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Education Programming The Internet

Ask Slashdot: the State of Open CS, IT, and DBA Courseware in 2014? 84

xyourfacekillerx writes "Not long ago, Slashdot readers answered a question for someone seeking to finish a BS in CS online. I am in a similar situation with a different question. I have spent five years frivolously studying philosophy at a very expensive university, and now I want to start towards an Associate's in CS, and then perhaps a Bachelor's (I want to program for a living; I write code daily anyways). After four hours of combing through Google results, I still don't have much useful information. Problem 1: I am out of money and I have an 8 to 5 job, so on-campus enrollment is not an option. Problem 2: and I have very little to transfer due to the specificity of my prior studies: I don't even have my core English/Language or even math cores to transfer. My questions are: 1) Just where are the open CS courses? Who offers it in a way that's more than just lecture notes posts online? 2) Can any of it help or hinder me getting a degree (i.e. does any of it transfer, potentially? Is it a waste of time? Additionally, any tips about accredited online universities (preferably self-paced) where I can start to get my associates and/or bachelor's in CS at low cost would be useful. I intend to be enrolled online somewhere by Fall, and I am starting my own search among local (Colorado) junior colleges who don't demand on-campus presence like most four-years schools do."
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Ask Slashdot: the State of Open CS, IT, and DBA Courseware in 2014?

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  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @01:46PM (#46662723) Homepage Journal

    I spent all my time and money having fun, and now I realize I need an actual job. Help!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't even have my core English/Language or even math cores to transfer.

      It was irresponsible of the university to allow you to study five years of philosophy without doing these.

      • Hold on - WHY do you need a CS degree to work as a programmer? Apparently something like 15% of people working at Google nowadays don't have bachelors degrees. When it comes to hiring developers, if you have relevant experience, that is ALL that is important to MOST companies. Get some web pages together with some interesting Javascript, AngularJS, Backbone, jQuery, whatever. Read a book on developer interview questions and learn how to write a recursive algorithm and reverse an array and perhaps a basic s
        • by trims ( 10010 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @03:44PM (#46664119) Homepage


          The vast majority of folks employed in IT/computing these days without degrees are the older generation (30+), who got into the fields before it really solidified. I can count on one hand the number of under-30s I know that don't have a degree in something reasonably technical (math, engineering, CS, etc) that work in IT out here. The opposite is true for the older generation: I have to use two hands, but that's about it, to count the number of aged 40+ people who have a technical degree and work in IT.

          Silicon Valley companies all want, for an "entry-level" position: (5) years experience OR a degree in something technical. If you have neither, you'll not get past HR or the recruiters, even for that entry-level position, unless you're extremely lucky.

          It's darned hard to find an entry-level job out here, with no experience. And without a technical degree, everyone ignores you. As soon as you have several years experience, well, they ignore the degree, but it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem there. And by "experience", they mean fulltime employment, not "I worked at a job while in college/high school".


    • Re:Translation (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:35PM (#46663243) Journal

      I spent all my time and money having fun, and now I realize I need an actual job . Help!

      To be fair, most liberal arts majors never reach this realization. They just get together in dirty groups and complain about how evil bankers are.

      Kudos to this individual for connecting the dots and taking some personal responsibility, then acting on it to improve his or her situation.

    • by msobkow ( 48369 )

      That said, you'd be better off completing your current degree.

      Most companies are just looking for a degree and work experience rather than looking specifically for a CS degree. I've worked with very good programmers who had degrees in philosophy, business administration, history, and even an english major.

      A degree proves you can learn on your own and that you have the persistence to finish a long term project; it does not prove you are a programmer or any other career choice.

      That said, one of the ke

      • No, that's how it USED to be. "They want a degree, any degree, it shows that you can learn" is why we have so many liberal arts majors and why

        These days companies don't want to teach you anything. They don't care if you can learn. They want to hire you, use you, and them dump you the moment that it's convenient. Teaching costs money. And there are plenty of educated workers overseas wanting in.

        And hey, I think it's a reasonable request that the university that you just paid tens of thousands of dollars to g

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You already code. You already can read books and learn to code. You have a degree in philosophy, and can obviously think in a structured manner, so why go back to school? Some of the best coders I know did NOT go to school for code.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    #1 - Cousera.org for interactive courses: online lectures, notes, assignments AND feedback; grades.

    #2 - No online free or open courses transfer or count to a degree form a Univ. Although, if you get a chance to go, the course work will be review and you'll do better. As far as the other questions, the answers are no.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I took the "regular" route and went and did a BSc in computing straight after college.

    However many of the more mature people I work with that went back to learning did it via the Open University: http://www.open.ac.uk/

    OK... this is a British Institution - but I dont necessarily see why you would be barred from using it (distance learning) from elsewhere in the world.

    The OU is highly regarded here in the UK. And it's very flexible in it's approach. Plus the bachelors they award ARE REAL... not like some of t

  • Rather than looking for schools, start looking for jobs. To be a doctor, you need to go to medical school, to be a lawyer, you need to go to law school. To be a programmer, you have to know how to code, and your post implies you already do.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There's still value to a degree. First of all, there are some jobs that won't consider someone without one.

      Secondly, while CS is "theoretical" and is not per se programming, many of the concepts are valuable to know. I went back primarily to learn the theory, and I have found it useful in my work... Granted, I the line of work I'm in is a bit more interested than much of the generic business programming.

      Since much of the theoretical stuff is very hard to teach yourself, I felt my time would be better invest

  • Check with the smaller or newer local state colleges. There is a big push among the small schools and lesser known schools to have "$10,000" degrees, where you pay a set fee ($10K is common, though I've heard some that are $12K) for a set 4 year program. Some get there by mixing local community colleges into the mix. You might even be able to negotiate a discount, given as you have some of the prereqs already (english, language, history, etc.) if you've gone very far in your current degree plan.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Did you attain a bachelor degree? If so, you *may* be able to skip a BS CS, and go straight to the MS CS. I've not done it myself, but I have friends who attained a BA in Russian literature, then attain an MS CS without any extra work. He did this in the evenings, while working a full-time desk job. He had to take out loans to pay his tuition, but it was worth it to him. Then again, this was just over a decade ago, and the cost of tuition has exploded since then.

  • online options (Score:5, Informative)

    by niado ( 1650369 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:04PM (#46662917)
    Western Governor's University [wgu.edu] and Excelsior [excelsior.edu] (both non-profit) are the best online options, especially if you want self-paced. They are both very cost-effective and regionally accredited. You should check out the details of the programs that each offers to see if they provide what you want. I know WGU's IT programs are very solid, but I'm not sure about their software development options. I know they just recently added a Software Development concentration option for a Bachelor's degree, but the program guide hasn't been posted yet so I'm not sure of the exact courses offered.

    If you end up getting your bachelor's, Georgia Tech [gatech.edu] now offers their well-respected MS in CS degree online. The admissions requirements are stricter than the online-only schools, but not too onerous.

    If you don't really want a degree, but would like some formal training, Stanford [stanford.edu] and MIT [mit.edu] both have strong no-credit open course ware offerings - they also have paid-for online certificate programs.
    • by Rinikusu ( 28164 )

      WGU looks like a decent deal. How are they with the computer science fundamentals or are they just a code school?

      The curriculum really looks like a glorified "code school", but at least they're affordably priced. For someone who just wants the bach to get past the HR filter, I imagine it could be decent, but I do worry if they're skimping on algorithms/design to focus on a certs based degree. I admit that for some, that's all that's necessary.

      • Re:online options (Score:4, Informative)

        by niado ( 1650369 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @04:37PM (#46664745)

        WGU looks like a decent deal. How are they with the computer science fundamentals or are they just a code school?

        The curriculum really looks like a glorified "code school", but at least they're affordably priced. For someone who just wants the bach to get past the HR filter, I imagine it could be decent, but I do worry if they're skimping on algorithms/design to focus on a certs based degree. I admit that for some, that's all that's necessary.

        WGU is essentially a vocational school that is accredited to award bachelor's and master's degrees - which, as you say, is what many people need. Most of their IT degrees do not cover any computer science to speak of, and they don't pretend to. Their degrees are "Bachelor's of Science in Information Technology" with various concentrations - network administration, network design and management, security, etc.

        WGU hasn't released the program guide for their new "software development" degree yet, but their current "Software concentration" degree [wgu.edu] is very light on theory, and contains several practical IT certifications [wgu.edu]. I expect the software development degree will be a variant of this.

        You're just not going to get a strong "computer science" degree at a cheap online school. In my opinion this isn't much of an issue, since most IT career paths really just require a vocational education anyway. Most people don't really care about CS theory (and most don't really need to) - they just want skills that are applicable to a job.

  • I'm trying to be polite, but it sounds like you're really into educational programs. Way too into them. In this age we live in, I'm pretty sure that you were aware at the time you enrolled that studying philosophy doesn't translate into a job, it's not like you were attending Cambridge with Wittgenstein just before WWII. I think you've done enough programs, seriously you want to do an Associates than a Bachelors after working through a philosphy degree?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why is on campus not an option?
    I completed an Associates Degree in Information Systems at a community college about a decade ago.
    Right now I am working through a BS in Computer Science at the State College. I do all of my classes in the evening, with no classes earlier than 5:45. It has created some annoyances, but I should be graduating in a few years.
    For the classes that are absolutely never offered at night, I have done Graduate courses for undergraduate credit and "independent studies." If your job is r

  • by johnnys ( 592333 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:25PM (#46663121)

    Philosophy questions:
    1. Why?
    2. Why is life a living hell?
    3. What did I do to deserve this?

    CS questions:
    1. Why?
    2. Why is life a living hell?
    3. What did I do to deserve this?
    4. What evil b*st*rd wrote this g*d*mn*d compiler?

    • Man, I wish I had mod points. That was brilliant.
    • There's a lot of truth to this. I don't hire anyone without commercial experience as there's nothing that you learn in school that prepares you for the real world, but a CS degree is only one of the things I look at. I hired a Polish immigrant once without applicable tertiary qualifications once because he came highly recommended, had highly relevant experience, and nailed the interview. Best developer I ever hired. Frankly, two developers of equal experience and interview, the Philosophy degree to me would

  • You can find a lot of open CS courses from prominent universities offered online with lecture videos, assignments, projects, the works:

    edX [edx.org]
    udacity [udacity.com]
    coursera [coursera.org]

    Some offer certificates, but most universities won't accept these. You can try to get the silly credits like English requirement done at a community college which will offer night classes. If you can't give up your 9 to 5 then you can attend a state school or community college part time. Some employers partner with state/community colleges for in
  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:58PM (#46663503) Journal

    There is a way to get a bachelor's degree from a state university, and a bunch of well-known certifications at the same time, for only a few thousand dollars. I'm sort of doing what I'm about to describe, though I could have saved myself more money by planning ahead. I did earn six college credits this week, though, which cost me about $100.
    Western Governor's University ( http://wgu.edu/ [wgu.edu] ) has IT programs in which most of computer related classes are based on passing a test.
    Specifically, they use industry recognized certification tests from COMPTIA, Microsoft, etc. So passing one of these tests gets you both course credit and a certification.

    At WGU, you don't pay per-class. Instead, tuition covers a six-month time semester. You can take and pass 20 classes if you want to. That allows for the following strategy:

    Look at the list of certifications that make up a specific degree.
    Study for those certifications using Professor Messer or other free resources.
    When you're ready to take six certifications, register for WGU.
    Take those six tests in the first two weeks of the term (24-32 college credits).
    Take non-certification tests like Math, which I just took after a couple of days of study (6 college credits).
    Begin studying for the next set and get those done in the remaining five months. (12 college credits).

    In that way, you will have earned 48 college credits and received several certifications, while paying only $2,800 for the term.
    Depending on your level of pre-existing knowledge and the amount of time you put in, you might well be able to complete a BS or BA in 18-24 months, paying $8,400 for your degree and certifications.

    WGU is an accredited university founded by 19 governors that is considered a state university in many states. I just now took my math final on my lunch break, sitting at my desk at work. They use a webcam for proctoring to make sure I'm not cheating. It took me maybe three hours of study and one hour testing to pass the math class, which is 3 credits.

    • PS - WGU students can refer potential students and send them a code that waives the $65 application fee.
      Message me if you're interested in looking into it.

      • I happen to be in the market for an online AA, can you send me the link for wgu admission? NB: your email is hidden so I cant pm you :>

        • I submitted your email address, which I assume triggers their system to send you a link, or a real person from WGU will email you.

          Full disclosure :You get the application fee waived , I get $20 credit for the school store, where I could get a WGU T-shirt or something if I wanted one. No thanks, I'll get a Texas Task Force One shirt from work. :)

  • "Ah, now don't misunderstand me," said the Captain, "we're just one of the ships in the Ark Fleet. We're the 'B' Ark you see. Sorry, could I just ask you to run a bit more hot water for me?"

  • I am in a similar situation and I found an IT BS program at Colorado State University (CSU), called "Global Campus," that fit my needs fairly well. As a bonus the program is tailored for individuals who already have college credit, making transferring classes much, much easier. (I had 96 and they accepted 81 of my previous - I was majoring in biological sciences & wanted to switch to IT) That being said I don't know if an IT bachelors will really prepare you for a programming career, but since you say y
  • Thomas Edison State College
    Excelsior College
    Charter Oak

    Check one of these out. They can help you. (assuming you are 25 or over)

  • Consider Colorado State. They offer numerous on-line-only degree programs. Look at their Master's program in Computer Science.

    (There's no point in earning another bachelor's when a MS is just as fast and requires only 10 semester courses. It's done all the time. I did it with a BS in zoology. You usually take a couple prerequisite courses at a local comm college then enroll as a grad student.)

    http://www.online.colostate.ed... [colostate.edu]

    I assume you live in Colorado and would pay a lot less for in-state tuition th

  • Start working at a medium/large-ish company in any random capacity.
    Start solving problems with code.
    Piss off I.T.
    Eventually join I.T.*

    Source: my career at a publisher, 1995-present.

    Education: BA, History, 1995. Math minor.

    * Optional; not recommended.

    • by tudd ( 3604977 )
      I like this comment! My advice is that you should be ready to take baby steps to get to where you want to be in your career. With no proven real-world experience you may not be given the opportunity, or if you're being honest with yourself, be ready to be paid to code. Take a job somewhere that has a tech department in some capacity and over time by working WITH them in some capacity you may be given the chance join them. If that doesn't work out for whatever reason you use your degree to get interviews
  • Major universities all across our nation have long been doing a disservice to their customers, students, by pushing philosophy, psychology and kinesiology degrees on unsuspecting, easily duped children, only to have them turn out in droves for the 'Occupy Wall Street' camp meetings, and Obama rallies. Welcome, finally, to adulthood. Now I'll step off my soapbox, and tell you that your best bet is to start at the beginning and get your lower division requirements taken care of at your local community colle
  • Rather than wasting more money on useless universities, buy some books, read them and start your own business.
  • A non CS degree may stop you getting a development job in some companies - but not all.

    Your degree should have taught you to think, to write, to organise your thoughts, to ask questions etc. All of these are highly prized by employers, I see far too many developers who are great at cutting code without thinking and who can't communicate well.

    Don't simply think that you MUST get a CS degree to continue; get enough core knowledge to program well. Build something. Contribute to an open source project (most FOS

  • Athabasca University is a leader in distance education in Canada. Have a look at http://www.athabascau.ca/ [athabascau.ca]

    They have tutors on-line, by email. I once met one of their tutors, answering students' question part-time while he was working full-time as a programmer in Montreal, which is the other end of the country from Athabasca. Yes, the tutors are actual practitioners, and may be anywhere on the net.

    You might find it to your liking. Check out the cours listing and see if it's what you're looking for.

    -- hend

  • 1. No fully online AA program will be accepted as meeting prereqs for any BS degree worth your time or effort. Self-directed learning is great, but none of it currently hold any rigor in the eyes of academe or the evaluators reviewing your transcripts for transfer credit.

    2. No fully online BS program will get so much as a whiff of attention from HR at a decent company. See comments on "academic rigor" above.

    3. If you are serious about making development your profession, write a ton of code, contribut

  • Others have said it, so I am just adding my "vote."

    If you haven't finished the philosophy degree, then go ahead and finish that (as you have time and money) because any degree is better than none. As someone who is "this close" to finishing my degree, sometimes I feel that hurts me more than if I had never started. (Yes, when I get some money, I will finish mine too.)

    Don't waste your time or money on a CS degree. In my meager experience, for real-world programming, they don't teach much more than can be lea

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik