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Question about college education vs. self-study

Hello everyone,

I am a frontend-developer from The Netherlands and i am looking to improve my knowledge and to eventually land a job. Is it necessary to go to college and follow a study for 2-4 years or is it a better solution to practice self-study and build up your portfolio to improve the chances to get hired?

Some companies in The Netherlands value a piece of paper over working experience which you have gained over the years. So how can i increase the chances of getting hired by a company?

What i am also wondering that how can i make it happen to work with people who also are passionate about what they do and the work they put out there?

Any feedback and help which you guys can provide would be really appreciated.

2 Answers

Ideally why waste your time in a college/uni? building a portfolio shows a lot more than a degree especially in IT. I would build a portfolio and look for a job, if no one is hiring then maybe you can enroll in the college.

if college is free in Netherlands, I would maybe enroll & then build a portfolio in spare time that way you won't waste time if portfolio gets a job. (and you can easily un-enroll) - but doing this may be a a bit selfish as you will be taking the place of someone else who really wants to study.

Shez thanks for replying,

I do work for a company at the moment but our visions don't align (inline styles, browser assumptions etc.) i do value a certain quality things like: seperation of cocerns, progressive enhancement, communication through code and design. I want to look for a job where people share the same passion as i do.

Sof if certain companies value a degree more then experience/portfolio, that could be a sign that it's a company better to avoid then to work for?

I did look into a college degree in The Netherlands, they only state you learn to build interactive websites by using html and css, but not if you learn to use techniques like: progressive enhancement, accessibility and responsive design. So i did really hesitate to enroll in such a degree.

Besides that a portfolio reflects and shows your ability to design, create interactions and how well you write code. That tells more then a degree or a piece of paper doesn't it?

Robbie Rice
Robbie Rice
2,448 Points

When hiring FE developers the degree has always been an after thought if they have work they can actually show me (I'm a product manager not a developer btw). I'm not the rule however and it all depends on which company you want to work for, and which country you want to work for. Whether you go to college or not, you should build a portfolio and look to contribute to as many open source projects as possible. In terms of a college degree, here is what I would consider:

  • Will you see a positive return on your investment? In your case, will having a degree give you higher expected earnings or more job security in the future? As you get older, like middle age and close to retirement, you may find it harder to keep coding and want to move into mentor ship and management. Many companies look at degrees as a basis for management positions. Unfair but true.

  • Will you work outside the EU? If so check the visa conditions of your desired country for a working visa: Japan requires a 4 year degree for example.

  • Which company do you want to work for? Many companies use application tracking systems (ATS) which look for keywords and screen out applicants who don't display them. I'm not a fan of this but it happens. They might look for a 4 year degree which might even be from specific institutions. Again, check.

  • In the long term, do you want to move to higher level positions, for example executive level? Share holders, investors, and boards of managers often like to see university credentials. This is arbitrary but again, check and consider what you want to do in the long term.

I think the university system is a relic and not a true indicator of talent but we still live in a world where there are arbitrary rules in place. Just look ahead a little and if you're unsure of where your future lies err on the side of caution and get the degree, especially if it is free in the Netherlands!