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General Discussion

Computer Science degree question and developer bootcamps question

So I've read around the web (numerous times) that a degree in Computer Science is almost a time, if I plan to go into web and mobile application developing as a career. I want to work mostly on back-end, and preferably more along the lines of social networking. Since I'm only 17, I've even conteplated taking a year or two off before college and doing some bootcamps, or certificate programs; or just some side projects.

My main question is will a degree in Computer Science really be worth the money, and time? I understand it wouldn't hurt (besides my parent's pockets). I personally have no problem picking up a book, and taking notes on a language (I have quite a few already) or watching videos to further my knowledge.

2nd Question:

Are "Developer bootcamps" worthwhile? I see they're pretty expensive, but seem to have descent reviews; though I expect reviews are filtered frequently. There's one in particular I was looking at http://www.devbootcamp.com/

2 Answers

My experience of Computer Science (2nd year) is that you won't get any real life practical job done. What you're mostly learning is the theoretical ideas about programming and computers. I'm not saying you're not going learn programming but you won't learn how to make an app your first year. What I strongly recommend (what I did) is that you learn how to make web-, and mobile apps before starting out. Like you said, you want to work mostly on back-end which leads to working with for example: security and what you will learn in Computer Science is the concept and math/algorithms about it and not programming itself. But what you get is a really good and necessary theoretical ground.

When I started I was a front- and back-end web developer. Now I can also make apps for iOS and Android but I didn't learn that in school. It really doesn't matter what you do; if want to become really good (especially in programming) you must make a spare time sacrifice and learn thing outside school. With the experience I had before beginning Computer Science I found the programming part very easy to understand, and I still have it easier to learn than my classmates without any programming experience.

Like you said; you are taking a year or two off before collage. You can learn a lot in a year and in two years you can consider yourself as a pro. What I did is that I started out with front-end web development (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) which is more fun because you see the practical usage immediately. When you feeling comfortable with the front-end part then you should start out with a server-side language like pure PHP which is the easiest to set up and it gives you a good ground about programming. What I mean about "pure PHP" is PHP without a framework (you'll learn more about that later). Web development overall is a great way to start learning about development not only because its easier and fun but it brings a good sense of designing to developers.

A book is not the way to start 2013, the only book I read was about back-end security. Both text- and video tutorials is the way to go. It's when you do things practical you actually learn. Set up small projects and try to finish them or check out others work and try to make the same thing etc.

You will realise that the more know, the more you will learn. So, the learning process is exceptional. But you will also realise that there is more to learn.

Hope you find your way into this industry.

Thanks for the feedback Harald Pektas

I already know a bit of OOP (mostly from Java and C++) and basic programming fundamentals that are common in most languages. I've also learned quite a bit of PHP from here on TTH, and books from O'Reilly publishing and Weilly publishing. I've recently decided to scoot PHP over to the side and focus on Ruby, since it seems to be pretty weird syntax wise, and looks like it may be a bit harder to learn. I've read plenty of books on HTML, CSS3, and JavaScript/JQuery, and taken tons of notes; along with building a few static and dynamic sites. I decided I'd learn most of the easier stuff before I graduate high school, and for the most part I have. So I guess I may try to take a year off and focus on nothing but code.

Looking at the curriculum it appears that I would be focusing mostly on Math, opposed to programming, with Calc I, II, and Discrete Mathematics? Personally, I'm not a huge math fan.. I'm not sure what programming class I'd be placed in with AP Computer Science credits.

I guess my main concern would be getting a job in the field. How much weigh is put on degrees vs. skill?

Seems like you know a lot already, good. Then I don't see any obstacle for starting with Ruby or my personal preference Python.

In Computer Science you will spend a lot of time learning Math mostly the parts you already said. If you're not a fan of math you can either just "deal with it" and try to like it or consider another program. But it doesn't matter which program you choose, you'll always end up with courses that you don't like. That's how universities work, you spend some time doing thing you don't like in order to do thing that you do like.

If you're aiming for being a employee then mostly your degree will be more helpful. It all depends on what you can show. I mean the employers doesn't know if your skilled enough to be a part the company so a degree will be a reference for them. But if you have created something successful like a great app that you can show to the employers then that will be like a reference for what skill you skill have.