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Finish degree or do something else?

Discussion in 'Serious' started by Igniseus, 6 Dec 2009.

  1. Igniseus

    Igniseus What's a Dremel?

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    Hi all.

    This year I completed my Foundation Degree in ICT, thankfully receiving a pass. As I met the requirements to top-up to a BSc (Hons) Degree, I though it would be best. However, I have found myself to be massively struggling, even more so than the last 2 years. I have piles of coursework plus my project (12k words plus a massive asp.net website) and its just killing me.
    Last year, I scraped a bare pass (40%) in all assignments except Web Programming and Flash which I achieved A's in, both years.
    The problem this year is that there is a MUCH greater emphasis on this written work and I am already falling behind and struggling to no end. I feel that if I did make it to the end, I would end up with a 2:2 at best.

    So, while still in my first term I was thinking of dropping out and doing something else instead. I would still retain my certificate for the Foundation Degree so the previous 2 years would not be to waste.



    1. My primary option would be to take an apprenticeship in IT. It might not lead to the area I would like to get into (Web Programming), but would offer me a (hopefully) good career in the field I enjoy.
    2. My second option would be to take a specialised course in say ASP.NET (most are 5 day), and spend a significant amount of time self-learning the languages/program and create a portfolio. Hopefully, this would help land me a job as an ASP.NET developer.
    3. My last option would be to simply try and get a job as junior web developer.



    So basically, I wondered what you some of thought about my options? I've spoken to my family about this, but none are in the IT field, so I thought it would be handy to ask those of you who may have got into your career through various means and can over some of your wise wisdom :)

    Thanks for reading, hope I haven't bored you :D
     
    Last edited: 6 Dec 2009
  2. fantastic dan

    fantastic dan Minimodder

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    Finish the degree.

    In all honesty I have no idea what a foundation degree is. Okay I'm no HR but I've worked for a few companies with various web developers. If you're lucky you'll get by without a degree but why make it much harder for yourself for the sake of a year. It might also be worth looking into a couple of .net certs.
     
  3. Igniseus

    Igniseus What's a Dremel?

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    Foundation is more or less the replacement for HND.

    You make it sound so simple completing the degree, did you fully read my post? :) If i'm lucky enough to pass, it would probably be a 3rd, which as far as I know is pretty much disregarded in the industry as a waste of space, and if I manage to do very well, I may get a 2:2, which is worth more, but will still be disregarded by many employers and put me on the bottom of the pile regardless.
     
  4. Bogomip

    Bogomip ... Yo Momma

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    BSc Hons is so much better than a foundation degree - if you want a job in web dev without hons you will need to start in a lower role (customer support etc) or have an impressive portfolio to start with- mainly because it shows you have been taught professional web design as opposed to "hobbyist" web design.

    Almost everybody I know (including myself) has found the final year of uni is so much better than the other years. Its more work, but its more interesting too.

    In the end you have to decide whether its worth risking the real world being (on paper) less qualified than most, or just going the extra year or so and get an honours grade. If I am honest, in third year I did very little work and struggled at the end, receiving a bad grade and feeling like I had done lots of work. In 4th year I worked much more continually, amounting to more work but spread out better, and I got nearly a 1st class for the year. So when you say your'e struggling you ought to consider time management and stuff like that :)
     
  5. Igniseus

    Igniseus What's a Dremel?

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    I appreciate what your saying, and I absolutely agree however the circumstances are different for me as stated above. My grades from the previous year make getting a 1st impossible, not that I could have got one anyway. My course must be different because everyone on it considers almost every module to be immensely boring. Nearly all of them are un-interesting theory and essays. The work load I kid you not is about the size of the previous 2 years combined. In order to pass last year I had to get a massive amount of support, which is largely unavailable this year. My time management is pretty good; 100% dedication to uni and I haven't been to a bar/club once. The problem I have which is hard for people to understand is that I am just really bad at writing and research. I'm fantastic at coding but that is very little of my course.

    Basically to compare the worth of finishing the course you must remember that I will only have a 3rd IF I pass, or a 2:2 if I do VERY well.

    Thank you for your insist though, don't get the wrong impression about what I'm saying, I just want you to understand my academic ability :)

    P.s. apologies for any bad spelling etc, and writing this on my phone.
     
  6. DarkLord7854

    DarkLord7854 What's a Dremel?

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    It's rather easy to find work for web development (from my experiences anyways), the market is huge, and it's constantly evolving and a web presence is becoming more of a requirement for businesses nowadays. The .NET field is extremely large as well, and .NET programmers are practically always in demand, same as PHP & Java. A good knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Javascript will also get you going pretty far, especially if you also have a dynamic language for server applications under your belt.

    If I were you, I'd do 2 & 3. It's extremely easy as a junior web developer to not only learn a language but build a portfolio, as a lot of companies are more than happy to train you on their existing system, and you'll get projects to work on while learning which will start your portfolio.

    However you have to realize that in most cases, in the IT world, a college degree doesn't really mean much, experience, a portfolio, and certifications from Microsoft/Cisco are MUCH MUCH more desirable then a piece of paper that says you have knowledge in w/e field. It might help you a bit at first, but a company will hire someone without a degree but who has knowledge in w/e language(s) they work in vs someone with a degree limited to no knowledge of a language. Speaking from personal experience there as well.. I got hired instead of a college grad, and I have only 1 year of college under my belt, because I knew HTML/CSS, bit of Javascript, and could work my way through ColdFusion & PHP.

    Of course, most people (not in the web development field) will disagree and say college is more important.


    If you're good at code. Go get a job. Writing good code = fast promotions. Seriously. Especially if you start creating things to make your work faster, like a form library, etc. Start looking into the MVC framework for .NET, you may want to try to migrate to C# if you're using VB. The faster, more efficient, and the higher quality code you produce, the more chances you have at getting a good job.

    There's lots of different technologies to go with .NET, such as NHibernate, start doing research and looking into all this, the more you know, the better off you'll be as all companies want to see an increase in profitability, and being able to produce more powerful tools & applications while taking less time because you're using a custom-built library and different toolsets will definitely get you places.

    Same goes for the amount of languages you know, and how good you are with databases.


    (Of course, I don't know if it's the same in the UK.. so.. may wanna take it with a grain of salt)
     
    Last edited: 6 Dec 2009
  7. Cookie Monster

    Cookie Monster Multimodder

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    I did the same courses (i think as it was a while ago), once I passed I struggled to get into a web design company, it took me about 1 1/2 year of ringing all the local web dev businesses, calling in person, handing out cv's / portfolio's of work before I got a break.

    When I did the owner made us all redundant after I had been there 3 months, which was all that was needed to shatter my vision of being a full time web developer.

    After being on the dole for 2 weeks I found a job running a bike shop and never touched a pc for about 3 years. I'm slowly getting back into designing websites to the point where i'm making my 3rd site in as many months and I have found the passion again (even if my code is as rusty as hell).

    If it's what you want to do, don't give up like I did as I regret throwing in the towel. Keep plugging away on the course and when you get stuck ask for help from your tutors, friends and here.
     
  8. Igniseus

    Igniseus What's a Dremel?

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    Thank you DarkLord, that is excellent news to hear :) I'm pretty good at html, css and know a bit of javascript (I made a customisable mastermind game). My php skills go as far as making a simple guestbook and a website that holds info on dogs and kennels allowing you to add edit and delete entries. My asp.net knowledge is more limited as I just started on it. These are the only languages I know but my plan would be to learn much more in the necessary fields to land me a job.

    By the way, where would I get these microsoft certs and do I need to know the stuff first or do I learn it as part of the certification?

    Thanks!
     
  9. fantastic dan

    fantastic dan Minimodder

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    I disagree with you darklord mate (not to say that I'm never wrong :)). I'd say a degree is more desirable. I have both a degree and certs and although I've learnt more studying for certs the degree is really a must for a lot of places.
     
  10. Igniseus

    Igniseus What's a Dremel?

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    But is it more desirable if the grade is a lowly 3rd (very likely) or 2:2, assuming I even pass of course? Everyone tells me those are practically worthless to employers.
     
  11. alecamused

    alecamused Minimodder

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    From my experience ... finish what you started. (Which would be the BSc). At least you won't be a quitter in the employers eyes.
     
  12. Igniseus

    Igniseus What's a Dremel?

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    I have a certificate for the first 2 years, I don't need to tell them about a month of the 3rd year I did :) I just don't want to fight through this year to only end up failing or getting a worthless grade when I could have done something better in that time.
     
  13. Bogomip

    Bogomip ... Yo Momma

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    You need more to be a proper web developer id presume. Some places will train you, but tbh so many people who do other things have good web design skills you would really need to be up there in order to get a good job. Its like alecamused said, employers don't want someone who is going to give up and bail at the first sign of trouble (though they can usually get people with 2:1 degrees too these days)...

    I needed 68.5% in my 4th year to scrape a 2:1 (51% in third year), so dont talk to me about against the odds :p And you dont need a first, a 2:1 is good enough, and in lots of cases a 2:2 is far better than nothing at all. A third honours grade is far superior to a generic Foundation Degree, though admittedly still a bit pointless :)

    Risk being unemployed and learning web dev whilst working a lame bar job, or get a 2:2 and learn web dev whilst living on student loan.

    And I hate to say it but at the end of the day you have to consider what you are going to say to your employer when they ask why you quit after 2 years. You cant tell them that you are only good at coding, part of being an excellent web designer is taking ideas from different places - you might be the best coder ever, but you can sure as hell bet someone somewhere can do one individual part better than you, and as a competitive web designer its your job to implement that.

    Saying all this, you basically sound as if you have given up anyway and are trying to get confirmation that quitting is the right thing to do so meh- imo quitting is wrong, and from my personal experience when I hit bottom at the end of my third year and considered quitting, then came back to get a 2:1, dont do it.

    I cant say any more than that really :)
     
    Last edited: 6 Dec 2009
  14. alecamused

    alecamused Minimodder

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    And the other thing i learned from personal experience: if you need a strangers confirmation for an idea ... it's probably a bad one.
     
  15. Igniseus

    Igniseus What's a Dremel?

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    I haven't quit after 2 years, as I actually signed up for the Foundation Degree, the BSc Hons is a top-up which I just made (technically shouldn't have, but they have a very low boundary for top-up at my Uni), which I think admittedly is beyond my academic ability.

    Your right, I am leaning towards "quitting", but that's because I personally know how much I really struggle with these assignments. The truth is, the previous 2 years I would not have passed without extra help - which wasn't completely legit to be honest, I didn't all out cheat, I just got help padding out my written assignments, otherwise it was a certified failure and wouldn't have even got a pass. It's wrong I know, but the course spec didn't say how few technical assignments there would be, which I managed to score A's in.

    I hope I'm not giving bad impressions here, I genuinely want advise in making my decisions. It may appear that I'm just giving up, or that I'm lazy, or whatever, but the reality is that I know what all my assignments are this year, most have been given out, and I've given it serious thought and dont think I can manage it, and based on the previous year grade (counts towards BSC Hons Degree) it is unlikely that given my best, I would achieve a good grade. I'm trying not to sound negative, but I just want to make the right decision. If I decide to continue on my course then I'll do my very best.

    Is gaining a BSc Hons (even if low grade) really that vital to gaining a career in IT?

    Thanks again for your help all, really is appreciated :)
     
  16. DarkLord7854

    DarkLord7854 What's a Dremel?

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    Not true at all, I started with only basic knowledge of HTML as an intern for 9$/hr.. fast forward a year and a half and I'm at a new job with PHP, ASP, C#, Javascript, ColdFusion, HTML, CSS, XML, SQL/MySQL/Access under my belt and making a hair under 60k/year & have a a small framework, with a template engine & form builder in my portfolio, and 10+ sites.

    I've done 6 interviews for different web developer positions and only 1 asked about my education and it was just a general question, all the others just cared about my programming experience & knowledge.

    It is good to have some type of degree though, and OP says he already has one.

    If you really think/know you won't make it this year, then there's no point killing yourself over it, you can always come back later and continue no? Or maybe drop some classes and go part-time student and get a job (I'm not familiar with the UK education system FYI). If you go part-time, or free up your schedule, there's lots of web design forums where people go to request quotes for work and stuff such as DigitalPoint or oDesk which could be a good start if you want to do a bit of side-work and get your feet wet before trying to look for a full-time job or something.
     
  17. Igniseus

    Igniseus What's a Dremel?

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    Good to hear of your success DarkLord7854 :)

    I can come back to any Uni at any point to finish the last year and get the BSc Hons AFAIK.

    To get me some general work experience in the IT field (not particularly web programming) I was looking at apprenticeships. They only pay below minimum wage, but I would complete them around the same time I would have finished this year of Uni. If the line of work the apprenticeship puts me in looks to be good, I could continue with it, or in my spare time work on improving my Web Programming skills and portfolio, and apply for those jobs whilst working my apprenticeship-gained job. I'm not looking to become rich or anything, would be nice, but as long as I have a decent job with a respectable wage to live off, I will be happy, though that doesn't mean I wont strive to become better and climb the ladder.
     
  18. Jumeira_Johnny

    Jumeira_Johnny 16032 - High plains drifter

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    Famous. Last. Words.
     
  19. alecamused

    alecamused Minimodder

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    Not necessarily. I did and i know a bunch of people that did too. Will be way harder than finishing in one go tough. :)
     
  20. DarkLord7854

    DarkLord7854 What's a Dremel?

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    If the person has the will to do it, they will.
     

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