Tech CEO's have had a weird impact during the past decade influencing many young folks to avoid college all together and to go out on their own to become millionaires and potential billionaires.
I can't confirm or deny whether they are accurate or not. I personally went to college and got a degree in Computer Science. Not because of some weird idea that I was going to be a tech CEO. But because that's what you do after high school typically. Most of high school is designed to push you towards some form of higher education afterwards.
So do I regret my choice a decade plus later? Let's get into it. Because it's more complex than simply a "yes" or "no". Here are 3 arguments for getting a Computer Science degree based on my own experiences.
More work opportunities
It's true that many tech companies these days are starting to focus less on whether a candidate has a college education or not, and that's mainly because the demand in web developers has increased exponentially since Google came out. There just isn't enough supply coming out of universities to fill that demand. Just as a point of reference, my university graduated only a few hundred Engineering students last year. And that's not a rarity. Most universities can only produce a small number due to a variety of reasons. The primary one being that not every student that started is going to last the 4 or 5 years required.
But there are still plenty (I would say the majority) of companies that require a college degree in 'something' before they even allow you through their doors. Which means that your odds of landing employment are increased just based on the numbers alone.
And while companies are loosening restrictions, there are some sectors that simply won't change that requirement. What sectors you may wonder? Anything involving government work, military, defense or security will typically require a formal college education of some kind.
Which makes sense as these jobs tend to involve more scientific skillsets. You aren't going to work at NASA for example by taking a course on online. You can work at your local web development shop down the street perhaps. But not NASA.
For me personally, this was definitely a huge benefit, as after my formal college graduation I could pretty much apply to almost any job without having to worry about getting immediately rejected. I applied to web development companies and I applied to city government jobs as well and got interviews for both. I applied to giant tech corporations and to small local consulting firms.
It's difficult to get and it requires a hefty investment on your part both financially and mentally, but if you are willing to get it then there will be more doors opened for you.
A big benefit about attaining a college degree in any major is the one thing that everyone pretty much hates. And that's the fact that you have to take dozens of classes that have absolutely nothing to do with your major.
In order to get my degree in Computer Science, I had to take classes such as Calc I, Calc II, Calc III, Linear Algebra, Ethics, Sociology, Geology, Biology, Electrical Engineering and many others that I've probably forgotten about.
But, these aren't exactly "wasted" hours. I had to learn these concepts, pass the tests, discuss them openly and broaden my horizons. I had to learn to research and to write papers and then to defend my points in front of my peers. The only reason why they would seem like a waste, would be because I chose programming as my career of choice. But if perhaps I decided that coding wasn't for me after college, then having other skills to fall back on is a huge benefit.
While I may not discuss these topics on a day to day basis, I still have good recall on most of them and on certain occasions they do come into play into my work. When I'm working with 2-dimensional data for examples, sometimes performing a Matrix transformation is required, and that's where my Linear Algebra classes come into play.
In general college really is more than "career training". It's an institute for a higher education. The career portion is just a side effect of having acquired a certain set of skills. There is no such thing as wasted knowledge in the grand scheme of life.
To be a scientist
Computer Science is more than programming. It's more than web development and more than setting up a WordPress website. While some might not agree, it is a science. You study computation, much like Charles Babbage or Alan Turing did during their years. You study network theory, data structures and fundamental algorithms that make our cities run on a daily basis.
You worry about memory allocation and you get to see what most people won't ever see when they load a website. Where the zero's and one's are and what they actually mean.
You buy circuit boards and you program the electrical grids that power them. You really work on logic more than anything. Because once you master logic, then any problem you encounter can be solved by finding the most logical path.
Most people who get their BS in Comp Science probably won't go into any scientific field of study. You go where the money is typically, and right now that's in web development.
But there will be a rare few that will stick with it. They will wear the lab coat, if you will. And those are the people that will help to build the infrastructure that every programmer will end up using one day in the future.
College is hard. It's quite possibly the hardest thing that I've done in my life so far. 5 years of constant focus, failures, recoveries and unknowns. And if you asked me right now whether I would do it all over again, then with extreme hesitation and anxiety, I would say that I'd gladly take on the challenge once again.
It's more for the challenge than anything else. You only get so many opportunities in life to really see what you are made of.
Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.