Languages and Books

Jeff Schroeder jeff at neobox.net
Fri Jul 22 14:53:24 MDT 2005


Eric wrote:

> Point being, it is difficult for me to go through that much misery
> for so little CS education.  I would rather spend 3 years studying
> what actually helps my career choice.  Am I just wrong on this?

I agree with Josh on this.  In a word, "yes". :)

The longer answer is that if you go back to school, you're right-- 
you'll be taking a number of classes that really have nothing to do 
with CS and won't help you learn the newest neatest technology.  But 
they'll teach you other things that are invaluable.  I don't know how 
old you are or what your station in life is, but I think if you're not 
continually learning new things you're on a dead-end road.  Classes 
outside your major will teach you everything from research to public 
speaking to writing skills.  And those skills are critical to being 
successful (unless you define "successful" as sitting quietly in a 
cubicle for the next 30 years hammering out code, heh).

I have several friends who are absolutely outstanding programmers and 
have a deep knowledge of, say, Linux kernel drivers.  But they didn't 
go to college, and learned everything on the job.  While that serves 
them very well for a while, eventually they run out of options.  A few 
of them have had their employers go belly-up, and then they learned the 
hard truth that looking for a job is much, much harder if you don't 
have some kind of degree.  Others who have stayed gainfully employed 
found themselves painted into a corner, so to speak-- always being 
passed over for promotions or management positions because they were 
great coders but not much more.

I'm not saying taking a few classes is the only way to overcome these 
sorts of problems, but a degree and a "well rounded" education will 
take you a lot farther than a bucketload of deep, specialized technical 
knowledge.

$0.02,
Jeff
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