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Should I drop out of university


(David Pedersen) #1

Hi Upcase :blush: I’m not quite sure if this is an appropriate question but I would like to get some input from people familiar with the software development industry.

I have 6 months left of my bachelor in Computer Science and I’m wondering if its nuts to drop out so relatively close to the end. I’ve studied CS for 2.5 years, but I’ve been programming all my life.

The reason I’m considering dropping out is that my interest in school is pretty much gone. Not in CS as a whole, but rather in going to school several times and week and listening to lectures about things that don’t really interest me and aren’t relevant to the kinds I things I wanna do when I’m done with school. I feel like I’ve already learned everything I could from going to school…

I am also secured work-wise when I’m finished (another big factor). I’ve worked at the same company for two years part time and they’re really happy with my work and eager to get me onboard fulltime. I have already signed a contract for fulltime employment that kicks in as soon as I am done. I also love my job and so I’m counting the days until I’m done so I can do more of the work I actually like.

It is also fairly common for people working within the programming industry to not have majored in CS (or something related). I’ve heard of many successful developers who either don’t have a CS degree or says they never really used their diploma in their professional career. Eileen Uchitelle and Marco Arment come to mind.

So I’m kinda thinking that it wouldn’t hurt my career later on if I didn’t have an official degree in CS because I would have lots of experience building real things used by real people, which I believe good companies will value more than a fancy diploma.

Any advice?


(Matt Jankowski) #2

I have 6 months left of my bachelor in Computer Science and I’m wondering if its nuts to drop out so relatively close to the end.

Seems crazy to me – you’re very close … stick it out and finish.

You will have like 40 years to work, but it will become increasingly challenging to finish the degree if you want to, if you don’t do it right now.

The reason I’m considering dropping out is that my interest in school is pretty much gone. Not in CS as a whole, but rather in going to school several times and week and listening to lectures about things that don’t really interest me and aren’t relevant to the kinds I things I wanna do when I’m done with school

Many jobs will require you to show up 5 days a week for 8 hours on end, and listen to things that don’t always interest you and aren’t relevant to things you care about.

I feel like I’ve already learned everything I could from going to school…

No way!

I am also secured work-wise when I’m finished (another big factor). I’ve worked at the same company for two years part time and they’re really happy with my work and eager to get me onboard fulltime.

Are you 100% confident that they will be in business when you graduate?

What about in 5 years? 10 years?

Could your full-time existence there go less than perfectly, and one of you will want to part ways in a year?

It is also fairly common for people working within the programming industry to not have majored in CS (or something related).

It is quite common – but it’s a hurdle you must overcome. You are very close to putting yourself in the “box checked off” category rather than the “have to prove yourself” category – why not go all the way?

I’ve heard of many successful developers who either don’t have a CS degree or says they never really used their diploma in their professional career.

Many developers who have CS degrees use them. For every Zuckerberg and gates there are thousands of people who dropped out and took a risk and it didn’t work out.

So I’m kinda thinking that it wouldn’t hurt my career later on if I didn’t have an official degree in CS because I would have lots of experience building real things used by real people, which I believe good companies will value more than a fancy diploma.

Maybe, maybe not. Hard to know, can’t predict the future.

What if licensing requirements are introduced which make it harder for companies to higher software engineers without degrees?

What if you want to move to a different country some day and need to improve your chances of getting in via having the degree?

Any advice?

You’re very close. Finish the thing.

Dropping out now to take a job is not an AWFUL idea, but I think it is a WORSE idea than staying in, given how close you are.

It seems more likely that you will regret not having finished later on than it does that you will miss out on some life altering opportunity in the next six months which you cannot capture because you are finishing your degree.


(Derek Prior) #3

Take this with a grain of salt, but yes, I think you’d be nuts to drop out with 6 months to go. While I know all about the sunk cost fallacy it does seem like quitting so close to the finish line is something you might regret. I know I was looking forward to graduation my entire senior year, but in hindsight I learned lots of useful things that final year.

It’s also worth noting that there will be stretches, even in the best of jobs, where the work you are doing is not something you enjoy but rather something that must be done to get to things you may enjoy more. Hopefully these periods are brief, but they come and go.

I’ve heard of many successful developers who either don’t have a CS degree or says they never really used their diploma in their professional career.

This is true. But there are also plenty of people with a CS degree that do use what they’ve learned daily. Or plenty of people without a CS (or any) undergraduate degree that would love to have one.

So I’m kinda thinking that it wouldn’t hurt my career later on if I didn’t have an official degree in CS because I would have lots of experience building real things used by real people, which I believe good companies will value more than a fancy diploma.

Will it hurt your career not to get one? If you remain a programmer, probably not. If you, say, become an upper level manager or maybe want to go become a school teacher someday (who knows - you can’t possibly know right now that you want to program for the rest of your life) you may need an undergrad degree – any undergrad degree – as a prerequisite of whatever those positions will require.

Also, if I were interviewing you and it came up that you were 6 months from an undergrad degree but quit for no better reason than boredom, I’d certainly think twice about hiring you. It’d probably not come up in an interview I’d do, but if it happened to it would make me wonder how you’re going to handle that first 3 month stretch of kind of boring work.


(Andy Waite) #4

Stick with it. Don’t burn your bridges.

There are certainly many successful developers from a non-CS background, but when you’re this close to finishing it doesn’t make sense to quit. Here’s why:

  • Things you’re covering in CS right now may not seem relevant, but there’s a good chance that some of them will come up in your career, and you’ll be thinking “I wish had paid more attention to that”.
  • Rightly or wrongly, some companies will simply not consider you without a degree. You might not think you’d ever want to ever work at such a place, but if your personal situation changes in future, a job with a more ‘traditional’ employer may makes sense.
  • If you ever have a chance to work or live abroad, having a degree matters a lot for countries that use a points-based system.

If you’re coping ok with the course material, use this time to expand your horizons, e.g. pick up a new language very different from Ruby.


(spencer1573) #5

its nuts… you can be held back from promotions for not having a degree.