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Honors Major in Computer Science

This is from my CS department's web page:

"Requirements For Honors Major in CS: To graduate with honors, a computer science major must complete one additional upper-level course and have a QPA of at least 3.5 in major courses and an overall QPA of at least 3.25. The student may not use an independent study or internship to count as the additional upper-level course."

Does anyone know anything about graduating with departmental honors?  Do employers take this seriously?  What about grad schools?  Or is this just a way for the school to collect more tuition money?

anon
Monday, September 08, 2003


I think my first job interviews asked for transcripts but this was 15+ years ago.

I know that when we interview now, we really couldn't care less about the person's standing in the class, or even what institution they attended.

anon
Monday, September 08, 2003

Really? BSEE MIT == BSMIS Podunk University?
If you had those two and could only interview one, you'd flip a coin?

[I'm just pointing out that a lot of people *say* that, but don't mean it to the degree that it may be read]

Philo

Philo
Monday, September 08, 2003

If the guy from Podunk had 15 patents, and the BSEE Mit guy had none no I wouldn't, i'd pick the podunk guy

Daniel Shchyokin
Monday, September 08, 2003

Just came back from England, had a conference there at a University.

They seem to have a different educational structure - one can go straight to PhD after Bachelor.

One can go into Masters or PhD without a degree.

Seems to make sense in the world of software - when so much changes so very quickly.

Ram Dass
Monday, September 08, 2003

[Really? BSEE MIT == BSMIS Podunk University?
If you had those two and could only interview one, you'd flip a coin?
[I'm just pointing out that a lot of people *say* that, but don't mean it to the degree that it may be read]]

Well, the next time I get a resume from MIT, I'll let you know. It hasn't happened yet, so I'm not all that worried.

Another edge case. :)

I don't know about you, but our shop gets a lot of resumes from Europe and Asia. How am I supposed to know what constitutes a good school in Romania? And even if I did know, it wouldn't change how I approached the interview.

All I really know for sure when a resume comes in from a MIT grad is that the applicants family is well off.

anon
Monday, September 08, 2003

In Britain they tend to specialize earlier, which explains why most people only  have a Bachelors.

After the Bachelors you choose between doing a Masters in two uears or a PHD in three. Few do both, unless they later take one by correspondence.

Few respectable places allow you to do a Masters or PhD without a Bachelors (although most would allow you with the equivalent of a Bachelors). Unfortunately in the UK, there is a culture of taking post grad students just for the money..

A few years back a careers advisor who spent years recruiting foreign students exposed the scandal of UK universities taking foreign post-graduate students whose standard of English was barely sufficient to study for a driving license. He claimed the only two universities which never did this were Ocford and Cambridge. The others (including most prestigious University of London colleges) divided into two camps; those at the top who informed the students they would have to do a remedial English year, after they had arrived and paid for the Masters or Doctorate, and those towards the bottom of the pile who took the students on anyway (and of course normally passed them).

Stephen Jones
Monday, September 08, 2003

[All I really know for sure when a resume comes in from a MIT grad is that the applicants family is well off. ]

You don't even know that.  Most top private school guarantee to meet "demonstrated need".  For me, that meant attending a top liberal arts college cost my parents the same as me attending the University of Colorado.  I ended up with a few thousand in loans each year that I wouldn't have had at CU, but it actually cost my parents less.

Ted

Ted Graham
Monday, September 08, 2003

"Does anyone know anything about graduating with departmental honors?"

I don't. 

"Do employers take this seriously?"

I suppose the answer is it depends on the employer.

Don't quote me, but I believe only 40 percent of all software developers working in the U.S. currently hold a bachelors degree in computer science (or some other computer related degree). 

"What about grad schools?"

Again, this would depend on the employer and the nature of the work you would be doing.

"Or is this just a way for the school to collect more tuition money?"

Of course it is.  ;-)


The question you should be asking yourself is what type of software developer do you want to be when you graduate (shrink-wrap, business, embedded, systems, scientific, military, etc.) and then do some research on what employers in your geographic area are looking for as far as college education is concerned.

One Programmer's Opinion
Monday, September 08, 2003

On MIT...
It is a minimum level of quality. But the one person I interviewed from MIT (who also had a 4.0 GPA or something close) was terrible. I don't remember why--couldn't think on his feet or something. I've had friends who had similar experiences w/MIT grads.

mb
Monday, September 08, 2003

Clarifying my thinking regarding what institution someone graduated from:
1) Most JoS readers - might pick an MIT or Harvard grad simply out of curiosity to see what all the fuss is about, but wouldn't put much faith in it past that.

2) Most HR departments - "BSEE MIT" automatically makes the "must interview" pile.

3) Most PHB's - "BSEE MIT" = "must hire"

The problem, of course, is the number of places where the hiring path is 2->3 and the first the IT dept hears about it is when the guy shows up. (When I was hired at Camel I met with *no* technical types, and the only tech question I was asked, for a senior architect position, was "what is the difference between a DataSet and a Recordset?")

Philo

Philo
Monday, September 08, 2003

oops - "might pick" in #1 above means "for an interview", not "for a job"

Philo

Philo
Monday, September 08, 2003

Someone with many years of engineering hiring experience once told me that he counted honors or an abnormally high GPA as a negative against an applicant.  His reasoning was that it tends to take a lot of cheating or brown nosing to get grades like that.  If an applicant is smart enough to rightfully earn grades like that, they're going to have to demonstrate this in an interview.  I'm not saying his reasoning is correct or the common way it's done, just relating the story as I heard it. 

SomeBody
Monday, September 08, 2003

It's actually an S.B., not a B.S. they give out.

Eugene Snodgrass III, MIT '89
Monday, September 08, 2003

Departmental Honors are a nice thing that gets HR to put you higher in the pile.  It may not get you hired, but if there's an HR screener (as there tend to be at most moderate to large companies) its important to have those key things which will bring you over the threshold.

Other key items include:  Dean's List.
President/Vice-President...etc (of any school organization)
A high gpa (remember to list the scale... and you can manipulate it... a 3.36/4.00 becomes a 3.4/4.0)
Prior work (milk the language in your internship listing, have others review it and play with wording.  Its all about the wording).
Make it neat and legible.  I've seen plenty of people sorting resumes toss out dozens upon dozens for no other reason than an obvious spelling error, missing email/contact information, or smudges.

Remember, to get to the company you have to get past HR.

Lou
Monday, September 08, 2003

This reminds me a little of the "How to Dress" thread a ways down the page. It is a good idea to educate yourself like your boss' boss. If you want to work somewhere the management has degrees from MIT, Stanford, or U of Chicago, you will probably have an easier time getting interviewed if you attended one of those schools.

Same goes for choice of degree (Comp. Sci. vs. EE vs. Business) and Honors / Class Presidency, etc.

In all cases, if they care it will help, and if they don't, it usually won't hurt.

Devil's Advocate
Monday, September 08, 2003

I was president of the univ beer drinking club, does that count??

apw
Monday, September 08, 2003

Don't forget on-campus recruiters.

When the economy is doing well, many companies recruit on-campus. I've known a lot of people who landed their first jobs through those interviews, and a lot of those companies required a minimum GPA. So it that case, graduating with a high GPA and Honors most definitely can help.

Nick
Monday, September 08, 2003

"If the guy from Podunk had 15 patents, and the BSEE MIT guy had none no I wouldn't, i'd pick the podunk guy."

I wouldn't.  All that tells me is that Podunk worked for a company that paid him to write patents, not code.  It tells me that Podunk worked for a CYA corporation whose business plan was not to develop a superior product, but to throw up roadblocks for would-be competitors.  Patents are dead.  They don't encourage innovation anymore, they stymie it.  Writing a patent doesn't impress me in the least.

Alyosha`
Monday, September 08, 2003

I think good school, honors, and good GPA, etc, make a difference in getting companies to agree to interview you straight out of college.  How well you interview makes much more of a difference than your resume once they agree to listen to you.

Keith Wright
Monday, September 08, 2003

... But, the best thing in the world is to go to a university that has the kind of placement program and connections that can get you the interviews in the first place.  I think good job placement programs are rare in most schools' CS departments.

Keith Wright
Monday, September 08, 2003

I can't remember the last time I even glanced for a fraction of a second at the education details on a resume.  Generally, if a resume had lots of details about education, I assumed it meant the person didn't have enough real-world experience to write about, and so felt compelled to fluff out their educational history.

Hell, if I went through a stack of resumes and picked people to interview, I doubt I ever even have noticed which ones *had degrees*, and with what majors!  That's how little weight I gave it in the decisionmaking process.  (Thinking back, I *do* remember one guy's resume from a few years ago who had like three PhD's, but then everything about that guy's resume was extraordinary...  the dude spoke like ten or twelve human languages, let alone computer languages.  We still didn't hire him...)

Anyway, in the hypothetical MIT/Podunk case, I think I can pretty much guarantee that what school they went to wouldn't be a differentiating factor for me.

Phillip J. Eby
Monday, September 08, 2003

Alyosha,

I was simply throwing out patents as a statistic, if some other resume issue is more important to you (invented X number of algorythems, on time releases, languages/years whtever by all means plug it in.

Also remember some people's careers may go back to when patents mattered

Daniel Shchyokin
Monday, September 08, 2003

"I know that when we interview now, we really couldn't care less about the person's standing in the class, or even what institution they attended."

My company asks for test scores, name schools, and accomplishments. You should also know your field of study but we don't hire for vocational purposes.

"If the guy from Podunk had 15 patents, and the BSEE MIT guy had none no I wouldn't, i'd pick the podunk guy."

Getting a patent isn't that hard and people exploit that by applying for thousands of patents. Someone with a ton of patents has the same mentality as a spammer; they are trying to get something because it's easy to do.

Tom Vu
Monday, September 08, 2003

Daniel,

<quote>
If the guy from Podunk had 15 patents, and the BSEE Mit guy had none no I wouldn't, i'd pick the podunk guy
</quote>

Its fairly safe that when drawing comparisons between two things, most people assume 'all else being equal.'

For example, if they BOTH (somehow) had the same 15 patents, which would you lean towards? That would appear to be the case Philo is making.

BTW, when was the last time you interviewed someone with 15 payments. ;-)

Seeya

Matthew
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Anon,

<quote>
I know that when we interview now, we really couldn't care less about the person's standing in the class, or even what institution they attended.
</quote>

I am aware that some employers that have hired me in the past have been heavily influenced by my TER (its an Australian thing - a percentile ranking given at the end of high school (17/18 years old)).

Admittedly though, my TER is quite high, so the principle may only work at the really high end (or the really low end!).

In a competitive environment, anything that makes me stand out from the crowd - whether it be a good TER, an MCSD or a BA is a good thing. Is it worth the effort? Mmmm, a touch harder. ;-)

Seeya

Matthew
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

> I don't know about you, but our shop gets a lot
> of resumes from Europe and Asia. How am I
> supposed to know what constitutes a good school
> in Romania? And even if I did know, it wouldn't
> change how I approached the interview.

Well, I live in Romania, and have been to the PUB (Politechnic University of Bucharest) faculty of Computer Science.

It is the main and the best CS school in Romania.

It's also called "Automatica", because they also teach industrial automation and hardware design.

The problem is that in Romania and, from what I heard from my colleagues in Hungary and Bulgaria, in almost all of East Europe, the quality of education is very bad.

Why am I saying this?


1. The profesors are very poorly paid. They earn maybe 30-40% of what a medium programmer earns.

So, many capable and competent profesors simply abandon teaching and go into other fields.

The remaining profesors have outdated knowledge, or are simply stupid. :-(

Even the ones who are good don't put a lot of effort, because they are poorly paid and treated like sh#t by the management of the universities.


2. What they teach it's outdated.

I mean, it's not normal to have courses about GPSS (yes, the precursor of Simula) in 2002! There are lots and lots of outdated stuff they teach.

For example, they teach a hardware design language that was used maybe 20-30 years ago! There are only 3-4 references about it on the Internet.

If you teach - why not teach something current, like, I don't know, Verilog, or something (I don't know much about digital hardware).


3. You can not choose which courses to take.

There is a standard program, and you go with it. You can't choose anything.

You can move to another faculty, but this is very hard to do, and is not considered normal.


4. The university is free - 100% of it is sponsored by the state.

So, why is this bad?

Because, then, the students don't have any power over the teacher.

I mean - if I go to university and I pay, I have a right to demand the teacher to teach something useful. If I don't pay, I have no right to demand anything.


5. You can't change teachers.

Let's say you have a bad teacher. He is plain stupid, or he doesn't give a sh#t about teaching, etc.

You can't go to another course, nor you can evaluate the teacher, or say to the university management "this teacher is bad, he doesn't teach correctly, etc".

In fact, if you do that, you have a large chance of never graduating, because then that teacher will never let you pass the exam, and there is no official way to have the exam with another teacher.

Jack Thybolt
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

OTOH Stephen I know someone who got into one of the top British Unis because when he was asked "what do you want to do here?", he replied "I want to row."


Tuesday, September 09, 2003

[BTW, when was the last time you interviewed someone with 15 payments. ;-)]

Coincidentally, it was the same time I last interviewed someone from MIT.

anon
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Dear blank,
                The other variation on that story is somebody who went to Magdalene Camibridge, and asked at the interview where there was room to stable his horse. He was admitted, presumably on the grounds that he clearly had the ability to ask intelligent questions. They threw him out after two terms though - I don't know what happened to the horse.

                   

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

"Really? BSEE MIT == BSMIS Podunk University? If you had those two and could only interview one, you'd flip a coin?"

Call me crazy, but I wouldn't flip a coin. I might, you know, screen them, look at their experience, stuff like that. *shrug*

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I graduated with honors in my BS in Computer Science. I don't know if it helped me get my interview, however when I was interviewing it gave me a great opportunity to demonstrate "above and beyond". They all asked, "You graduated with honors?" and I replied, "Yes, I had to do a really interesting project that dealt with blah, blah, blah ...". It also helped with the, "What was the most interesting project you worked on/did/completed/helped with ..." question. Furthermore, because I chose the project my enthusiasm for it was natural and I was able to display its source code on my website for those who wanted to see a sample of my work. All in all, it was the most useful piece of my interview process. Hope this helps you. I know graduating with honors can't hurt, it can only help.

John
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

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