It is in our nature to think that more means better. This applies to pretty much everything. In our example, if you pay more money to go to university, means that you know more stuff, at least that how employers value us. The better the university the more money it costs.
Even though going to a top university makes sense for some professions like doctors, aerospace engineers, physicists, chemists, etc professions where an individual cannot get the resources needed to gain the knowledge (like laboratories, simulations).
I mean, how will you јjustify $60k+ per year (unless you are in Europe) at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, for your Computer Science studies where you can learn everything on your laptop.
If you don’t think I am right take a look at this year’s situation. With the pandemic, remote work skyrocketed, especially in the IT sector, which made some of the top companies to allow their employees to continue working from home.
If this worked for Oracle, Google, Facebook, etc. It will work for you.
It is true that most students graduating from top universities get a job at the top companies with ease, but as we can see in the last years, most of these companies launched tons of their courses on platforms like Coursera, which are million times cheaper than their regular studies, and since it’s their courses they will evaluate it more.
Also, the books you can buy (even you don’t need them) are cheaper than the 10th of a semester at these universities.
And if you are not into paying money, you can find tons of free learning resources, some of them even created by these same universities that will ask you over $60k per year to learn from these same resources.
Here are some resources for example:
- This is The Entire Computer Science Curriculum in 1000 YouTube Videos
- Top 50 FREE Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Engineering and Programming Courses from the Ivy League Universities
- Top 40 COMPLETELY FREE Coursera Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science Courses
- How to Gain a Computer Science Education from MIT University for FREE
- You Can Now Learn for FREE: 9 Courses by Google about Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data Science
- How To Become a Certified Data Scientist at Harvard University for FREE
Now, I don’t say that you should not go to university. University is a great experience, time to meet new people and make contacts that might change your future. Also, the university will give you nice directions for your future career.
I only suggest you find some cheaper local university, that will help you save money, and time, which means you can learn from different sources.
To tell you that I am not just waffling for the sake of it, here is my personal experience and my path to a Software Engineer career.
My story about how I’ve become a Software Engineer
I am from North Macedonia, a small landlocked country in the Balkans, Europe. It is not the best place to be, considering everything, except for the people, people are nice.
Now, we are not the best at education. There are 2 million people and around 10 universities, which translates to printing diplomas for money. There is only one university that maybe makes a little sense, and it is the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, the capital city of my country.
My faculty (The Faculty for Computer Science and Engineering) is part of this university. I’ve started my studies in 2015 and graduated in 2019, earning my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering. I was paying around $240 per year.
It was a good experience, I’ve learned some stuff, more precisely I’ve learned that there are a lot of stuff that I need to learn on my own when I start my career.
I was not the best student, I’ve graduated with an average of 7.78/10, which is hardly an average, but I never really cared about it, because there were a lot of stuff that I didn’t really like.
Anyways, I’ve shown interest in Databases and web applications development, so in my third year, I’ve enrolled in a course where I’ve learned web applications development using .NET Framework. I pass this course with a Grade 10 (Grade A), and it inspired me to continue learning the framework during the summer.
I’ve learned tons of stuff on my own, since at university all they gave us, were two homework exercises and the final exam, so it was not nearly enough to lend me an internship. In September, I’ve landed my first internship in a company where they were using .NET for and enterprise application development. It was a good experience, I made a simple Facebook-like app for them (the wall page), and I was working on the notification service of the enterprise application.
Before the end of my internship, they offered me a position as a Junior Developer, which I’ve declined since I had one semester left at my university, and I wanted to get it off my shoulders first.
I’ve finished my studies in June 2019, and I’ve landed another internship (in the company where I currently work). The position I’ve enrolled in was way above my knowledge at that point. I was working on a project using Elasticsearch, Kibana and Logstash. Everything was new for me, and it helped me realize that the degree that I am going to get, will mean nothing if I don’t continue learning on my own.
I manage to finish the project in a month, and then I used it in my final graduation project.
After this, there were not any .NET-related projects, so I had to learn Django, to be able to start my professional career. I was working on the project and learning on the way. After this project I was working on two other projects using Django, then one using Ruby and one using PHP.
Two weeks ago, I’ve started on a new project using Spring Boot (Java). I haven’t used Java in years, but I’ve decided to migrate to Java, since most of the big companies in my country use it, so it is a good investment for the future.
Learning different things helped me learn a lot of stuff that I don’t use at work, like Firebase, Node.js, Svelte, Mongo DB, Neo4j, and tons of Machine Learning libraries using Python, that help me create content for this website.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know there will be tons of new stuff to learn.
As I’ve said, the university is a great experience, and it will give good directions for your future profession. But in order to achieve some knowledge, you will need to learn tons of stuff on your own. IT industry changes every day, there are new useful stuff that you won’t be able to learn if you are at a university where you have hard exams and assignments.
So, all of this is a reason why you should not go to a top university. First, you will spend a lot of money, you will not have time to learn anything new and gain additional knowledge that will help you in your future career where you will be lost as a beginner.
So, the final verdict. Go to a university where you won’t spend a lot of money, you are a Computer Science student, all you need is a laptop and internet, anything else is on a click away from you.
Like with every post we do, we encourage you to continue learning, trying, and creating.