College was my biggest mistake. Not your biggest mistake. I'm not giving advice, just being honest about my experience. You have to "pay to play". Who knows if I would have been able to bootstrap myself without a year of college. All I know is I can't imagine the ridiculous amount of debt I'd be in if I finished.
It boils down to this: I wish that when I was 18 someone told me college wasn't the only option.
I'm the product of a Western-European system. Yearly tuition was like $2k. Your 44k would have covered 4 years in college including housing, food and ample beer.
IMHO, the real problem lies in the acceptance of the status quo in the American educational system and the unwillingness to let government play a role (through taxation, grants, etc). It's baffling to me that a first-world country like the USA doesn't want to invest in education. If you don't pay for the education, you'll pay for the unemployment benefits and/or lack of innovation.
I make a good living, but still I worry greatly about my daughter's future. Avg college tuition supposedly will reach 90k/yr by the time she's ready to attend, unless something is done about this madness.
Bill Gates has the right idea with his 10K BA challenge and I like what I see:
This is not meant as a personal attack, but your claim that government doesn't play a role in American education is false. The U.S. government plays a massive role and is, arguably, the single biggest factor in the cost of American higher education. The federal government doles out many grants, but more importantly, it subsidizes student loans to cover tuition. This means just about anyone with a pulse can obtain a loan to cover tuition to whatever school they want to attend, regardless of what the student wants to study. Colleges large and small know this, and have dedicated staffs to help students obtain these loans.
That and an incredible marketing push akin to how diamonds were marketed, as in you have to have a degree/diamond
The government subsidizing college educations causes the price of education to increase.
Whether you pay it back in 2 years or 20 years, the price is higher.
You also pay for it later, when you become a working taxpayer.
BTW government run healthcare is still an economic issue. The only difference is that there's one choice and it's compulsory.
In the Netherlands the government subsidizes universities per student they take on, provides a monthly stipend to students (from about $400 to $800 depending on whether your parents income, with the possibility to borrow more) and sets yearly home-student tuition-fees (at $2200). And still Dutch universities perform quite well in the world-rankings (all 14 roughly between spot 40 and 200).
Admittedly this is made easier by the fact that the Netherlands does not have any private universities (of any fame and influence), and the fact that things have been organized like this for a long time now...
After having spent 5 years in university, having a debt of even $40.000 is considered a lot here.
The simple solution is to stop subsidizing loans to any student for any degree.
People like to believe basic economic principles like supply and demand don't apply to things like education or healthcare, even when the evidence stares them in the face. (See millions of unemployable liberal arts graduates and the voracious demand for computer science majors.)
re student loan default data, this is very difficult to determine. First, many subsidized loans are being deferred, and thus not counted as "in default", even though they are not being repaid. The only data I can find quickly on the web only goes through 2009, which is obviously going to be dramatically lower than the default rate today.
Don't even get me started on the diamond thing. "Two monthly salaries". Good job De Beers (and Harvard/Yale/Vassar).
* extending loans directly instead of letting privatized banks make the money
* building new universities and work towards accredited alternatives (eg 10K BA)
* pushing people to existing universities via financial incentives
* establishing a max. tuition increase for private universities or risk losing any governmental funding (e.g. indirectly, no extend loans to people who attend private institutions)
* tax private uni endowments (often running in the hundreds of millions, or even billions, and mostly unused) to fund public education etc etc
Please please please, don't let the government with its stinky paws turn them into some mediocre Western-European institutions.
Let people (students AND employers) realize the value of education, or lack thereof, on their own. Remove obstacles from competition (aka less government), don't add more through regulation.
Half of that 60% is citations in research. Hardly surprising again that the Anglo universities get a guernsey there, given that English is the lingua franca these days, particularly in science. If a university only publishes in English, then it's going to get a wider citational audience as compared to splitting its output between French and English.
Ultimately, in the context of the discussion here, the concern is the quality of teaching, not the quality of research. While there is an interaction between the two, they are not synonymous.
What you should be argueing is that researchers are more densely distributed in top universities in the US, because in Europe researchers are less likely to jump to another country. Especially when they prefer to publish in their own language.
This may or may not be true.
Truth is, I at least and I think we in general are rather envious of the awesome top universities the US has.
But I think the US should be envious that we in Europe have our quality spread over the universities, and no matter what your parents' income or background is, or how much effort you put into highschool, you will always be able to attend a quality university.
I think that's worth not having the world's top universities.
The implication that universities in Western-Europe are 'mediocre' seems misguided.
And especially too much of the naive belief - used to his advantage by many a shrewd businessman - that cost equates quality.
Also, as already mentioned in other posts, many UK/EU universities do very well. I am currently at Oxford, and I would choose it over practically any American university.
And virtually all Western-European universities do way better than the bottom 3/4th of the American ones, which after all is what most Americans will encounter when they go to a 4-year 'college'.
Am I right that there is a hidden assumption in there, saying "you're too stupid, we know better, let us protect you from making voluntary deals with other parties"? That sounds like a horrible premise for any kind of governance, and possibly a self-fulfilling prophecy.
(hah! are we there yet? people under so many well-meant regulations that we're becoming irresponsibly naive and stupid?)
Or maybe, coming from Eastern Europe, I am just too allergic to the we-know-better-than-you-what-you-need central planning.
Re. "Oxford! Cambridge!" etc. -- the fact there are excellent universities all over the world doesn't affect (much less invalidate) the claim that the top universities are predominantly American.
I agree that the distribution of quality when it comes to universities is uneven -- but so what? I find that natural. This idea that all universities should somehow be uniform and on the same level makes me, once again, shudder. What's next? All cities should be the same size, so everybody has the same opportunity to find a job? Think of the poor village children!
So, just to point out, your education didn't only cost $2k per year. Moreover, it didn't only cost you 2k per year – your system just does a better job of disconnecting the costs from the education.
You will be taxed more throughout your life for that education (or, well, paying for the same thing for others, but essentially, it's equivalent to you having financed your education, except you have no choice in the matter) – admittedly, you're likely not going to be taxed as much as I'll pay outright in loans (my guess, only), but it's not as big of a spread as you're trying to claim here.
Also, as you point out, everyone pays en there is no choice in the matter. This is a good thing. This is also what's terribly wrong about America... the MEconomy.
People only want to pay for things they benefit from directly and refuse to contribute to the collective, for the benefit of the greater good. Education, healthcare, etc etc
Further, we have plenty of experience here with government run systems that are so highly inefficient that there's a (very warranted) mistrust in the ability of any government run system to deliver a superior product for a lower cost.
We temper some of those two extremes by allowing for nonprofit corporations – and that is where I believe healthcare should primarily be handled, rather than for-profit industries like we see now... but of course, educational institutions are nonprofits, in most cases and they are acting more and more like for-profit ones, so it's clearly not sufficient on its own.
The US invests quite a lot of money in education. Some of it is hidden in grants. People often only look at Dept of Ed funding, but miss such funding sources as Dept of Energy grants and USDA (Land Grant Colleges). Even if the grant is for some specific research, a portion of the grant (called indirect) becomes part of the general fund of the college.
There are studies that suggest that The Federal Government role in tuition relief (e.g. Pell Grant) has lead to the increase in tuitions.
This ignores the spending of local and state governments on education.
$40+K is just unbelievably expensive. Why do people subject themselves to such abuse? Basically you're saying you could either A) get a university education or B) buy a house.
Really good NPR Planet Money podcast on this - http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/05/11/152511771/the-real...
> I worry greatly about my daughter's future.
I guess she has the same European citizenship as you? The smartest thing to do (although ethically debatable) is to go back to your native country for her college years, and get it fully subsidized by European taxpayers.
Moreover, there's an important side-effect to USA's outrageous prices: except for some niches such as the Ivy League, if you're paying you'll be treated as a customer and they'll try very hard to deliver the goods (the diploma); this objective goes against being academically demanding, failing sub-par students etc. It's bound to have a dramatic impact on quality.
Something that baffles me in the USA, by the way: I can understand making a 6 figures investment in one's training, but it sounds like many if not most people choose personal development majors rather than employable ones: history, gender or African-American studies, arts, literature... I could see myself investing a year of my life and a couple K€ in a subject that fascinates me, but come on, a house's worth?!
Anyway, If I were to move out of Western Europe, I'd probably go back for my kids' studies, be it for the price or for the quality.
As far as personal development majors ... an 18 year old who has never even paid rent really doesn't have the concept of how much money the debt is and "everyone else is doing it" furthermore high-school guidance counselors are the ones who most often are turned to for advice on schools and majors, and AFAICT they don't have a clue about what they are talking about.
You still have to factor in housing and food and opportunity cost, cheaper tuition alone doesn't invalidate the argument. Also the way learning is done in College is often counter productive and not necessarily relevant to your future occupation.
I am of the opinion that some mistakes are worth making.
You hit bottom.
The better story to tell here, IMO, is that when you hit bottom somehow you found inspirations to bounce back and became successful. This is really the story you are telling, and it's a good story.
It's okay, as long as you can find your way out of it, of course.
It wasn't the right choice then, but (putting aside all issues of debt) do you think you'd get more out of it now? Or in a decade? I really enjoyed university, got a lot out of it, but I'm getting even more pleasure out of taking another degree part-time now around my job and the thought of taking three or four years off now purely to study and learn and mentally play is much more enticing than the first time round.
Maybe it's just because I'm older, maybe it's because I've been working for a decade, maybe some other set of reasons, but I think I'd get a great deal more out of it now than I did then (which is not to say I didn't get a lot out of it; I did, but I'd get more now).
Having some time to get older and know myself (or, perhaps, reflect on the nature of selfness) led me to make great use of the incredible resources and space a university offers.
Everyone's path is different, so yours might vary, but you never know! I don't know if you still carry any fear or shame about the college experience (I did), but you're clearly driven and capable of great success. Don't let any of that other stuff get in the way should you ever find yourself with a passion and the desire for university as a space to focus and invest in yourself. In any case, congrats on success!
Yes, but even still, that's a decision that no one but you ever could have made for yourself. There's no shame in dropping out of college (or even being forced out) and going on to have a kick-ass career. The stories of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, et al., can attest to that. But even those guys went to college at first, before realizing that it was slowing them down or sidetracking them. It's hard to say if they would have had that self-knowledge without trying out college first.
Even if someone had told your 18 year old self that college wasn't your only option, you probably wouldn't have believed him. The idea of college-as-necessity is so firmly ingrained in our national culture that only an unusually self-actualized 18 year old would know, right off the bat, no experience required, that it wasn't for him.
“I didn’t leave college because it wasn’t suited to me.
I left college because I thought I had to move quickly on the Microsoft opportunity.
I had already finished three years and if I had used my AP credits properly I would have graduated.
I am as fake a dropout as you can get.”
There really is fine line between dropping out to go "towards" something and dropping out to "get away"
In that sense, I think you may have been seeing the future and simply opted out instead of weighing yourself down with debt and a bunch of stuff you even said yourself you could learn faster anyways.
Looks like it was a calculated move and its paid off quite well.
And actually I’m not in nearly as much debt as I could be. Plus I met a bunch of good people while there, and even though the classes were useless, I took the opportunity to learn a lot on my own. College, like any investment, is what you make of it.
Too many graduates stop learning, thinking they're done.
Yeah, no. This is the problem with so many of these anti-college diatribes: legitimate criticisms such as increasingly abysmal professor-to-administrative ratios are drowned out in complete hyperbole.
Or, taken another way: treat this article as an anecdote rather than a prescription.
That was true for me in high school, but not in college.
At Caltech, it took me about an average of 3 hours to learn the material covered in an hour of lecture. A joke at the time was "one week into the semester, and I'm already 3 weeks behind!"
A friend down the hall could learn a Caltech course in a few hours by flipping through the textbook. I was nowhere near as smart as him.
I very much doubt this, and I'm curious about the truth. I suspect that if you replaced 'smart' with 'well trained' it would be true. No one is born knowing support vector machines, but if you'd previously learned perceptrons and quadratic minimization you could understand them in an afternoon. My guess is that your friend was very very precocious - and well trained.
Now I'm curious. Do you know what he ended up doing?
He's also one of the nicest and unassuming fellows I've known. He's like what people say Woz is like (I've never met Woz).
I think what happened was I "learned how to learn". Part of that indeed was getting better at picking out what to focus on. I don't believe I got any smarter.
It was still a full time job to keep up, though. 33 years after I graduated, I still have "examination dreams" where I attend a class and have no idea what the prof is talking about. Fortunately, these dreams have become less and less frequent over the decades :-) But it was worth it. I'm glad I've never been in combat, I shudder to think about the nightmares vets must suffer.
Surely you've had an experience where something you picked up on a single afternoon had more long term value than an entire course?
The distinction in my mind is the definition of useful. Are we talking useful in careers or useful in life? I took six credits worth of British literature that probably won't be making my code any better, but the influence it had on the way I view the world and make decisions can't be replicated by an afternoon of hacking and Googling.
I feel people who have graduated from college, and have obviously excelled in that environment, fail to realize what it is actually like for other people. Sadly, promoting college as the prescription is even more common than this side of the coin.
Still, the intensity of that course can vary, depending on the number of 'credit hours' it is worth: for example, a one credit class might meet for once a week, whereas a three credit class will meet thrice.
Overall I thought it was great, I learned a huge amount, pushed myself really hard (mentally and physically) and had a hoot of a time socially. I don't regret it for a moment - and not just because it didn't cost me or my parents a penny!
[NB My tax payments have more than repaid the investment made in me.]
Semesters by definition are about 15 weeks long. Some schools (like RIT) operate on shorter quarter schedules of ~9 weeks, but this is definitely not the norm.
Sorry, not amongst myself and all my friends. 44K/year is an absurd amount of money.
I just posted on how I got a BA degree in 2004 from UC Berkeley for 11K total.
See here: [http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5154095]
I think your title should be: "Going to an expensive college with no game-plan nor interest in working hard is the biggest mistake."
Additionally you did not list living costs, books, or any other additional charges you get hit with when going to school. Unfortunately the system depends on the majority of students paying the full price for tuition and housing. Don't try to pass off what happened to you as something that can happen to everyone if they pull up on their bootstraps hard enough.
How so? Taking the scholarship out of the question for a moment, how does that change my central argument? That still puts my degree around 15K (a reasonable sum).
Community College => State school BA. I bet most people could do this for under 20-25K depending on the school. Going to an expensive private school for all 4 years is absurd unless you have a decent amount of grant/scholarships etc.
I don't think NMT is exceptional in this. There are lots of schools you haven't heard of that would love to have you, and some of them are probably decent at what you'd like to study.
If everyone does CCx2 years -> Statex2 years, then it simply means the market also has to double which I think isn't a problem.
EDIT: I should also add that I didn't do so well during my first semester at CC, right after high school. I did finish the semester, but I took a break while I worked my way up in an IT department. Eventually maturity caught up with me and I went back to school and completed in about four years, going part time in the evenings. Going to university right out of high school isn't for everyone and I'd even say that I'm glad I waited. Taking classes while working in a professional environment made those classes MUCH more relevant to my daily life. I ended up graduating with a 3.90. That's not meant as a brag, just an example that waiting to get your degree can make the experience more meaningful and improve your chances of success.
it feels like the difference between working a job for 35 hours a week and 50 hours a week.
Without somebody advising you "This will be one giant expensive fuckup if you're not careful," and with everyone around you saying, "You HAVE to do this," this is what happens.
You were lucky.
I never finished college. It was boring and just felt like an extension of high school, an experience that was mostly mediocre and not due for repetition.
It was just me, my sister, and my mom growing up. Not a lot of money from mom for college, though she helped where she could. After a while, I was pretty much doing what the author was. Side projects and self-education. Until I was 27, the most money I ever made in a year was $30k.
I went through a nasty breakup in 2007 and moved out to San Francisco. Within 2 weeks I had 2 offers for between $75-$85k. I thought getting $60k was going to be awesome. Needless to say, I was floored. To be honest, I'm 10x the engineer now than I was then.
I know that for a lot of people, your degrees were hard won and very valuable to you. Hell, I'm jealous from time to time of you guys and regret I never finished my computer engineering degree. I was scraping by and learning where I could, but almost totally missed out on the college experiences that so many other people have.
But I think what the author and I are saying is that there are multiple roads to success. There's nothing wrong with getting a degree if you're the kind of person that its good for. We just aren't those kinds of people. You don't have to be defensive because we aren't criticizing. At least, I'm not.
If anyone is looking for a node.js/js engineer hit me up. I run jsonip.com which is currently pushing almost 6 million requests per day. I can make things scale.
In short, if you're going to one of the best colleges in the nation for free and you love classroom learning, of course it's going to be a great experience. That's a no brainer.
What if you don't like classroom learning? What if you went to a bad high school, you disliked it from the beginning, and weren't motivated to get the grades to get into one of the top colleges because of your prior experiences with school?
Speaking as someone who started college at a state university, it was a very mixed bag. All these brilliant peers you guys are talking about? Yeah, they weren't there. I was taking classes as a freshman with seniors who were barely passing and bad-mouthed the professors whenever they could. When I mentioned functional programming to my advisor in the CS department, she didn't really even know what I was talking about. They had a theory of programming languages, which she "thought" would talk about them, but I wasn't allowed to take it for another three years because of all these requirements on how you progress through the courses. So instead I got to take a class on Java where you'd have a three hour lab with TAs there to assist you, and your only task would be to write FizzBuzz.
Now I eventually transferred to a much better school, and I had a much more enriching experience. Suddenly I had peers who were interning at Google, Facebook, etc. Suddenly I had an academic advisor who wanted me to push myself rather than hold myself back. Suddenly I had really interesting homework projects rather than a week to do FizzBuzz. And at that point I started to get a lot more out of college.
Yeah, there's your problem. I didn't spend 44K on my entire bachelor's degree. Neither did anyone else I know... It's dang stupid to burn that kind of money if you can choose not to.
edit & reading this after lunch: OK, I was a tad nasty there. Apologies for being nasty. But I stand by my point that there are other options that are considerably cheaper.
It was much lower when OP when to school as well.
By contrast, I've definitely seen people who dropped out of college and became successful in something, but who later regretted having not taken advantage of their college education.
My take on it is that it was just a decision made by an 18 year old. Now that I'm hustling out there I feel like I should have just been hustling all along instead of taking a detour that I don't think made a difference in the long run. This could be partly due to the industry we are in and I'd even agree that it's probably the wrong attitude to have about an education, but it's the way I feel. I see no reason to support that racket. I would never advise anyone against attending either since it's one of those YMMV life experiences.
At the end of the day you look at it as a bad decision, you learn from it, and promise yourself to be smarter in the future by not making the same (or a similar) decision ever again.
It would be like a successful businessman who later regrets it all and wishes he had lived on welfare. It doesn't happen because if he truly wanted to live on welfare, he would not have built his business in the first place. On the other hand, you are apt to find people on welfare who regret not starting a business.
The fact that you think you're making a huge investment doesn't explain the fact that some investments are more regrettable than others.
College students noticing doubts about what they are doing, they are going to drop out to figure out what is wrong. People who successfully graduate are almost never going to have that problem just by making it to graduation. The whole idea that college graduates have that kind of regret infrequently is probably true, but it doesn't really tell us anything meaningful.
It is like noticing that college graduates are mostly hard working people. Well, sure. The people who aren't hard working dropped out already. That, however, doesn't also mean that all dropouts are not hard working. There are many reasons why people need to drop out and those reasons sometimes come with their own sets of doubt.
And yet many people who successfully drop out of college to (say) pursue a business (through their blood, sweat, and tears, arguably sometimes even more so than their college-student counterparts), however, do end up regretting it.
("Fake" dropouts like Bill Gates notwithstanding; see my comment above if you're not sure what I mean.)
The idea that the first group "almost never" going to have that problem, whereas the second group is likely to, should make you wonder why that might be the case.
(It's not a tautology.)
Not really. I've already explained it. To be in college in the first place means that you have some reason to want to graduate. Often life gets in the way, such as that great businesses opportunity you cannot pass up, but that doesn't make your reasons for wanting to go to college magically disappear.
I also find the attempt to make it a binary issue for graduates interesting. A successful business owner who regrets dropping out doesn't have to regret starting that successful business, but a college graduate has to regret dropping out if he wants to regret not starting a business, or whatever. Why can't a college graduate be happy with his accomplishments and regret not starting a successful business during those years?
If you regret a choice, it means you wish you had made some other choice.
It doesn't make any sense to regret not making a business when you're happy with your current accomplishments... unless you're asking why someone couldn't have done both simultaneously, in which case the answer is: most people can't run a successful business and a successful college career simultaneously. One is already hard enough.
So, you are saying someone who has a successful business and regrets not finishing college must regret starting said business? I don't think it works like that. It is quite possible to be happy with your business and wish you could have done other things at the same time.
Likewise, I expect many graduates do wish they could have done more during that time of their life (just look at how many lament that they didn't get to party because they were studying all the time), but that doesn't mean they need to regret the accomplishment full stop.
"to feel sorry and sad about something previously done or said that now appears wrong, mistaken, or hurtful to others"
So, yes, if you regret something then, by definition, that means you wish you hadn't done it. That's what calling an action "wrong" or "a mistake" /means/.
Full disclosure - I am an RIT grad.
1. The author assumes they wouldn't have done any better than they currently are even if they did ace/complete college. They might in fact have been far better off than they currently are, even if they consider themselves successful.
2. The author possibly discounts indirect skills which they picked up during college. These are not necessarily taught but rather a by-product of the college environment (i.e. public speaking, word choice in conversation, social adaptation, ability to argue a point etc)
3. Someone currently making a decision about going to college may think that they too won't derive any value from college since famous/successful person X didn't find it useful. There is an unfortunately amount of young people who believe being successful is their undeniable destiny and don't have a plan B. Most will at some point or another have to take a job and most likely that job will ask for a college degree.
I was thinking about this too. I studied an irrelevant subject at a top tier university. In a sense the only benefits were indirect skills (a world famous university does look good on a resume, but not if they ask for transcripts (which only the INS/CIS has ever done)
I think that in the moment, once you have flipped the bit on college, you are no longer getting any benefits, certainly not any net benefits at which point pulling the rip-cord seems smart.
 History and Philosophy of Science - more relevant to software development than I normally admit.
>The culmination of my second year was a 0.33 GPA.
I completed it.
But I wish I had dropped out.
Also I wish I did not had this stupid 20k loan to pay too.
Here in Brazil the best wage you can get as programmer, is still around 36k (yes, I am not kidding).
I get right now 15k.
So I get 15k yearly, and I have a 20k loan =D How awesome is that?
Emigrating sounds a lot easier when you find a job elsewhere and is invited.
> Here in Brazil the best wage you can get as programmer, is still around 36k (yes, I am not kidding).
Assuming you mean 36k USD, that's about R$5500 per month (assuming you're on CLT=permanent employee, not a contractor). That's on the lower end for a senior programmer  in São Paulo. You can certainly earn more than that if you're good and you do some professional networking.
In any case, debt apart, 36k isn't such a bad salary to live on in São Paulo if you're single.
It was fun and I learned a lot, but I'm 80k in debt and not making much more than I was working in the factories and warehouses.
Give me 3-4 years more and I'll be better off, but right now it just sucks.
Which school did you study?
Also I got loan from CEBRADE.
It works by you paying 30% of your current tuition, and then paying the other 70% later, but at the current tuition rates.
When I started, my tuition was 960, I paid 30% of that.
Now I pay 1100 monthly (yes, it means that current students have a tuition that is around 1500)
Even now, where we can get a worldclass education with coursera, Udacity and a nice programming skill with code Academy.
Sure, it's easy to cash that in for a sweet job if you're a very hard worker (note: not necessarily "passionate") and/or if you have some valuable skills that would just deprecate if left to incubate in college for 4 years. Sure, if you're going to college for a liberal arts degree or english lit then the 4 year investment of >$100k is not worth your time.
I do respect the fact that you somewhat avoid the maxim that "it was a waste of time for ME therefore YOU shouldn't go to college." But I think the center is displaced disingenuously -- university is for developing a skill set that may not be there just yet. If I taught myself to cook and have been cooking for a few years, but my friends can't and they're all going to cooking school to learn to cook, I can't complain and say "Cooking school was a waste of time to me -- in fact all you need is passion to just go do it!" as if that's a meaningful statement or maxim to be sent out into the world. Because we know that borders on BS.
I believe significantly in taking advantage of your strengths; however hard work, regardless of the setting, is the true differentiator.
I say this as someone who hasn't finished his BS Computer Science degree. I probably have a couple of credits of CS courses to finish and some liberal arts (literally, some art classes) to finish my BS. I have been working in the profession for over 20 years and I feel like not finishing my BS is a bit of an albatross around my neck. Not because I feel it's holding me back, but because if I hadn't taken the courses I have taken, I wouldn't be interested in the broader subject of Computer Science. I never would have taken that Scheme class (SICP) that some of the other students complained about because it was in a language that "wasn't useful" (I was curious and thoroughly enjoyed the class). I never would have been curious about writing a B tree from scratch and learning about algorithms. I never would have been curious about Derivatives, Integrals, and Differential Equations. All things that don't generally directly apply to my day-to-day job, but because I have knowledge of them, I am a better engineer and problem solver. Even my philosophy credits help me with critical thinking. I could go on and on ...
Do I regret it? Not at all. If given the chance again, I would go to RIT again every time. It was, and still is, the nerdiest school around. I froze my ass off, but it was still worth it. The people I met there are basically my second family. The times I had there are fondly remembered. What dollar amount can I put on people who turned out to be lifelong friends?
If all I cared about was getting an education, a job, and making money, it would have been a dumb idea. But the memories and awesome times that were had are priceless. It is sad that the author went there and graduated, but did not have that experience. Perhaps it is their attitude that prevented them from having it. If you are in the library, you are doing college wrong. You should have been at the hockey game instead.
Also, thanks to my CS degree and the RIT co-op program I was able to get a well paying job immediately upon graduation. I have been basically constantly employed since then, and all of my student loans were 100% paid off months ago.
B students end up working for C students and A students end up going back to college to teach.
I did 13 years in the Marine Corps, Got out during the technology boom. walked into a low paying Tech support job and now making a strong 6 figures. No College, Little bit of tech schools and no certifications.
If I had stayed in until retirement I would have missed the tech boom, Missed out learning a marketable skill that I taught myself while I was in the military, and My job prepared me for working on aircraft in the heat of summer and the cold of winter. No thanks I love being an office IT tech dude.
Many point out that they didn't learn anything from uni/college. Well, how about studying in better one then? One person I know often mentions how pointless the university is and that he dropped out on day 5 although it was at most average university (UK).
Especially "didn't learn anything in year one". And you were not supposed, really. The point of first year is 1) introduce you to many areas so you can get a feeling of what do you want to do 2) not press too hard because some (mainly international) students have difficulties in adapting.
Wow, inspiring writing, I agree too with the footnote that was attached, paraphrasing; this works in the computer industry. I think the reason why is that it's easy for the human mind to comprehend being a doctor, lawyer, scientist, etc. It's hard to contemplate wanting to actually do programming. The general populace just doesn't get it; those who do, can't imagine doing anything else. Even if it's not programming, just working with and through computers to see ideas come to light.
Can you elaborate a bit? Should CS grads consider themselves engineers, or only *E majors?
Engineering is a discipline. It's systematic, rigid, concise and if you fuck up you're liable for your actions. Would you hire someone who claims to be a self-taught electrical engineer, mechanical engineer? No. You know why? Because these people work their asses off to become licensed. Your hiring manager will probably lose people on his team if he hires someone who doesn't even have a single college credit. It's a matter of discipline and respect for your colleagues. In some areas it's regulated and you cannot hire an engineer without a degree.
Would you hire a self-taught software engineer? You can. What's the end result? All too often, your company on front-page news because this person made a rookie security mistake. Is he or she going to be responsible for leaking thousands of sensitive records to public? No. They might get fired, but that's it. Take this same example to medical field where a software bug can kill (and has before i.e. radiation treatments) and all of a sudden you can't even prosecute this "engineer" for murder.
EDIT: Typo on "think"
Is the cost of living in Rochester that high, or was the author living somewhere else at this time?
-500 (rent, 2 roommates)
-350 (min student loan payment)
Ah, there's the part I forgot about.