Bold statement right?
Recently, I posted about my journey to becoming a self-taught software engineer & game developer. As someone who spent 9 years giving the middle finger to society, I can tell you, that if you’re thinking that your college degree in CS is going to be your saving grace and land you that dream job, you’re out of your f!*@ing mind…
This goes very far beyond just my personal opinion of the education system and I can back it up with a ton of personal experience. Now, before I continue with the cold hard truth, there are going to be some of you who strongly disagree with this point of view. That’s cool. Leave me a comment with a stronger supported argument and I’ll include you in the post :)
Before exploring my personal experience with this matter, let’s look at a typical 4-year college degree curriculum. I’m using the University of Florida for this example as I’m told they have a decent computer science degree program.
Immediately…what do you see? Chemistry? With Lab? 8 Physics credits, combined with Calculus? Do you really think you’re going to use that much math in your programs and applications?
Fun fact. You’re not…I’ll have another article about math for game developers & software engineers coming soon. So make sure to Clap and Follow :)
Then they get onto the computer science major courses. Programming Fundamentals 1 and 2, intro to comp organization, numerical analysis?(what?) sr. project, and intro to software engineering, with some other bullshit looking classes.
Looking at this, let’s sum up the curriculum…You’re going to pay $40,000 maybe even more if you’re out of state…and you’re going to be really good at math…you’re not going to use that knowledge as much as you’d like probably, and you’re going to have some chemistry knowledge, which absolutely will be useful in your programming career (that’s a joke), and then finally! After spending 4 years, you’re going to be qualified for literally nothing…
Your fundamental 1 and 2 classes can be found on youtube. And so much more. Seriously, look up any online spoonfed youtube tutorial, and you’ll gain more than what your college professor is going to teach you. I’m confident the introduction to software engineering principles is going to be a complete waste of time, do yourself a favor, save yourself $40,000 and pick up any “Head First” series online for $30.
Here’s one I recommend
Lastly, did you notice only 1 course related to Sr. Project development…One course. In one semester, you have the freedom, in your senior year, to build something of your own and demonstrate the skills learned…
Maybe you’re thinking you want to make a game? So you self-teach yourself unity for a semester. Or maybe you do something ambitious, and pick up a c++ library and build some basic rendering application to demonstrate your knowledge of projection matrices.
Then you graduate…
Meanwhile, meet one of my students and long time friend Samuel Arminana.
See, while you were spending 4 years, learning the absolute basics of how to use a computer, and getting drunk on the weekends, and spending your free time with your friends, Sam here…was building a portfolio of content, establishing himself as an authority figure, and making sure that he was going to get every job over you.
Oh, Forgot to tell you…Sam is only 19…And yes, he works for EA. So let that sink in… Who would you want to hire? Sam? Who’s proven himself? Or the new CS grad who has maybe 1 project and a sloppy GitHub repository? Pretty clear right?
Now that we have seen why the self-guided, self-taught engineer career path is the better choice, let’s continue to pour salt on the wound.
Now on to my personal experience. I have to be honest…I have a college degree. I know, i know…but Jon, you just shat all over that 4 year system…I never said I had a computer science degree…
I took a 9 year college route. I have a very big secret related to my education that I was never proud of and I kept it a total secret…even from my wife untill a few years ago. (I’ll do another article on that in the future. Clap and follow to have that be revealed)
But long story short, I took a 9 year college route, because at 19, I authored a book. At 20, I was at Adult Swim, by 21, I was building enterprise apps for companies like AT&T, Coca-Cola, GE, ThyssenKrupp, and by 23, I was building state of the art casino software. Why did I need to get a piece of paper to justify what I’m already doing? I was making more than my colleagues WITH degrees. And rightfully so. I was better than them.
Now, eventually, I wanted to marry my wife, and she insisted I have a college degree, and her mother backed her up very heavily on that. She came around after I became a published author, but still wasn’t 100% satisfied. So what did I do?
My job, as a software engineer, is to solve problems. And that’s exactly how I approached this. If Society is going to force me to get a piece of paper, it sure as hell isn’t taking credit for the amount of self-taught dedication and passion that I’ve poured into the success of my life.
I did what anyone would do. Who recognizes that the traditional college system is full of shit and knows I’m ready to work in the real world?
FOR PROFIT COLLEGES.
I’m not joking. I emailed them and sent them my entire 9 year history of working professionally, and specifically requested which program they would recommend for the most applied proficiency credits. This is typically something you can only get through a for-profit college.
I had one requirement. The degree can not be computer science or anything related to the field. They got back to me in a few days, and they proposed a 2-semester program to earn a business development and project management degree. Entirely online! I took 6 classes, focused on project management, business development, and accounting, paid $20,000, and got my Bachelor of Science in Technical Project Management. They accepted and gave me every proficiency credit, and of course, all Gen Ed, was covered from when I was 16 (dual enrollment).
Now here’s the best part about me getting a degree, and finally pleasing society, my wife, her mother, my family…Because let me tell you, my employers? They sure as hell didn’t give a shit where I went to school. I get this piece of paper which was so highly valued and discussed and then they finally just STFU. They no longer cared because I had a degree that society says I should have.
Should you get a degree is a story for a different day. But as you can see, I have painted a very clear picture that should have you questioning your decision on why you’re enrolled in a CS degree program.
Throughout my years of interviewing and being apart of the interview process, I have interviewed dozens of graduates from top-ranking schools like NYU, and many from Georgia Tech.
The graduates of these programs are so damn intelligent. They really are. They’re extremely book smart. They know all the theory…But they lack any real-world experience. In today's market, tech is moving faster than any of us can even keep up with…As a tech start-up, I need someone who can hit the ground running today. Hiring people is expensive. I can hire you because you have a CS degree, or I can hire Sam, who’s been doing this for the entire 4 years you were in school and can provide immediate value to our company.
Every hiring decision that I got to be apart of, I never gave a shit where you went to school. I only cared about your work and how quickly I can get you involved in our day to day. With Sam, his portfolio takes the guesswork away from the equation on if you are qualified for this job. I can now spend 80% of my interview on are you a culture fit for our team?
The guy with the CS Degree and 1 github repo from his Sr. Project? I have to probe you to find out if you’re qualified. Which means harder questions. More time spent on your skills and less time on are you a fit for the company.
There’s one more tid bit I’d like to throw in here before I end the discussion. I know this is getting long. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed reading so far.
About 70% of the professional software engineers that I’ve encountered through trainings, through collegues, however I came in contact with them, the ones who graduated with typical CS degrees, were complacent in their careers.
They stopped learning. They did the bare minimum. They collected their paycheck. And they focused on just the work being done at work. They lose interest in their skill.
The self-taught developer? He/she is still growing, constantly striving to be the best, and continuing to establish themselves as an authority in the space.
I invite you to check out Samuel Arminana. He’s a fantastic self-taught software engineer and he is constantly writing new articles on topics related to Unity and programming.
Thanks for reading and if you’d like to place yourself on a structured career learning path that won’t cost you $40,000, you can learn more at https://gamedevhq.com
p.s — Opinions are of my own and through my experience. Not looking to start a war against formal education. (Although, that would be very fun!)