[CS-FSLUG] College / University

John Mark Clayton clayton256 at gmail.com
Sun Dec 10 13:13:32 CST 2006

IMHO, you should get a CS degree at the U with the best program you can
possibly afford.  Ivy league if possible.  One additional factor is go to a
school with an excellent recruiting program.  What good is a degree if you.
can't get an interview.
I live near Boston, MA and i was a programmer/software Engr for 13 years.
Yes, I started with DOS and CP/M.  I was even pretty good at it and worked
really hard.  It one point I was making a six figure salary.  Now, I can't
programming work at any salary.  I'm working as a yacht mechanic for half
the above salary.  Recruiter that I've used in the past (if they're even
are telling me that everyone wants recent CS grads.  No room for the old
timers.  Beside, a lot of work in now being done outside the states.  That's
trend I see continuing.
A programming career can be very challenging.  Get used to "things at work
are spinning out of control and I'm coming home exhausted."  "Because of
how difficult work has been, the managers' desire to keep cost down at the
expense of being understaffed" pretty much sums up my experience as a
programmer.  I highly recommend you get an internship as soon a possible.
Can you use your high school to get an internship prior to college?
While at the internship learn everything you can.  Not just technical thing
because technology changes fast. but how the place operates.  Ask yourself
can you live like that "for the remainder of my adult life."
Now the disclaimer.  I hope others chime in with a more positive reply.  My
career burnt me out and wrecked my marriage.  Still, 5 years after my last
programming job, we haven't be able to reconcile.  I believe Jesus wants us
back together so I'm trying to trust him to sooth her heart.  Anyhow, the
point is I may be very biased.
Oh another thing.  Don't put so much emphasis in the books to learn
languages and toolkits.  Learn good practises of solid and defensive
programming and algorithms.  Languages change and/or coming in and
out of favor, toolkits come and go with the marketing hype.  But good
programming skills are always applicable in any language with any tools.
Lastly, I'd be happy to answer any other questions you might have so feel
free to contact me.

On 12/10/06, Nathan T. <celerate at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi CS-List
> Remember how I said I would revisit this topic when the time was
> right, well I've graduated from high school now and I'm working a
> full time job for a yet to be determined period of time, so I think
> now is as good a time as any.
> I'll recap a little, my obsession is programming. Over the years I've
> acquired several hundred dollars worth of programming books and I'm
> currently trying hard to motivate myself to finish my current Qt 4
> book before the second one (about design patterns and Qt 4) arrives.
> I've done well for myself over the last few years of high school, I
> was a straight A student in Saskatchewan, pulling in final report
> card marks that were usually in the high 80s or 90s. Since then we've
> moved to Yellowknife, and my last half a year here was rough. The
> provincial exams and the move hit me hard and I ended up pulling off
> higher grades in that ridiculous English class (where we did no work,
> just listened to the teacher's personal stories and rants and then
> discussed them) than in Calculus and Physics 30. I don't have a
> diploma yet, supposedly I have to get ahold of the school board to
> have one sent to me, but I haven't gotten the time to do that yet
> because going into the Christmas season things at work are spinning
> out of control and I'm coming home exhausted.
> I'm thinking of University, and particularly of taking CS as my
> major. Around here the closest are U of A, the Augustana Campus is of
> particular interest because it's not in a major city. I have been
> considering U of S because even though up here in YK people seem to
> be unaware of it's existence I have several friends from Prince
> Albert going there. There was U of Victoria in BC, but I hear that
> cost of living there is extremely high. My tutor recommended that I
> go to U of Waterloo, but I have some reservations about being that
> far from home and particularly living somewhere that expensive and
> going to such an intimidating school.
> Michael Robertson of Linspire recently fired off a newletter to his
> subscribers in which he said that post-secondary may not be worth it,
> of course he lives in the USA and what he says may not be as
> applicable in Canada; however, I also have many coworkers who got
> certifications instead of post secondary (although they're
> technicians, and I don't want to be swapping out motherboards and
> cleaning off viruses for the remainder of my adult life.
> I'm looking forward to some input. Because of how difficult work has
> been, and the managers' desire to keep cost down at the expense of
> being understaffed, I have been considering going off to University
> or at least to some reputable technical institute as a method of
> moving forward. One more thing I should mention that may or may not
> be important: I have no car, and only a learners drivers license. I
> also don't want to stay in Yellowknife for much longer, I would much
> prefer somewhere with milder winters, plus the low lighting here
> during 6 months of the year makes me feel perpetually tired.
>    - NT
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clayton256 at gmail.com
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