Software Development

F#, Indian math education, and good programming


This weekend, I finally sat down and did something that I promised myself I would do for around a year now: I started working with F#. The experience was really quite interesting. For the first time in more than a decade, I was not able to just sit down and grok a language by staring at some sample code for a few minutes. The experience highlighted the current miserable state of affairs in the world of general programming languages. Sure, I have railed about the mediocrity of VB.NET, C#, Java, and so forth in this space many times in the past. But it fascinated me to see how the way I think has been so heavily influenced by what I do.

I first encountered a functional programming language in 11th grade working with EdScheme. While the syntax of F# is rather different from EdScheme (EdScheme is a version of Scheme, which is a dialect of Lisp; F# is based upon OCaml), many of the principles are the same, especially with regards to the concept of "labels" as opposed to "values." In the functional programming world, there tends to be an avoidance (or outright banning) of the concept of a "value"; instead, every identifier actually acts as a label to refer to a particular function. For example, "let x = 5 + y" does not actually set the value of x to be the value of y plus the number 5. Instead, x is a function that when called, calculates 5 + y and returns it. As you can imagine, thinking in this way is a radical departure from the hallowed halls of the procedural code that most of us spend most of our time working with.

As a side note, I include object-oriented (OO) code in the "procedural code universe," simply because at the rawest, lowest level, every OO program ends up in a very traditional, procedural thought process. In other words, the OO is simply a very pretty and well-organized hook to access and write procedural code.

Putting that aside, I found my mind struggling so hard with certain concepts. What was truly frustrating is that I used to know this. It is not just that I was a bit rusty or out of practice, I found myself actively struggling to think like F# was asking me to. Imagine if you tried to ride a bike, and your foot reached for the gas pedal just because you have been driving for 15 years, and you will get the idea.

It reminded me very much of a conversation that I had a few months ago. The person I was speaking with was a programmer visiting the U.S. from India. This gentleman and I had gotten to know each other fairly well, and he has been programming for quite some time, probably around as long as I have. He and I got onto the topic of education. It is a well-known fact that India, China, and a number of other countries are beating the U.S. in math scores. So I asked him how they teach math in India. He was almost baffled by the question, as if there was more than one way to learn math and this was the first time someone had let him know. "From a book, with examples on the blackboard, how else?" I queried him about the use of calculators and computers, two tools quite common in U.S. math education. He explained to me that calculators are forbidden in their version of high school and that, in colleges, the calculators allowed are basic models (think add, subtract, multiply, divide, exponents, square root, log 10, and natural log), and their usage even then is frowned upon to the point where using a calculator will be the cause of ridicule and humiliation. This sure sounded like a far cry from the educational environment in the U.S., where 7th grade students are now being required to own TI-85's, a calculator that's probably more powerful than the guidance system on a cruise missile.

Where this all comes together is the idea of fundamental methods of thought. Writing code (and writing it well) requires the ability to think a certain way. As my experience has taught me repeatedly, once a way of thinking is set, it is hard to think differently. In the case of F#, a way of thinking that was easy when I was an extremely inexperienced user is tough now that I am at the experienced level. The solid foundation of thought which was laid by an excellent early education has had a ramshackle house built upon it, which must be cleared away if I want to build a nice new home. But at least if/when I demolish that rat trap, I will still have a solid foundation, a clean well, and good plumbing to build upon. The hard work is done and I just need to rebuild the house itself. For someone who is trying to build a ramshackle house on a bare ground foundation, there is going to be a real problem. This is why the issue of general education so concerns me.

I know I can learn F#. While the curve was higher for me to get even rudimentary levels of understanding than usual, it is imminently possible. I just need to keep reminding myself how functional languages work, and I am fine. But for the person without those experiences, without that fundamental basis of thought, how can they learn this? I have no idea. Is understanding a functional programming language a requirement to be a programmer? Of course not. Many excellent programmers have never touched one and that is fine. Nevertheless, the methods of thinking taught by such an experience is invaluable. I know that my encounter with EdScheme taught me a lot about being a good programmer, even if I have become stuck in a "general purpose OO language" rut for some time now.

This is why the conversation with my Indian friend has me so worried. It seems to me that the schools in India, China, and many other countries are laying extremely high quality general education foundations for their students. I look at the "math" that my brother and sister learned (I am much older than they are), and I do not want to subject my child to the same kind of disastrous "education" (I am officially not a parent yet, but he is on his way in a few more days or weeks!). I love to see the best brought out in people. A mathematical foundation built upon computers and advanced calculators simply does not provide the basis to build a good programmer on.

I think that once I get through this F# experience (I want to learn more about it to evaluate its suitability for real-world programming), it is time to get back to the basics. A reader a few weeks ago recommended some books by ER Tufte, so I think that I will start there. In my current role, hands-on programming is minimized. I need to get my principles polished up again to be the best that I can possibly be.

J.Ja

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

142 comments
lianaent
lianaent

Rote learning is out; but it actually served a very important purpose. It forced kids to exercise their brains! Look around you, does anyone exercise their brain anymore unless absolutely forced to?

lianaent
lianaent

Amen to the disastrous state of American education, particularly in math. Rote learning is out; but it actually served a very important purpose. It forced kids to exercise their brains! Look around you, does anyone exercise their brain anymore unless absolutely forced to?

C_Tharp
C_Tharp

You touch on many aspects of learning, knowledge, and limitations. Learning It certainly helps to have a mentor who guides you in a quest for knowledge. A good one will adjust their teaching techniques to suit your learning style. There is not one that is perfect for everyone. School teachers are usually so overwhelmed by the number of students that they can not be an effective mentor. They must not appear partial to one student over another, either. A mentor can be selective. You may also be fortunate enough to stumble onto a curriculum that uses the style that suits you. It also helps to be observant and to use a methodology that is conducive to discovery. With that you can go a long way on your own. Learning is focused on what you don't know and need to know. Obviously, if you already know it, you don't need to learn it. If you don't need to know it, the quest is determined by personal desire, curiosity, and ambition. Of course, need can vary from immediate to possible. There is a point at which you stop and it is probably not at "all knowing" because there is always another possibility. The order of learning is important in some cases and not important in others. Control constructs and syntax must be learned before a program can be written, but there is not a required order to learning different languages. Knowledge The foundation is important, but how it was built is not. It does not matter whether you were guided to knowledge by a teacher or stumbled onto it accidentally or found it through diligent effort or discovered it through experience. All that matters is that you have it when you need it. There is a question just Under the surface of your musings that you never seem to consider. How much knowledge is enough? It is conceivable that you may have enough knowledge to do an excellent job without knowing everything or knowing anything beyond what is needed. In most cases, it is acceptable to not know the best way and to not know all of the reasons why something works or does not work. It is not a perfect world, so we learn as we go. There are environments that demand a very high level of expertise, but they do not require all around expertise. The knowledge need only be as broad as the problem to be solved. Limitations Certainly, what is known defines the limits of ability. We all naturally tend to use familiar techniques. We may know others, but the familiar ones appear first in our thoughts. That alone can prevent the best solution from being achieved, but it does not preclude a good solution. The limits can be moved by learning more, but they can not be eliminated. That is a hard pill to swallow for those seeking "the best". Some people will stop when they find their limit on a problem. Others will learn more and change their limits. How people respond will change with age. Age should not be stereotyped because an awakening can occur that changes one into the other. Where does this lead? The musings about learning and knowledge are an interesting discussion, but where does it go from here? It could become an exploration of alternatives. Specific examples could describe how each one has been applied in the work place with an analysis of the pros and cons. It could also become a testimonail of each person's education, experience, and knowledge.

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

From personal experience I can tell you that is the case not just in Mathematics but in any other field. I had my education up to high school in my country, then I moved to the U.S. with my parents where I got a B.S. in Computer Science. I think it will suffice to tell you that only in my last year at the University did I start learning new stuff. Everything else I had already learned in my high school years!!!... my classmates would be puzzled as to how I managed to get straight A's (I graduated with honors) in all the subjects without ever studying!!!... trust me, I am no genious, I just knew it all before hand... Unfortunately for some reason a college degree from the U.S. carries more weight in other countries than their own. Why I will never understand.... Another thing I have noticed is that in other countries (like mine, Ecuador) people are thought to be more responsible and professional in what they do for a living. Here College is just an experience meant to increase your earnings.

apotheon
apotheon

Rote memorization isn't nearly as valuable as some "back in my day" types seem to think. Y'know what happened to people whose childhoods were wasted on rote memorization rather being spent more wisely on actual learning of fundamental principles and critical thinking skills? They grew up to be baseball fans who sit around on the couch all the time wasting their brainpower on memorizing batting averages and ERAs rather than actually thinking new thoughts.

apotheon
apotheon

All learning must be accomplished by the student (in the sense of "the person that studies", not "the person sitting in a classroom"). Ultimately, whether you're using a book, a college classroom, or a more experienced senior co-worker you can emulate, you'll always be learning the same way -- by teaching yourself via what you encounter. School provides a certain amount of structure to the process of learning, for those who actually want to learn. That structure may or may not be a good structure, but many people find the simple existence of structure helpful in learning. In that sense, a school setting can be quite helpful to the process of learning -- and valuable for the purpose of becoming knowledgeable. School is by no means a necessity, however, and sometimes it can even be an active hindrance. That's why schooling should only be regarded as valuable by the person who is learning, rather than as valuable by the hiring manager. The fact someone acquired a degree suggests that the person sat around in classrooms and didn't prove completely incapable of at least faking an interest in a subject, but nothing more. The important factor is not the school -- it's the knowledge. Whether knowledge was gained through experience, school, reading on one's own, or divine inspiration should be regarded as immaterial (because, in the end, it is immaterial).

Justin James
Justin James

... ever notice how many people in the US have degrees compared to other countries? It is crazy. Looking at the numbers, it is fairly obvious that many "colleges" are really "High School: The Drinking Years", since there is no way that so many US students are truly ready for "continued education", given the poor state of their existing education. J.Ja

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

I somewhat agree with you in the sense that you can learn your trade with or without formal education. The difference, I believe, is that through formal education you acquire knowledge BEYOND your trade. You get exposure to many other subjects of study besides your major, which allows you to develop a broader view of things. In other words, you learn to view things from different perspectives, not only the technical one (in our case). Another benefit I find from formal education is that you follow a predefined program which is meant to create a solid foundation, without skipping things that otherwise may go undetected or even missunderstood. I'll give you a quick example of what I mean: I have a friend who works with me as a developer. He is very good at what he does, great logic when it comes to programming and all that. He learned the trade on his own. Unfortunately he does not understand how a compiler works and he does not fully understand how the .NET Framework works internally, so he tends to design things in a way that more often than not is not the best approach in terms of performance. When it comes to databases he can create tables and stored procedures, but he is unable to do performance analyzis because he lacks the knowledge. One could argue that all he needs to do is get a book and learn these things but if that is the case then why hasn't he done it yet? I am sure this must have come up before. You can have someone working in a particular job for 10, 15 or more years, but that doesn't him or her a great professional, that simply tells me he knows his particular job really well. I am not involved in hiring but if I was, I would probably want someone with a more round skillset, someone who can contribute at multiple levels, not just someone who can do one task really really well.

Justin James
Justin James

I think the school does make a difference. While I agree 100% that it is up to the student to actually do the learning, and I also agree that a hard working student at a "middling" college (or a hard working self learner, for that matter) will get a much better education that the apatehtic kid at a "top" college, I do think that certain colleges have a particular environment conducive to learning. Someone who went to Berkely in the late 70s was exposed to a lot more of the really cool stuff in that time period than someone who went to, say, Schaumburg Community College. Just as a huge number of "greats" were at PARC, and many "giants" end up at Sun, and many successful business people in the IT industry were at Microsoft for a while. Certain environments attract, reinforce, and produce folks with the "right stuff". It's undeniable. It is kind of like how great artists tend to spring up around certain cities. Those cities attract the artistic minded folks, they learn a lot about art, and spread forth. Now, that being said... These attraction/production points are few and far apart. So yes, while a degree is a degree and does not guarantee a level of quality, it *is* hard to get a degree without meeting at least a minimum level of education by the time you are done and willingness to work. But someeone in one of those "blender" scenarios is always going to catch my attention. J.Ja

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

Unfortunately I believe the lack of people with a degree is a side effect of our living standards. If you want to, you can just buy a minivan and do deliveries and make $1,000 bucks a week (or more), which is enough for you to live comfortably, so who needs a college degree?... Not to say that there is anything wrong with doing deliveries... any job is a respectable job. Another situation I find curious when I compare it to my country is the fact that some professions pay more here than they do in Ecuador. For example, a construction worker earns a very decent salary here while in my country it is one of the worst paying jobs. It applies to goods too. A piece of furniture in this country represents a significant investment while in my country it is relatively cheap and it is handmade!... Weird man, weird....

Bob Gately
Bob Gately

Hello KeeBored: Talent is not a substitute for competence. I can have the job talent but still be incompetent and I can be competent but lack the job talent. Employers want their employees to be competent and have the talent for the job. All things being equal competence comes first and talent second because competent employees can do the job while talented employees who are incompetent cannot. We should strive to hire employees who are competent and who have the talent for the job.

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

I don't think that is entirely in line with Wayne's thinking though... I think he puts more weight on competency than talent, but that is just my opinion. I may be wrong.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

it's the inflexibility that grows around it. The dependency trail is as bad as a monolithic legacy code base. Just like that situation there is no 'small' change, you keep adding and bolting on and coupling just making it worse. Meanwhile application developers are being constrained to use something that they know won't work and then getting a kicking because it's as slow as f***

rclark
rclark

When I first started programming stored procedures, we had those kind of processes also. With redesign and consolidation, a 28 hour process went down to 15 minutes. It allowed the college I was working for to effectively run an endowment campaign that kept it alive during a very bad economic period. So to me the value of dynamic queries of whatever stripe will always be more valuable than stored procedures. The ability to link a designed process to the human imagination is the ultimate expression of our craft in my opinion. I do use stored procedures for housekeeping, to embed business processes, and to simplify long chains of well defined tasks. But if you really and truly want effective decision making, program the stored procedures to interact dynamically with a caring inquiring mind. The human mind is truly a terrible thing to waste, and even the most advanced computer systems are little more than morons.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Six years ago, seven really, some poetic license there. I was contracting at telecomms place. First job was to improve the performance of a gui application that let you select sets of kit to operate on. A cursory inspection revealed a dynamic query that joined five views. Running it direct from Toad it took thirty-five minutes. The most extensive of the the views by itself was a join of four tables, included 9 functions which touched on more functions which eventually touched more tables. I disassembled all this crap at got the response down to three seconds for a piece of dynamic sql. Yes it would have been a smidgeon faster as an SP or an indexed view, but I figured a 40,000% increase in performance was enough for anyone. Besides the DBAs said they didn't like messing with database and refused to implement the view. So I ended up implementing an even more radical solution, I chopped the option out ! In any endeavour to make something really hard to change, success is guaranteed.

Bob Gately
Bob Gately

Hello Wayne: The 2Bs of rhe world do most of the work so hire them when you find them. Bob

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

I am by no means questioning your credentials. Actually, I don't look at bios before I answer posts because I think that may influence my answers. Yes, there are situations where you are not allowed to use stored procedures, but they are rare (at least for me they have been) and usually involve legacy systems. While I do agree with you that DB Admins panic, stored procedures don't really represent design changes. The main problem I believe are dependencies. However, if you create generic enough sps, you won't have a need to change them or drop them oftenly. Yes, I have made large designs for multiple databases, but using stored procedures does not mean you take advantage of "extras" per say. Your code base will diverge, whether you use stored procedures or not. After all, the SQL code you are embedding is pretty much the same as the one you put in sps. In my personal experience at least, I have not seen many enterprise systems out there running with Embedded SQL statements. In fact just about all the ones I have worked with use SPs. I agree with you when it comes to hierarchical databases. I was thinking in a broader sense, not only including databases as backends but other methods as well. I have had the opportunity of experiencing hierarchical databases as well and I agree with you. However, I think we are deviating a little bit from my point. Lastly, I respect you and your opinions just as any other professional out there. What I write in the forums are my opinions only and are not intended to offend anyone in any way. If they do, please pardon my lack of skill on the English language. Thanks for your input!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Six years eh, Tip before you come out with that sort of thing click on the bio ! 1) you might not be allowed to use SPs 2) I never said that there was anything you could do with dynamic SQL that you couldn't with an SP. What I said was flexible, as soon as design gets to a certainly level of complexity DBA's get very very nervous about changing it, a couple of personel go missing and you'll see outright panic at the C word. 3) Have you ever done a large design for multiple databases?. They are rarely agnostic, making your application database agnostic means you never take advantage of the extras within each DBMS. It is precisely those extras where your code base will diverge, doubling your maintenance burden. Any serious developer will minimise that, which might involve using stored procedures... 4) Six years probably explains your last sentence. Relational databases are not more efficient performance wise than hierarchical ones, not even close. A hierarchical database is hardcoded for one use, with one array of functions specifically optimised for the use they are put to. Relational databases win hands down for adhoc dynamic queries, whether dynamic or pre-compiled into a stored proc. The latter being the only real difference performance wise! Hierarchical, any query you wanted to make that you didn't code for was almost certainly a serial read and compare, perhaps several. Very Very slow, the ones it was designed for blisteringly quick. So in relational databases we sacrificed 'performance' for flexibility. The same can be said for OO even with the lastest compilers. I'm damn glad we did, because I was there before we did, didding it. I started coding commercially in 1987, academically in 1977. Six years....

Wayne M.
Wayne M.

Thanks Bob, it sounds like we are thinking at the same level. I couldn't resist the opening your rating level gave me though! Wayne

Bob Gately
Bob Gately

Hello Wayne: >When I am trying to hire someone, my main goal in an interview is to determine how well the person can program.My second goal is to determine whether the person is a good personality fit with the team and organization.I figure that the general skills needed for my particular corporate environment can be taught as needed.

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

First of all, there is rarely something you cannot do with a store procedure that you can do with dynamic sql. One of the few examples I can think of is passing arrays, and even for that there is workarounds. I don't know what your credential are, but any serious developer would know that you don't use dynamic sql unless absolutely necessary. Stored Procedures actually make it easier to support multiple databases if you develop using a layer model. When you keep your app layer separated from your business layer and your data layer, supporting other databases is simply a matter of changing your connection string (and some minor adjustments to support differences). Rarely if ever will you have a scenario where there is something you just cannot do with stored procedures and you have to resort to dynamic sql. I have been working on this for 6+ years now and I am yet to find such scenario. Using stored procedures does not mean you are locked into any particular brand of database. Granted there are minor differences on SQL syntax/semantics among them, but it is still better to have all your SQL code in a separate layer (stored procedures) or would you prefer navigating thousands of lines of code to make the necessary changes? Embedded or not, you will have to make changes if you port to a different database. Performance is not the only point, but even if it was, of course we would use relational databases as they provide one of the most efficient methods of accessing data directly from disk and performing relational queries. Why do you think they are so widely used? Performance is directly affected by how well you are able to optimize your code and your queries.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

every where in your code is as bad as calls to stored procs everywhere in your code, ok they perform better, but that lack of cohesion will cost you. Dynamic SQL vs Stored procs is much more than performance though. What if your code supports more than one database? What if flexibility is deemed more important than performance? What if your company doesn't want to be locked into one particular brand of database? The first question on optimisation is not how, it's whether. If performance was the only point we wouldn't use relational databases and we wouldn't use OO. Optimisation is much more than performance.

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

as I mentioned before, I am not involved in the hiring process, but I do agree with you to a certain extent. Obviously your main goal is to hire someone who can program really well, but that is not the only thing you look for as you mentioned yourself. I disagree with you about people who know how a compiler works. I think there are more out there than you can imagine. When I talk about understanding the .NET Framework, I mean having a level of knowledge that allows you to take advantage of it to an acceptable level, not knowing absolutely everything about it. In fact, from my perspective, if you want to be a serious .NET developer, you better know what the Framework does internally. You have tons of people out there who can code in .NET, but that doesn't make them professionals. It's like driving a car, anyone who gets a license can do it, but not everyone can race on them. You need to understand the internals of your car in order to get the best performance out of it. Not many applications work without some sort of data backend, so as a developer you need to have an acceptable level of knowledge on that area as well. You cannot create enterprise level applications with dynamic SQL statements embedded everywhere in your code. You don't have to be a database Guru, but you must be able to select the right technique for the task at hand and most importantly you need to be able to identify performance issues at the database level as well so you can help your database administrators get an idea of how to solve issues and/or improve performance. Unless you work for a big enough company, chances are there is no DB admin in your company, so you usually end up designing the database, tables, constraints, etc yourself. Performance also becomes your responsibility so it is important to know. Finally, we should make a distinction between Programmers and Developers. Programmer is someone who types code all day long. Developers do much more than that. We help gather the requirements, discuss the design, implement the ideas and maintain the applications, among other things. I can be a programmer that programs really really well, but if I lack the knowledge required to make important design decisions, more times than not I will find myself with mediocre applications that choke when more than 10 users access it at the same time.

rclark
rclark

What are they teaching these kids now? I agree with you on the .Net Framework. When I was writing compilers, we only had three parts to them. Nowdays I wouldn't be surprised if the processes numbered in the hundreds. Also, when I was writing compilers, the Assemblers only had 24 to 56 instructions. Then somewhere along about the AT stage, they went overboard and had a large number of instructinos. 228 or 256 I seem to recall. Its been awhile. Then they noticed that RISC machines (reduced instruction set computing) were out performing the large instruction set type. Don't know what they do now. Probably trade off for best performance. Any of the guys who write disassemblers would probably know.

Wayne M.
Wayne M.

When I am trying to hire someone, my main goal in an interview is to determine how well the person can program. My second goal is to determine whether the person is a good personality fit with the team and organization. I figure that the general skills needed for my particular corporate environment can be taught as needed. I also have concerns with calling very specific detailed knowledge "general knowledge." I would assert that few people worldwide know exactly how a compiler works (and I assume that by compiler, you are referring to a compiler, possibly an assembler, and a linker and, maybe a loader). I also believe that the people who fully understand how the .Net Framework works numbers 0; it, like most modern programs, is beyond the understanding of an individual. Most application programmers are unfamiliar with the tools to do database performance analysis, and most database programmers are unfamiliar with the tools and analysis to create a performance test. A good programmer is one who thrives in areas of incomplete knowledge. Almost by definition, a good programmer is someone who can program really, really well. In a team environment, the ability to get along with others is also crucial. Having broader general skills is nice, but would not be a major criteria in a hire / no hire decision.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]The difference, I believe, is that through formal education you acquire knowledge BEYOND your trade.[/i]" Really? You think so? Do you think college is the only place you can learn things that aren't directly on the track of your professional path? If so, your impression of how people who like to learn actually work is woefully inaccurate. How many people come out of college with a degree in computer science and the ability to play a bass guitar, in part because some of the patterns of thought encouraged by learning music can enhance programming ability? How many people come out of college with a CS degree having learned how to construct heterogeneous networks employing several types of free unix system, MS Windows, and Macs, all at the same time? How many people come out of college with a degree in CS having learned about patterns in human behavior as they apply to emergent effects of mass participation in data organizational models on the Internet? I have yet to see a CS degree program that leads a student anywhere near any of those three areas of study -- and yet, the mention of those three areas of study are drawn from my own experience. I've recently read a book about everyday sociopaths (not just the serial killer stereotype) and it has sparked some investigation for me into how such people might affect the dynamics of people-driven online applications, thus influencing software development needs. I've built networks with some pretty strange combinations of operating systems both professionally and for my own off-hours interest, and most colleges don't even use any of the OSes in their networking-related classes other than MS Windows, let alone use them all together. I'm learning to play bass guitar right now, in part because of the fact that, similar to learning a new programming language, really learning to think in musical notation and basic music theory concepts can enhance the effectiveness of my thinking as it relates to programming (and in part because I just like electric bass guitars). You don't get this kind of wide-ranging, quality of life improving, enjoyable, skill-enhancing education in school. Somehow, you seem to think college is the only way to get a broad (aka "liberal") education, but from what I've seen and experienced so-called "higher education" actually narrows the mind, makes thought processes rigid and unimaginative, and limits the scope of one's vision -- if one lets it. Obviously, I didn't let it. "[i]In other words, you learn to view things from different perspectives, not only the technical one (in our case).[/i]" The people who have written paeans to the artistry of source code tend to be people who learned their love of programming outside college. Those who show up to work every day to pound out another fifty lines of Java just to meet a quota and get their annual Christmas bonus with no interest other than collecting a paycheck and building a retirement fund so they can go drink beer and watch football on Sundays, on the other hand, all have degrees. "[i]Another benefit I find from formal education is that you follow a predefined program which is meant to create a solid foundation, without skipping things that otherwise may go undetected or even missunderstood.[/i]" Instead, they neglect [b]other[/b] areas that go undetected and misunderstood, that may [b]also[/b] contribute to a strong foundation. In college, you learn what a red-black tree is and how to implement it -- while doing as Steve Yegge did, learning to program by translating wireframe graphical rendering programs found in a book from Pascal to the RPN stack-based language of a calculator, doesn't come from college, and gives you some really interesting understanding of the way totally different programming languages are fundamentally the same. Try learning that in a current college CS curriculum, where you'll be lucky if you learn a language that doesn't run in the JVM. "[i]I have a friend who works with me as a developer. He is very good at what he does, great logic when it comes to programming and all that. He learned the trade on his own. Unfortunately he does not understand how a compiler works and he does not fully understand how the .NET Framework works internally, so he tends to design things in a way that more often than not is not the best approach in terms of performance.[/i]" So what? I've seen college graduates who are terrible programmers, who [b]learned[/b] on the .NET Framework in Visual Studio, and don't even understand lexical scope! Hell, you can pick up the basics of lexical scoping and its benefits from [url=http://perlmonks.org]PerlMonks[/url]! You seem to think that everyone in the world that learns CS in college will come out able to write compilers and with a deep understanding of the .NET Framework, but the truth is that they're just as likely to be brainless clods as anyone else. As for performance . . . you, with your college degree, seem to have missed the part where premature optimization is the root of all evil. "[i]I would probably want someone with a more round skillset, someone who can contribute at multiple levels, not just someone who can do one task really really well.[/i]" That doesn't mean you need someone with a degree. It means you need someone with a rounded skillset, who can contribute at multiple levels, and not just someone who can do one task really well. The two things are not synonymous, and until you learn that you'll be more suited for the typical HR department than IT.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Wanting to know how things work is what makes people like us tick. That's innate, certainly you don't learn the desire to learn at academia. If you go there without it, it's merely a badge you can flash in lieu of an intellect.

Justin James
Justin James

It is more than what happened in class, that's for sure! Yet another reason for me to keep up on the industry and the history of the industry. Someone who was an intern at PARC in the 70's or worked in NASA suring the moon shot carries a lot of weight with me. Someone who worked on code for air traffic control or something similar where it is more than "mission critical", it is "lives get lost if we screw up", that is a another big one. To put it simply, folks who do more than basic Web-based CRUD apps are what I look for. Because that teaches the skills to make a *good* Web-based CRUD app. Too many of the CRUD guys are out to lunch on too many critical items like security, testing, data validation, performance, etc. for me to trust them many times. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

Yes, very much like a Rennaisance period. I beleive that it takes physical proximity to acheive it, too. While things like the Internet and open source may help these communities come about, it is things like the late night brain sessions in the basement of the CS building, or arguments about OO vs. procedural code in coffee shops to generate that kind of environment. Likewise, I'll learn more about coding in 30 minutes of shooting the bull with some of our top guys at the office than I will in a month of churning out code. J.Ja

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Tutors were still learning, lots of trails to blaze, not much in the way of recognised paths and a set of students who wanted to learn this, just to learn it, as opposed to taking up a couple of years so they could move into management. Sort of like a renaisance period wasn't it?

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Someone who went to Berkely in the late 70s was exposed to a lot more of the really cool stuff in that time period than someone who went to, say, Schaumburg Community College.[/i]" That's because of the extracurricular activities more than the classes people took there, though. The key is that getting the right people together creates a sort of critical mass that can produce a virtuous cycle. Great people in the same place create a great environment, which attracts more great people -- regardless of how much tuition costs. The key, always, is the people who want to learn and try new things that are working (in whatever sense of the term "work") in that location, not the location itself. It does help to have some good equipment, but as open source software becomes more ubiquitous, that's less and less important as a prerequisite. It's certainly worthwhile to pay attention to where the action really was, at a given time, and notice whether someone came from there -- but notice that those things are time-dependent, and don't assume that it's really based more on whether or not someone went to a school with a good "pedigree".

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]people cry here because their parents are busy with their toys and refuse to pay for their education?[/i]" You're confusing "people disagree with your characterization of paying for college as a piece of cake, and your characterization of anyone who runs into trouble with it as lazy and/or stupid" with "people cry". It's offensive and insulting.

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

Like I said, before, this has been my personal experience. I aknowledge it may not be the case for others out there or that there may be things I incorrectly stated. In any event, one thing I believe holds true is that this is the land of opportunity. There are many options out there, such as loans. The point here is that blaming your not attending college in your situation, or your parents, or the financial aid system is just not acceptable for me. Yes, bad luck, but deal with it. If you want something, you find a way to make it work, specially in a country like this. Heck, people in my country can barely afford food, yet somehow they find a way to get an education, and people cry here because their parents are busy with their toys and refuse to pay for their education? Give me a break... I mean, seriously, you really think you have a tough time here? If you had been born in a third world country like mine then you would have probably jumped off a bridge the third night you didn't have anything to eat... If you really wanted a degree and were willing to do whatever it takes to get it you wouldn't be here 30 years later still without a degree. To me, saying you got absorbed in other things and your jobs and blah blah are only excuses to me, and show me you never really wanted it anyways or maybe you wanted it but didn't have what it takes to pursuit your dream. Finally, I am sorry you got dragged into this idiotic series of posts that have gone way beyond the original subject.Don't take the "#4 in the site" remark personally. I am not out here to make enemies and don't have a problem saying I am sorry if I make a mistake.

Absolutely
Absolutely

"I don't bash people who failed to get into college, I bash people who HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY to go to college, they don't attend and then bitch about it." On to the question of parental "wealth": "The government does not look at your parents' income or net worth in order to make a decision in your case, [b]unless of course you are living with them[/b]..." Most prospective college students are straight from secondary school (ie, "high school") and [b]do[/b] live with our parents at the time we apply for college & financial aid. Thus, your observation is completely inapplicable to almost everybody, ie, irrelevant. "... but if you are and your parents are rich, then how can you be poor?" Need-based financial aid is totally unavailable to a great many US-born people who are not rich, but merely not as poor as the most destitute applicants. "You need to get your facts straight before you place comments." Welcome to America. Freedom of speech is equally applicable to all, and does not require anybody to listen silently while you say things that aren't true.

Absolutely
Absolutely

even if you personally benefited from such inequity. I wasn't going to get involved in this argument, but your conclusion that apotheon "has nothing else to do", because he ranks #4, didn't sit well with #3 here. That's me. You stated incorrectly that parents' income is not a part of financial aid awards. I don't know where you got that misconception, but "need-based financial aid" is the primary source of assistance other than loans, and in that, parental income is the [b]primary factor[/b]. Neither apotheon nor I argue for lack of better things to do, but for impatience with errors and lies, both of which are falsehoods, and equally dangerous when taken as truth. No need to bother explaining that you were "just mistaken, not lying", what you posted was false, and your expectation that it won't be challenged is offensive.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Unfortunately some people here disagree and think immigrants are here to 'ride the government gravy train'.[/i]" I'm pretty sure nobody in this subthread said anything about immigrants being here only to "ride the government gravy train". Why bring it up as though it's relevant? Sure, there are people in the US who think so, but they aren't the people with whom you have been debating the subject of financial aid. "[i]Don't get into an argument with Apotheon, he will fill up your thread with useless replies and hunt you relentlessly. No wonder he is #4 (I think) in activity on the site. Apparently he has nothing else to do. He has already replied to your post and made it about himself too.[/i]" You just can't help it -- you have to insult people. Good job.

Absolutely
Absolutely

This is meant in good humor, and not to get into your argument in any way. I myself tend to reply to far too many posts that I consider useless, and am always amused by others' posts that state that the post I'm reading was a waste of their time! If you find a patch or gum for this addiction, I'd welcome a private message!

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

George, I think in essence you are saying the same thing I said before in another post. Your experience is very similar to mine. Unfortunately some people here disagree and think immigrants are here to "ride the government gravy train". I went to a county college before moving to a University. I didn't just get grants. I got loans too that I am currently repaying. I owe about $25K and this will probably increase once I finish my Masters. There are lots of ways to finance your education out there, whether it be grants, loans scholarships or what have you. I agree with you. We deal with what we have. Don't get into an argument with Apotheon, he will fill up your thread with useless replies and hunt you relentlessly. No wonder he is #4 (I think) in activity on the site. Apparently he has nothing else to do. He has already replied to your post and made it about himself too.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]I have tried to be nice with you but you just keep coming.[/i]" You did a piss-poor job of trying to be nice, then. Using polite phrasing to claim that people are lazy and stupid if they didn't have as easy a time as you isn't exactly "nice". "[i]Stop being a little girl and focus on the topic at hand.[/i]" I hope I don't have to explain what's wrong with that statement. "[i]It clearly bothers you that someone who is not from your country is doing better than you in it so you vent off your frustration with all immigrants by attacking me.[/i]" Who said you were doing better than me? Not I. I just pointed out that your experience does not translate to everyone in the world getting a free ride if they want it, and that your insinuations about the character of people who didn't get a free ride like yours was entirely inappropriate. "[i]Instead of contributing with your comments you have dedicated your time to refuting everything I post.[/i]" Considering you only really have one point, and it's wrong, I'm just refuting the one point you keep trying to make over and over -- that people who find it more difficult than you did to get college funding are somehow lazy or stupid.

apotheon
apotheon

Judging by the "you or Justin" remark, I'd guess you were talking to me, but since your statement had nothing to do with what I said, it seems entirely inappropriate for a response to me. What are you talking about?

georgeou
georgeou

This is to Chad. Umm, let's see. Get a job? Take a loan? Join the military? Why does anyone owe you or anyone else anything? You can also go to Junior college and transfer to a four year while living at home to save money. There are lots of options in the land of the opportunity. I've got family members and friends do the various options above. I didn't really qualify for grants either. Some friends were lucky their parents could send them to school. But that's life, deal with it. The life of an immigrant isn't easy. My Mother made $20 per 12-hour day in a sweat shop in 1980. We got out of poverty without taking a single dime or free lunch from the Government. We all deal with the cards that we've been dealt in life. It's not that I entirely disagree with you or Justin on how money is given out. I think some reforms can be made so that the money that they do give out is more evenly distributed. But the part about eating dog food at under $30K a year is just plain insulting. My Mother and I ate just fine on $100 a month all through the early 80s and it wasn't dog food.

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

I have tried to be nice with you but you just keep coming. Just back off dude. Obviously you feel offended by my comments and I am sorry that is the case, but you are crossing the line here. Stop being a little girl and focus on the topic at hand. It clearly bothers you that someone who is not from your country is doing better than you in it so you vent off your frustration with all immigrants by attacking me. Well, tough luck man, what else do you want me to tell you. You just keep going and going. Have some decency and get back into the topic. The only thing you show with your replies is your true colors. Instead of contributing with your comments you have dedicated your time to refuting everything I post.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]I love finding people like you in forums who not only are willing to discuss a subject but are also willing to listen.[/i]" I think you'd probably see that a lot more often if you didn't come into a discussion assuming that everyone who hasn't had experiences at least as good as your own were stupid or lazy. "[i]I think when one joins a discussion one should not feel offended by what other people think.[/i]" I tend to agree. I also think when one joins a discussion one should not start by making offensive remarks and continue by strengthening the offensive tone in further remarks.

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

Dear Clark, Thank you very much for your reply. That definitely helps me understand why the situation would be different for a native american. I appreciate your explanation. I love finding people like you in forums who not only are willing to discuss a subject but are also willing to listen. I think when one joins a discussion one should not feel offended by what other people think. We are all entitled to our opinion whether it is right or wrong. One of the goals of a forum I would say is to discuss these opinions and learn from them. Unfortunately some people tend to take things the wrong way. If this is indeed the case, I stand corrected. Like I said before, this has been my personal experience and this is what it looks like from my seat, but apparently that is not the case. Thanks again!

rclark
rclark

You are welcome to the education that you got. And well done. We are happy for you. But please do not think that you were ever on the same playing field as the native born Americans. My apologies to those of Amerindian decent. I know my family is an immigrant also, even if a very long time ago (John Albert Clark). You won the lottery once when you were accepted for a visa. But having done that, you were almost assured financial aid at levels no one in the U.S. can match. The financial aid goes back on parents incomes, and unless yours were independently wealthy, even the lowest wage earner in the U.S. would more than likely have a higher wage. The GDP/PPP for Ecuador in the World Fact Book is 4500, for the U.S. it is slightly lower than 10 times that. They don?t use GDP to calculate financial aid, but you do get the picture. We are a progressive society with a social conscience. What that means is we feel as a society that those who benefit most from society should also bear a larger share of the burdens of society. Part of that is providing for financial aid. As a class, immigrants have lower incomes than non-immigrants and so are illegible for grants not given to native Americans. Additionally, since the early 1960?s, all colleges and universities in the United States have what they describe as a policy of inclusion for the recruitment of a diversified student body. So because you are not a native, you picked up points on every financial aid request you made unless explicitly restricted to native born recipients. We don?t want to let people come into America only to fail. Your background is seen as a plus because you bring a different ethos to the college environment. The theory is that a richer more diversified student body will yield a more tolerant and cosmopolitan graduate, better able to compete both locally and globally. So we extend a hand up on the economic ladder of success. What you did with that opportunity was of course up to you. Because you came from a hard scrabble country, your work ethic was good. You did well. Congratulations, the system in your case worked. A lot of single white males envy the ease at which you did so. They do not get preferential treatment from their government, state, or college boards. When I started College, I didn?t know I was poor. We almost always had enough to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof over our heads. There were hard times, but by in large we go on ok. I did receive a pell grant. I did receive a valedictorian scholarship. And a couple of other smaller scholarships. But after all of that was taken into account, I still owed over 3000 for my first semester. That was over 30 times my weekly family income. I had three more semesters for that year alone, and three more years after that. I don?t think you understand that kind of debt level in a stratified society. Imagine if you will having to come up with 50 thousand dollars to be able to leave Ecuador and you will get a picture of what we faced back then.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Were you living with your parents?[/i]" No. Did you miss the part where you don't technically have to live with your parents to still get their income included with yours for purposes of determining eligibility for financial aid? "[i]If on the other hand you were living on your own, I just don't see how you would be denied financial aid.[/i]" Apparently, that's because you have no idea how governmental bureaucracies work. "[i]Show me one case where the constitution of this country grants more rights to immigrants than citizens and I will launch your presidency candidacy.[/i]" What the heck does the Constitution have to do with college financial aid? Show me anything in the Constitution that accounts for financial aid. "[i]You want to know my dedication?[/i]" No, not really. I want you to stop assuming anyone else that had more trouble than you paying for school is an idiot or unmotivated. "[i]All I can give you is my personal experience and from where I am sitting It doesn't seem hard.[/i]" Why, if all you have is personal experience, are you trying to tell other people that they aren't trying hard enough if it wasn't as easy for them as it was for you?

apotheon
apotheon

I wonder if KeeBored will believe [b]you[/b], since he doesn't believe [b]me[/b].

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

Sorry for writing here but I reached the maximum message level on the other one... Were you living with your parents? If your parents refused to pay for education you should have moved out to become a head of household and you could have qualified for the grants. If on the other hand you were living on your own, I just don't see how you would be denied financial aid. If moving out was not a possibility because of the lack of jobs or what have you, then I can totally understand that, and your parents would be the ones to blame for you not attending college, which would put you in the "ones without an opportunity" group. Like I said before, It only bothers me when people have the opportunity but they dont do it and then bitch about it. I don't know what college you were trying to attend, but in my case, the grants were more than enough to pay for education and I even got $2,500 to my pocket every two semesters (which greatly helped with books and other expenses by the way) because the grants exceeded the tuition costs. Notice these were grants, not loans. Show me one case where the constitution of this country grants more rights to immigrants than citizens and I will launch your presidency candidacy. If I remember correctly, the application clearly asks whether you live with your parents or not, and you only need to provide financial information about your parents if you do. You want to know my dedication?..... My parents only attented elementary school, yet my father eventually became a highly regarded army officer. Unlike developed countries, the chance of you ever making it when you barely have an education in countries like mine are zip. Heck, we have civil engineers driving taxi cabs because there are no jobs. Anyways... I went to a militar school in my country for many years were I received several awards, including scholarships and I won the first national programming contest in my country (high school level). Yet I chose to come to this country because I wanted to achieve more than I could in mine. I held jobs that paid as little as $20 per day. I worked from Monday to Sunday, from 4:00am to 10:00pm for a couple of years, worked three jobs at some point, supported my wife and two kids and attended college AT THE SAME TIME. I was president of the Tennis club in my University. I graduated Cum Laude (3.56 GPA) and joined the Lambda Alpha Sigma Honor Society. I won the chairman's quality award in 2004 working in a project for a billion dollar company in N.Y. City. I hold an Associates Degree and B.S. in C.S. and I am currently working on my Master's Degree. How is that for dedication? My wife, my brother and my sister are currently attending college through government grants and loans. I don't know, maybe I am wrong. All I can give you is my personal experience and from where I am sitting It doesn't seem hard.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

but income, of course that didn't take into account outgoings. Eldest in a family of four, I ended up first claiming welfare and then earning to help support my family. Bearing in mind official unemployment was as it's highest levels in decades during this time, college, then university was impossible. My own family started shortly after, even less chance. It's those on the threshold of help / no help who generally end up with the brown end of the stick.....

Justin James
Justin James

... is indeed the catch. When I was applying for colleges, if you were under 23 and not legally emancipated from your parents, their income was taken into account. If they made more than $30,000 (this was 1996 - 2000, $30,000 was not much money), you missed out on a ton of grants and other aid. Being the child of a single mother with 3 kids, she made more than $30,000, but she had a hard time putting a roof over our heads, let alone paying $10,000 a year for the state college (which was relatively cheap!). I ended up with a mixture of a few small grants and a lot of loans. If my father had not come through with some cash, no way could I have gone to college, because the aid that I was eligible for simply was not enough. What it really highlights is that the government's definitions of "poor" and "middle class" have not changed in absolute dollar amounts much in a few *decades*. In other words, you have to have half of the purchasing power today to be considered "poor" as you did 20, 30 years ago. As a result, it is substantially more difficult to be eligible for the grants that make up the difference between where loans max out and the actual tuition bill. So what happens is people go to a lower priced community college at first, because your aid eligibility goes up the longer you are in school, then they transfer and lose half (or more!) of their credits, so they are in school for a total of 5 or 6 years. So really, it is pretty darn inefficient, the government ends up providing a bit of help for too many years of school, the student is not a tax-paying citizen for more years than they need to be, and they end up with more debt than they need to be. J.Ja

apotheon
apotheon

Because my parents were in an upper tax bracket, but wouldn't pay one thin dime for my education, and because the job market in Southern California was saturated and generally crappy anyway, I absolutely could not get enough money together between work and financial aid to even go to community college. It wasn't until after I'd served several years in the Army that I was able to pay for college, and that only because of the GI Bill and the fact that I was old enough to be considered "independent" for purposes of financial aid (the job market was even worse when I got back). "[i]Is taking a walk to the Financial Aid office and asking what you need to fill out to get aid an extremely complicated and difficult task?[/i]" Of course not. The problem is when you get your response, and it basically consists of "You qualify for a Pell grant. Maybe you can win one of these essay contests for a scholarship to pick up the rest of what won't be covered by working two jobs full-time." I actually don't recall for sure whether I even qualified for a Pell grant. "[i]People born here could NEVER be less able to attend college (through government assistance) than I was, or are you going to tell me that the constitution and our legal system favors immigrants more than citizens?[/i]" Often, it [b]does[/b] favor immigrants more than citizens. "[i]- You are a lawful resident - You don't make enough money to pay for it yourself - you don't have money stashed up in the bank[/i]" The "don't make enough money to pay for it yourself" part is also dependent upon meeting certain (mostly age-based) criteria for being independent of your parents. I seem to recall the magic number was 22 or 24, but it has been quite a few years since that was a concern. Considering I graduated high school at 18, that meant I couldn't go to school for several years because I couldn't get sufficient financial aid. "[i]The government does not look at your parents' income or net worth in order to make a decision in your case, unless of course you are living with them, but if you are and your parents are rich, then how can you be poor?[/i]" 1. They don't go by whether you say you're living with your parents. They go by some bizarre, arcane algorithm for determining whether you're independent of your parents, which may or may not involve living with them. 2. My parents weren't rich, per se, but they certainly weren't hurting for money -- three cars, two motorcycles, three ATVs and a trailer, two-story house on a quarter-acre plot in the middle of Suburbia, et cetera. They wouldn't pay one thin dime toward my education. [b]That's[/b] how I couldn't afford school, despite their money. They didn't buy me a car, either -- the third car was my stepfather's "toy". "[i]You need to get your facts straight before you place comments.[/i]" You don't have your facts straight. Mine are quite straight, thanks. I spent several years in the military before I could pay for college. Show me your damned dedication that compares to that. . . . or stop assuming that just because it was easy for you to get financial aid, it's easy for everyone to ride the government gravy train.

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

I did not "make it work in my favor". The grants are there, the loans are there, it is simply a matter of having enough interest to go and find out. I just don't know what hurdles you are talking about. Is taking a walk to the Financial Aid office and asking what you need to fill out to get aid an extremely complicated and difficult task?... People born here could NEVER be less able to attend college (through government assistance) than I was, or are you going to tell me that the constitution and our legal system favors immigrants more than citizens?... As far as requirements goes: - You are a lawful resident - You don't make enough money to pay for it yourself - you don't have money stashed up in the bank How can you not qualify for that? The government does not look at your parents' income or net worth in order to make a decision in your case, unless of course you are living with them, but if you are and your parents are rich, then how can you be poor? I don't bash people who failed to get into college, I bash people who HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY to go to college, they don't attend and then bitch about it. When you have a chance if you are interested, take a little walk to the nearest college and find out the demographics. Chances are most of the students taking advantage of financial aid are green card holders. The reason is simple, we value formal education more. You need to get your facts straight before you place comments. On a final note, I am extremely grateful to this country and its citizens for giving me so much, and just as they paid for my education, I pay my taxes too every year and contribute to a number of organizations that help people in need.

apotheon
apotheon

The citizens of this country paid for your education -- including people too poor, but with parents too rich (read: not living on dog food and stale bread), to get the same government help you got. I'm not accusing you of anything, really. I'm glad you made it work in your favor, but the system as it currently exists is severely screwed up. Because of the government's incessant meddling, they've ensured that single unwed high school dropout crack whores have a better chance of failing out of college than that hard-working high school graduates with demonstrated responsibility have of graduating college. The whole concept of this so-called "higher education" being so thoroughly subsidized that even community college is priced out of the range of actually working your way through school (without government handouts), but still the government handouts only apply to people who fit certain criteria that often have nothing to do with actual desire to learn or ability to pay for school. "[i]It sort of bothers me when I get into a conversation with someone who bitches about how he could not attend college and blah blah blah. I came here as an immigrant making $20 bucks a day and I was able to do it. These people are BORN here with all the rights and they tell me they can't attend?[/i]" The hoops you have to jump through and hurdles you have to overcome to get the government handouts needed to attend college are often more than people in certain circumstances can actually navigate. Some people simply don't [b]qualify[/b] for financial aid. Yes, sometimes people born here are [b]less able to get into college than you were[/b]. Think about that the next time you want to denigrate someone for his or her failure to get into college.

Justin James
Justin James

... the days of being able to walk in the door for an entry level position without a degree are over. Worse, help desk or operator is no longer the on ramp to IT like it used to be. So I agree, today, to break into IT a degree is almost mandatory, unless you want to spend 5 - 10 years at the very bottom for small companies that do not care and who will pay you peanuts because you do not have a degree. I've seen how a lot of comapnies treat folks without a degree, it is disgusting. These folks will bust their tails for years just trying to claw their way up to a salary one step above what the data entry people make, and never get there. J.Ja

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

To be honest, I don't know what the situation was 30 years ago, but I came to this country (U.S.) 14 years ago and started attending college in 1998, while working packing grocieries in a supermarket. Things may not have been like this 30 years ago but in my case, the government paid for most of my education and even gave me money to my pocket for every semester. Again, this may not have been the case at the time you wanted to attend. It sort of bothers me when I get into a conversation with someone who bitches about how he could not attend college and blah blah blah. I came here as an immigrant making $20 bucks a day and I was able to do it. These people are BORN here with all the rights and they tell me they can't attend?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

worked ass off became success without being able to provide a piece of paper to cover the hirer's ass say ? Possibly more about the hirer than the hiree maybe. I got my start by impressing as a super user during the implementation of a new system. Without that, it would have been part or full time education, or continuing to batter a numeric keypad with six digit numbers at 02:00 .... The single biggest advantage of a degree is it increases your opportunities due to the (imo) unwarranted self perpetuating bias promulgated by those in 'power' who already have one. I wouldn't recommend anyone attempting the path I negotiated, those days are long gone.

Justin James
Justin James

... when you think about it. Someone who bumbles through a degree that their parents paid for and then stumbles through the industry for 20 years is a lot less helpful than someone who worked their tail off and went to the local community college. That is one reason why I like to hear about why people chose to study what they did. Especially for experienced candidates, not going to school is not a big deal in my mind. But certain degrees from certain schools do count for something to me. For example, graduates from U. of SC (the school I worte about a few months ago) receive little credit for completeing that program from me. I would rather hire someone who spent those 4 years working as a programmer. On the flip side, after 10+ years, the experience in industry dominates the resume to my mind. Degree or no degree, if you last 10 years in IT with a steady progression of positions, you're proven. Then you just need to get through my gauntlet of tech questions. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

... I treat the formal education as an item of interest, more to start a conversation about the candidate as a person. Things like, "I see that you chose to study Architecture, how did you end up doing network engineering?" One of my co-workers described these folks as "second chancers", where IT was their second chance at a career. I agree with this coworker of mine that these candidates make excellent hires, they have a lot of drive because they dropped whatever it is they were doing to figure out IT, and became sucessful at it. After 10, 15 years does the degree mean much? Certainly not as anything more than an item of note many times, but in some cases, it tells you a lot about how they learned fundamentals. For example, someone who was studying CS at Berkely in the late 70s was probably exposed to a lot of vigorous research and such, sine that was a very happening place at that time. The years most people who attend college are there are very formative years, and the ideas and attitudes that one is exposed to there shape a lot of your later life. For example, I had a huge exposure to ancient Greek culture at my college, from many angles, and I still think about many things in terms of that exposure. J.Ja

apotheon
apotheon

Here's the way it [b]should[/b] be (using Logo syntax for clarity): sum 6 product 3 5 See? Easier to read than that RPN stuff. Why do it backwards?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Welfare to work program as a data entry clerk. ..... Senior Developer for the largest most successful IT firm in the UK. All my lack of educational qualifications tells you is I haven't got any. Anything you infer from that lack is matter of your own prejudice. My educational path was set by nothing more than borderline poverty.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Reverse Polish Notation anyone, is that like hungarian?[/i]" Reverse Polish Notation is the opposite of the way things should be done, of course!

SDNetService
SDNetService

If I'm hiring someone with a number of years of experience (even 20 or 30 or more years), I still want to know the educational path that started them many years ago. I find it very relevant, not necessarily for the specific subjects studied, but as an important indication of their background and progression through the industry. The type of person who completed a two-year diploma program quite often has a different outlook than the candidate coming from a four-year degree program, and this can still be very evident after many years in the field. Both kinds of people can be exemplary performers in positions that will often overlap, but each will have optimal and preferred areas to work in which are influenced by their educational backgrounds.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

is a complete idiot not worth the time to respond with your estimation of their IQ. Certs perhaps, especially as admin, where the merry go round for new versions is ridiculous. As a developer keeping up witn the times is necessary and certs won't hurt. No degree either, 20 + years, even if I'd got one way back when then, the people interviewing me would not know what the heck I'd learnt anyway. Reverse Polish Notation anyone, is that like hungarian? A Deque, you played cards ? .... I don't even bother with the education section on my cv /resume, it's irrelevant, strangely most assume I must have one otherwise I would have ben found out as a thickie a long time ago.

Jellyyacht
Jellyyacht

Personally, I didn't get the chance to go to University. Instead, I took a four year apprenticeship as an electrician. I am now a VMS sys-admin and couldn't get a job as an electrician even if I wanted to as I haven't passed the "test" invented by our government which substitutes for properly learning a trade. Getting back to the thread.... I worked in the UAE for 2 years as senior engineer in an IT company. I was the only engineer without a degree, all the rest were Indian. I found they are much more appreciative of good education than our society, it is almost a given that to get on you must have a degree. I found Indians hard working and kind people, so Indian bashing is repulsive to me. It's a global job market now, learn to live with it by learning skills that will keep you in a job. Just like the Indians do.

Justin James
Justin James

... a friend of mine makes about as much as I do, as a concrete finisher. Granted, he is in a union, and it is a skilled job. But he spent 4 years earning while I was in college, *and* does not have the debt. If I had known then what I know now... but I'd never be happy spending 40 years doing the same thing every day, either, and he is. J.Ja

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

I believe you are misunderstanding. What I meant to say by "there is no need to have a degree anyways" is that there are other jobs out there that you can do without having a college degree that still pay you enough money to live decently, so people prefer not to "waste" 5 years in a University. In the U.S. in particular, going to College is more of a choice than a necessity. In countries like mine (Ecuador) you must do whatever it takes to go to College, and even if you do go, it is extremely tough to get a job in your field as there are just not enough of them and the market is saturated with highly qualified professionals. I do agree with you that it is necessary to hold a degree on your belt if you want to be able to have a shot at the highest levels.

rclark
rclark

I've been doing this for about 30 years. And the reason I got into it was because college was too expensive. My first semester tuition was half of my family's yearly income. Do the math. So I went into the service for the GI Education Bill. When I got out, I started work right away, intending to go to college. Instead, I went on staff at one. Then time slipped by, and I took other jobs. I've taken courses as needed to keep up on languages that have been developed, and studied topical subjects as needed, but nope, no degree in sight. The times I miss it is when I want to certify something as a professional. Nothing after my name makes that harder. Also when I submit a resume, they look at highest education level obtained, and I always have to put some college but no degree. So it is important for getting your foot in the door or communicating with peers on level of knowledge. Now, with my background and the skills that I can demonstrate, I can work anywhere they don't require a degree for an interview, but I don't kid myself that it's a wide open world for mustangs. In today's workforce, it's almost a prerequisite to have one to get an interview for any tech job, much less the higher ones.