Author Topic: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?  (Read 1031 times)

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Offline Ladislaus

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Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
« on: December 28, 2020, 01:26:43 PM »
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  • As a couple of my older kids are now of college age, and this is making me confront the issues with college ... particularly with regard to computer science (which is the field I am in) ... namely ...

    1) danger to faith & morals
    2) college is a scam ... 3/4 of your coursework is not in your major, a way to make money and employ otherwise unemployable liberal arts professors
    3) college computer science degrees are garbage (not enough hands on, too much theory, languages that are no longer widely used, etc.) ... so that graduates are not competent to actually program in the real world for years

    Some alternatives are being self-taught or taking online classes ... BUT

    1) these rarely have enough of the rigor required to become proficient and
    2) it's hard to get a job this way
    3) don't allow meaningful interaction with teachers
    4) there's no way to establish proficiency (like you would be getting a degree)

    So the thought has occurred to me to create a non-traditional non-accredited Institute of Technology, which would offer a thorough, rigorous, hands-on computer science curriculum focused entirely on one development platform (Microsoft .NET / C#) ... which is what I know and is one of the most popular out there.

    This Institute would offer a Bachelor of Science.  I've interviewed for many jobs and NOT ONCE has an employer asked me if my "Bachelor" was from an "accredited" institution.  If they WERE to ask, one would provide a link that would detail the benefits and rigors of the program and the qualifications of the student.

    It would be a total of 3 (approximately 4-credit-hour) terms per year for TWO YEARS.  So Winter/Spring 4 credit hours, Spring-Summer, 4 credit hours, Fall-Winter 4 credit hours.  Over 2 years it would be the equivalent of 24 credit hours.  And some final project (which colleges call "seminar" classes) completed over the last 6 months would round it out to 30 credit hours.

    So ...

    1) classes would be conducted entirely online to reduce costs
    2) first class would always be free ... it's not right taking money from someone who decides that they either don't have the aptitude for computer science or else decide they don't like it
    3) if someone doesn't pass a class, they can repeat it for free
    4) class sizes would be limited to no more than 20, so it could be a legitimate interactive educational experience, rather than just streaming content.  EXCEPT that the first free intro class would not have the same limit, since there might be many wanting to do it (given that it's for free and just introductory and 50% or more of the students may not go on any further or might not take it seriously or just stop showing up out of laziness, etc.).  Perhaps I should make it a $100 refundable deposit ... refundable if you complete the class, to prevent 50 people from casually signing up and then being too lazy to show up, taking away seats from others who might have seriously wanted to do it).
    5) for members of Traditional Catholic families, I would offer an honor-system total tuition deferment.  IF, after completing the degree, you get a job in the field making at least $30K per year, you would promise to pay back the tuition $100 per month so long as you're employed in the field.  I anticipate that it would cost $3600 per year, a total of $7,200 for the degree.  So it would take about 72 months (6 years) to pay it back at $100.  No interest/usury.  Again, based on the honor system.  If you were laid off or in financial difficulties and couldn't pay, that would be between the student and God.  I would do this for everyone, but I wouldn't necessarily trust people off the street to keep their word in an honor system, but would generally consider Traditional Catholics reliable.  One problem I might have to address with this paradigm is the potential for students to go, say, halfway through and then just disappear ... potentially taking seats away from others and ruining the ability to maintain viable class sizes)

    Would there be any interest here?  I began developing a highly-effective curriculum for my oldest son, but he decided that he really didn't like it.  And that's the kindof thing that the free first class allows for ... determining whether it's even for you at all.

    If there's enough interested (feel free to PM me offline) ... I would work to start this up ASAP.

    Offline Clemens Maria

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #1 on: December 28, 2020, 01:56:38 PM »
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  • I agree that the liberal arts curriculum required for computer science degrees is a ripoff.  However, I disagree that math and theoretical topics are useless.  In fact, the BS needs to have math and theory included because some of the grads will go on to masters and doctorates.  Plus, even if there is no intention to go for grad school, math and theory are directly applicable to design problems that one would encounter on the job.  You don't really need to have math and theory if you only aspire to write code for the rest of your life.  But if you want to be a successful software architect, you are going to want to have the math and theoretical background that will allow you to come up with good designs.  And actually that background work even helps coders write more efficient code.  It also helps you be skeptical of the latest fads in computer science.  Just like anything else, there is a lot of hype in the computer business.  The more narrow the focus of your initial education the more susceptible you will be to the hype.


    Offline Matthew

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #2 on: December 28, 2020, 02:26:07 PM »
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  • I agree with your points ("well rounded" education often a waste of money, especially considering the quality of today's liberal arts classes -- we're not talking about a class with Bp. Williamson!)

    I don't think lack of degree is as big of a deal as you think it is -- what's of PRIMARY importance is to come in to the interview with the ACTUAL SKILLS to do the work -- and the confidence that comes with that. Also a portfolio and enthusiasm. If you have those things, you should be fine.

    The bigger issue is the fact that a huge chunk of the industry is super liberal. Even if you squeeze into the organization (survive the interviews), you will quickly be found out as a conservative. You can only hide it so long, especially when it's Devils vs. Angels like it is today. This isn't the 1990's where Democrats and Republicans both wanted to live a normal life, loved America, etc.

    No, today you have the Left wanting full-fledged Communism, hatred of America, strong religious belief in Evolution, abortion as a sacrament, and "outcome based" bringing everyone down to the same level. Equality on earth. And everything is racist. Political correctness gone insane. How can you get along with such people? You can't. And you can't hide the fact you are fundamentally not part of their cult. All it takes is, "Do you have any kids?" and it's all over. You can be as low-key as possible, and try to downplay it. But you can't really downplay your answer, when it's in the high single digits or even double-digits. They will KNOW you're not on board the Green New Deal, know what I mean?
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    Offline Stanley N

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #3 on: December 28, 2020, 02:39:45 PM »
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  • Programs like this do exist, but they are often called certificate programs. They also exist for other fields like CAD where there is plenty of work for people with enough practical expertise, degree or not.

    Some accredited colleges offer accelerated bachelor's degrees with the facility to test for credit whenever the student is ready. A reasonably motivated student can finish one of those in less than 2 years.

    https://gradlime.com/fast-online-bachelors-degree/

    It has crossed my mind that now would be a good time to start an affordable online community college.

    Offline Stanley N

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #4 on: December 28, 2020, 03:09:55 PM »
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  • All it takes is, "Do you have any kids?" and it's all over. You can be as low-key as possible, and try to downplay it. But you can't really downplay your answer, when it's in the high single digits or even double-digits.

    A supervisor once asked me that. I said "is that relevant to my work here?"

    Anti discrimination rules can sometimes be used to your advantage.


    Offline Last Tradhican

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #5 on: December 28, 2020, 05:03:40 PM »
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  • 2) first class would always be free ... it's not right taking money from someone who decides that they either don't have the aptitude for computer science or else decide they don't like it
    3) if someone doesn't pass a class, they can repeat it for free
    From my long experience in business, you never give anything for free, because then people who are not really serious will crowd out the serious ones. You must charge for everything. Instead of offering it for free, figure out your costs and charge for the first class at your cost. If someone begs you to give them financing or some other waving of the fee for the first class and they sound seriously interested, then you can just tell them to pay when they have to money, and if they do not pay you forget about it, but do not tell them.
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    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #6 on: December 28, 2020, 06:25:58 PM »
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  • Programs like this do exist, but they are often called certificate programs. 

    Right, I am acquainted with the cert programs, but they are usually just a few classes and don't have the same rigor as an actual Major would.

    What I'd be trying to weed out is the nonsense being forced to take 120 credit hours at college with only 30 in your actual major field of study.

    And most comp sci curricula are scattershot and don't focus on a specific platform.

    So this would be addressing some of the negatives of a Traditional college program while giving you more than the typical cert.

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #7 on: December 28, 2020, 06:28:45 PM »
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  • From my long experience in business, you never give anything for free, because then people who are not really serious will crowd out the serious ones. You must charge for everything. Instead of offering it for free, figure out your costs and charge for the first class at your cost. If someone begs you to give them financing or some other waving of the fee for the first class and they sound seriously interested, then you can just tell them to pay when they have to money, and if they do not pay you forget about it, but do not tell them.

    Right, that makes sense to a point.  Really, when delivered online, my costs would be only my time and the $15 a month it would cost to host online meetings.

    At the same time, though, I wouldn't want to charge somebody who turned out to be entirely hopeless.  There are probably a lot of people who, not knowing much about the field, might THINK they have what it takes to be a programmer but really can't hack it.


    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #8 on: December 28, 2020, 06:33:24 PM »
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  • I agree that the liberal arts curriculum required for computer science degrees is a ripoff.  However, I disagree that math and theoretical topics are useless. 

    I can see math and other topics being applicable to a degree to computer science, but I've never found a need to use math beyond Algebra (which is covered in High School) during my entire programming career.  And even the Algebra that was once required was of a very basic level.  And, you know, if someone wanted to take an extra course or two to top if off and balance some stuff out, they could do so and it would be a competitive advantage.  But I don't find that it would be absolutely necessary.  90% of the so-called "core curriculum" is a ripoff, a shameless money-making scheme.

    Really the biggest quality for a developer is the ability to THINK in terms of logical algorithms.  And, either one has it, or one doesn't.  That would be the intent of offering a free/exploratory class, where people (together with their teacher) could mutually decide whether they "had it", so to speak, or didn't.

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #9 on: December 28, 2020, 06:35:14 PM »
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  • I don't think lack of degree is as big of a deal as you think it is -- what's of PRIMARY importance is to come in to the interview with the ACTUAL SKILLS to do the work -- and the confidence that comes with that. Also a portfolio and enthusiasm. If you have those things, you should be fine.

    Oh, I absolutely agree.  I have hired many developers without degrees over the years who turned out to be better than Comp Sci majors.  And I think that's part of my motivation.  Unfortunately, most of the business world doesn't think that way and if you don't have a degree, they'll immediately disqualify you.

    Offline Stanley N

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #10 on: December 29, 2020, 12:15:51 AM »
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  • Really the biggest quality for a developer is the ability to THINK in terms of logical algorithms.  And, either one has it, or one doesn't.  That would be the intent of offering a free/exploratory class, where people (together with their teacher) could mutually decide whether they "had it", so to speak, or didn't.

    Some are more adept than others in a first programming class, but the ability to "think algorithmically" can be taught.

    I think a trade school approach to programming would be good thing (I said it would be good for CAD as well), but a regular bachelors curriculum also has a place, and some of the views about it are not quite accurate.

    - 30/120 credits in the major? The program I'm most familiar with has 60+ credits in the major. The rest are mostly basic science: physics, chem and math. You may not use calculus but much of my own programming work involves it. What's left is a) business writing (not english comp), b) a freshmen programming class for students to see how they like it, c) 3 non-tech electives.

    - humanities are garbage? Sure, the women's studies department is a waste of time, but there are still good instructors and classes out there; they don't have to be wasted. How about an art history class covering illuminated manuscripts where a project option is OCR for latin texts?


    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #11 on: December 29, 2020, 07:22:23 AM »
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  • Some are more adept than others in a first programming class, but the ability to "think algorithmically" can be taught.

    Perhaps, over time, to a point, if there's at least a basic aptitude for it.  So, for instance, I am so lacking in artistic ability that it would take someone years to teach me how to draw symmetrical stick figures.  Similarly, not everyone has an aptitude for math (beyond a very basic understanding) or ... to think algorithmically.

    But to have the capacity to think algorithmically AT THE LEVEL required to be a proficient computer programmer, that is not common.  Have you ever engaged in computer programming?

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #12 on: December 29, 2020, 07:29:04 AM »
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  • - humanities are garbage? Sure, the women's studies department is a waste of time, but there are still good instructors and classes out there; they don't have to be wasted. How about an art history class covering illuminated manuscripts where a project option is OCR for latin texts?

    You're missing the point.  As taught by modern universities, the humanities are garbage.  I would pay NOT to have to take those classes; they're poison to the mind and the soul.

    AND, as far as career development goes, it's unnecessary past High School.  If I intend to become a computer programmer, I do not NEED more than the few years of English and history, etc. that I would get in High School.

    Of course, part of the problem is that there's a recent study which shows that the average High School curriculum was, in the past, more rigorous than today's average college one.  But I'm sure it depends on the High School to.  I went to a Jesuit High School, and I can tell you for a fact that the High School classes in the same subject areas were much more demanding and intense in High School than they were by the time I went to University.

    But, in the end, you're missing the point.  I'm not making a judgment regarding humanities IN THE ABSTRACT.  I am making a judgment with regard to their relevance to computer science.  I absolutely hold that sociology and psychology are of no more relevance to a computer programmer than they would be to a plumber, electrician, or car mechanic.  THAT is the point.  If someone can become a good plumber without taking college sociology, then someone could likewise become a proficient computer programmer without college sociology.

    No, most Universities are money-making scams.  Students idiotically go into $200K of student loan debt for degrees in Art History.  Oh, and you also miss the point, that these humanities can be self taught ... and in fact, given today's liberal climate, are BETTER if self-taught from good reliable sources rather than from some BLM-activist professor.

    So you basically missed, oh, about 5 of the 6 points that I was making here.

    Offline Matthew

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #13 on: December 29, 2020, 07:48:40 AM »
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  • Not everyone has the ______ (talent? brains? aptitude? fill in the blank) to be a brain surgeon.

    Likewise, not everyone has the "whatever" to become a computer programmer. Keep in mind that writing code is only a portion of your job. A certain kind of design, engineering, problem solving, and troubleshooting also come into play. You have to have a highly logical mind, just for starters.

    And no, a programming career is not always as fun as that first fun experience you had writing a program you enjoyed. For me, that was writing countless games in QBasic and Pascal back in the early 90's. That is so far removed from the web development job I do on a daily basis that it's not even funny.

    Why web development? Well, that's what businesses with money need done. Those businesses simply don't need another cute game, especially a simple one written by one person.

    If engineering were easy, as in "within the reach of most people", engineers wouldn't make an above-average salary. They would make the same as a factory or retail worker -- jobs almost everyone can do.
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    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: Alternative Non-Accredited Computer Science Degree?
    « Reply #14 on: December 29, 2020, 07:59:07 AM »
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  • Not everyone has the ______ (talent? brains? aptitude? fill in the blank) to be a brain surgeon.

    I use the term "aptitude" to mean simply potential ... in the sense that no matter how hard you work or how hard you try or how long you study, you'll simply never be very good at it.  So, for instance, I have ZERO artistic aptitude.  I tried and tried and tried as a boy and young man to work on art, but I could never do it.  At the same time, I sat down and was writing my own computer programs within 3 days of cracking open a book.  Everyone is different.

    I have in mind someone like my dad or my sister, or someone, signing up for a C# programming class and not having even a fighting chance at succeeding.  Those people I would not want to take money from.


     

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