I want to learn, not get a degree
February 25, 2011 10:26 AM Subscribe
How can I get a comp sci education without all the BS that goes along with getting a BS?
posted by ElDiabloConQueso to education (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in my mid-to-late-30's and a software developer by profession, with about 13 years of hands-on experience, and I've benefited tremendously from some wonderful mentors who have nurtured me along the way. I'm very comfortable in a senior developer role, but I don't quite have what it takes to be the lead developer or "architect" on a large-scale enterprise project.
My biggest shortcoming, I believe, is my lack of any formal education; I never completed a bachelor's degree, and I am largely self-taught. I have worked almost exclusively with Microsoft technologies for internet-delivered applications. So I've used ASP, VB COM, SQL Server (from 7.0 to 2008), ASP.NET, C#, WCF, ASP.NET MVC, IIS, etc. But I've never worked with Java or C++ or PHP or Ruby any non-MS language/framework/platform. I don't particularly feel a need to move away from the Microsoft tools or the web world, but I do believe that having a more formal computer science education could only benefit me.
At this point in my life (and with my obligations -- family, mostly) I don't believe it would be practical or beneficial for me to pursue an undergraduate degree. I would, however, like to have the benefit of a "from-the-ground-up" computer science education. I want to learn more about the theory, concepts, an mindset of software development; I want to internalize the underlying ideas of designing software without being influenced by a target language/platform.
I am married with two children, and so I have some constraints both in terms of how much time I can commit on a regular basis and how much money I'm able to spend. My wife supports me on this and wants me to pursue it. She realizes that this will probably require some sacrifices from both of us and she's okay with that, but we'd still like to keep things reasonable.
Considering all of that, what options do I have to get this kind of education without getting wrapped up in the undergraduate "basics" like history, English, biology, etc.? Additionally (or perhaps preemptively) can I even get the kind of education I'm looking for in the area where I live (The Dallas/Fort Worth, TX metro area)?
One other tangential question comes to mind with all of this... I know that some colleges/universities used to offer the option to "audit" a class. That is, to sit in on all of the lectures and take the exams and so on at a greatly reduced cost, but without earning credit hours. Is this still an option?