Explain to me the disrespect I see many tech people show to college degrees

jaycrewzjaycrewz Member Posts: 51 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hey, I was thinking about this for years actually....but definitely a lot more so recently, now that Ive decided to make a career for myself in IT. Why is it that many tech folks call a college degree unnecessary, useless, waste of time, etc etc. Ive encountered this attitude from all kinds of people throughout the years, but once I started reading more tech cert/job forums, I noticed the attitude is greater amongst techies.

And from the job postings I'm seeing, I definitely would be a fish out of water if I lacked my Bachelors to help boost my resume (1 certification, no industry experience as of yet) Now while at times I have regretted majoring in business, I never have regretted getting my Bachelors for 2 big reasons:

1.
College taught me how to write very well, and it expanded my vocabulary. My English and Technical Writing classes are something I always think of when I look back on my most helpful classes. One thing I have noticed over the years, whether it's writing papers in school or dealing with people in the professional world, is that many people are poor writers. And not to say that you cannot learn to write well without college, but Ive noticed people who've been to college do write better.

2.
My major concentration was international business, so I met many international students and got a lot of experience with different cultures. I was also the on the executive board of a student campus group as the the head of PR. All of this taught me how to socialize with different people, build rapport, and I got some experience dealing with bureaucracy and politics. Sure you can get these experiences outside of college, but I'm simply saying I don't think I would have gotten them without it.

So tell me what you think?
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Comments

  • EdTheLadEdTheLad Member Posts: 2,111 ■■■■□□□□□□
    They can disrespect it if they choose too, this can be a mixture of resentment for not having one and seeing that as a possible future road block. The reality is, a college degree is highly respected by most non techies i.e. management. When techies spend years studying certs etc, they tend to learn how to learn, which is kind of what studying for a degree is. Cert study gives the skills to be able to perform the job, where as college is to get you thinking the right way. Since not having a degree can be a road blocker to career advancement, the cert guy has to go back and waste his time doing a degree to learn how to learn, when he already knows how to learn. Most cert guys can't be bothered going back and anytime they see a degree graduate under preforming it pisses them off. The problem with techie work its its very black and white, it doesn't take long to work out someone is useless, other fields can be grey and the under performing college graduate can hide his incompetence.
    Networking, sometimes i love it, mostly i hate it.Its all about the $$$$
  • NetworkNewbNetworkNewb Member Posts: 3,298 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Really? I think I am better than the people without a college degree because I have one... kidding (kind of)
  • jaycrewzjaycrewz Member Posts: 51 ■□□□□□□□□□
    EdtheLad,

    Thats the thing I dont understand, and Im glad you touched on.

    How can someone bash a degree, when studying for a certification is similar? (at least in my eyes it is). As you said, people getting certs are learning to learn.

    Plus, Ive often felt similar to my friends who have gone to grad school part-time in their post-university years. Studying part-time to meet test deadlines (if you give yourself them), doing research on various topics and the IT industry at large, staying abreast of current tech and tech events, etc.

    I definitely feel reminded of being in school.
  • nsternster Member Posts: 231
    There are several reasons why it looks less necessary for us techies:

    - 4 years is a long time, you can easily study and practice for high end certifications, get some work experience (which has more of an influence than a degree)
    - ROI is not as good in terms of salary (assuming 80K uni debt + 4x 40K of salary lost, that's 240K. Even if your salary is initially 50% higher, it can still potentially take 15-20 years to get your money back, plus this delays your purchasing of your home etc. Worst part? your salary will most likely be LOWER because the other guy has experience and certs)
    - You can find a job without a degree (though the degree makes it easier obviously). Depending on the place, you can even move up without that degree
    - They see others with good salaries that don't even have a degree
    - There are exceptions, but a lot of IT stuff changes within 4 years, and there are few or no degrees that caters to certain IT aspects. A lot of the time you are stuck doing programming when you really just wanna be a sysadmin

    I personally dislike GE classes, I feel like I've done enough of them.
  • LeBrokeLeBroke Member Posts: 490 ■■■■□□□□□□
    By many techies, degrees are seen as a waste of time. For example, you may have to take unnecessary, mandatory classes in things like English, social sciences or art to get general credits.

    Degrees are also extremely expensive, and offer a fairly low ROI in the current job market when compared to experience, certifications and money put in. I'm in this bracket - I'd be making double if I used the time I wasted on university to build experience, and wouldn't have a ton of student loans to show either.

    Some people with degrees are arrogant pricks. "What do you mean I have to fix someone's computer, I've got a degree in X and you don't, I should be designing your infrastructure."

    Unless you go to university to learn something specific and specialized (i.e. medicine, law, engineering) where you also need to get licensed and formal training, you won't learn anything you couldn't otherwise. You can learn to socialize just as well by working as a bartender, to reference the OP's experience. You can expand vocabulary and language skills by writing for fun. You get much more experience with a bureaucracy in a heavy corporate environment. None of them require $40-60k money and 4-6 years of your life where you aren't earning any money.

    Remember, IT has a lot of two types of people: those who have insane passion for technology they like, and those out to make careers in a lucrative field. The first type don't see the point of English classes. The second, don't see the point of something that doesn't exactly contribute to a higher income until 20 years from graduation.
  • jaycrewzjaycrewz Member Posts: 51 ■□□□□□□□□□
    EdTheLad wrote: »
    The problem with techie work its its very black and white, it doesn't take long to work out someone is useless, other fields can be grey and the under performing college graduate can hide his incompetence.
    Kinda like a digital vs analog, binary vs base ten, AC vs DC...

    Amirite icon_wink.gif

    This is what popped into my head when I start thinking of tech vs non tech =P
  • EdTheLadEdTheLad Member Posts: 2,111 ■■■■□□□□□□
    jaycrewz wrote: »
    EdtheLad,
    How can someone bash a degree, when studying for a certification is similar? (at least in my eyes it is). As you said, people getting certs are learning to learn.

    It's a jealousy thing, i have a degree, do i look at people who don't have one with a seniority complex? No, why ? because that's not who i am. Everyone is different. A degree can seem like wasted time, i look at it as both wasted time and also knowing that i walked away learning more then i probably realize. The problem most of the time is that the cert guy is ahead in the race, the race just happens to be a long distance race and the degree guy has more potential to win, the cert guy knows this, and can be pissed off and lazy or can go get a degree.
    Now i'd look at this scenario as a little bit unfair to the cert guys, they actually get judged by the degree guys too, so its not one sided here. The big issue i have with all this is cert dumping, it's a lot easier to **** a cert than **** a degree, maybe this is why the degree wins out in the end.
    Networking, sometimes i love it, mostly i hate it.Its all about the $$$$
  • nsternster Member Posts: 231
    EdTheLad wrote: »
    cert dumping

    It's crazy how widespread this is, and how easy of access it is. Hell, when I was looking for study material that gave feedback into what chapters I should focus my studying on I had started using **** without knowing what they were! It didn't take me long to realize something was up, but still...

    I'd like to at that the importance of a degree greatly varies with your location.
  • jaycrewzjaycrewz Member Posts: 51 ■□□□□□□□□□
    nster wrote: »
    There are several reasons why it looks less necessary for us techies:

    - 4 years is a long time, you can easily study and practice for high end certifications, get some work experience (which has more of an influence than a degree)
    - ROI is not as good in terms of salary (assuming 80K uni debt + 4x 40K of salary lost, that's 240K. Even if your salary is initially 50% higher, it can still potentially take 15-20 years to get your money back, plus this delays your purchasing of your home etc. Worst part? your salary will most likely be LOWER because the other guy has experience and certs)
    - You can find a job without a degree (though the degree makes it easier obviously). Depending on the place, you can even move up without that degree
    - They see others with good salaries that don't even have a degree
    - There are exceptions, but a lot of IT stuff changes within 4 years, and there are few or no degrees that caters to certain IT aspects. A lot of the time you are stuck doing programming when you really just wanna be a sysadmin

    I personally dislike GE classes, I feel like I've done enough of them.
    I can understand this...but lets be real...GE classes give you well rounded knowledge. Before university I hated certain things, like art for example. I thought it was dumb, and didnt need to know it...but taking the class gave me an appreciation for its historical importance to society.

    Moving on, the IT industry is changing, and many jobs are demanding degrees nowadays even for lower level stuff. Tbh, it disgusts me the wages some companies wanna pay people who have both degrees and certs. Though this can depend where you live. While its definitely possible to have a successful and well paying career without a degree, statistics still show us that nationally people with degrees make more money. Thats just how it is. And its part of why I went to school. I was sick of being broke, and I wanted a more secure future.

    So while the return on investment is a concern, the stats show you definitely can get your money's worth. I went to a public state school, so my college costs werent too large. Larger than certifications? Yep. But I still think it was worth it.

    Also, you make the assumption that someone college aged would be making 40k a year if they skipped the college route and went the certification route. I dont think thats a wise assumption. Dont you think someone in their 20s with more experience would easily get a job over some kid with less experience?

    Lastly, while college can take many people a long time to pay off, I think youre overestimating just how much the average tech worker makes at different stages of their career without a degree, vs someone with it. Ive read quite a few stories about people in their 20s who got certs while in college, and their careers moved along quickly with great pay thanks to knocking out certs while in uni. By the time they got some experience under their belt they were golden.

    It really depends on the individual. But from a lot of the job posts Im seeing, and the things Im reading online, my degree is saving me from being supremely low-balled while trying to break into IT.
  • jaycrewzjaycrewz Member Posts: 51 ■□□□□□□□□□
    nster wrote: »
    It's crazy how widespread this is, and how easy of access it is. Hell, when I was looking for study material that gave feedback into what chapters I should focus my studying on I had started using **** without knowing what they were! It didn't take me long to realize something was up, but still...

    I'd like to at that the importance of a degree greatly varies with your location.
    Is this really that common? Yikes.

    Though tbh, I had someone on another forum recommend that I brain **** for the A+ because "you should know all this stuff already with your years of being a tech geek". Now while I did know about 70% of the material, there were a lot of things in the Mike Meyers test guide that I didnt know.

    And I read that thing cover to cover...and I loved all the extra knowledge I gained, even if some of it wasnt on the test. I liked the background knowledge I received. I even wasted plenty of time going on my on side research binges. I did stuff like watching videos on the production of CPUS and motherboards from scratch or learning about Unix, Linux, and Apple history, despite it not being on my test.

    Im just an information sponge.
  • TeKniquesTeKniques OSCE, OSCP, CISSP, CISA, SSCP, MCSE (03), Security+, Network+, A+, Project+ Member Posts: 1,262 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Here's my advice and 0.02 - if you go to college just major in something with a high ROI that's beneficial and you can use to grow your career. There's nothing wrong with going to college and getting a respectable degree.
    LeBroke wrote: »
    By many techies, degrees are seen as a waste of time. For example, you may have to take unnecessary, mandatory classes in things like English, social sciences or art to get general credits.

    Degrees are also extremely expensive, and offer a fairly low ROI in the current job market when compared to experience, certifications and money put in. I'm in this bracket - I'd be making double if I used the time I wasted on university to build experience, and wouldn't have a ton of student loans to show either.

    Quite misleading to say the least. People who major in degrees with a low ROI have trouble in the job market. You can Google the list and it's not that surprising what's on it. Those who major in something that is actually worth something (Computer Science, Math, Business, Accounting, Law, Medicine, etc.) will have very little trouble finding a decent job.
    LeBroke wrote: »
    Some people with degrees are arrogant pricks. "What do you mean I have to fix someone's computer, I've got a degree in X and you don't, I should be designing your infrastructure."

    Talk about anecdotal evidence. Where are these people? Coming up in IT most if not all of the executives and managers I reported to were college educated and never said anything like that to me. As a manager if I said that to one of my employees I would be embarrassed, and any manager that says that is not a good one.
  • nsternster Member Posts: 231
    jaycrewz wrote: »
    Is this really that common? Yikes.

    Though tbh, I had someone on another forum recommend that I brain **** for the A+ because "you should know all this stuff already with your years of being a tech geek". Now while I did know about 70% of the material, there were a lot of things in the Mike Meyers test guide that I didnt know.

    And I read that thing cover to cover...and I loved all the extra knowledge I gained, even if some of it wasnt on the test. I liked the background knowledge I received. I even wasted plenty of time going on my on side research binges. I did stuff like watching videos on the production of CPUS and motherboards from scratch or learning about Unix, Linux, and Apple history, despite it not being on my test.

    Im just an information sponge.

    Personally, I think the whole point of certs is to learn more than what you need to pass. If you only needed to know the minimum to pass, the value isn't nearly as good
  • N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    + 1 EdTheLad

    This is exactly how I see it. Well posted

    One piece I would like to add, degree ROI from top flight schools are NOT a waste of time.

    A friend of mine at the local cigar bar I frequent, son is about to graduate from Yale, with an engineering degree. Their alumni association is so powerful, he is going to basically be given a job once he graduates with a fortune 500 company making ~75,000 dollars.

    I don't know if this the case with all the top flight universities, but I assume so. I always thought this might be the case, but hearing it from someone in the know was very telling and reaffirming.
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,310 ■■■■■■■■□□
    jaycrewz wrote: »
    Is this really that common? Yikes.

    It sure seems like it. I was in a training class from a major vendor the other day, a week long, thousands of dollars. All the people in the class were very high level network engineers outside of myself, a number of them were talking about dumping the exam and how they do it all the time, it was surprising.

    As for the degree, most jobs can be done by learning on the job, but most fields don't allow it in the same way IT does. I know different people have different reasons for being anti-degree. I know a number of people at the Sr architect level who don't even have an AS, but they have 20+ years of serious experience and it has never stopped them with their resumes. For myself, I was so happy to finish my BS even after 10+ years in IT. The interview for my current company had a number of non technical people involved and they all said how admirable it was that I went back and finished school as a working adult, surely didn't hurt the hiring decision at all. There are so many options for education now, especially technical programs that you shouldn't need to have 80K in school debt to do your BS anymore.
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    I don't think there is any disrespect for degrees specifically. More of a disrespect for the people that have them that think it makes them any better than the people that don't. Same with certs. Once you are hired on at a company no one cares about your degree. No one cares about your certifications. How awesome your resume looked. Can you get the job done or will someone have to pick up your slack? if you have to constantly bring up your qualifications to make yourself feel better no one likes you whether that is a degree, a cert or whatever.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,310 ■■■■■■■■□□
    EdTheLad wrote: »
    The big issue i have with all this is cert dumping, it's a lot easier to **** a cert than **** a degree, maybe this is why the degree wins out in the end.

    Degrees also don't expire, which is a big thing for me. I had an MCSE in Windows NT4.0, is that really impressive now? I had a guy in an interview the other day trying to pimp that he had an MCSE in NT3.51, outside of showing you've been in tech for a long time that doesn't really mean anything today. But a BS or MS you got 15+ years ago is still a check mark for HR departments that doesn't expire.
  • colemiccolemic Member Posts: 1,568 ■■■■■■■□□□
    jaycrewz wrote: »

    Im just an information sponge.

    That makes you an info-ho. :)
    Working on: CCSP, definitely, maybe. On the twitters: @mcole1008
  • hurricane1091hurricane1091 Member Posts: 919 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I'm going back to school to finish my Bachelor's despite having two AS degrees and certs. From a personal aspect, I hate not being able to say I have a BS. Will I learn some stuff? For sure. I can look back and I learned a bit. A lot of wasted time, a lot of stuff I forgot, but I did learn some things and I learned how to meet deadlines, troubleshoot, study, retain information, and manage my time.
  • Techguru365Techguru365 Member Posts: 131 ■■■□□□□□□□
    EdTheLad wrote: »
    It's a jealousy thing, i have a degree, do i look at people who don't have one with a seniority complex? No, why ? because that's not who i am. Everyone is different. A degree can seem like wasted time, i look at it as both wasted time and also knowing that i walked away learning more then i probably realize. The problem most of the time is that the cert guy is ahead in the race, the race just happens to be a long distance race and the degree guy has more potential to win, the cert guy knows this, and can be pissed off and lazy or can go get a degree.
    Now i'd look at this scenario as a little bit unfair to the cert guys, they actually get judged by the degree guys too, so its not one sided here. The big issue i have with all this is cert dumping, it's a lot easier to **** a cert than **** a degree, maybe this is why the degree wins out in the end.

    While Cert dumping is real. I know quite a few ppl who has never written a college paper themselves, all of them were outsourced to different services on the web and they maintained a solid 4.0 GPA throughout
  • philz1982philz1982 Member Posts: 978
    jaycrewz wrote: »
    Hey, I was thinking about this for years actually....but definitely a lot more so recently, now that Ive decided to make a career for myself in IT. Why is it that many tech folks call a college degree unnecessary, useless, waste of time, etc etc. Ive encountered this attitude from all kinds of people throughout the years, but once I started reading more tech cert/job forums, I noticed the attitude is greater amongst techies.

    And from the job postings I'm seeing, I definitely would be a fish out of water if I lacked my Bachelors to help boost my resume (1 certification, no industry experience as of yet) Now while at times I have regretted majoring in business, I never have regretted getting my Bachelors for 2 big reasons:

    1.
    College taught me how to write very well, and it expanded my vocabulary. My English and Technical Writing classes are something I always think of when I look back on my most helpful classes. One thing I have noticed over the years, whether it's writing papers in school or dealing with people in the professional world, is that many people are poor writers. And not to say that you cannot learn to write well without college, but Ive noticed people who've been to college do write better.

    2.
    My major concentration was international business, so I met many international students and got a lot of experience with different cultures. I was also the on the executive board of a student campus group as the the head of PR. All of this taught me how to socialize with different people, build rapport, and I got some experience dealing with bureaucracy and politics. Sure you can get these experiences outside of college, but I'm simply saying I don't think I would have gotten them without it.

    So tell me what you think?

    Um,

    Cause they want to work at a 40k a year salary for the rest of their lives, one business idea away from being outsourced? Who knows, I've met plenty of IT folks who favor degrees. Maybe the "IT Folks" you are referencing are just straight up dumb and don't realize that they are sabotaging themselves. For a career field that rewards knowledge it's surprising folks would oppose it.
  • philz1982philz1982 Member Posts: 978
    I don't think there is any disrespect for degrees specifically. More of a disrespect for the people that have them that think it makes them any better than the people that don't. Same with certs. Once you are hired on at a company no one cares about your degree. No one cares about your certifications. How awesome your resume looked. Can you get the job done or will someone have to pick up your slack? if you have to constantly bring up your qualifications to make yourself feel better no one likes you whether that is a degree, a cert or whatever.

    I invented the CISSP, hows that for making me feel better icon_biggrin.gif
  • Techguru365Techguru365 Member Posts: 131 ■■■□□□□□□□
    philz1982 wrote: »
    Um,

    Cause they want to work at a 40k a year salary for the rest of their lives, one business idea away from being outsourced? Who knows, I've met plenty of IT folks who favor degrees. Maybe the "IT Folks" you are referencing are just straight up dumb and don't realize that they are sabotaging themselves. For a career field that rewards knowledge it's surprising folks would oppose it.

    I agree with alot of your points, but how does having a degree prevent your job from being outsourced?
  • ItrimbleItrimble Member Posts: 221
    Someone can never take away your education / degree. It will help you the rest of your life. A degree is more about dedication. It is about making a sacrifice. It's true that certs are valuable, but one should never diminish a persons willingness to learn. With the advent of MOOC's, hybrid, and on-line learning programs, it's a wonderful time to be a lifelong learner.

    I used to be in the camp that a degree wasn't really needed. Then I was hit by reality. If I wanted to really prosper in my career and grow financially, I knew that education was my way out of poverty. It's opened more doors than I could have imagined.

    It's true that much can be learned on the job, but getting a degree, even if it's not related to your career, shows that you are willing to put in the work.

    For those of you on the fence, the real problem isn't if a person has a degree or not, it's the fact, that do they have the skills. A growing number of companies, managers, and HR representatives are repeatedly saying that the next generation of the workforce doesn't have the essential skills needed to perform at their jobs. Read this article.
    Goals for 2015 : Finish BS Network Administration at WGU
    Become CCNA, CISSP, CEH, VCP5-10 Certified
    Possible Start Masters in Information Security
  • VinnyCiscoVinnyCisco Member Posts: 176
    philz1982 wrote: »
    Um,

    Cause they want to work at a 40k a year salary for the rest of their lives, one business idea away from being outsourced? Who knows, I've met plenty of IT folks who favor degrees. Maybe the "IT Folks" you are referencing are just straight up dumb and don't realize that they are sabotaging themselves. For a career field that rewards knowledge it's surprising folks would oppose it.


    I have no college degree and making more than 90K. Not having a degree doesn't automatically grant low salary. Just saying. :)
    "Failure is the prerequisite of Success" - V. G.
  • philz1982philz1982 Member Posts: 978
    I agree with alot of your points, but how does having a degree prevent your job from being outsourced?

    Gives you the flexibility to move to other verticals and other roles. Not as easy without Expert level certs. A guy with a Network + and a BS BA is going to fair better then a guy with just a Net+. If you move into the expert level certs it's a different story but that's not who we are talking about? or are we?
  • philz1982philz1982 Member Posts: 978
    VinnyCisco wrote: »
    I have no college degree and making more than 90K. Not having a degree doesn't automatically grant low salary. Just saying. :)

    No, I made 100k with no Bachelors, but statistically, the guys without either expert level certs or a degree are stuck around 40-50k. Also, adjust your salary for CoL icon_biggrin.gif
  • E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 2,152 ■■■■■■■■■■
    At least my degree doesn't expire or require CPEs, an annual maintenance fee, and retaking exams :).

    My current and previous employer required degrees for very technical roles so I'm glad that I had one to get my foot in the door. Some of the classes that I took haven't proven useful yet (I'm a glass half full type of guy), but I enjoyed the experience overall.
    Alphabet soup from (ISC)2, ISACA, GIAC, EC-Council, Microsoft, ITIL, Cisco, Scrum, CompTIA, AWS2022 goal(s): CRISC, new job, AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner"You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." - Homer Simpson
  • joemc3joemc3 Member Posts: 141 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I am going to finish my Degree, but I don't see it as needed in IT. A waste of so many filler classes. Personally I think the people with degrees want to require them so they don't sabatoge their own degree. You can't undervalue what you have if you want to stay revelant. The people in management and HR need to make sure the degrees stay in demand.

    My ladies father was upper management for DOD for 45 years and retired. He had a high school diploma. His old job now requires a Masters Degree. He said he job doesn't require that to do the job, HR said it does.
  • BlackBeretBlackBeret Member Posts: 683 ■■■■■□□□□□
    Salary before - $36,000/yr
    Degree ~ $26,000
    Salary after - $56,000/yr

    I worked while obtaining my degree in a different field, so I did not lose any salary but when coming in to IT I came in fresh with no experience. Looks like a good ROI to me.
  • nsternster Member Posts: 231
    philz1982 wrote: »
    Gives you the flexibility to move to other verticals and other roles. Not as easy without Expert level certs. A guy with a Network + and a BS BA is going to fair better then a guy with just a Net+. If you move into the expert level certs it's a different story but that's not who we are talking about? or are we?

    How about comparing the guy with Net+ and CCNA with 3 years of experience or A.S degree + Net+ + CCNA + 1-2 years experience versus BS BA with Net+. There are people who manage to do certs+uni, I'm not one of them.

    I'm in the camp of it not being required but it helps, also location dependant. In my case I feel like the ROI is definitively there in terms of $ and security/peace of mind. Time and effort is debeatable.
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