Re: Student-Degree valuable or not?

From: Bennett Todd (
Date: 09/26/03

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    Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2003 12:07:21 -0400

    2003-09-25T19:23:03 Daniel Simpson:
    > I'm getting my B.S in software engineering with an emphasis on
    > security. How valuable will this degree be [...]

    That depends on a several things.

    A B.S. degree is a checklist item in many HR departments for many
    professional positions. There's a perception, which may have some
    correlation with reality (but definitely not 100% correlation) that
    someone who has gotten a bachelor's degree has gotten some breadth,
    has learned some real foundation basics in their field, and has
    learned how to learn, so they can carry on training themselves to
    stay current throughout their career.

    In our field there's definitely a wad of core underpinning knowlege
    --- data structures and algorithms and performance analysis,
    compiler construction, operating systems architectures and
    internals, to give a few examples --- that many self-trained folks
    I've known seem to be weak in.

    A couple of other factors strongly influence how valuable a B.S.
    will be for you. First off, has anybody ever heard of the university
    in question. "Joe's bait shop and trade school" might not be helpful
    on your resume. Second, where are you going to be applying? Dotbombs
    often preferred seeing examples of work, a portfolio if you will,
    over more traditional credentials. At the opposite extreme,
    positions in large corporations are likely to be much, much harder
    to get without a degree.

    As long as the school you're looking at has a reasonable reputation,
    and the program you're going for covers the important foundations,
    I'd strongly advise going for it; although a degress is not by any
    means a union card guaranteeing your fortunes, many career paths
    will be a lot easier to enter, and those foundation courses really
    do teach valuable material that many people I've known have found
    pretty inaccessible for self-training.



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