I thought I'd have it all figured out by now.
December 14, 2009 1:54 PM   Subscribe

I would like to go back to school next fall. I already have an AAS degree in Computer Science/Networking from a local tech school. Help me decide what I should do my bachelor's in.

I was originally going to go for an MIS degree, however the school I'm planning to apply at also has a Computer Engineering Technology degree that I find interesting. The course catalog says that it prepares students for careers as network/systems engineers, which is my goal. I'm definitely more interested in backbone/structure as opposed to software and the classes I enjoyed taking when I got my associates were more hands-on technical classes. The only problem is that I get the impression from research that the engineering technology degrees are viewed as "lesser" than other degrees (mainly the "real" engineering degrees). I suppose another option would be to get a "real" engineering degree but, 1) I'm afraid I'm not smart enough to hack it, and 2) those programs seem to be geared more toward traditional students and I am a soon-to-be-middle-aged single mom who has to work full-time while doing all this. Also, I really don't care that much about being a Real Engineer.

I think I could probably accomplish what I want to with either degree, but my question is, which is better? Will I be handicapping myself pursuing a degree that I'll enjoy getting but has a narrower focus, or would I be better off getting the MIS, which has more business courses and overall seems more general purpose?
posted by cottonswab to Education (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I got my ASS from ITT Technical Institute, which is definitely a tech school.

Basically no colleges will take my credits so I will have to start over as a freshman if I ever do go back to school. I am in Oregon and the only local places I could find were the University of Phoenix (which doesn't have what I want to do even if I would go there)(and my work wont pay for reimbursement to them because they say that they are not a "real" college either)...and a few private Christian colleges. Community Colleges wont take my credits, the state colleges wont take my credits, and most private colleges wont take my credits either.

They all say that ITT was/is nationally accredited and not regionally accredited, and I guess thats what matters.

Have you checked to see if the places you are interested in going in will even take your credits?
posted by Jenny is Crafty at 2:23 PM on December 14, 2009

Response by poster: Yikes, sorry to hear that!

The tech school I went to is regionally accredited, and the school I'm looking at applying to has a good rep for taking graduates from my school. Although I suspect they will only take some of my courses. The problem with a lot of these tech school degrees, as it was explained to me, is that they are "terminal" degrees, meaning they're not meant to transfer into a bachelor's, they're an end unto themselves. This is another factor that makes the ComET program more attractive to me: I suspect since it's an applied science degree they will accept more of my credits from the tech school, so that's good from a time/money standpoint. But I fully expect to have at least 3 years of school ahead of me....
posted by cottonswab at 2:40 PM on December 14, 2009

Personally, as a "real engineering" CS degree holder, I don't put a lot of stock in MIS degrees. Educated enough mainly to do some damage and little good. Moreover, network engineers generally have certification in the hardware they manage. It kinda makes them shills; when you're main value to the business is being a certified expert on a given vendor, it's hard to offer an unbiased opinion. That said, it still appears Cisco certs are keys to the kingdom here.

I don't understand what you mean by "system engineer"; 'Network Engineer', I understand to be mainly configuring an enterprise network. If you were trying to build a parallel, I'd call it 'systems analyst' or perhaps 'systems administrator'. To my mind Engineers design and build competitive new products, and take responsibility if approved designs fail. In most of such places I've seen, engineering technology degrees related to systems and computer engineering end up doing lower wage circuit routing and testing; both are susceptible to automation.

The problem is, each MIS and CET curriculum is unique, and the people's opinion you want are the companies and hiring managers you want to work for. For example, this is my reference to MIS, and the problem is currency and a lack of expertise--the curriculum is clearly based on what employers were doing in 1998, and from a hiring perspective more important that your programmers and DBAs and Sysadmins know their field well than principles of marketing and finance. So if you go the MIS route, look for a curriculum that's not teaching things common place today, but things likely to be common place a few years from now.

My suggestion to you is to name a few companies you'd like to work for, assuming you had one degree or the other. Then hit up their HR website and see what they're asking for.
posted by pwnguin at 6:24 PM on December 14, 2009

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