college to breeze through gen-eds. I decided on my final college and picked a community college to take my Gen-Ed classes. (I did it for financial reasons though). Pick the schools and classes so you guarantee a transfer. Then take nothing but gen-ed courses in the community college because they will be really easy. If you are as smart as you think, you might be able to do 2 years of gen-ed classes in 1 year. Most of those community college classes will be designed for slackers.

    4) Grow up. Those gen-ed courses are actually some of the best parts of college. I am a geek to the core, but I loved discussing Descartes' meditations, studying economics, learning how the eye communicates images to the brain, and debugging why various wars started. If you think you can survive in the world knowing only what is in the computer you will be unable to accurately measure the world around you and efficiently apply what you have learned to your field. You won't be young forever so at some point you will wake-up and realize you aren't the best of the best of the best anymore, and you will want your niche in the real world. Computers are a tool - a means. True success requires more than just the means (your C.S.) to fulfill.

  • I work 2 jobs and I have a life.

    - bzzzzzzzt. What gives you the right to think you can do that and be a computer nerd exactly? Also, how does one have 2 jobs and a life in the same time span?

  • I started when I was 11 and thankfully was a bit more open minded regarding courses but also lived in an education climate where we had mandatory curriculum.

    My advice is that you need to learn humility and that is best done through the humanities because lets face it the computer is just a hyper mirror of your own super ego.

    So how about jumping on something that is really a challenge like "Child rearing 101." Good luck and have fun you might actually learn something substantial.

  • Sorry, you're thinking of a tradeschool, not a university degree. A university degree produces a well rounded, also called "educated" person. If all you're interested in is the computer stuff, then by all means, learn it. You don't need professors for that.
  • I have no interest in wasting any of my precious time taking classes in English, Philosophy, History, Art and the like. While these fields are useful and perhaps enriching, they will not contribute to making me better at my job. Moreover, I attended an excellent high school that covered these fields of study in great detail, and I feel no need or desire to spend more time studying these things.

    I graduated college from a nationally prominent liberal arts college in 1984 with a BS in mathematics. Based on placement tests administered in orientation, I was exempted from english, foreign language and most of the other "gen ed" requirements you speak of, like you, based on a strong HS curriculum. I then spent the next FIVE years fighting a system that had exempted me from the requirements, but gave me no credits for them.

    In other words, the "gen eds" I avoided ended up biting me in the ass HARD as I

  • I think you miss the point of a college education - the purpose of college is to ground you in many topics, so that you'll me well educated, and to prepare you for a lifetime of learning. You seem to be viewing college as a requirement to getting a higher-paying job.

    I can't tell you how many 'computer people' I know that while very talented in their area (networking, administering, programming, etc.) wind-up stuck at some level of their career be ause they are not prepared to take on greater challenges. Lea

  • Go to a trade school. You don't want a BS.

    Or better yet, just study independently.

  • Got a Comp. Eng. BS at U. Michigan in 1978.

    Out of 128 credits:

    English (Sci Fi class)
    English (God class)
    Humanties (Logic)
    Humanties (Logic and Automata)
    Humanties (Advanced Logic)

    I took the Logic classes in the philosophy dept.  They were cross listed in philosophy, math and CS depts.

    So, really, all of it was "In My Field".
  • by Romeozulu ( 248240 ) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @12:50PM (#36569304)

    Once you get a more general and rounded education, you might find you like something else better, or combined with CS. It happens to a lot of people. Honestly, I would not hire someone that only knew CS. They are boring people. Expanded yourself and use your education to do it.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"