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Why don't colleges teach stuff one can use!!!!!!!!

after my undergrad education in CS and grad education in CE...

I still do not know the reasons why univs/colleges teach stuff one can use in real life.

If it was upto me I would ask people to stop using Roger Pressman & Ian Sommervile and start using Steve McConnell and Joel Spolsky for software engineering!!!!

Your thougths would be much appreciated, after all we are the people who would like to see the field of software enginnerring progress.

any mistakes in this article can bve attributed to Harvest Moon (

Prakash S
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

why in the world are you going to college and wasting your money then?  Or, at least studying something you seem to realize doesn't really help too much.  I've read a lot of your previous posts, and you seem to be a competent, knowledagble person.  How can you stand it? I'm still going to college, but i'm trying to learn things that will be useful to me, (business, law, english, etc). 

Vincent Marquez
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

I officially renounce my JoS readership if we seriously go through this again.

I mean it.

Stop it.

Beating Dead Horses
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

College course are not vocational training centres.  They are based on the implicit assumption that you are going to go on to become a researcher not a an employee.  Therefore, their teaching has an academic orientation and they try to develop broad abilities rather than particular skills.

Sherlock gently massaging the dead horse

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

College are suppose to teach you to think. Period.

Robert Chevallier
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

sherlock_yoda's explaination is probably the closest to the truth.

Btw, Ian Sommervile differentiates between Computer Science and Software Engineering in his book, "Software Engineering, 6th edition".  Sounds to me that you should be pursuing a Computer Engineering degree rather than a Computer Science degree.

Personally, I feel that most researchers provide little value outside of the educational institution they work at.  What do most of them do?  Write a few articles each year that only handful of fellow researchers will read?

One Programmer's Opinion
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

The jobs out there are too diverse for them to focus on teaching things that you personally will actually use.  A CS degree could lead to a job as a database admin or a systems admin, or a programmer in any one of a myriad of specialties, operating systems, and languages.

However, at least 90% of the material will be used by *somebody* in your class at some time in their career, if it isn't you personally. For example, it was eight years after graduation that I was actually able to use my knowledge of big-O complexity to reduce a response time (of another programmer's code) from a few minutes down to a few seconds, taking 5 minutes to solve what another programmer was unable to fix after days of effort.

A CS degree is mainly about exercising your brain so you know how to learn, rather than what you've learned.  Having said that, a *good* CS program will teach you certain fundamentals that you actually are likely to use, such as object-oriented concepts.

T. Norman
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Because the people teaching usually don't practice.  They are out of touch.  Study something for fun in college.

not my regular made up name
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

sherlock_yoda basically said it exactly right: college is not a vocational training course. Their job, typically, is not to get you ready to go out and get a job in your field.

Fact is, there isn't enough education targetted directly at getting into specific types of jobs, and those that exist rarely seem to come from college, and those that still do exist often don't have enough behind them to convince employers of their value.

Prediction: There will be lots of big opporunities for the future in special and specific job training and certification programs that are focused on what they are really supposed to be doing and who do it well.

Ultimately, college was not designed to do what you wanted it to do. It is for providing a general education in the field of Computer Science and Computer Engineering.

What you apparently wanted instead was something more along the lines of MCSE Training and Certification.

That with an Associates in Computer Science, or maybe at most a BS in Computer Science is, from all that I've seen, about all the certified education required to get just about any job in the whole tech industry. All the rest is Experience.

The Associates to prove general knowledge and the MCSE cert, perhaps along with other certs, and a little experience would have been cheaper in resources (time and money), possibly more enjoyable for you, and would have most likely made you better at whatever it is that you do.

Guess it's too late to tell you that, though. Sorry :(

Brian Hall
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

The trouble with college trying to teach you something you really use is that when you graduate you find that nobody is using it any more!

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Just a minor FYI - computer engineering is the branch of EE that deals directly with computers. I expect that you meant 'software engineering' -- the kind of stuff Joel talks about in most of his articles. Now, I think that a lot of people with CS degrees (myself included) would have preferred 'software engineering' undergrad program, with less set theory and Lisp, and more software engineering and UI design.

Dave Rothgery
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

"College are suppose to teach you to think. Period"

I think this statement is very far from the truth.  In any of my college classes, I am able to do well by memorizing.  Thats what everyone does.  How else can students come out of their third C++ class and not remember how to do basic programming?  This happens all the time.  I can't speak for other countrys, but I believe that in the US, college is about playing the study game, not about "thinking".  My friend/mentor recieved a MS in Mathematics at the University of Moscow.  He said every test he took was a one on one conversation with the teacher.  No written, multiple choice exams.  Now that sounds like learning.  Its too bad its not done right over here.

Vincent Marquez
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

It seems college taught you to drink beer and spew garbage from your keyboard. What more do you want?

Mr. Dude
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

College are suppose to teach you to think. Period.
unfortunately, most large comapanies require their employees to NOT think. these large companies recruit on campus. most student are only familiar with these large companies. bottom line; you are young with nothing to lose. start your own company or start something with some friends. if your smart employment is a safety.

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Read the stuff on Abstractions.

Useful stuff is useful 'NOW'.

Universities are about the future too.

Universities should'nt be teaching you how to drop buttons on forms in the latest version of visual basic, c# or whatever. You should be able to work that out yourself.

Thursday, February 6, 2003

Looking at the 14 replies, it looks like there's life in the dead horse yet

Sherlock ;0)

Thursday, February 6, 2003

You know, maybe we should have a forum on Good colleges. Its quite obvious a fair number of us have had horrible experiences being taught computer science.  Yet, there are some that I respect too much to think that they were only fooled into thinking they had a good education. So, while most didn't get a good education, some did. 

Vincent Marquez
Thursday, February 6, 2003

Looks like the old mare is here to stay ...

Unfortunatley, JoS is apparently more addictive than crack and I can't go cold turkey.

With that in mind ...

Bark Is Bigger Than My Bite (formerly Beating Dead Horses)
Thursday, February 6, 2003

Vincent Marquez,

You seem to have surface knowledge of the oral examinations in Russian universities.

The main problem with such exams is that professor can ask you ANY questions he wants. This is the reason there are professors that don't give ANYBODY above 80%, professors that fail you and make you attempt to pass it for 5-6 times and after that you get thrown out of university and go to Chechnya. That's reality back in Russia.

What's so good about that?

I can give a lot more reasons for I have a lot of friends left there that go to universities.

BTW I got my secondary education in one of ex-USSR republics, where we had oral/written exams and now studying on this continent. So, I have a taste of both worlds. Believe me, I never noticed written examinations impair my ability to understand material deeply enough.

I do not see a single advantage of oral over written exams.

Pavel Levin
Thursday, February 6, 2003

I think you just validated my point, if you'll bear with me.
The main problem with such exams is that professor can ask you ANY questions he wants. This is the reason there are professors that don't give ANYBODY above 80%...
I think this is a LOT better then having swarms of students come out of american schools with a CS degree and be both a bad thinker and a bad programmer.  An 80% is GOOD, as in, above average.  It should be VERY difficult for students to get A's in programming. Those that do are probably the super programmers.  Nowdays, students expect A's for doing all their assignments and memorizing everything their told. Thats not how it should be.

Believe me, I never noticed written examinations impair my ability to understand material deeply enough.

I doubt it does.  From that statement, I'm guessing your a self motivated learner, and are very interested in expanding your knowledge about Development and management (given that you read JOS). Unfortunatly,  There will be thousands of other students thrown into the job market with you that don't understand the material at all. 

Its not the fact that American universities don't allow students to learn-- heck,  If I can learn C++ from Orielly, I doubt you can't learn reading a text book and listening to lectures.  The problem is American universities don't care if you learn the material or not.

Vincent Marquez
Thursday, February 6, 2003

"The problem is American universities don't care if you learn the material or not."

Interesting comment. Actually, **we** as the students are supposed to care more than anyone else whether we learn anything or not at any school. The school isn't supposed to have to force us to learn.  It should be a 'pull' from us, and not  have to be a 'push' from them.

Now, I realize that's kind of idealistic, but it was my immediate thought upon reading the comment quoted.

Thursday, February 6, 2003

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