How I Only Use 0.00000000001% of What I Learned at College in Real World

Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

I graduated in 2005 with a bachelors of Computer Science degree. At the time of graduation I thought I wasted my 4 years in college. But now after 15 years I can say with 100% confidence that I was right.

In this post I will discuss that it is not mandatory to attend college if you are seeking a computer science degree and the education you receive does not justify the cost.

Cost

Attending college in USA is expensive. This is reflected in more than 1.5 trillion dollar student loan debt. Average tuition cost is around $22,000 a year and this does not include room and board. Apart from the high cost, the real culprit is the time spent. Like most students, I spent 4 years for my bachelors degree. During those 4 years, I spent more than 2 years studying subjects that had nothing to do with computer science. This includes:

  • Arts history
  • Western civilization
  • Astronomy
  • Geology
  • Political science 1
  • Political science 2
  • History 1
  • History 2

Why does anyone need to take these subjects in order to learn computer science is beyond my understanding? Universities on-purpose make the degree longer so you end up paying more tuition and spend more time in college.

Professors

During my time in college, I noticed that most of the professors didn’t have any real time experience. Their path to teaching consisted of obtaining the PHD degree, after their masters. This creates a huge gap in their knowledge and how they solve problems. Most of the time when I asked my professors about how to deal with a difficult client, they brushed me off saying get a happy client. They always painted the picture of a perfect client, which unfortunately does not exist in the real world. Most of the professors lived in a very small, perfect world filled with rainbows and sunshine. Even reflection from the real world was kryptonite for them.

Bad Practices

One of the things I learned during my college days is that writing bad code can result in getting high score on assignments. When teachers or TA (Teacher Assistant) were evaluating assignments, they always checked the number of lines. If you write 5000 lines to implement a program which can detect if a number is prime or not then your program is better than the student who implemented the same code in less than 20 lines.

Apart from that if you do not write comment for every single line of code then your marks will be deducted. My friends would hard-code each number by hand using if-else check and would end with much higher score as compared to someone implementing an algorithm to solve the same problem.

Learning Barriers

I had lot of bad experiences in college but one experience in particular left me disappointed. One of the teachers was teaching a .NET class and I had a lot of interest in learning .NET. I was not a student of that class but I still sat in the class to gain knowledge. At that time I did not own a laptop, I could not afford one. So, I asked the lab manager to install .NET framework on one of the lab computers. The first question he asked that if I was enrolled in .NET class or not. I told him I am not but I will want to learn on my own. He refused to install or help me setup the machine. I was left devastated, I was standing in the college hallway asking a lab manager to install a framework on a machine so I can learn and educate myself and he refused to help.

In short college was stopping and preventing me to learn. After that experience, I took on a third job and finally after months of work I was able to buy a laptop. I still own that laptop and it is a reminder that perseverance and consistency triumph stubborn college rules and policies.

Conclusion

At the end of 4 years, I had to unlearn a lot of stuff that I paid money to learn in college. It has been more than 15 years that I have graduated from college and I can safely say that a computer science degree is not worth spending thousands of dollars. You can learn the same thing from reading a book you can lend from a library with $1.50 in late charges. In the next post, I will discuss how you can find other ways of learning programming that are much cheaper and almost 1/16 in time as compared to attending college.

iOS Developer, speaker and educator. Top Udemy and LinkedIn instructor. Lead instructor at DigitalCrafts. https://www.udemy.com/user/mohammad-azam-2/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store