I did most of a CS degree at a University not really known for CS as well (Towson U north of Baltimore). Now I own a Digital Marketing agency, and am currently living on a tropical island in Thailand.
I think my biggest regret in life, which I have very few of, is sticking with the degree program for as long as I did. I eventually dropped out, but not before trying to keep at it and finish it for a long time, because I felt like I had to prove to the world that I could.
I racked up a lot of debt in the process, but more importantly, I lost a lot of time, which is what I wish I had back.
But first, here is what I liked about college:
- Lots of fun times and parties. Totally worth staying for 1-2 years for this alone.
- There were some interesting classes and people, from an intellectual perspective
- I did learn some useful things in CS, that shaped my understanding of technology
That being said, I still think it was a waste of time. Part of that may be because I like to be interested in what I’m learning, and I like to learn by applying, not by theory.
Here is what I disliked:
- Classes are highly dependent on the teacher. Interesting classes with bad teachers were a waste of time.
- Classes are too varied, being forced to learn subjects I’m not interested in was a waste of my time.
- CS programs are incredibly slow moving. I think their entire curriculum could be taught in 6 months.
- CS programs are 98% theory, almost no practical applications or coding takes place.
- The monetary and time costs are far larger than the value I got from the classes.
Personally, I would probably skip college if I was doing it again. Maybe I would do 1 year for the experience and the partying. Then again, backpacking is a great partying experience too.
I would learn the entire Computer Science curriculum online, for free or cheap, at a fraction of the time. I highly recommend Udacity, their instructors are a lot more effective teachers than the ones you will get at a school not known for their program.
To become a web developer, I would go work for a local web agency. Its not nearly as bad as a cubicle job. You will learn 1000x more about web development and internet business in 1 year at web company than you will in 4 years at a university.
Knowing what I know now, I’d only consider going to a university in order to build my personal network. I would only attend a top-tier school where I can be assured that most graduates would do the things I would want people in my network to be doing.
Also keep in mind that degrees are essentially worthless in the non-corporate tech industry. The only thing that matters is what you have done and what skills you have. Once you get some projects under your belt you will always be able to find work.
Take what I say with a grain of salt of course. I’ve tried to share my experiences rather than advice as much as possible, so you can decide if it applies to you.