A Computer Science degree: ticket to your dream tech job or a useless piece of paper?

Well there definitely are.

The first thing is experience with a wide breadth of topics in tech.

If you have studied something, you will have an easier time looking up information on the topic.

Someone with zero knowledge will struggle to even ask good questions, let alone find answers.

Having studied these topics gives you a small base in most things you will come across in your tech career.

This means you can tackle somewhat unknown areas in your job and manage to keep your bearings.

The second thing you get is experience with multiple programming languages.

The good part is you use them in scenarios that are somewhat applicable to the real world (this varies from class to class and degree to degree).

During my computer science program, I was able to use C, C++, Python, MASM, PHP, and JavaScript.

I was able to build small sample projects with each of these languages and get some feeling of how they differ and which one felt the best to me.

This also gave me some direction when choosing which career path I wanted to take in the future.

I liked C++ and Objective-C was also a superset of C so iOS development made sense as a career path for me.

Having classmates that are working towards the same career goals as you can help keep your motivation going.

Photo by Mimi Thian on UnsplashThe last and perhaps most important thing is the fact you will be working with others looking to achieve the same goals as you.

Even in my online program, there were group projects that forced me to work with others.

I am a pretty solitary person so if I wasn’t forced to reach out to others in the program, I most likely wouldn’t have.

But making these connections was invaluable.

We were all sharing in the same struggles, came from similar backgrounds and we were all looking to achieve the same things.

This really helped when I needed advice on an interview or wanted to know about a career path.

But in case you didn’t notice, all of the benefits I listed above could be had without getting a degree.

Going through the degree program just bakes them into the experience.

You won’t be able to make it through the program without experiencing the benefits I listed above.

If you want the same benefits outside of a degree course, you might have to put in a little more of your own effort to get them.

That feeling of drowning in student debt.

Photo by Mishal Ibrahim on UnsplashThe VerdictSo do all the benefits above make the degree worth it?.I’d say no.

The main reason for me was that I was saddled with a ton of student debt once the program was completed.

I am writing from an American perspective so having debt after completing a computer science course may not be an issue for you.

But no matter where you are, a computer science degree will certainly cost you more of at least one of the resources I mentioned above (time, money, energy) compared to a bootcamp or free online course approach.

It will be slower for sure.

So whats the verdict?.At a higher cost to your time, money and energy, a computer science course may help you with getting your first job (read my article here for some tips on succeeding in your first interview).

It may help you keep your motivation through camaraderie with other students and will give you a wider breadth of knowledge.

Without a computer science degree, you will almost certainly save on the resources I mentioned above.

But this comes at a higher chance of having a harder time securing your first job.

Those are really the main things I would take into consideration when making your choice.

And don’t worry too much about which choice you take.

As long as you take small steps forward, you will find yourself where you want to be.

I could look back and wish that I went with a free course like freeCodeCamp and be much richer in time and money.

But I made my choices and still ended up where I wanted to be.

I achieved what I wanted in the end.

And the fact you are reading this article means that you have also just taken a small step towards your shiny new tech career too.

Liked what you read?Feel free to check out some of my other articles:My story, how I went from an assistant language teacher to working at a top tech company.

How to be successful in your first tech interview.


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