Since we have a certification thread, I thought it might be good to have a thread dedicated to getting a degree in a computer related field. So, you're pretty good at computers, and are thinking about getting a degree in something related to that? First of all, you need to decide which degree is right for you: Math An odd subject to begin a discussion of what degree you might want, but it is really quite important. What degree you want may really depend on how much math you want to suffer through. Both computer science and computer engineering degrees require quite a lot of math. For example, at my university, it only requires 1 more upper level math class from the required courses in order to get a minor in math! Besides computer related courses, you will be taking quite a lot of math. If you don't like math particularly, but still like computers, an MIS degree might be a better choice. Most of those degrees have business math instead of engineering math. I haven't taken business calculus, but from what I've heard, it is easier than its engineering counterpart. MIS vs. Computer Science/ Computer Engineering Let's say you are totally comfortable with large amounts of math. Given this, the decision of what degree to pursue becomes a little bit harder. I will try to show some of the differences between the two branches of computer related degrees. MIS and Comp Sci/ Comp Engr. Granted, as a recipient of a Comp Engr degree I will be a bit bias, but I will try to be balanced. The main difference that I have seen between Computer Science/Engineering and Management of Information System degrees that I have seen is that Comp Sci/Engr degrees tend to be a great deal more theory oriented, while MIS degrees tend towards the practical. For example, a sample Comp Sci class about networks might cover the 7 layer ISO protocol, how computers communicate over a network, and perhaps some projects where you would create a several proof of concept applications (implement traceroute for example). An MIS class about networking would tend towards the setup of a network, how to maintain said network, and how to run various services on a network. Instead of creating a traceroute applications, you would have to setup MS IIS to serve dynamic pages under so and so conditions. Most computer science degrees will teach you very few languages. They assume that once you have the concepts, that languages will be easy. Most of languages I have learned have been from the fact that an assignment was due in the language, and I had to learn it to do the assignment. The emphasis was on concepts, and less on making solutions. The main advantage an MIS degree will have is its emphasis on the business aspect of computing. Things like cost analysis, project management will be given a much more in depth view than in a comp sci degree. The common humorous concensus is that while comp sci will have a better understanding of the computer, their boss will usually be an MIS degree holder. (Of course, my university had all of its computer science degree students pick a secondary course to broaden their skills, and most took MIS for their secondary). Best of both worlds. Computer Science vs Computer Engineering If you have decided on the more computer related of the degree paths, you might be wondering about the difference between computer science and computer engineering. The main one (at least at my university) is that computer engineering has a great deal more emphasis on the hardware aspects of the computer. With computer engineering I had a great deal more electical engineering courses than a computer science major. These included all sorts of analog design courses, and a signal processing course. It also required a more regimented list of science courses; Computer science majors could take a variety of science courses, while computer engineering students could only take physics and chemistry. I have no idea what other schools have, but the other difference that computer engineering degrees and computer science degrees have is that while computer science degrees have a secondary subject, computer engineers don't: the electrical and engineering courses make up for that. Tips for whatever your are: Co-ops: Also known as cooperative education. There is gold in those damn hills. Coops basically give unexperienced students (like you) experience in the computing field, while giving you lots of money. Coops, and internships, are awesome ways of getting money for college, and at the same time getting lots of experience to put on your resume. The other good way of getting experience is to take a part time job on, or off campus. As someone with computer skills, you are slightly rare, so you will get more per hour than the usual burger flipper. This will vary with college and town, and it will still probably suck for the cost of living. Most places where I live pay piss poor wages because computer people are so thick on the ground. It still pays better than McD's though. _______________________________________________________________ I wager that might be good for a beginning. Please leave comments, criticisms, rants, insults and any other thoughts. Personel experience is highly valued.