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Ask Slashdot: CS Degree Without Gen-Ed Requirements?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the already-read-the-other-book dept.

Education 913

davidjbeveridge writes "I'm interested in getting a CS degree. I've been programming since I was 13, and like many of us, taught myself. I am familiar with a number of languages, understand procedural, functional, and object-oriented paradigms; I'm familiar with common design patterns and am a decent engineer. I learn quickly. I work 2 jobs and I have a life. I want to get a CS degree from an accredited school (a BS, that is), but I have no interest in wasting any of my precious time taking classes in English, Philosophy, History, Art and the like. While these fields are useful and perhaps enriching, they will not contribute to making me better at my job. Moreover, I attended an excellent high school that covered these fields of study in great detail, and I feel no need or desire to spend more time studying these things. I want a BS in Computer Science with no general education requirements. Any suggestions?"

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US-only problem? (5, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567848)

I guess this is a US-only problem. When I started my computer science degree at the University of Antwerp, it was pretty much only computer science. We had a few credits in economics, but that was really just general economics and that's it.

However, what are you expecting from studying CS? It's most likely not what you think it is. It's basically math, automata, algorithms, computability theory and stuff like that. If you plan to be a computer programmer and only that, you already have the skills required (even though, you probably make certain avoidable mistakes by if you don't know about computing theory).

If it is to have better chances to get a job interview, I can understand...

I don't regret having a computer science degree, it was very interesting, but it's not a course "how to become a better programmer".

Anyone considering computer science, should ponder the words of one of the greatest computer scientists of all times: "Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes", Edsger Dijkstra.

Re:US-only problem? (1)

slart42 (694765) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568064)

I second that. Here in Germany, and probably also in any university elsewhere in Europe, a CS course will be about CS. It may contain classes from related subjects as Maths, or Economics (if the course is more business oriented), but no such "general" Education as you mentioned. Also it probably won't teach you to be a good programmer, as many people pointed out.

Re:US-only problem? (2)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568118)

As far as I can see, here in Europe you're supposed to get your general education in high school (at least the levels that give you access to University). I didn't dare to generalize, because I remembered that the UK schooling system is fundamentally different and the Frenchies do their thing too. (For example, a "Grand École is considered better than a University)

SOL (3, Insightful)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567854)

A BS covers general education and major course work.

Your best bet is an AS degree. Then, come back later and get your BS.

Re:SOL (1)

nicolastheadept (930317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567944)

Come to the UK, do a computer science degree, and do just computer science! Same goes for virtually any subject.

Hah, good luck. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567858)

Go take your gen eds like the rest of us. Do you think we enjoyed them? No.

Re:Hah, good luck. (2, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568100)

Take the general education topics because the more areas you know about, the more likely it is you will be able to see an area with undeveloped potential, and the more likely you are to then use your programming skills to contribute something new. Without exposure to different areas, you may find yourself only working on other people's ideas which increases the likelihood you'll just be a grunt. With more exposure, you increase your chances of being the person who identifies an unmet need which increases your opportunity to hit it big. No guarantee of course, just a better chance, but isn't some opportunity better than no opportunity?

Shameless plug (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567868)
No frills B. Comp. Sc.

All about the benjamins (2)

pr0f3550r (553601) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567870)

Good luck with that. It has been my experience that higher educational institutions just want your money. I'm sure if you donated enough of it to them, they would give you a piece of paper just for that merit alone. Once you understand that motivation, you will know why they want to purchase as much of their product as possible.

Re:All about the benjamins (0)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568114)

How do you think academics prop up cushy, permanent jobs in fields that have little practical use? General education requirements.

You underestimate the value (3, Insightful)

bokmann (323771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567872)

I think you underestimate the value of those things. Most of these classes aren't strictly about history, english, and the like, but enhance your overall mental ability - such as the ability to write, comprehend, and reason, which frankly, is generally missing from those in our field.

If you don't have those things, that's fine, but that's not a BS or a BA, thats a trade school education.

Re:You underestimate the value (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567912)


Just what this field needs, more illiterates.

Re:You underestimate the value (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567952)

You hit the nail on the head, regardless your career courses like that make you a better person at any job. In fact I work for a very large insurance company doing financial work, and we are being giving English and writing classes at work, so we can communicate better with customers and co-workers. In addition things like history and philosophy, make you a better person over all, and as there is much more to any job than walking through the door and walking into an office until you clock out companies want people who can think, reason, and interact with others.

Re:You underestimate the value (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568178)


I'm one of the most literate people where I work. I've always had the gift of gab and the ability to communicate and document clearly. I am familiar with the verbose buzzwords, psychobabble, and jargon required to woo the suits. I was always in the top reading groups in the lower grades even though I never paid attention in class and, later, I partied and slept through high school English, even though my AP English teacher said that I was the only one in the class who had developed a style. My college English classes were taken online so that I could bullshit my way though the drudgery. All while being one of the most prolific(semi-retired) troll writers on Slashdot. Shit, was I just trolled?

You know how much English classes helped me? Jack shit. The submitter may have already written a manual or whitepaper, or read Dostoevsky in their spare time. We autodidacts prefer to jump through as few hoops as possible in order to attain our goals. It's all about working smarter, not harder.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:You underestimate the value (3, Informative)

CMonk (20789) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567956)

+1 I don't think this person is looking for a college education, I suggest they seek out a vocational school. This will be funny when a google search before a job interview pulls up this post. I don't hire engineers that aren't interested in learning.

Re:You underestimate the value (3, Insightful)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568126)

This is my reaction too. I wouldn't want to hire someone who is always looking for shortcuts.

Re:You underestimate the value (4, Insightful)

emolitor (129606) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568008)

Absolutely correct, if you don't want an all around education what you want is a vocational school and there is nothing wrong with that. However you will need that all around education to qualify as an engineer.

Given a choice most employers also prefer that you have that all around education. As someone who has hired 100+ engineers for his company I can tell you that a well rounded education is often what sets candidates apart.

Re:You underestimate the value (4, Insightful)

haystor (102186) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568034)

Being able to read/write/reason are all fine and good. But I'm not sure the effort and annoyance of those classes yields a payoff in those areas. You get very little feedback other than a handful of grades. All that for a ton of time and $1-2k for a class. At a whole lot of schools, these classes have become little more than perfunctory checks on writing and attendance. They seem wholly designed to make sure a certain amount of money is extracted from each student. The liberal arts ideals which mandate these classes are simply dead.

Re:You underestimate the value (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568110)

I did engineering at one of the better state universities.

The liberal arts classes I was required to take usually had large lectures (with no attendance checks) and meaningful smaller discussions (these were usually taught by graduate students). The 200-300 level classes generally didn't have large lectures.

Re:You underestimate the value (3, Interesting)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568130)

Furthermore, if he knows programming already does that make him a CS? As far as I know, there's more to that, such as algorithms and proper techniques. If he things he knows all he should try to explore new areas as well. Let's say, electrical engineering and learn some circuit design as well.

I'm not CS, but somewhat feel like people that know programming they should get an immediate degree without learning the basics. Programming is probably only one course of the degree and to me, it's not all you need to know to become a CS.

Yes, it's expensive to go to school, but some people really underestimate what they can learn in school.

Re:You underestimate the value (3, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568132)

There is a benefit to those non core courses.

You might not see it now, and some people never do, but it's there.

One thing that the more technical people have trouble with and I think turns them off is the softer nature of some of these courses.

History is important becasue it shows the effects of technology and consequences, it's also quite big on the important of context. Things that are right in one situation are disasterous in others. There are strong cases for many of the fields.
I have to say I've found some of those basic courses like philosophy, psyche 101 etc much more useful in the real world than some of the grad level math courses. I think those that discount them are missing the difference between "higher eduation" and "job training".

Re:You underestimate the value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568136)

I'm not the OP but I have a similar sentiment to him. The main difference being that I'm almost done with my degree and unemployed. Here's the thing about gen ed classes: I already can write extremely well and already enrich my own life through reading and learning about the world of my own accord. There's basically nothing that I've encountered in a gen ed class that I didn't already know either from learning on my own time or from high school.

Now, I understand this isn't true for everyone. Some people just don't seem to have the desire to learn things about the world on their own and have to have it spoon fed to them. For them, requiring gen ed classes is probably great. But for me, they're just an impediment. Not only do I not feel like I'm learning anything from them, they actually actively discourage me from wanting to participate in school, because it's depressing to me to do things that are not challenging or interesting. I hate doing things that I consider trivial or a waste of time.

So I guess you can say I learned one thing from gen ed classes: How to deal with being fed a bunch of pointless, useless, trivial bullshit work.

Re:You underestimate the value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568214)

The comment "none of those things will make me better at my job" is the most telling sign of immaturity and a general lack of understanding of the nature of education, the job market, and even computer science.

You don't go to college solely for the coursework (and I'm not talking about keggers either)
You don't get an education to get a job.
Computer Scientists do not practice computer science for the sake of computer science (that's called math)

Wasting time? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567880)

How is enriching your life wasting your time? Why is education a bad thing?

It is called education... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567886)

The best programmer I know never took ANY CS classes - he just devours new knowledge and apply.

As for the general requirements, there's a reason for them. The theory is that learning about stuff outside of your field might make you more educated.

Why do you need the degree?

By the end, the Gen Ed was the best! (2, Interesting)

putaro (235078) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567892)

I finished off my degree while working full-time as a kernel engineer. By the last year, the Gen Ed classes were the ones I looked forward to the most.

What's your goal? (1)

the real chahn (727189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567894)

Is your goal to have a degree because it would be useful to list on a résumé, or do you want the degree because you think the content of the BS in CS would be useful? If it's the latter, then independent study or auditing college courses might be the answer for you. If it's the former, though, you more or less have to accept that the BS is not just a vocational degree--it is a degree from a university that attests to you not only knowing the content of the major but also the gen-ed requirements.

You want a Trade School. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567896)

You say straight out that you have no desire for the sort of education associated with a University degree and then ask if you can get one without all the nasty bits that separate it from a Trade School.

Short answer - no.

PS - The fact that you don't believe that those other bits could possibly make you any better at your job... tells us a great deal about how you'd do your job.

English isn't necessary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567900)

If you do not think that English is necessary for a CS degree, I'd hate to see your documentation on your coding.

You have a life? Or you think you do.... (1)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567902)

.....reading Slashdot and having a life is generally mutually exclusive! That said, studying "other things" is a good idea to provide context and balance to your life (i.e. have a life ). To paraphrase, all programming and no other interests makes Jack a dull boy. At the very least, the "other things" can be inspirational and help look at your programming problems in other ways. Consider taking some management, marketing or communications courses so you can understand the business life going on around you at whatever company you join.

Don't get a CS degree (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567906)

What you just want the piece of paper?

I spent a good deal in college CS classes, learning stuff that I already had a good idea what to do.

When it came to the real world I was quite prepared for anything computer related. It was every other subject that killed me. It was my lack of art classes that kept me from good design. My lack of English classes that kept me from good copyright. My lack of Business classes lead me to make wrong decisions.

Now I'm considering going back to school. But I'll stay as far away from CS as possible.

I once read somewhere that the things you don't know become your Achilles heal. Very true.

Go to school for an education. Not a piece of paper.

Re:Don't get a CS degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568176)

My lack of English classes that kept me from good copyright.

Um, good copywriting, perhaps?

Go to DeVry - they specialize in BS degrees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567908)

Go to DeVry - they specialize in BS degrees. Not "Bachelor of Science", but "BULL SHIT", mind you...

Also, I hear you'll have no problem picking up some electives in cooking meth...

Challenge Yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567910)

The real world is often about communicating. You'll need to discuss requirements, communicate with others, and document your work. You'll also need to be able think independently.

If you get scared off by challenges like simple introductory courses, will you be able to take on real world challenges?

A couple of issues (0)

MicktheMech (697533) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567914)

1) If you don't have a degree, there's no way you are an engineer in any sense of the word. Engineer actually means something. Don't drag us down to your level.
2) If you don't think further education in English, etc... would be useful to an engineer in his job you have absolutely no idea what an engineer does.

Re:A couple of issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568050)

1) If you don't have a degree, there's no way you are an engineer in any sense of the word. Engineer actually means something. Don't drag us down to your level.

2) If you don't think further education in English, etc... would be useful to an engineer in his job you have absolutely no idea what an engineer does.

"Engineer: a person who designs, builds, or maintains engines, machines, or public works." -- American Oxford Dictionary

1) I don't see any mention of a degree in that definition, or any of the alternates.
2) Don't be such an elitist.

Re:A couple of issues (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568056)

Wow, that's the most self obsessed thing I've ever read!

I'm presuming you must be American, one of the few countries in the world in which a "general education" somehow serves one into becoming an "engineer" or a "manager". For years of successfully running a business, and employing both licensed "engineers" and people that just had INTEREST in relevant fields, I can assure you there's no difference.

Except that the "engineers" expect more money for the exact same job.

IMHO: MOST western university educations provides the means to teach, but only if you expect to teach the way current University professors teach. Our whole university system BADLY needs a major overhaul, It does very little but take money from people and make them think they're owed more then they really are.

Re:A couple of issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568086)

Not to quibble with your quibble, BUT, while engineer means something in many places and requires a degree. In many places in Europe, Eng. is appended like PhD or MD to a name and to do so without proper credentials is actually a crime in many places, in the US, it doesn't mean such anything. Professional Engineer (PE) is something else again.

Re:A couple of issues (2)

JudasBlue (409332) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568200)

The general gist of this thread is a good one and getting a degree is a great idea. But CS engineering has no licensing requirements in the US, so no, it doesn't actually mean something. I have met more than my share of people with engineering degrees from third rate state schools who are absolutely abysmal. And equally I have met a very few absolutely brilliant engineers who have no degree at all and are completely self taught.

Again, I don't disagree on the whole with your general sentiment. Nor am I trying to attack state school education, I have met some solid folks who came out of state schools (Berkeley comes to mind immediately). Just that the generic statement that engineer means something in the US is demonstrably wrong. Personally, I don't have much respect for CS as an *undergraduate* degree in general. Folks coming out of Berkeley, Princeton, MIT, Caltech and a few other schools, a BS in CS is a pretty serious piece of paper. But if I had to make a generic call, MS and up is where I would put the engineer tag if you wanted to be really serious about it.

And this slightly less than brilliant original poster, if I were him I would go for one of those life experience degrees from a lower ranked state school, assuming he actually has the life experience, which can require only a couple of semesters of additional coursework if he has enough documentable experience, and then use that to get into an MS program at a not-to-competitive institution (since a top ranked institution won't look kindly on the GED of college degrees). Of course, the odds of him failing horribly due to not having the fundamentals solid is high. But it would meet his personal goals of avoiding as much non-CS coursework as possible.

Re:A couple of issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568234)

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of college, and they all went on to have fairly decent careers.

Claims that one can't be really effective in one's profession unless one has completed prerequisite X or mastered specialized skill Y are usually signs of inflexible thinking.

Gen Ed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567918)

I understand your feeling and I am on the same path myself. However I have also felt that there is something to be learned from the "Gen Ed" classes many of them will give you better insight into society which could assist you in your career, and some may even help you personally. Find classes that relate to your interests outside of computer programming and I think you will enjoy them more than you think,,,

No offense intended, but... (1)

Naurgrim (516378) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567920) to put it politely? Nope, can't think of a gentle way to say it, so quite bluntly, you are an idiot.

You may be the best programmer in the world, but without studying the things you now consider to be a waste of your time, you do not know how to think or communicate.

Being better at what you consider your job is not everything. You need general education to be able to handle all of the other work-place and meat-space things that are not programming related.

Re:No offense intended, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568012)

He's not an idiot. There's nothing to indicate he can't think or communicate already. You are jumping to conclusions, and that sort of tips the scales in favor of concluding that you're more of an idiot than he is.

He has different values than you, and the real shame is that the market can't provide him with an inexpensive solution to his needs. This is mostly the government's fault. Moreover, if he were a true idiot, don't you think the market would punish him for it? He could always go back and finish becoming "well-rounded" after getting feedback from the market.

Re:No offense intended, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568074)

Folks like this are the root cause for all this crap software out there that may solve technical problems but leaves the user scratching her head.

Re:No offense intended, but... (2)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568184)

You may be the best programmer in the world, but without studying the things you now consider to be a waste of your time, you do not know how to think or communicate.

No. This is simply wrong. If you're the best programmer in the world you don't need a general education. How can you say he doesn't know how to think or communicate. I thought his question was very well worded and thought out.

You need general education to be able to handle all of the other work-place and meat-space things that are not programming related.

This is absurd. It's amazing how the majority of the world can get along without their 4 year degrees telling them how to behave in the real world! Also, perhaps you didn't get your BS recently, but let me point out that the cost of 4-year schools is excessive. Perhaps he doesn't have the funds to get a general education.

Transfer Cedits? (1)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567928)

Skills besides programming are very important unless you want to be an underpaid code monkey. You say you have already taken or otherwise have the needed "Life Skills". Well find a good University you want to go to then figure out how much of their Gen-Ed you can skip through by transferring your credits in or getting life skills credit. Other than that if you are looking for programming only, it is called a trade school here, and is worth little more than previous experience in the field.

Good luck. You'll need it. (1)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567936)

You've discovered the fundamental flaw in higher education: it's full of academics, and fundamentally exists to produce more academics, not people who actually get things done. There's more and more thought that the degree is simply not worth the paper it's printed on, much less the crushing debt of student loans.

Give it long, hard, careful thought - and then ask yourself if you need the degree at all. I'm not going to kid you: there will opportunities forever closed to you because the hiring authorities can't see past the piece of paper - but you'll have a fine career nonetheless, especially if you build a demonstrated history of learning things quickly and hitting the ground running.

I don't have a degree. Looking back, I think I made the right choice not to put up with the railcar loads of bullshit that go with academia.

Re:Good luck. You'll need it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568020)

Try not to have such a closed mind as the poster above. Studying English, Philosophy, History will help you develop your ability to think, not just hold facts in your head. Unless you plan to spend the rest of your life writing website shopping carts & forums, you will find that you have to employ your skills to solve problems in domains outside of "Computer Science". Expect to be learning in a wide range of subject areas well outside of computer science. If you don't like that idea, find another career.

Re:Good luck. You'll need it. (1)

augustw (785088) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568080)

Since you haven't got a degree just how do you know it comes with "railcar loads of bullshit"? Sounds to me that you are simply trying to justify your choice. Which doesn't really need justified beyond being your choice

And, to the original questioner: go to an English university. They (mostly) don't believe in broad education, and if you so a BSc in CS there, that's pretty much all you will do.

Re:Good luck. You'll need it. (1)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568166)

I've done time in US universities. I simply didn't come out of the experience with anything to show for it but lousy memories.

Re:Good luck. You'll need it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568094)

I have multiple degrees from top universities and I agree with you. If I were to do it all over again, I'd allocate maybe 20-30k in cash and just take the classes or pieces of a degree I found that would help me go further. This is sort of like Cable TV; I'd rather buy specific channels than the whole package. The market is totally screwed up in this regard.

Also, props to you for making a living without college. I'd rather hold up people like you as an example to my children on what really matters than the sort non-sense spewed out of our schools about what success is and how that success is tied to some piece of paper.

Waste of time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567940)

If you were really interested in getting a college degree, you wouldn't view all non-major related courses as a waste of time. For example, while your major courses obviously will have a great impact on your career, the skills you'll pick up in other courses may give you an edge. In CS, you're not going to learn how to effectively write which might be required for a job in the future. Also, CS relies a lot on logic and you're going to get that in the so-called worthless philosophy courses.

The point of college is to come out well rounded, but seems like you want to be a code-monkey and not a real computer scientist. If that's the case, enroll in the University of Phoenix and be done with it.

Why do you want a degree? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567942)

A college degree is more than just job training. "Wasting precious time" studying other subjects has other benefits such as hopefully make you a more well-rounded person. If money is also a concern you could take prereqs at a community college where tuition is much cheaper then transfer to a university after.

get experience on your resume' (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567950)

Intelligent managers (managers that understand the position they are hiring for, as opposed to PHBs that are looking to fill an empty seat) will understand that experience can be more valuable than education. Four years in an active CS position will teach you more than you're likely to learn in the same amount of time in college.

This does limit your options though - there are going to be PHBs in hiring positions for jobs you may be interested in and very well-suited to, and a lot of them refuse to consider you unless you have that fancy piece of paper to show them that you blew a lot of money on your job hunt. You just need to take this into account when looking for work. Also, just because the opening states it requires that gilded paper doesn't guarantee it's required - if you're really interested, ask them if they'd consider experience and accomplishments on your resume' to be equivalents. A few will.

I know most of my time in college was totally wasted, and I don't mean on beer and parties. It played basically no role whatsoever in my current job. The person that hired me was interested not in my current knowledge, but in my talents and in my ability to learn and adapt/grow. You can't learn that in college, and the smart managers know that.

Humanities - you're wrong (2, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567954)

The fact that you don't understand why you need to learn some humanities, and that you think your secondary education "covered them in detail" only shows that, if you want a career rather than a job, you do need to spend some time on them. Improving your knowledge of English (or philosophy) will make you better at any job where you have to communicate. Learning a bit of history will rapidly teach you why The Art of War is not a useful guide to management, and help you find your way around the companies you will work for, as the same kind of issues constantly come up and get resolved in the same way - as Hegel observed, those who know no history are doomed to repeat it.

Also, since the tone of your post suggests you are male, can I observe that exposure to the humanities tends also to enable you to meet (and discuss interesting subjects with) women? I'm not talking about sex, but improving your familiarity with the people you will meet as soon as you step outside the IT department, some of whom will influence your career.

Re:Humanities - you're wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568142)

as Hegel observed, those who know no history are doomed to repeat it

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". I believe that was Santayana [] .

No. (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567958)

You will not be able to get a good degree without the general education courses. However, you can always pick up a few CS books and do your own research. It's a lot cheaper than paying tuition.

trade school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567962)

You want a trade school, not a university. There's a lot more to a university education than your major classes. It's called being a well-rounded educated individual.

To take the subjects you mentioned, here's how I've seen them impact my life as a programmer (disclaimer, I'm also a university prof---in mathematics)

English: I can't tell you how many docs are poorly written (not just grammar, but everything about the docs and style), not to mention just about everything else in your life.

History: those that don't know it are doomed to repeat it. It's true, to a large extent. Don't be so ignorant.

Art: wow, have you ever seen a UI design by someone that has little concept of spatial representation?

If you really learn nothing in these classes beyond your high school classes, maybe you need to go to a better university, or challenge yourself with harder classes.

You no can have it both ways. (1)

Cookie_Monster_Troll (854586) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567968)

The point of BS degree is general education. If you want BS, you going to have to do general education along with major coursework. If you want degree that only prepares you for job, go to technical college or trade school.

AP Tests (1)

LuniticusTheSane (1195389) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567976)

"Moreover, I attended an excellent high school that covered these fields of study in great detail, and I feel no need or desire to spend more time studying these things." If this is the case, then take the AP Placement Tests and you can skip those courses.

Re:AP Tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568102)

Yes, mod parent up. I walked in to college with 45 hours from AP test (that's 3 semesters). I recall taking 3 required general ed courses and graduated after 3 years. YMMV, but AP and CLEP are great ways to save time and money.

Diploma mill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567978)

This is neither meant to be derogatory nor tongue in cheek

Since you don't seem to want a real BS degree but just want a piece of paper (is this needed by your employer or hindering your career growth?) why not just buy a piece of paper for $100 or so?

For some value of "accredited", these diploma mills are "accredited"

Humanities aren't time-wasters (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567980)

They teach you how to learn things. Very useful if you are going to ever design anything new. If you're just going to code out of the Gamma book, you're missing quite a lot. Patterns don't work well outside their design regime (and Gamma even says so in his book), and it takes some real creativity sometimes to adapt them correctly or design new ones.

If you think learning to communicate better won't help your job, you won't be a very good engineer. It is absolutely critical. As is learning how to persuade, learning a foreign culture and/or language (not even necessarily one you will encounter regularly with your job, but it helps if it is).

And a narrow perspective will put you at very substantial risk of burnout. 5 years into your career, you will get truly sick of writing your 50th test procedure document, and you'll be stuck because that will be your only skill.

You apparently just graduated high school, and think you know it all. Take it from someone with experience, you don't. Not even close. Your first year of college will teach you just how little you really know. It will be a shock.

In short, BAD idea for the long (and even medium) term.

If you think the point of education is to get a spiffy piece of paper no one will EVER look at, you have missed the point.

For similar reasons, I'd suggest steering away from a dedicated CS degree. Maybe as a minor. I can't emphasize enough how useful my physics and math degrees have been.

They may or may not help with your job (2)

mgrivich (1015787) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567984)

They will help with your life. When your boss asks you to do something unethical, what do you do? When you vote in an election, who do you vote for? When you realize that zeros and ones are not all there is to life, what do you fall back on? I am happy if you went to a good high school that gave you the basics. That will prepare you for a good college that will challenge you further, to think and learn in ways that you do not expect.

Shortsighted, but .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36567996)

Your approach is shortsighted as higher education has many purposes (primarily becoming a well-rounded person and citizen and NOT being formed into a strictly utilitarian bullet [following a criticism that Admiral Rickover made of the triumph of utilitarianism in education in the 70's]). However it's your life. Following that your best bet is simply to skip the BS and pursue an MS directly. There may be some places that will let you do this although most will insist on a combined BS/MS program instead. This course might work but is likely to cause you grief if you decide to pursue a PhD because you may not have a sufficiently broad set of educational experiences to draw upon. OTOH this sort of thing was not that uncommon with some scientists in the early part of the 20th century.

University is ... (1)

WWE-TicK (593858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36567998)

University is not trade school. You go there to get educated. If all you know is one narrow field, then you can hardly call yourself educated.

You can do what I did and take the general ed classes at the local community college, then just transfer the credits in. A lot cheaper that way.

And out of all the general ed classes you need to take, I'd have to say the English 101 class is the most important. It's just down right embarrassing to claim that you are educated, but can't even write a coherent paper. And yes, you do that a lot in the professional world. Or in more general, you need to be able to communicate effectively. I know this one senior developer who said one of the best developers he's ever had was a guy whose degree wasn't in CS or related field but in English. And it was simply because he was knew how to communicate his thoughts in a clear and effective manner. His code might not have been as tight and efficient as a CS guy, but in the grand scheme of things that doesn't matter as much as being able to write clear and maintainable code.

Who knows, you might actually enjoy some of those non-CS classes. I know I liked the critical thinking class I took to fulfill a humanities credit. That surprised me because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have signed up for a class like that if I wasn't forced to pick something.

if you must... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568002)

Consider going outside the US. A lot of the gen ed reqs in the US are there to make up for a failing secondary education system. A lot of places in GB and Europe offer fairly narrow programs. They might not take you though.

This is a terrible idea. I think you'd be better off not bothering with the degree. The degree, even without the gen ed reqs, will also "not make you better at your job." A real tertiary education with some breadth might make you better at your career. If you're too cool for a "career," and only interested in being good at your "job," start getting your friends who are getting a liberal education to thanks you now. In 20 years they'll make lots of money running the companies you work for at basically the same salary. But at least you won't waste your time.

Yes. I'm a university professor of engineering. I'm the Man. I'll keep you down. You can't play by my rules, man. I just don't get it.

Don't think that coding is all you need (4, Insightful)

porsche911 (64841) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568006)

Beware: If all you can do is code there's a great chance your job will end up in India. You have to have broader skills now to be competitive. Instead of taking classes in an area you obviously know well (i.e. coding), why not take more general business classes or in the sciences so you can use your coding skills as a tool to solve critical problems rather than being a coder waiting for a problem to get assigned to you? 99% of the people you will need to work with aren't coders and if you don't have any general skills you won't be able to work with them as effectively.

Good luck,

learn to live a life, not make a living... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568014)

I hear ya but there's a lot to be said for being well rounded. You sound very driven and focused on having a successful career but after you get to where you want to be, you might come to realize that there's more to life than your career. A college education is meant to learn to live a life, not to learn to make a living. It sounds like the only place you'd find what you're looking for is a trade school for IT. If you went to one of those trade schools that teach you only CS stuff, (the kind of places that run TV ads to get students), I think this will be worth less to a potential employer than a degree from a University. A BS would from a University would allow you to continue on to a Masters or PhD easier than a trade school degree, if you wanted to go that route some day. My 2 cents.

education vs. vocation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568016)

Sounds like you are interested in a vocational program. A bachelor's degree is about knowledge general knowledge. Basic knowledge is literature, philosophy, economics, history, etc. are all paramount to a good education. Vocational programs, on the other hand, dive deep into a specific subject providing practical hands-on experience to solve real-world problems in industry. Programming and plumbing: vocational. Computer science and computer engineering, on the other hand, are not vocational. Computer science has a significant abstract and non-practical part and in order to tie it to the rest of the world in a good way, the well rounded experience that comes form a good Bachelor's program is a good start.

Many argue that you don't *need* a bachelor's to get that knowledge: absolutely true. However, if you are one of those people that has that knowledge or can get it elsewhere -- then the general education requirements in pursuit of a BS should come easy (to the point of attending no classes and just knocking out homework and taking finals).

Education: it's worth it.

nerd school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568030)

go to nerd school xD

You shouldn't go to University (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568042)

Um Gen-Ed classes WILL make you a better programmer.
So many people say they don't want to take those classes, but after 4 years of real liberal arts study (+ your required field of course) changes you and very few people regret it (except the cost).

Simply put, if that's how you view things, you have no place getting a real college degree, you should go to trade school.

I think you are confused (1)

IgnitusBoyone (840214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568054)

I personally suggest you get over yourself. From your post I get this feeling you skipped collage and are coming back and now feel your to busy to get a degree someone is pressing you to get. If its not the case and you are only 18-22 I suggest you work out away to go to school part time and drop one of your jobs. Some of the best students I find at Universities are Adults who come back. The fact they have families, jobs, and other issues makes them far more dedicated and less likely to waste time. They typically go year round to get the electives out of the way and I don't see why you can't find away to work it out as well. A Bachelors is a specific field type of education which is aimed at a generally rounded higher education with a small focus on some field of study. While the next level of degree a Masters is a specialized degree with pure focus on a single discipline and generally research experience. If that is not what you want to do or you find the process with out merit I suggest you pursue a different piece of paper to prove your worth. Depending on your true work experience and you coding portfolio you can likely just start paying money to take certification exams to sprinkle all over the resume. Get a few certifications in programming languages and then move on to OS admin and maintenance maybe to impress the bosses you could then move on to networking, databases, and IDEs.

I read a few months back that the expectation is that work experience will start to trump education this decade and that the larger business are starting to reverse trends which focus so much on college education. So, it is a direction to take if you feel that college just isn't for you, but it likely won't be any cheaper as the average test cost about the same as a 3 hour course and you will still need books and courses to prep you for the exams that are actually difficult.

You will not find a Bachelors at an decent university that doesn't require you to take Math, Physics, History, English, Physiology, Economics, and many more. Hell of a 120 hours to 160 hours of course work 54 might be in your field with 18-30 going to a minor and the rest to general studies.

CS degress to fit in with work hours (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568060)

Like many people, I had life happen and dropped out of Uni a year in. Trying to fit in the classes now, some 20 years later, to finish a CS degree it is very hard to find the CS courses during non-work hours. Any hints on schools that offer transferable credits to get these CS classes done? The gened classes are easy to find from my local university in an online my own hours schedule.

Neumont University (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568070)

Try Neumont University, they'll get you a BS in an accelerated 2.5 years with (I think) very minimal Gen-Ed requirements. I had some friends who went there and they all enjoyed it.

Seriously - do the GenEd (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568072)

I know it seems like a big waste and such, but seriously... do the general ed. classes. The last thing you need to do is to end up so single-minded that you can't even see a wider world out there.

You know the big stereotype about how geeks can't function socially? Remaining willfully ignorant of everything outside your chosen craft is a big symptom of that.

You may *think* that your high school covered all of that, but honestly, they likely did not. Even if it seems like total crap, you'll likely learn things about art, philosophy, English, history and the like that a high school class could never cover.

I remember thinking the same thing you did a long time ago, while chasing an EE. Then I took the required history class, and gained such a passion for looking into the past, that I minored in it. All it took was a prof that really loved what he taught, and expressed it in a way that touched off an intense curiosity to learn more. The more I learned on my own and beyond, the more I fell in love with where we've been as a whole, and in exploring the past.

Hell, it even helped out in my eng. classes. Proof? Researching why RMS Titanic's electrical systems held out for so long in spite of all that seawater coming in made for one of the most kick-ass papers I'd ever written, and it gave me an incredible respect for electrical technology back then. I wouldn't have given a shit if I wasn't interested in history, and my classmates were too busy analyzing and making shallow papers on the tech-du-jour (mostly centering on what they thought about the upcoming 1993 NEC).

But - you know the biggest reason why you should diversify? My degree is in Electrical Engineering. I took a couple light classes in programming (C++, FORTRAN, PASCAL...), and thought it was a waste at the time, but I had to fill electives. I'm a Sysadmin, have been so for 15 years, and have done programming professionally on occasion. I haven't done jack in the EE field since 1996, and my last license renewal expired a little over a decade ago.

Your career will likely diverge too, and having more than a single-minded subject under your belt will help you greatly, as well as give you alternatives and avenues that you may have never thought of.

It's called a tech school degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568076)

If you don't want to take general education credits, then you don't want a full degree.

Here are the facts of life:
1. You don't need a formal education to write software on your own.
2. You don't need to be a well rounded person to do your job.
3. No one write software as well as they think they do.
4. The point of getting a college education is more than making you better at performing a technical skill.

Print up your own degree! (2, Insightful)

krlynch (158571) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568078)

Fraud is really your only choice. Seriously. No accredited program awarding a BS is going to let you skip out on General Education requirements; your two demands are mutually exclusive. That's intentional. BS programs are not technical college programs (which have their place), and they are not skills certificate programs (which also have their place).

If you don't want GenEd, you have two choices: an AAS degree, or a non-accredited BS/BA program. Few if any of those credits will transfer to an accredited program in the future, however. Accreditation provides a minimal guarantee of "quality", which is why colleges go through the (significant) effort required to obtain and maintain the credential. Caveat Emptor.

A final comment: a few additional things the General Education requirements are likely to teach you are 1) that you don't know as much as you think you do, and 2) a little humility.

Waaah (2)

hymie! (95907) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568092)

Waaah. I don't want to be a well-rounded person able to hold an intelligent conversation with the people around me. I just want to single-minded-ly pursue learning only the few things I want to learn, and not be bothered with knowing anything else. If somebody makes a reference to Big Brother or Jesus or Ahab, I can just look it up on Wikipedia later.

One of the things that happens in college is Growing Up. I highly recommend it.

Why go to school? (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568108)

The question I would have is why do you want a degree? Many of my friends without college degree, some who did go to excellent high schools, and taught themselves skills, have jobs. I assume that the issue is that the two jobs you have is not programming, and they do not pay enough to support 'the life'. People assume a degree in computer science will get a person a job programming computers. Not true. Many, many, many jobs that are available with no professional experience requires a masters. I know more people programming with engineering degrees that with computer science bachelors.

No accredited colleges is going to award a degree without core classes. Since the high school you went to was good, I assume you have a full load of AP classes and are able to get some, at least freshman credit. If not these core requirements can be taken a community college and transferred. You might also look at online schools that test to fudge these requirements. These degrees may or may not be accepted by the employer. I wonder if you have thought about contributing to open source projects to get some experience and see how code it written on large projects, and integrated, then opening up a consulting type situation. People do make good money doing this, and the hours can be flexible.

Just as an aside, two of my friends in college were in a similair situation. They were late 20's, had decent jobs, and made decent money, though often had to work overtime to get it. They had lives, did not live at thier parents house, had cars, had lovers, and both gave up the life to go to school. I don't know if life after school was better for them, but I do think that going through the full process of college, including the evil core classes, made them people who were not laborers but problem solvers. This in terms gave them opportunities they did not have before. I never understood how they did school, I would not have been able to do it at 30 with a job and a life. But they did.

Is the UK an option? (1)

herwin (169154) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568112)

Do a three-year computer science degree in the UK. You will only see computer science.

You sound like a drone (2)

Ice Station Zebra (18124) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568116)

I really would hate to work with someone like you.

Stop scheming and take the damned classes. (2, Insightful)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568134)

First, participating in general education classes is in no way a waste of time. Practicing and learning skills and knowledge in an array of topics is always beneficial and has a greater impact on an individuals effectiveness and ability to interact and collaborate within a society, within groups, and with other individuals. And whether or not your high school education covered the same topics it is unlikely the teachers and material will be identical and unlike many technical courses the general education classes can often provide new perspective and insight simply because you are learning from a different teacher and different book.

Second, if you truly do want a CS degree then stop wasting time trying to figure out how to work your way around the general education requirements and just take the damn classes. The time you spend taking these classes is a drop in the bucket compared to the probable amount of time you have to live and work in a career and hopefully even go back later and take more classes to expand your knowledge, experience, and perspective. It always astounds me when I see intelligent people who have the opportunity but waste precious years not getting an advanced education and usually it is due to the most minuscule barriers such as "I don't want to take the general ed classes, they are a waste of my time".

Just do it.

Then you don't want a BS from an accredited school (1)

sstamps (39313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568140)

Because that is what getting a "real" BS entails, getting a "well-rounded" education.

Instead, it sounds like you are wanting a vocational/technical school degree, which is subpar, compared to getting a BS.

Do note that many colleges allow you to CLEP your way out of certain core requirements courses, which means you take a comprehensive test for that course and, if you pass, you get credit for it with whatever grade you get. The tests still cost money, but not usually as much as the full course. Of course, if you fail the test, you'll be out more money, since you'll have to take the course to get the credit. So, if you feel your high school education was superlative enough to let you test your way out of the "time-wasting" core curriculum, then by all means do so. It will save you time and money. Just don't be too surprised when you reach the limits of your knowledge in them at some point and have to take the courses anyway.

Re:Then you don't want a BS from an accredited sch (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568192)

a BS from an accredited school

I can confirm this. I go to a school where the least technical major is civil engineering. First day of English class, the teacher told us bluntly "I know none of you want to be here, but the organization which accredits us requires English classes."

Germany! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568146)

Come to Germany! You can get a BS in 3 years with almost 0 gen-ed courses (depending on the University). Some CS programs are taught in English. You'll just have to live wiz ze German accent. ;)

better now, better later (1)

Zak_Arcatia (243796) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568150)

Like many of the comments have mentioned, fulfilling the general education requirements of a BS degree /will/ make you better at your job. Learning how to think critically about ambiguous problems and how to apply knowledge from a variety of disciplines will make you better at solving the specific problems you face as a programmer. Those creative skills will also help you later in your career by which time you will likely have grown into broader roles that include project and people management.

It's also worth mentioning that the quality and depth of critical analysis possible in college literature and history classes will surpass that of even very good high school programs.

Choose a trade school. (1)

will381796 (1219674) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568152)

You apparently want job training...not a college degree. A bachelor's degree is not training for a job. It's to teach you how to think and solve problems for yourself. How to absorb knowledge, interpret information and apply it to a variety of situations. Part of that involves studying the subjects you seem to want to avoid. Find a trade school. A college degree is apparently not for you if all you want is job training.

CS degree (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568158)

You should be applauded for wanting to get a CS degree. This will certainly affect the ways you look at computer programs in the future, and especially the programming part of it.

However, my opinion is that you should question the reasons as to why you doubt learning about, for example, English - since that might be exactly that thing that is most beneficial to you.

Allow me to explain by telling you my viewpoint of the story. I started a CS education 15 years ago, with the intention of only learning the computer-related courses in it. There were some courses in "communication" (in Swedish, since that's where I live), that I for the most part didn't like at the time. My view was that learning to write properly and to talk in front of people was a waste of time, since my focus was on creating the most brilliant programs ever created. The math and algorithm courses were more interesting at the time than the courses that got you well-informed of other areas.

However, once I got into my last year and started writing the thesis (for a company), I started seeing other priorities other than the programming itself. I saw people being percieved as bad programmers because they could not relay the intention of what their programs were doing, and I was seeing people being percieved as great programmers because they could get the whole team to start working in the same direction towards the same goal. My view is that being a great programmer is not only being able to write excellent programs, you also have to write the program the fulfills the correct purpose (and not just YOUR purpose).

I would argue that the ability to correctly convey your reasoning behind a design decision is equally as important as the ability to execute on that decision.

Getting back to your case, it seems that you have a proficiency at understanding programming, and learning new programming languages. That is absolutely a must in order to be a good developer/engineer, and you will have that advantage over other people probably for your whole life. The ability to quickly learn new areas is something you should treasure. However, I would encourage you to also learn communication skills, as that (in my experience) will help you equally as much.

Maybe that's just how it works where I live, but I guess it is applicable to other places as well.

You should question the reasons why you don't want to learn something about an area that is not as intuitive as computer programming to you.

That being said, I wish you all the luck in getting a CS degree, you have whole generations of programmers behind you that want you to succeed!

My take (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568160)

Let me drop in my two cents.. I'm a staff engineer (some level vaguely higher than senior, though titles don't mean much really), I've been programming since before 13, I'm paid VERY well, I love my job, I love technology, I love the people I work with, the software I write is ENORMOUSLY deployed... Anyway, ready for my two cents? Here they are: What the fuck is wrong with you, are you fucking crazy?

Anyway, hope this helps.

David J Beveridge hates learning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568164)

Dear David J Beveridge [] ,

While you may not understand the necessity of a general education, most jobs seekers worth hiring understand that generally, one doesn't make a public post on the internet declaring that they don't understand the necessity of a full education.

When an HR monkey or potential hiring manager receives your resume and does a simple google search on David J Beveridge [] , what makes you think this slashdot submission is going to result in a job interview?

Maybe there's something college could teach you afterall, eh?

you're not special - take the gen eds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568170)

CSE programs are meant for people just like you who have a great interest in computer science. 9 times out of 10 someone enrolled in a CS program has 'programmed since 13' and is familiar with 'object-oriented paradigms', this does not make you any different. Suck it up and take the gen-eds just like everybody else has to, it is ignorant to think you are an exception.

In Defense of the Liberal Arts (2, Insightful)

esme (17526) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568188)

While these fields are useful and perhaps enriching, they will not contribute to making me better at my job.

That's where you're wrong. Speaking as a developer with a BA in English, I can tell you that your English, History, and Art classes will make you better at your job. They will make you better able to relate to people outside IT fields, better able to reason and argue logically, and give you a broader perspective of your (and your code's) context.

I can't tell you how many CS graduates I've seen at my workplace, lamenting how worthless their CS classes were because the tools we work with, and the problems we're trying to solve, bear no resemblance to their coursework. I've never heard the same from a liberal arts graduate, because everybody knows the point of a liberal education is to make you able to think critically, and give you the foundation you need to learn anything you need to learn later in life.

The problem is not the schools. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568190)

You can take whatever classes you want for the education. The degree programs generally require gen ed, and there is a reason that you aren't seeing.

Even with the general education, we have plenty of degree holders who don't understand people, culture, and context. You get that from your general education.

Technology classes alone will not be enough for you unless you want to be part of a blue-collar programmer socioeconomic class. As we commoditize the skills you think are your strong points, moving from coding to the application of patterns, black-box solutions to business-aligned ones, the non-contributing coursework will become important to keeping the work meaningful and in focus.

"...English, Philosophy, History, Art and the like. While these fields are useful and perhaps enriching, they will not contribute to making me better at my job."

English - How it can best be said... The weaving of language to make an emotional, intellectual, or aesthetically profound impact.. Not important?
Philosophy - Epistemology: How do you know what you know. Metaphysics: What is real, what makes it so? Ethics: What makes a right act right? Logic: How can you use symbols to enhance reasoning? Not important? Especially logic?
History - What happened and why? Seriously not important?
Art - The expression of meaning in form. The articulation of the most compelling human thought in novel mediums. The study of beauty. Not important?

All those classes are there because somebody new better. As someone who is obviously smart enough to self-teach programming, you're probably a good learner. I suspect later in life you'll wish you had the time to take more of those classes. Instead, you'll be refactoring someone else's bad code, shipping the work you love to do to less expensive off-shore help, and wondering why all that self study you did didn't give you the tools to find meaning in the changes in your work and your life.

Take the classes and enjoy them.

Come to Europe (1)

ocean_soul (1019086) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568194)

There's (almost) no `general education bullshit here.

Test Out, seriously. (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568198)

Most schools will let you test out of courses - you just take a test at the beginning of the semester to demonstrate that you already know what they were planning on teaching you, and they give you the credit. Saves a lot of time. The second time I went to college, I tested out of basically everything but "computer lab," did all my lab work for the trimester the first week (I had been working as a programmer for 2 years and could type 90wpm), and then spent the next few months hanging out in third-year networking classes learning about SNA and the OSI model and all that.

Of course, I could argue that SNA and the OSI model turned out to be a bigger waste of my time than Gen-Ed classes ever could... ;)

I kinda did this (4, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568202)

I was in a similar situation, here is what I suggest:

1) Take the Comp Sci AP test to get you out of the introductory CS courses and get you some credits from the start. The gen-ed courses weren't that bad to take: It may be the CS 101 classes that drive you nuts. "This is a for loop... this is a while loop..." and looking around at all the Art majors who think they can go into Comp Sci for the money and don't understand the concept of a variable.

2) Take any other AP test you think you can. Worst-case you lose money, best case you skip some courses. There is nothing wrong with getting a poor score on an AP test other than the loss of money. But talk to someone who has taken and/or teaches AP courses to get an idea of what you need to know. If you are still in high-school then taking the AP courses is the best approach.

3) Use community college to breeze through gen-eds. I decided on my final college and picked a community college to take my Gen-Ed classes. (I did it for financial reasons though). Pick the schools and classes so you guarantee a transfer. Then take nothing but gen-ed courses in the community college because they will be really easy. If you are as smart as you think, you might be able to do 2 years of gen-ed classes in 1 year. Most of those community college classes will be designed for slackers.

4) Grow up. Those gen-ed courses are actually some of the best parts of college. I am a geek to the core, but I loved discussing Descartes' meditations, studying economics, learning how the eye communicates images to the brain, and debugging why various wars started. If you think you can survive in the world knowing only what is in the computer you will be unable to accurately measure the world around you and efficiently apply what you have learned to your field. You won't be young forever so at some point you will wake-up and realize you aren't the best of the best of the best anymore, and you will want your niche in the real world. Computers are a tool - a means. True success requires more than just the means (your C.S.) to fulfill.

It's not just CS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36568206)

I have 2 programmers working for me, both incredibly smart people. One of them has a comp sci/math degree who does great work and the other an African studies major who will kick the ass of most FOSS developers out there. What I appreciate about is this person's ability to see big picture, plan well, communicate to end users well, and several other attributes not related to her technical experience.

Dude, you are clueless if you really want a BA or BS with no general ed. Go to tech school, focus on the CS skills and then don't complain when you don't have the ability to go beyond your dead end job and always being told what to do.

I also agree with the poster who said not to call yourself an is insulting to real engineers.

what? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568210)

I work 2 jobs and I have a life.

- bzzzzzzzt. What gives you the right to think you can do that and be a computer nerd exactly? Also, how does one have 2 jobs and a life in the same time span?

Where to start... (1)

McNihil (612243) | more than 3 years ago | (#36568216)

I started when I was 11 and thankfully was a bit more open minded regarding courses but also lived in an education climate where we had mandatory curriculum.

My advice is that you need to learn humility and that is best done through the humanities because lets face it the computer is just a hyper mirror of your own super ego.

So how about jumping on something that is really a challenge like "Child rearing 101." Good luck and have fun you might actually learn something substantial.

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