Here I am, the final three weeks until I graduate with my computer science degree. It’s been an interesting 3 and 1/2 years. Online learning was an obviously choice for me as I’m a full-time dad, husband, and IT professional. When I enrolled into my degree program it was an uncomfortable decision, it had been 15 years since I had been in school, and my first post-secondary experience. However, uncomfortable was the feeling I was after. I needed to make a change to pursue the work I wanted to do. Programming.
When I started my degree, I was a seasoned IT veteran of 15 years; I had seen many different industries, and worked many different problems ranging from programming, security, networking, and customer support. Yet, I had never attended college and had to wade through the IT-101 type classes which covered topics such as, what’s a hard drive? how does a CPU work? While this was painful at times, it allowed me to reflect upon my on the job training, and I had a better understanding of what I’ve accomplished in a non-traditional way. I attempted to look at each of these classes as an opportunity to share industry experience with my peers and reinforce any areas or gaps in my knowledge.
Some of the classes I dreaded taking, ended up being some of the most enjoyable for me. I’ve never been extremely strong with math, although Discrete Mathematics was one of my favorite courses, and it really challenged me. When I reflect upon why this math class resonated with me, I think it relates to how easy the formula’s and techniques can be mapped to computer science implementation.
Other areas of study helped round of my education, such as English, Psychology, and History. While I wasn’t thrilled about taking these, I understood their importance and haven seen a significant improvement in my writing and general aptitude towards their content. Again, I tried to find relatable learning experiences with my passion for game development. Studying psychology allowed me to better understand what drives behavioral decisions and how habits are formed. These are all relevant if you’re trying to build an immersive and replayable game I told myself.
In conclusion I’m a firm believer that the SNHU online degree program is a positive one. However, you get what you put into it. If you’re not reading the weekly material, have late assignments, or are not understanding the work. You must reach out for help; you need to be self-motivated and understand what your end goal is. You’re learning how to learn; the course content can is sometimes be irrelevant.
I feel there are huge gaps within the Computer Science degree program. The program has you jumping around between several different languages and wastes significant time learning about basic CS skills such as looping, iteration, and conditionals across all these languages. It should focus in on one language and take students to a much higher advanced aptitude. One area employers are looking for is knowledge of design patterns. This topic was never covered and it’s a shame. Design patterns are the building blocks of functional code, you’re learning from the mistakes that others have already performed and are given a recipe for how to implement it correctly.
Would I recommend this degree program? Well that depends, if you’re not just graduating high school, and have limited time. You have good time management, are self-motivated, and have a general interest in learning, then go get that degree.
If you’re just graduating high school and you don’t know what you want to do. Spend the extra money and go to a campus, you’ll form lifelong friendships. You’ll have improved social interactions, if you’re struggling you can go to the office hours of the professor, you can lean on your peers for support. These features and support systems are lacking within an online school, they try to compensate but its just not the same.