Is a Computer Science degree worth it?

freeCodeCamp is an amazing resource.
I wouldn’t be on staff if I didn’t love the program :grinning:

I just want people to realize that if they are going to go down the self taught route they need to realize that they have to be very disciplined to teach themselves and stay focused on learning what they need to learn.

If they know they are not going to do well guiding themselves during the self taught route and they need a classroom environment to tell then when to do assignments and how long to spend on subjects, that is ok too.

So all of this boils down to the person.

Some people do really well with self taught education while others need a classroom environment.

Both options are valid paths to becoming a developer.

It is just up to the person on what option is best for them :grinning:

2 Likes

If you can reasonably get a degree, that is very effective. If you can’t reasonably get a degree, you can still become a programmer, but it’s harder. Nobody is saying it’s a bad idea to become a programmer without a degree. We’re just saying that it is harder.

Thank you very much for the lighting. I think we meet at the end. It is a question of will. You are a good example of the will to follow. I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your commitment to freeCodeCamp. In the space of just one year, you have reached an exceptional peak. Happy New Year 2022. God bless us!

2 Likes

Thank you ! I completely agree with you. Happy New Year 2022!

See I actually disagree w/ you. Its half worth it. And you don’t need quotes. The money (even at the entry level) is more than most Americans make. So that’s done because unless you hate tech (and if you do then why are you bothering studying this in the first place?) then you’ll have THE biggest growth path of any American worker. You can found a company, work at a fintech, work in a small tech firm, large tech firm. Freelance for years.

I’m in the same boat and I’ve been in and out of learning to code since 2017 starting w/ Python. I made the mistake of not sticking w/ a CS degree from an associates to a bachelors or even a good bootcamp. I also want to go into making mobile games too though so I’m a bit of an outlier. Anyway, it isn’t subjective at least financially. Just consider 3 things:

  1. The curriculum of the given school. If there is too much math etc. IE non coding support, don’t bother.
  2. If there is a solid (and helpful) alumni base willing to participate in aiding new coders.
  3. Cost. Both time and $. The former being how well you can learn something wholly/completely. The latter obviously being simple math comparing courses.

Hope that helps because I’ve hit a wall self learning CSS/ JS and I hate teaching myself and not having consistent help from people who’ve done this before.

I’m not sure I fully understand what you are trying to say.

People with degrees just have an easier time getting tech jobs than those without degrees. It is perhaps unfair, but that’s how it is.

You can get a job without a CS degree. However, if you can get a CS degree, then you will have an easier time getting a job than you would without a degree.

Unfortunately, a degree isn’t feasible for everyone, which is why freeCodeCamp exists.


Side note: I’m not sure what you think is “too much math”, but many of the math requirements you find in your typical CS program are very relevant to programmers: Discrete Math, Linear Algebra, and basic Calculus help make you a well rounded and versatile programmer.

The other university courses people tend to complain about are core courses like writing, ethics, etc which help you be a more capable technical professional and a more rounded person. I highly recommend them to anyone.

There is much, much more to being a high-quality professional developer than learning coding.


2 Likes

Let me clear this up then. First of all, calculus and what I meant by too much math, is just. If it isn’t an essential building block of the coding languages syntax, then don’t bother. Second, going to a university is always a good option so I didn’t clearly admit that I agree w/ that. I’m considering it, actually.

However, its 4 years. You have to consider that (like me in my 30s) many people during the pandemic and in general who are going to bootcamps are in my age group. We have jobs lol. And lives. And need/want to make a career change now in the foreseeable future. We’re not 24 etc. So if you don’t need it to “make you a better person” because you’re already grown, then don’t bother. That’s all I’m saying. You have to consider peoples and time man.

I don’t understand this sentence. But as I said above, Calculus, Linear Algebra, and Discrete Mathematics are important building blocks. CS started as a subject area in Mathematics. Understanding those foundations makes you a better programmer.


I’m in my 30s too. I would never assume that I cannot become a better person in some way relative to who I am now. Those core courses have a lot of value no matter your age.


I understand that going back and getting a degree when you are older is unattractive to some people, just as it isn’t economically feasible for some people. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that getting a CS degree makes it easier to get a job.

My advice is still “Get a degree if it is feasible for you”. If you have the time and money to do it, a CS degree will pay off.

And my advice is still find the best bootcamp and mentor. So we’ll just agree to disagree. Besides, I’m not going to school w/ people a decade younger than me lol.

Also, not only does college cost more, but you’re just giving WAY too much value to those other classes or that companies will consider those on during your hiring process lol. Maybe I’m wrong but that’s just me.

A bootcamp can be a partial substitute for a CS degree (and a good middle ground for many people), though a CS degree is still considered the ‘gold standard’ of the industry.

Lots of people have gone back to school when they are older (I had almost a decade between undergrad and going back to school). It’s totally fine if you don’t want to do that; not everyone feels comfortable with that. Unfortunately, that decision still has an impact on your resume though.

I think a lot of people wrongly take ‘mentor’ to mean ‘personal tutor’. I’ve found mentors in specific roles/jobs to be helpful, but a generic ‘mentor’ isn’t as useful as a network of contacts, in my experience.

1 Like

I took classes with a number of people older than 30, and almost everyone was working jobs while going to school. There was a good amount of people doing it to switch careers by “coming back to school”.

Its also worth mentioning I went a public university, so it wasn’t as crazy expensive as some fancy private school. It wasn’t a fancy CS school either, it had a moderate CS department with moderate connections to the local industries.

Most of those that juggled work and school ended up succeeding after their degree. I personally believe that experience helped them later at some level. If anything it shows drive and commitment, which people will take notice of.

I had multiple “mentors figures when starting out”. It was the faculty, upper graduates and my fellow peers. I also had access to some clubs and resources that helped me later too.

The classes are technically what you pay for, but there’s a bunch of other stuff that is optional, but could be very helpful. You can build/find that stuff on your own, or through external means, but its all just sitting there if you go to higher education.

Bootcamps will usually focus on the practical aspects of a given set of technologies. A CS degree doesn’t do this. It might have a few classes here and there for specifics, but most go over the fundamentals and theory that don’t go out of style and are applicable regardless of what you end up doing.

Ultimately, like many things, its as worth as much as you make of it. You’ll pay the same tuition and fees to get the same access to classes as everyone else, but what you do with that access, and access to the rest of the school is where you can get a lot of worth, or just some shiny paper at the end of it.

You’ll hear of plenty of people who go to college, get a degree and end up doing some random work after. Tech degree, or non-tech degree, the same is true for going into a place of education. Its true its not for everyone, or even feasible for everyone.

Its also true there is no singular right way for everyone. Everyone has to decide for themselves what is best for them and their situation.

1 Like

I just remember something important to add: To determine how much it is worth, you gotta know how much it COSTS.
Like, in the US it can be freaking expensive and I’ll include a link to a podcast I am listening right now, which brought up the topic - saying that at least for the US, you seriously need to consider that given the student debt you’ll accumulate, it might indeed not be worth it compared to both free and even paid online resources:

Higher education is totally overpriced in the US. Though, there are less expensive schools out there. Price is an important factor to consider when picking a school. The USA has a stupid stigma around state schools, but they offer good or better education at a lower cost.

This doesn’t make much sense. The only mathematics baked into syntax is basic arithmetic. If you’re going to ignore calculus, linear algebra, and discrete mathematics (at the minimum), then you’re limiting yourself to basic CRUD apps. No games or physics engines (that’s linear algebra and calculus), no 3D graphics (linear algebra again), no cyber-physical systems (calculus), no computational modeling and engineering (linear algebra and calculus), no AI/ML (linear algebra and statistics).

You won’t have the machinery to analyze algorithms or data structures either (discrete mathematics). If you skip computational theory – which you’ll have to if you don’t have the math – you won’t know which problems are inherently NP-hard and require approximate solutions. Which means you’re more likely to design programs that take literally forever to run.

So…is a comp sci degree, and all the math that comes with it, worth it? I suppose that depends on your career goals. If you want to limit yourself to a fraction of the available jobs, then sure, skip it. But if you have the means, why close doors you don’t have to?

And lastly, regarding the math minor…at my undergrad institution, it was an additional 2 courses. It didn’t even take an extra semester. I don’t know if it did me any good job wise, but I’m sure it helped when I got to grad school.

jrm

2 Likes

Thank you all for the great responses! They have been very insightful and have gotten me thinking a lot about how many options I truly do have in life. I know it’s a life-long process but it was nice to hear all of the great experiences and lessons you all could share! Thank you!

2 Likes

See this I agree w/ but the only problem I have here is choosing a path around my passion. Because I already know I want to make mobile apps, but also get heavy in to mobile game dev. The latter of which is my passion. There is consideration I have to make because it dictates language and where I’d be going to learn it.

My concern isn’t where but the most efficient and from whom. I am still considering a local college but I’ve been learning the basics of JS/HTML from my brother which is going well, but he’s not a teacher and has a full time coding job. So I’m in a weird place but its going well. I just need to go to the next level of help because I’ve hit a wall of education.

If you want to make games, you need algorithms, data structures, and math, no matter how you choose to learn it.

1 Like

Yes. And while it’s true the final application (games in this case) dictates language choice, it’s not true that learning should be approached in that fashion. The core concepts – data structures, algorithms, software engineering, computational theory, etc – are independent of implementation language and all Turing-complete languages are interchangeable in any case.

That said, certain languages make certain domains easier to deal with – we don’t write drivers in Javascript and it’s much easier to do statistical analysis in R or Python rather than C. This is something else a good comp sci program will do – it will expose you to lots of different languages so you know why and when to choose a particular one.

1 Like

A computer Science degree is worth it if you want ‘it’ to be worth ‘it’. You can learn a bunch of computer science without a degree.
To me, a degree means you started and finished a long process. You are not a quitter. It does not mean you know a lot. It means you can finish a long commitment.
Computer Science is a good field that is not going away. It can be translated to any IT or CIS field. The degree part can get you in past the HR checkbox process. The rest is up to you and your experience and knowledge.