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General Discussion

Is it worthwhile to go back to school for a Computer Science (or even Computer Engineering) degree?

I am almost 43. I earned a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies in 1998.

Now, I am considering returning to school to pursue a Computer Science degree (Bachelor). With a few extra courses, I can take it a step further and get a Computer Engineering degree (also Bachelor) in leui of Computer Science.

So many job postings want a degree. Some are not clear about the relation of the degree to the field. I understand, if I don't have a degree in the field, I will have to strongly sell myself in an interview (I tend not to interview well).

There is a further complication. I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and I am in treatment. I also have an application for disability insurance in process for these reasons. If I go back to school, it will likely have to wait until fall 2018 (I will be 44).

Would it be worthwhile to go back? Given my energy and stamina levels, it will likely take several years to complete even with many general education requirements waived due to the prior degree (I wouldn't be surprised to be 50 by then).

I really don't have a road map. I'm not sure what I would like to do, if anything. I am enjoying learning HTML, CSS, Sass, JavaScript, Java, Python, etc at my own broken pace (my illnesses won't allow me to sustain consistent effort levels which may preclude school anyway). Ultimately, schooling may only serve to provide me with a sense of accomplishment but nothing I'll actually use. Sadly, I get no sense of accomplishment from the Liberal Studies degree.

No, don't go back to school. Largely employers don't care about degrees in this field. Self teach and prove you know what you are doing.

4 Answers

Jon Wood
Jon Wood
9,884 Points

Interesting, most job postings usually accept extra experience in lieu of a degree.

I'm a bit on the fence on this. On one hand I can see the benefits of getting the degree with learning about algorithms, data structures, and all that fun theory. Yet, I strongly believe that using that time just to build projects and contribute to open source would give you much more benefits in terms of employment. A lot of good employers understand that, too, but equally a lot of other employers probably don't. I may be a bit biased as I have a degree myself, but there wasn't nearly as many ways to learn programming as there are now.

However, if you want to work at Microsoft, Google, or Amazon, then yes, they definitely require a degree. They do a lot of newer things and maybe some research so they want people who know the algorithms and such.

I'm curious to what others have to say about this, too.

Jon Wood
Jon Wood
9,884 Points

I should have also added, that two of the best things to do that can help you get noticed is to get on GitHub to help with open source projects and to have your own blog where you can write about things you've learned and things you would want to tell other developers. I probably wouldn't have gotten my current job if I didn't have a blog.

"However, if you want to work at Microsoft, Google, or Amazon, then yes, they definitely require a degree."

Eh........not always as I personally know someone working for google who never attended college. Now as a newbie developer, no. But as someone with experience you can 100% work for these places as experience will trump their degree requirements.

An addendum to the question: I have just learned that my alma mater will not allow me to return to pursue a 2nd Bachelor degree. I could enroll and take courses but only as a non-degree student.

Yes, they typically say 'degree or equivalent experience.' I glossed over that because I don't have equivalent experience and I am not confident about getting it.

stjarnan
seal-mask
.a{fill-rule:evenodd;}techdegree seal-36
stjarnan
Front End Web Development Techdegree Graduate 56,488 Points

Hi David!

Where I live, basically every job requires X degree and "2+ years of experience", and now I'm talking about entry level jobs. In reality, this is a wishlist. I used to panick over this myself.

Back in October, I managed to get a job as a web developer with nothing but Treehouse as my education. The place where I work always puts "requires X degree" and "years+ experience" in their job ads, the thing is, that didn't stop them from hiring me even though I lacked both a computer science degree and real experience. Does that mean that I am super awesome? No, I still had tons to learn and I still have, I just made them know that I really wanted to do this and that I was willing to learn. (I am awesome though, they just didn't know it yet ;) )

My point is, if you enjoy coding, go nuts! In the end it might lead you to a job and if you enjoy it there's no pressure as you're doing it for fun anyways! :) And don't worry about the lack of a degree or experience, most ads will ask for them but just ignore it and send in your application anyways if you can check atleast 60% of the other requirements.

You can do this, just make sure to enjoy the journey :)

Jonas

^My man!