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Best Educational Options

Posted on 2014-01-14
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-02-02
I would like to find options for a more solid education or grounding in programming or web development in particular.

I would like to know what are often considered the best options for strictly trade school/technical type programs and actual college programs. Are there good online courses? For full undergraduate degrees, is computer science a good choice or are there better majors for focusing on web development? If computer science, what are considered to be the best places for bachelors in CS?

I realize I can and should do a lot of learning simply by checking out others' work and just looking stuff up, which I have; but it's too slow of a process, and I feel like there are holes in my methodology that I want to have more specific guidance regarding "standard" practices, like OOP, or the organizational methods behind planning out projects, or getting security best practices down, etc.

I have checked out some of the videos available on this site. Haven't gone through all of those that I want to. But a problem with many tutorials is that I feel I'm beyond the basics or generalities that they usually cover; and what I need is to figure out what I don't know and to learn through a more thorough and complete approach.
Question by:universalglove
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LVL 19

Expert Comment

by:Amandeep Singh Bhullar
ID: 39782006

Computer science is a good option to get a university degree.
Later on you can enhance ur technical skills by doing certifications.

If you are in MS technologies you can do MCPD and similar certifications are for other technologies also
LVL 34

Assisted Solution

by:Big Monty
Big Monty earned 600 total points
ID: 39788637
interesting question :) I'll throw in my 2 cents...

If you're looking for a strictly academic education, pretty much any reputable college/university has an online program you could sign up for. If you want to focus solely development, then computer science is the way to go. Whether or not it's web development or application development, CS will give you a great ground work of the fundamentals of the theory in any kind of development. Once you have that, you can focus on the secondary things, like what type (app or dev) of development you want to get into by signing up for classes that focus more on those things.

Now if you're just looking to educate yourself more for either professional reasons or just because you love dev so much, there are countless tutorials out there on the web. Pick a specific subject, and if you can't find one that satisfies you, come back here and ask for a reference.

I've been doing web dev for about 15 years, and I'm completely self taught. I opened up some books and google was my bff while I was teaching myself, and I like to think I'm pretty damn good at it at this stage of my career.

You say you sometimes don't feel challenged by the tutorials you read, let me ask you this: can you go write a web compliant website using only notepad without looking up anything on syntax? if not, figure out why you can't, and then go learn :)

Author Comment

ID: 39792989
Sounds like Computer Science is the way, beyond merely learning on my own.

I guess my problem with the notion of building a standards-compliant website from memory beyond the mere <!DOCTYPE html><html><head><meta charset="utf-8"><title></title></head><body></body></html> structure is the notion of what to put in it, or what might actually be expected of such knowledge in a more demanding work environment. I don't know whether what I know and my own intuitive approach is sufficient for a more demanding environment, with specific requests for time schedules, budget layouts, etc.

Where I work now is not very demanding in their requirements, and certainly never okay with moving forward or doing very innovative things. So I don't know where my skills stand, really. Maybe just applying for jobs and swimming or sinking is the only real way to find that out. I just don't feel like, reading through job requirements, that I could say I meet them in anything more than a glancing fashion. ("Yeah, I worked with that once. Give me the job.").
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LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:Matthew Kelly
ID: 39798823
Not knowing where you are in your professional career...

Is this for your own education or do you need the degree for your resume? If you already have an undergrad degree it would be best to focus on certifications. There are many books for specific ones you could read and learn and then take the test.

For general computer knowledge, if you don't need the piece of paper to put on your resume, Massive Open Online Course's (MOOC's) are a great option for the computer field: https://www.udacity.com/course/cs101

They are free, taught by real professors, and have real assignments. And there are tons of them all at different levels.

So bottom line, my answer would be what you should do depends on what you are trying to get out of it. Knowledge is great, but at the end of the day it should line up with what you want to do with your career. Pick some jobs out and look to see what the qualifications are. Do you need a Computer Science degree? Do you need a particular certification? If you need 5-10 years experience in programming to get the job you want, find a job that you can get that experience at and see what it requires to get. Then plan on working towards the other qualifications needed for your future job.

Author Comment

ID: 39810493
I don't have an undergrad currently. I do have 3-5 years in web design/development, but rather sporadic. Most of the actual programming or development in the last 3 years.

So, I'm looking to add the degree to a resume, and I do see a number of jobs that I've been monitoring desire or require a degree, and usually in a related field (i.e. Computer Science). At this point, I'm feeling out whether the degree is worth getting; or whether, in the end, it's better to pursue full-bore simply getting the knowledge of programming directly through experience.
LVL 18

Accepted Solution

Matthew Kelly earned 600 total points
ID: 39810508
My answer based on the additional information is the same; find the kind of job you want and look to see what employers of that job are looking for and then go do it (realizing it may take years). My personal experience is that most jobs I have looked at require a technology focused degree (computer/electrical engineering, computer science, maybe even math), experience, and certain kinds of certfications. Companies hiring technology professionals want to know they are hiring someone who is focused on continuous learning so that they know they won't hire you and then five years from now you will be obsolete.

Of additional note; many companies have educational benefits for technology employees. It may be worthwhile finding a company that will pay for you to get a degree part time while you work for them full time if money is an issue for getting the degree on your own although you can always get student loans.

Also realize that all of this stuff (like an undergrad; or even certifications depending on how much you have to learn first) can take years to get, so think long term. Maybe you need to start off with a lower level certification first to get your first job under you belt, and then focus on the degree, etc. But again, just make sure you are getting the education for the kinds of jobs you want. Getting an A+ certification is great if you want to be a computer technician, but not that great if you want to be a software security engineer.

A great tech job website is dice.com. They also have lots of articles and even sample resumes you can peruse to see what kinds of things employers are currently looking for.

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