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Ask Slashdot: the State of Open CS, IT, and DBA Courseware in 2014?

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the education-is-cheap,-it's-that-one-piece-of-paper-that's-expensive dept.

Education 84

xyourfacekillerx writes "Not long ago, Slashdot readers answered a question for someone seeking to finish a BS in CS online. I am in a similar situation with a different question. I have spent five years frivolously studying philosophy at a very expensive university, and now I want to start towards an Associate's in CS, and then perhaps a Bachelor's (I want to program for a living; I write code daily anyways). After four hours of combing through Google results, I still don't have much useful information. Problem 1: I am out of money and I have an 8 to 5 job, so on-campus enrollment is not an option. Problem 2: and I have very little to transfer due to the specificity of my prior studies: I don't even have my core English/Language or even math cores to transfer. My questions are: 1) Just where are the open CS courses? Who offers it in a way that's more than just lecture notes posts online? 2) Can any of it help or hinder me getting a degree (i.e. does any of it transfer, potentially? Is it a waste of time? Additionally, any tips about accredited online universities (preferably self-paced) where I can start to get my associates and/or bachelor's in CS at low cost would be useful. I intend to be enrolled online somewhere by Fall, and I am starting my own search among local (Colorado) junior colleges who don't demand on-campus presence like most four-years schools do."

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Translation (4, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 10 months ago | (#46662723)

I spent all my time and money having fun, and now I realize I need an actual job. Help!

Re:Translation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662763)

I don't even have my core English/Language or even math cores to transfer.

It was irresponsible of the university to allow you to study five years of philosophy without doing these.

Re:Translation (2)

Moblaster (521614) | about 10 months ago | (#46663471)

Hold on - WHY do you need a CS degree to work as a programmer? Apparently something like 15% of people working at Google nowadays don't have bachelors degrees. When it comes to hiring developers, if you have relevant experience, that is ALL that is important to MOST companies. Get some web pages together with some interesting Javascript, AngularJS, Backbone, jQuery, whatever. Read a book on developer interview questions and learn how to write a recursive algorithm and reverse an array and perhaps a basic sort or two... this can be done in a day or two. Go find yourself a junior developer position paying $60k per year (not hard in Silicon Valley) and you'll prepare yourself for a $100k job within a year far more effectively than a CS degree... which will prepare you for the $60k job. If you already know how to code, and you are a self-learner, you are 80% of the way there. Move out to Silicon Valley, start combing through craigslist, and call up companies looking for junior roles (speak with a person, don't just email them a resume). If you get past a phone screen and get to an in-person interview, right there you have at least a 25% shot of getting the job. One, three, five or six interviews later... you will be hired an on your way... figure on up to two or three months. If you want to make life easier for yourself, hook up with a few tech recruiters. They will line up interviews for you all day long. Just put "developer" somewhere on your LinkedIn profile and they will start to call you. Stop philosophizing and just move to the center of the action and start acting. It's not as hard as you think.

Technical degrees now a requirement... (4, Informative)

trims (10010) | about 10 months ago | (#46664119)


The vast majority of folks employed in IT/computing these days without degrees are the older generation (30+), who got into the fields before it really solidified. I can count on one hand the number of under-30s I know that don't have a degree in something reasonably technical (math, engineering, CS, etc) that work in IT out here. The opposite is true for the older generation: I have to use two hands, but that's about it, to count the number of aged 40+ people who have a technical degree and work in IT.

Silicon Valley companies all want, for an "entry-level" position: (5) years experience OR a degree in something technical. If you have neither, you'll not get past HR or the recruiters, even for that entry-level position, unless you're extremely lucky.

It's darned hard to find an entry-level job out here, with no experience. And without a technical degree, everyone ignores you. As soon as you have several years experience, well, they ignore the degree, but it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem there. And by "experience", they mean fulltime employment, not "I worked at a job while in college/high school".


Re:Technical degrees now a requirement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46667505)

These are the requirements to get a job:

  • Entry level: dewy-eyed early 20s (better known as "freshers") with little to no experience at negotiating for a living wage. Must be able to craft resume that hits all the required buzzwords and bullshit your way through interview.
  • Mid level: dewy-eyed mid 20s with little to no experience at negotiating a decent compensation package. Expected to have significant experience in the exact set of technologies to be used. H1-Bs welcome.
  • Senior level: jaded mid to late 20s with little to no chance at finding a better job. Expected to have significant experience in the exact set of technologies to be taught to your H1-B replacement or replacements.
  • Executive level: You must be connected, high profile, and willing and able to "press the flesh" for money. Talent is not required, but a talented ego is a must.

Helpful? Not really, but your philosophy degree will better prepare you for the rest of your life as the economy circles the drain. You should have chosen better parents.

Actually, if you want helpful: get a job at a university that offers free tuition (usually 12 credits a year) and has online/night courses in the major you're interested in pursuing.

Disclaimer: I have a B.S. in pure Computer Science and a M.S. in Computational Mathematics. Completely unhireable, because employers think i'm over-educated for any job opening or aren't a good fit for the "culture" (read: not a dewy-eyed 20 year old), I found myself working at a University. For fun, I've written some games and try to take a grad course each semester in whatever I'm interested in at the time. For my job I write programs that have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars (in rank-and-file employees that my employer no longer has to employ --think office automation, document imaging and workflow optimization). Those savings are passed on to hire more executives, pad their compensation package to include a guaranteed job for their spouse, housing stipend, and private school for their kids.

Re:Technical degrees now a requirement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46668437)


I think the best reason to go for a negative income tax in this country (U.S.A.)

Re:Translation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662905)

even niggers are smarter than that

dude this is offensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663259)

Please take your bigotry somewhere else.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663025)

To original questioner:
I know it's not what you're asking for, but here is the link you need: helpful link [oilnorthdakota.com]

Go, get a job, learn how not to be a 5-year dropout philosophy major, and then maybe consider completing a degree in something useful later.

Re:Translation (4, Interesting)

Loki_1929 (550940) | about 10 months ago | (#46663243)

I spent all my time and money having fun, and now I realize I need an actual job . Help!

To be fair, most liberal arts majors never reach this realization. They just get together in dirty groups and complain about how evil bankers are.

Kudos to this individual for connecting the dots and taking some personal responsibility, then acting on it to improve his or her situation.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46664589)

To be fair and factual, a REAL philosophy degree is NOT equivalent to a "liberal arts" degree but is more akin to mathematics. Think Bertrand Russell. Formal logic is supposed to be the foundation of a real philosophy degree and things such as rhetoric, economics, and political science are -- or at least were, once upon a time -- sub-branches of philosophy derived by the application of hard logic to the ascertainable facts (e.g., the question of how governance systems and decisions affects wealth in the society was supposed to be the domain of "political economy" and that wasn't supposed to be mere opinion but, rather, facts and logic).

Of course, once any of these applications gets detached from hard logic and objective facts it becomes a masturbation exercise ... but that speaks more to the deficiency in the teacher and school, and maybe society/governance, than anything else. A physics or engineering degree wouldn't be enough to build anything useful, either, if the school issuing the degree didn't care about mathematics or the government declared war on math and objectivity.

I've known a few real philosophy majors who were also programmers -- and they were awesome programmers, seemingly naturally, and even without formal education in the discipline.

Re:Translation (1)

Antonovich (1354565) | about 10 months ago | (#46668135)

You're posting as AC so this is probably a flamebate, but I'll bite. Jesus, rationalist much? You obviously have a layperson's view of what science is, though admittedly many "scientists" also do. There has always been a good number of (real) scientists that let the so-called masturbaters spray them with a little of the good stuff. Susan Stepney (former engineer, now Prof of Comp Sci) gave an excellent talk at the AISB conference that just ended on this - science is about creating models of the world (and engineering is about turning the models back into the world). But there is always, always a mismatch/error (the epsilon as she calls it) between the abstract theoretical model and the actual world in any given REAL situation. Most laypeople (and unfortunately some scientists) have the romantic notion that they are "discovering truth" and not, in fact, creating models of the world. The use of highly complicated formalisms makes it look like there is something "truthy" about it but unless you are actually a "philosopher" then you need to take the real world into account. This kind of approach and current models are very good for simple "physical" systems but break down, sometimes badly, when complicated things like human beings get involved.

Let's take a real world example - natural language processing. It's something very topical, and very useful. The lay view (also shared by most "linguists" unfortunately) is that there are (abstract?) "ideas" in one's head/brain/mind that are encoded in a medium (like speech, writing, etc.) that are then transferred to someone else's head/brain/mind, decoded and voila, meaning transfer has occurred. It is thought that speech can be chopped up into sentences (clauses), words and then phonemes, so all a computer has to do is take a phonetic analyser, reconstruct the phonemes, words and clauses and voila again. The problem is that it doesn't work. If people speak like they are issuing simple commands then it works quite well but there are many situations where it fails miserably. It appears to be getting better to the lay person with things like Google Now/Siri because of the massive amounts of data being thrown at the problem now but there are still large swathes of natural language that fail consistently. Prof Roger K. Moore (again, engineer turned scientist because the models he was being given to implement just weren't doing the job) gave a very interesting talk at AISB on this yesterday. The problem is that the thought transference model just doesn't work very well, no matter how many resources you throw at it. It misses vitally important (so important in a real-life engineering sense) parts of how language works so fails. More and more scientists are turning to the jizz generators to see whether there might be insights they are missing and it appears there are. Natural language is not a matter of taking semantically invariant "meanings" and transferring them but rather a (extremely) complicated process of spatio-temporally coordinating actions between agents in (real) physical and historical contexts. Meaning is generated (or negotiated) in a highly context and history-dependent way, and if you try and abstract those away, you get the kind of asymptotic performance ceilings (around 75%, which is bordering on useless) that speech recognition has come up against. But many of the masturbaters could have accurately predicted these performance ceilings decades (centuries?) ago, no "hard logic" necessary. Is it possible to create a computer system (model) to implement these insights in the traditional way? In theory yes (with omnipresent sensors and some mega-hardware), in practice it turns out like predicting the weather, so it is much better to attack the problem another way. When you take the real world into account, natural language processing becomes almost intractable if you think about it in traditional reductionist ways.

Maybe it's better to think of it this way - the philosophers (and much of the humanities) work on the axioms, scientists use the axioms to create models, and engineers implement the models in reality. Engineers needs scientists and scientists need philosophers, or our next iThing will suck just as much as the current one.

To be fair and factual. Bankers are evil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46667793)

To be fair and factual. Bankers are evil. So are their minions: corporate leaders and politicians.

I say this as someone with two technical Master's degrees, but no hope in hell of ever getting a paying job that would even cover my expenses in this shitty oligarchy-led economy.

Sure bring on the H1-B slaves.

I repeat. To be fair and factual. Bankers are evil. So are their minions: corporate leaders and politicians.

Re:Translation (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 10 months ago | (#46664093)

That said, you'd be better off completing your current degree.

Most companies are just looking for a degree and work experience rather than looking specifically for a CS degree. I've worked with very good programmers who had degrees in philosophy, business administration, history, and even an english major.

A degree proves you can learn on your own and that you have the persistence to finish a long term project; it does not prove you are a programmer or any other career choice.

That said, one of the key factors of a degree is that it comes with a rounded education. What kind of shit school did you go to that you've gotten this far without basic courses in english, humanities, mathematics, etc.? I wasn't even allowed to take most of my computer courses without such "irrelevent" credits in my course history.

Re:Translation (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 10 months ago | (#46664321)

No, that's how it USED to be. "They want a degree, any degree, it shows that you can learn" is why we have so many liberal arts majors and why

These days companies don't want to teach you anything. They don't care if you can learn. They want to hire you, use you, and them dump you the moment that it's convenient. Teaching costs money. And there are plenty of educated workers overseas wanting in.

And hey, I think it's a reasonable request that the university that you just paid tens of thousands of dollars to give you some marketable skills. If you ask them to at least.

But if he already has the capabilities to crank out some code then he has value that companies want. Maybe a bullshit degree will open a couple doors that wouldn't otherwise be closed to him. But don't lend credit to the lie of the liberal arts degree.

Re:Alternate Translation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46664317)

"I was an idiot and made poor choices, and didn't do the necessary preparation to have a fruitful life."

Too bad. I guess idiots can get into college pretty easily these days. :-P

Why do you need to go to school? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662769)

You already code. You already can read books and learn to code. You have a degree in philosophy, and can obviously think in a structured manner, so why go back to school? Some of the best coders I know did NOT go to school for code.

Re:Why do you need to go to school? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662799)

Because... eeeeeeeeeeeeeeverybody's gotta go to college/university! We've been indoctrinated to think so.

Re:Why do you need to go to school? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663499)

I agree, but I'm not clear from the question that the degree in philosophy was actually secured.

I'm an EE, but there are plenty of very good CS texts out there that good give a very wide foundation.

Answers: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662789)

#1 - Cousera.org for interactive courses: online lectures, notes, assignments AND feedback; grades.

#2 - No online free or open courses transfer or count to a degree form a Univ. Although, if you get a chance to go, the course work will be review and you'll do better. As far as the other questions, the answers are no.

Try the OU (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662813)

I took the "regular" route and went and did a BSc in computing straight after college.

However many of the more mature people I work with that went back to learning did it via the Open University: http://www.open.ac.uk/

OK... this is a British Institution - but I dont necessarily see why you would be barred from using it (distance learning) from elsewhere in the world.

The OU is highly regarded here in the UK. And it's very flexible in it's approach. Plus the bachelors they award ARE REAL... not like some of those 2 a penny degree's you see offered by ... well.. fraudsters.

email me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662823)

How are you with Java? Our FOSS needs a dev. Google qz-print. Will compensate. :)

Degree != Job (1)

jmkaza (173878) | about 10 months ago | (#46662831)

Rather than looking for schools, start looking for jobs. To be a doctor, you need to go to medical school, to be a lawyer, you need to go to law school. To be a programmer, you have to know how to code, and your post implies you already do.

Re:Degree != Job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663127)

Good luck getting a programming job without any sort of degree, you'll never get past the HR wall.

Re:Degree != Job (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663149)

There's still value to a degree. First of all, there are some jobs that won't consider someone without one.

Secondly, while CS is "theoretical" and is not per se programming, many of the concepts are valuable to know. I went back primarily to learn the theory, and I have found it useful in my work... Granted, I the line of work I'm in is a bit more interested than much of the generic business programming.

Since much of the theoretical stuff is very hard to teach yourself, I felt my time would be better invested in having the class room experience of knowledge and tests. I also felt working towards a degree would serve a dual purpose, rather than reading Wikipedia articles on Computer Science stuff and either getting overwhelmed or believing I understand things I really don't.

Local State Colleges (2)

dgreer (1206) | about 10 months ago | (#46662837)

Check with the smaller or newer local state colleges. There is a big push among the small schools and lesser known schools to have "$10,000" degrees, where you pay a set fee ($10K is common, though I've heard some that are $12K) for a set 4 year program. Some get there by mixing local community colleges into the mix. You might even be able to negotiate a discount, given as you have some of the prereqs already (english, language, history, etc.) if you've gone very far in your current degree plan.
    I know that Texas A&M San Antonio, which just opened a few years ago, has this in their CS Dept.

Good luck finding it... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662867)

Open courses are getting harder and harder to find as the Republicans are making more and more of it illegal. They hate information and learning so they are punishing people that try to educate others.

Re:Good luck finding it... (0)

slugstone (307678) | about 10 months ago | (#46663005)

Did not know the fall of series of tubes is just because of the Republicans.

edx (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662869)

I'm currently doing the CS50 course Harvard offers on edx.org

In addition to lectures and notes there are lots of supplemental videos, code examples, assignments etc. I'm finding it very nice when I actually make myself do it. Then again this is not getting me any closer to a degree.

Re:edx (1)

Jakeula (1427201) | about 10 months ago | (#46663203)

I am also doing an edx course, and I think this is a pretty smart route to take. If you already have a degree in something, all you really need to do is prove that you have the chops to work as a programmer. Edx offers the ability to pay for the course and get graded, and at the end receive a certificate signed by the University offering the course.

What's even cooler is that they offer something called XSeries courses, and as the name implies, you take a series of courses and at the end of that you get a cert that says you are proficient in a specific focus. Right now I am taking 6.00.2 and I took 6.00.1 already. I am taking it because I wanted to learn more about data analysis, and once I complete part 6.00.2 I will get something signed by MIT saying that I know some stuff about computational thinking and data science. My company is also going to pay for me to take a course on SaaS that has two parts, but I am not sure that it will be an XSeries. I will however still get 2 certs saying I understand how to build, deploy, and maintain SaaS applications, and this one is done by Berkeley.

Basically, if you already have a degree, you just need some additional resume pieces to get you in the door, and I think these courses allow for that. You have formal education, and then you have major Universities saying you know at least the basics. That should get you an entry level programming gig at the least.

Did you attain a bachelor degree? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662899)

Did you attain a bachelor degree? If so, you *may* be able to skip a BS CS, and go straight to the MS CS. I've not done it myself, but I have friends who attained a BA in Russian literature, then attain an MS CS without any extra work. He did this in the evenings, while working a full-time desk job. He had to take out loans to pay his tuition, but it was worth it to him. Then again, this was just over a decade ago, and the cost of tuition has exploded since then.

Re:Did you attain a bachelor degree? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662957)

but I have friends who

Sorry, that should be "a friend" not "friends."

Re:Did you attain a bachelor degree? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663559)

I couldn't figure that out either, 5 years should have been able to secure a bachelor and masters, but I suspect neither was secured.

"I have spent five years frivolously studying philosophy at a very expensive university", studying != graduating

Re:Did you attain a bachelor degree? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46667649)

I couldn't figure that out either, 5 years should have been able to secure a bachelor and masters, but I suspect neither was secured.

"I have spent five years frivolously studying philosophy at a very expensive university", studying != graduating

Heh, more likely in 5 years, "studying" = (drinking & getting laid), with little actual "studying" if he doesn't have a degree by then.

This is timely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662903)

I have for years been thinking of getting out of pure systems administration (Linux and Windows) and moving over into the DBA camp. Over the years I have never seen a good DBA out of work. I've seen plenty of sysadmins dropped and outsourced to the subcontinent.

College with Evening/Weekend Classes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662909)

I did a hybrid program through DeVry University that was Friday nights from 6-10pm and then Saturday mornings between 8am and noon. Then it also had an online portion to that program that you could do during the week at your own pace. When I did it, it was basically reading and homework, and then we had to post to the web forum twice a week. It was pretty accomodating in terms of people with jobs as I worked full time when I did the program. It's at least worth looking into if you are just looking for the piece of paper. I went to a 2 year tech school in high school so I didn't really learn much that I didn't already know while I went there, but I did get the piece of paper.

online options (5, Informative)

niado (1650369) | about 10 months ago | (#46662917)

Western Governor's University [wgu.edu] and Excelsior [excelsior.edu] (both non-profit) are the best online options, especially if you want self-paced. They are both very cost-effective and regionally accredited. You should check out the details of the programs that each offers to see if they provide what you want. I know WGU's IT programs are very solid, but I'm not sure about their software development options. I know they just recently added a Software Development concentration option for a Bachelor's degree, but the program guide hasn't been posted yet so I'm not sure of the exact courses offered.

If you end up getting your bachelor's, Georgia Tech [gatech.edu] now offers their well-respected MS in CS degree online. The admissions requirements are stricter than the online-only schools, but not too onerous.

If you don't really want a degree, but would like some formal training, Stanford [stanford.edu] and MIT [mit.edu] both have strong no-credit open course ware offerings - they also have paid-for online certificate programs.

Re:online options (1)

Rinikusu (28164) | about 10 months ago | (#46663729)

WGU looks like a decent deal. How are they with the computer science fundamentals or are they just a code school?

The curriculum really looks like a glorified "code school", but at least they're affordably priced. For someone who just wants the bach to get past the HR filter, I imagine it could be decent, but I do worry if they're skimping on algorithms/design to focus on a certs based degree. I admit that for some, that's all that's necessary.

Re:online options (3, Informative)

niado (1650369) | about 10 months ago | (#46664745)

WGU looks like a decent deal. How are they with the computer science fundamentals or are they just a code school?

The curriculum really looks like a glorified "code school", but at least they're affordably priced. For someone who just wants the bach to get past the HR filter, I imagine it could be decent, but I do worry if they're skimping on algorithms/design to focus on a certs based degree. I admit that for some, that's all that's necessary.

WGU is essentially a vocational school that is accredited to award bachelor's and master's degrees - which, as you say, is what many people need. Most of their IT degrees do not cover any computer science to speak of, and they don't pretend to. Their degrees are "Bachelor's of Science in Information Technology" with various concentrations - network administration, network design and management, security, etc.

WGU hasn't released the program guide for their new "software development" degree yet, but their current "Software concentration" degree [wgu.edu] is very light on theory, and contains several practical IT certifications [wgu.edu] . I expect the software development degree will be a variant of this.

You're just not going to get a strong "computer science" degree at a cheap online school. In my opinion this isn't much of an issue, since most IT career paths really just require a vocational education anyway. Most people don't really care about CS theory (and most don't really need to) - they just want skills that are applicable to a job.

Re:online options (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46665963)

WGU is heavily (exclusively(?)) Microsoft oriented technologies. If it does not say C# and or .NET then it ain't taught.

Common . . . (1)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about 10 months ago | (#46662931)

I'm trying to be polite, but it sounds like you're really into educational programs. Way too into them. In this age we live in, I'm pretty sure that you were aware at the time you enrolled that studying philosophy doesn't translate into a job, it's not like you were attending Cambridge with Wittgenstein just before WWII. I think you've done enough programs, seriously you want to do an Associates than a Bachelors after working through a philosphy degree?

A Modest Suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662965)

Congratulations on your studies in philosophy, and I hope they resulted in a degree of some sort. If they did, it seems safe to say that you understand the rules of logic.

I'd suggest that you think about what employers in your area you might want to work with. Then, contact people at those employers, ideally not the HR drones, at least initially. Inquire about whether they think a degree is vital in their work and in their workplace. If not, ask them how they would expect a candidate to prove their abilities. Form relationships, and this might get you a job without your needing to go through HR. It will also give you some idea of what you'll really need to succeed in "coding," where the day-to-day demands might turn out not to rely terribly much on the material taught in a CS curriculum. Keep in mind that "CS" is a relatively new field, and much of the "success" of CS may be due to the rapidly increasing capabilities of hardware rather than the knowledge and techniques sold by CS faculties.

Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662969)

I wouldn't worry, with that degree you'll probably end up as manager of the development teams.

Company Paid Tuition Reimbursement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46662973)

Assuming that You have a undergraduate degree, you can get a job at a large corporation. It doesn't matter what exactly, but something in your desired field would be helpful. Use your tuition reimbursement to pay for computer science classes at school that offers online or tele-learning. There are several schools that do this and more all the time. Getting a Masters of Computer Science degree will be much cheaper and quicker than starting all over with another undergraduate degree. If you don't have the undergraduate degree finished and can't finish it, then you do the same thing, but with undergraduate classes. Since you need to work to support yourself, choose an employer that will pay for your part-time class schedule.

You don't need a degree in CS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663053)

Many programming jobs that require a degree simply require experience plus a degree in ANYTHING. Your past degree will work, just prove you have the experience and attempt to explain how your philosophy education helps you in solving real world problems (it does, philosophy is the basis behind all math and the scientific process).

Re:You don't need a degree in CS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663617)

"I have spent five years frivolously studying philosophy at a very expensive university", He got a degree? not so sure.

The BS school has to be respectable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663063)

Cheap is nice, but cheap probably won't get your foot in the door. It's how the game is played.

Why is on campus not an option? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663109)

Why is on campus not an option?
I completed an Associates Degree in Information Systems at a community college about a decade ago.
Right now I am working through a BS in Computer Science at the State College. I do all of my classes in the evening, with no classes earlier than 5:45. It has created some annoyances, but I should be graduating in a few years.
For the classes that are absolutely never offered at night, I have done Graduate courses for undergraduate credit and "independent studies." If your job is really 8 to 5 there's quite a lot that can be done at night.
I've heard good things about WGU, but they don't have a Computer Science program. I believe it's more Information Tech/software development type stuff.

Also, I doubt you will find an associates in "Computer Science." You will more likely find either Information Systems or Programming. Although I did Information Systems, and a lot of my lower level courses did apply to CS my undergrad major (Programming 1 and 2, Assembly Language, etc) some of it did not. You might be better off getting your English, Math (I'd recommend at least through Calc 2), lab sciences, humanities etc. It's even better if you can find a community college which has a transfer agreement with a four year school. Many times they will waive some GE requirements.

There's a lot of overlap between CS and Philosophy (5, Funny)

johnnys (592333) | about 10 months ago | (#46663121)

Philosophy questions:
1. Why?
2. Why is life a living hell?
3. What did I do to deserve this?

CS questions:
1. Why?
2. Why is life a living hell?
3. What did I do to deserve this?
4. What evil b*st*rd wrote this g*d*mn*d compiler?

Re:There's a lot of overlap between CS and Philoso (1)

QRDeNameland (873957) | about 10 months ago | (#46663765)

Man, I wish I had mod points. That was brilliant.

Re:There's a lot of overlap between CS and Philoso (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663901)

There is an over-lap (IMHO). What of the study of logic in philosophy and its applications to computer programming?

Anyhow, maybe the OP should have done it like me???

1. Started in IT (not IS) around 17/18 yrs. of age.
2. While working full time, I studied part-time. Got my associate in comp sci.
3. Over the years, moved from purely tech, to tech management, to business and tech management over the years (I'll be 36 this April).
4. While doing 3, I applied for and completed an MBA (accepted primarily based on my experience as a business manager).
5. With the above complete (or in progress), I recently decided to do a BA in Philosophy (via London External) for purely personal, not profit, reasons.

I'm wondering why the OP decided to start with philosophy to begin with? I think it can be a very useful first under-grad. Critical thinking skills, understanding complex documents, etcetera. Very transferable skills. Also, the big questions are still interesting to think about and argue. They say undergrads in Phil do well on LSAT and GMAT. If he was just doing it to be elite or act elitist, like some people do, then yeah, bad idea. If he did it because they were genuinely curious, maybe wanted to apply it to work or other people's lives, something like that, explain it to others, something positive, then cool.

Anyhow, my two cents.


Re:There's a lot of overlap between CS and Philoso (1)

WinstonWolfIT (1550079) | about 10 months ago | (#46665863)

There's a lot of truth to this. I don't hire anyone without commercial experience as there's nothing that you learn in school that prepares you for the real world, but a CS degree is only one of the things I look at. I hired a Polish immigrant once without applicable tertiary qualifications once because he came highly recommended, had highly relevant experience, and nailed the interview. Best developer I ever hired. Frankly, two developers of equal experience and interview, the Philosophy degree to me would win out.

Complete the Philosophy Degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663201)

Your best bet, quite honestly, is to get your degree in philosophy. After five years, I certainly hope you are close to completing the degree. Not to be unpleasant, but if you aren't close to getting your degree in philosophy, your chances of starting from scratch and completing a computer science degree are slim.

Once you have a degree, that will be enough for you to get a job doing software development. Many places actually like hiring software developers who have non-traditional backgrounds.

Transfer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663253)

Transfer your philosophy degree to a cheap school and finish.
Many Universities will waive much of the Gen Ed requirements if you already have a BS degree from a real school. A State four year should serve this purpose.
You could then go back to complete your BS in comp sci, or even get into a graduate or certificate program for Comp Sci at a state school.

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) (1)

dont_jack_the_mac (2882103) | about 10 months ago | (#46663289)

You can find a lot of open CS courses from prominent universities offered online with lecture videos, assignments, projects, the works:

edX [edx.org]
udacity [udacity.com]
coursera [coursera.org]

Some offer certificates, but most universities won't accept these. You can try to get the silly credits like English requirement done at a community college which will offer night classes. If you can't give up your 9 to 5 then you can attend a state school or community college part time. Some employers partner with state/community colleges for internships and jobs such as Lone Star College and HP (which actually share a campus in northwest Houston!).

Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663363)

I went to college for Math/Computer Science and the only classes I took that are of any use to this day are the Philosophy ones.

No degree, high paying job, no more bills . . . sounds like someone should have paid attention in Philosophy.

University of Maryland University College (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663489)

First the Community College method is a wise choice. These institutions are far more flexible and significantly cheaper than conventional college's. Get any baseline and low level course you need that way. As for the eventual 300 & 400 level course let me suggest University Of Maryland's University College. UMUC was created to provide distance learning for DOD and Government employees stationed around the world but is open to anyone and is a fully accredited college of the University of Maryland system. Check out: http://www.umuc.edu/ for details, fees schedules, programs offered, etc.

Extremely affordable state univ computer degrees (3, Informative)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#46663503)

There is a way to get a bachelor's degree from a state university, and a bunch of well-known certifications at the same time, for only a few thousand dollars. I'm sort of doing what I'm about to describe, though I could have saved myself more money by planning ahead. I did earn six college credits this week, though, which cost me about $100.
Western Governor's University ( http://wgu.edu/ [wgu.edu] ) has IT programs in which most of computer related classes are based on passing a test.
Specifically, they use industry recognized certification tests from COMPTIA, Microsoft, etc. So passing one of these tests gets you both course credit and a certification.

At WGU, you don't pay per-class. Instead, tuition covers a six-month time semester. You can take and pass 20 classes if you want to. That allows for the following strategy:

Look at the list of certifications that make up a specific degree.
Study for those certifications using Professor Messer or other free resources.
When you're ready to take six certifications, register for WGU.
Take those six tests in the first two weeks of the term (24-32 college credits).
Take non-certification tests like Math, which I just took after a couple of days of study (6 college credits).
Begin studying for the next set and get those done in the remaining five months. (12 college credits).

In that way, you will have earned 48 college credits and received several certifications, while paying only $2,800 for the term.
Depending on your level of pre-existing knowledge and the amount of time you put in, you might well be able to complete a BS or BA in 18-24 months, paying $8,400 for your degree and certifications.

WGU is an accredited university founded by 19 governors that is considered a state university in many states. I just now took my math final on my lunch break, sitting at my desk at work. They use a webcam for proctoring to make sure I'm not cheating. It took me maybe three hours of study and one hour testing to pass the math class, which is 3 credits.

PS - message me for a waiver of application fee (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#46663537)

PS - WGU students can refer potential students and send them a code that waives the $65 application fee.
Message me if you're interested in looking into it.

fishy smell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46665167)

scam much? [google.com]

Yes, just like all state universities (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#46665313)

Yes, just like the other state universities in Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.
(WGU is a state university in those states).

https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

BTW, you might want to read the first link in those search results for the search you posted. Quite obviously you didn't bother.
It sure is amazing that a school with only 43,000 students each year has a couple who were unhappy.
WGU graduates more students every year than Harvard, Princeton, and Yale put together. With that number, there's certainly going to be a few people who are unhappy that they didn't accept a certain class for transfer or whatever.

Re:PS - message me for a waiver of application fee (1)

smylingsam (312959) | about 10 months ago | (#46667763)

I happen to be in the market for an online AA, can you send me the link for wgu admission? NB: your email is hidden so I cant pm you :>

done. disclosure: I get a friggin T shirt (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#46673997)

I submitted your email address, which I assume triggers their system to send you a link, or a real person from WGU will email you.

Full disclosure :You get the application fee waived , I get $20 credit for the school store, where I could get a WGU T-shirt or something if I wanted one. No thanks, I'll get a Texas Task Force One shirt from work. :)

B-Ark (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | about 10 months ago | (#46663519)

"Ah, now don't misunderstand me," said the Captain, "we're just one of the ships in the Ark Fleet. We're the 'B' Ark you see. Sorry, could I just ask you to run a bit more hot water for me?"

Do you have any degree now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663573)

It sort of sounds like you never completed a degree at all. If so, I'd focus on completing your philosophy degree or whatever major you have the most transferable credits towards. That way at least you can show that you have the follow-through to complete an educational program. Then focus on getting an entry-level programming position, there's huge demand out there if you look in the right places (you will of course have to work hard on your networking skills with no practical experience and an unrelated degree).

I think a proper degree in an unrelated major will still be a better merit than some online degree people haven't heard about.

Another Option (1)

onproton (3434437) | about 10 months ago | (#46663709)

I am in a similar situation and I found an IT BS program at Colorado State University (CSU), called "Global Campus," that fit my needs fairly well. As a bonus the program is tailored for individuals who already have college credit, making transferring classes much, much easier. (I had 96 and they accepted 81 of my previous - I was majoring in biological sciences & wanted to switch to IT) That being said I don't know if an IT bachelors will really prepare you for a programming career, but since you say you already write code I'm sure you wouldn't have too much trouble. If I'm not mistaken they also offer certificate programs as well as MS/BS

Some names for you (1)

HBI (604924) | about 10 months ago | (#46663713)

Thomas Edison State College
Excelsior College
Charter Oak

Check one of these out. They can help you. (assuming you are 25 or over)

Critical Thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663811)

Why are you posting this here? This place, as far as most posters, is full of people who couldn't possibly comprehend philosophy (see post below, duh) and are basically intolerant, head-up their-arse morons. Just because technology is the thing doesn't make them bright and if you really expect to see it in the work place then you're deluded. Why would you say what you said and basically open yourself up to this? My advice would be to definitely not follow this post as you are just going to get shit on (mostly because YOU made yourself look stupid). In light of this, my advise is to go where you would somewhat be appreciated. Ignorant people think philosophy is bullshit especially coders but I'm guessing you probably have some social skills and maybe a girlfriend which they don't. However, posting this points to something you may want to look at seriously.

Pick any two (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46663869)

Better, faster, cheaper - pick any two. Didn't this same question just come up? If you're out of money, buy some inexpensive Dover books on set theory and computer science.

Colorado State or CU (1)

RandCraw (1047302) | about 10 months ago | (#46664595)

Consider Colorado State. They offer numerous on-line-only degree programs. Look at their Master's program in Computer Science.

(There's no point in earning another bachelor's when a MS is just as fast and requires only 10 semester courses. It's done all the time. I did it with a BS in zoology. You usually take a couple prerequisite courses at a local comm college then enroll as a grad student.)

http://www.online.colostate.ed... [colostate.edu]

I assume you live in Colorado and would pay a lot less for in-state tuition there. That's why I suggest CSU. Or University of Colorado.

http://cuengineeringonline.col... [colorado.edu]

I strongly recommend Georgia Tech's new MS in CS too. For the price, I'm confident you can't do better, although it will take several years before GT can offer courses on the full range of CS topics.

If you could pony up $50k somehow, you might also consider Stanford or Columbia, both of whom offer excellent MS in CS programs entirely on-line.

Personally I would stay VERY FAR away from schools that are on-line ONLY. AFAIK, all major tech employers have no respect for them. If you compare the workload (difficulty of textbooks, homework, and exams) with those at excellent state schools (like Georgia Tech), they do not compare well.

If you do consider such a school, I strongly recommend you contact several managers at companies you respect (via LinkedIn?) and ask if they hire graduates from those schools. Don't just assume that they do. And avoid HR staff. They know little about assessing candidate abilities.

Look at City University of Seattle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46664713)

City University of Seattle (www.cityuseattle.com) has on-line BS Degrees in Information Systems and Computer Systems. CityU is a private non-profit university rated in the top 50 on-line schools by US News and World Report. CityU has been working with employed learners since it started 40 years ago (including teaching classes on ferry boats), and accepts most credits from other schools. It also has a prior learning program that recognizes skills learned elsewhere. CityU also offers Master's degrees in Computer Systems and Information Security.

Regis University (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46664871)

Regis isn't exactly cheap, but it's in Colorodo, it has a fully-online B.S. in CS program, and the program is ABET accredited. I am 3 years in going parting time and it works for me despite the 25% of travel my work requires. As long as I can get internet access at a hotel (or my phone hotspot) I am good.

Just sneak in! (1)

sootman (158191) | about 10 months ago | (#46665509)

Start working at a medium/large-ish company in any random capacity.
Start solving problems with code.
Piss off I.T.
Eventually join I.T.*

Source: my career at a publisher, 1995-present.

Education: BA, History, 1995. Math minor.

* Optional; not recommended.

Re:Just sneak in! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46667129)

Best answer so far!

Re:Just sneak in! (1)

tudd (3604977) | about 10 months ago | (#46667307)

I like this comment! My advice is that you should be ready to take baby steps to get to where you want to be in your career. With no proven real-world experience you may not be given the opportunity, or if you're being honest with yourself, be ready to be paid to code. Take a job somewhere that has a tech department in some capacity and over time by working WITH them in some capacity you may be given the chance join them. If that doesn't work out for whatever reason you use your degree to get interviews. At the interviews your experience will shine through as confidence. Employers pick up on this and with persistence, luck, or both you'll land a job that you want instead of one that you need. Don't be afraid to start small. As long as you're performing point #2 above of "solving problems", you're valuable. If you're capable of doing this with code, then you'll be paid to do so.

Master Degrees (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46665733)

I can't tell if you completed your degree or not. If you did complete it, there are some programs out there that will allow you to get a master's degree without having a computer science undergraduate degree. Harvard's Extension School [harvard.edu] has what appears to be a reasonably good program for this. They also have some certificate programs that give you something to put on your resume as you work your way toward a degree. Here [markshead.com] is a review of the program from a few years ago. I believe Georgia Tech has a similar program.

If you haven't graduated, it might be worth considering how much it would be worth to you to go ahead and finish your degree regardless of the field. If it lets you get a master's degree in an area where you already have technical skills as opposed to starting at an associate degree level, finishing a degree in philosophy might be a good step toward your goal.

Open University Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46666521)

Try OUA. They offer BS in CS 100% online. The CS major is actually from Swinburne Tech Uni, one of the best tech uni's in Australia and high-ish on the international listing.. The electives can be units completed from any of the other 12 uni's under the OUA agreement. If the Aussie $ falls against the USD again then the price is very reasonable about USD1,000 a unit.

Welcome to the Republican Party! (1)

MrWin2kMan (918702) | about 10 months ago | (#46667501)

Major universities all across our nation have long been doing a disservice to their customers, students, by pushing philosophy, psychology and kinesiology degrees on unsuspecting, easily duped children, only to have them turn out in droves for the 'Occupy Wall Street' camp meetings, and Obama rallies. Welcome, finally, to adulthood. Now I'll step off my soapbox, and tell you that your best bet is to start at the beginning and get your lower division requirements taken care of at your local community college, where it will be much cheaper. I've followed exactly this plan over the last two years. I started college in 1981, dropped out in 1985, and occasionally took some classes in the years since. It was only recently as my draught came to live with me to attend college that I finally resolved to get it done. I had to retake 7 or 8 classes, and finish off the English and Math requirements. Then I found a couple more classes required by the university CIS program that I could take at the JC and save a couple thousand bucks, Now I'm in my first semester at ASU and doing pretty well for a 49-year-old. I have a two year plan to finish my Bachelor's degree, while simultaneously taking some Linux courses at another local JC. School is more important than ever, but it has to be the right courses, and for the right reasons. Sounds like you have taken the first step. From here, don't lookmfor the easy way, or the fast way. Do it right.

Start your own business (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 10 months ago | (#46667781)

Rather than wasting more money on useless universities, buy some books, read them and start your own business.

Philosophy may help you (1)

thatjavaguy (306073) | about 10 months ago | (#46668295)

A non CS degree may stop you getting a development job in some companies - but not all.

Your degree should have taught you to think, to write, to organise your thoughts, to ask questions etc. All of these are highly prized by employers, I see far too many developers who are great at cutting code without thinking and who can't communicate well.

Don't simply think that you MUST get a CS degree to continue; get enough core knowledge to program well. Build something. Contribute to an open source project (most FOSS projects would welcome literate people to help write documentation or to write additional test cases etc). Create an app for Android or iOS etc

One of my sons is just finishing up a Philosophy degree and I would employ him in a heartbeat because he has excellent communication skills, is well organised and most of all - knows how to think about a problem.

Good luck!

Athabasca University (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about 10 months ago | (#46673799)

Athabasca University is a leader in distance education in Canada. Have a look at http://www.athabascau.ca/ [athabascau.ca]

They have tutors on-line, by email. I once met one of their tutors, answering students' question part-time while he was working full-time as a programmer in Montreal, which is the other end of the country from Athabasca. Yes, the tutors are actual practitioners, and may be anywhere on the net.

You might find it to your liking. Check out the cours listing and see if it's what you're looking for.

-- hendrik

Cutting to the chase (1)

EricTheGreen (223110) | about 10 months ago | (#46680547)

1. No fully online AA program will be accepted as meeting prereqs for any BS degree worth your time or effort. Self-directed learning is great, but none of it currently hold any rigor in the eyes of academe or the evaluators reviewing your transcripts for transfer credit.

2. No fully online BS program will get so much as a whiff of attention from HR at a decent company. See comments on "academic rigor" above.

3. If you are serious about making development your profession, write a ton of code, contribute to open source projects where you can, build a reputation and contacts in a few developer communities so that, if you're actually any good, they can help get you in the door somewhere. Protip: coding a solution to a painful development problem (library, tool, etc.) goes a long way in this regard.

4. Prepare for your 8 - 5 life to collide with the above repeatedly and decide how much impact pain you're willing to tolerate.

Finish philosophy degree, study CS on your own. (1)

GrantRobertson (973370) | about 10 months ago | (#46744401)

Others have said it, so I am just adding my "vote."

If you haven't finished the philosophy degree, then go ahead and finish that (as you have time and money) because any degree is better than none. As someone who is "this close" to finishing my degree, sometimes I feel that hurts me more than if I had never started. (Yes, when I get some money, I will finish mine too.)

Don't waste your time or money on a CS degree. In my meager experience, for real-world programming, they don't teach much more than can be learned from some good books. Of course good books are hard to find too. Read reviews and ask friends for recommendations. A lot of programming books start strong and turn to crap about half-way through. If you start finding lots of errors and you are spending more time figuring out the errors than learning, move on to a different book. Come back to the bad book after you know more and take it as a challenge to solve those problems. But don't burn yourself out beating your head against a bad book if you just don't know enough to figure out the errors. You will kill your momentum. And momentum is key in education.

After you have a solid foundation in the programming language of your choice, start learning ancillary stuff like build systems, software testing, and how to deploy your programs to end users as a single installable file. None of this was taught at the universities I went to but they are really important in the professional world. I wish there was more information about this kind of stuff and that it was organized in some reasonable fashion. Unfortunately, it seems most of this info is buried in forums all over the internet.

After you have learned one language pretty well, start learning other languages too. The more the merrier. Then go back and pick up some advanced techniques in your earlier languages.

As you study, work on finding ways to actually show how much you know. Either in sample programs, contributions to open source projects, or certifications. Remember, "experience" does not mean that you got paid. So, if you have been diligently writing code for open source projects for a year, then you can say you have a year of experience. (Sure, plenty of people dink around for a year and call it "experience" but that shows up pretty fast in interviews.)

Look for "entry level" or "intern" jobs. They are rare but they are out there. There are some companies that almost exclusively hire junior programmers because they can pay them less and the company's business model does not require high level programming skills, just churning out a bunch of almost identical stuff. However, you may not find these companies where you live right now. Be willing to search all over and relocate. There is a company in College Station, TX that will hire you if you are willing to learn Microsoft .NET.

Good Luck.

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