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Don't Waste Your Time on Community College

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When it comes to choosing a college, my advice is to avoid Community College at all costs possible and go straight for the four-year degree. And, the reason for it is NOT because Community Colleges are bad. I have taking classes in a Community College. For example, Calculus 3 and introduction classes like Algebra and Geometry to prepare me for my computer science degree, and they were great. Professor was great.

The problem with the Community College is that a lot of the classes you take don’t translate one to one when transferring to the four-year university. So, sometimes you’ll have to take like a three years’ worth of classes to account for two years. That’s something you could have gotten at the four-year university sooner.

So, only take community college if you need a specific certificate or something like that. People would normally be taking Community College with idea of transferring to the four-year university. And you DO need to have a bachelor’s to be taken seriously these days. You can get your bachelor’s much faster if you go straight to four-year university.

There’s a cost saving of doing the community college path, but I think for most people, it’s not worth it, the cost saving is not worth it. So, I would only recommend community college for people who really don’t want to spend a lot of money and want to spend as little money as possible. Probably they’re very young, 18, 19 years old and they have time to invest into their career, sure, go to community college and have a good time.

If you’re like me who got to college out of the military or you’re trying to find a different career later in life, don’t waste your time with the Community College. They will suck the time out of you and that time is much more important than money. You want to go to a four-year university and you want to go to the best four-year university you can get into. And, while there, you want to get in and get out as fast as you can. So, I recommend taking more than the average load. At the college that I want to recommend load was 12-semester units. I’ll recommend taking 16 to get out about half a year faster. You might suffer a little bit, but in the long run, it’s not going to matter as much, but it does matter if you have that paper and you do need to get it, then I highly recommend it.

Another thing I want to mention is do take out loans if you have to, or use GI Bill. Do try to finish in the fastest time possible because GI Bills run out and the more loans you have to take out, the more money you own. But assuming you try to get through college as fast as you can, loans are not a bad idea at all because every year that you would take longer in school, if you work part time and go to school (part time making minimum wage or something), then the two years that take you longer to finish your degree are not worth it. Because as a software engineer out of college starting salaries (depends on the college on how well you negotiate) are high. I got 90K for landing my first job. I know people who got 110 out of slightly better schools.

So, yeah. It’s really the 90K over two years is $180,000, after tax is let’s say it’s like 120K or something minus what you would make working minimum wage, I don’t know, you’re looking at $60,000, $70,000, $80,000 difference depends on what state we’re talking about. So, yeah, that’s 70, 80K of loan, you could basically assume you’ve maintained the same level of the quality of life, you could pay off 70K loans in those two years.

And then, you also have started your career, again, really invaluable experience, which means in third year, you’re making more money. So, the sooner you get into your career, the better. At the same time, I do recommend finishing a bachelor’s degree. I think the market is over-flooded currently with coding boot camp graduates and it’s pretty hard to get that entry level job. It’s not impossible, but it is hard.

Some people, who cannot afford to do three and a half years to go get your college degree, you don’t have GI Bill, you don’t want to take out loans, you have little kids, who knows… There are other ways of getting this career, but if you can afford, then make an investment in college education related to computer science degree.

Actually, I recommend computer science degree or software engineering degrees exclusively. I got a computer engineering degree. It was more troubling than it was worth because I end up doing software. It was a great learning experience, I had a good time, but if your job is getting a JOB, it was not as good as just going and getting a regular computer science degree. I’ll talk more about that in different video…

But anyway, computer science degree is a way to go, from a four-year university. One trick you can use to get into college (if you can’t get into a new computer science degree because some might be more competitive), is to just try and get into some other degree that is less competitive, and then, once you get accepted in school, try to change your major. I don’t know if it works everywhere, but it work in San Jose State where I went to. I can’t remember if I used this trick to get into my school, but I definitely remember that I have changed my major at least once from Mechanical Engineering to Computer Engineering. I might have actually changed it from Business to Mechanical as well first. I do not remember that.

But yeah, that’s something to consider. Go to a four-year school, don’t be afraid to take out loans, take more classes that they recommend and try to get out there as fast as you can. But while you’re getting a college degree, also do take this time to try to get internships as much as you can. I’ll talk about in other videos. But yeah, internships matter a lot and being in college helps you get internships and graduate from college helps you line up your future work. And, internships matter, work matters, I’ll talk about in other videos. Make sure try to get software engineering, software programming internships if you can. Those actually pay more than minimum jobs, minimum wages usually, so that’s another benefit of going to school. And then, when you’re out of college, try to get real programming job. Don’t get sucked into other things (like QA) assuming it is programming that you want to do.

So, yeah, that’s the advice. Don’t waste your time in community colleges. Think time. Think time to market. You are in the business of selling your software skills and the sooner you get to market with your product, the sooner your value of the offering you provide will appreciate as the more experience you get. But at the same time, it will be much easier to get your clients (meaning your jobs) by having a bachelor’s degree (at least on your resume). People are all about shortcuts and labels, and if they see a bachelor’s degree at least in the resume, they like it.

Yeah. Anyway, that’s the advice. Think time. Don’t think money in terms of getting your education, but education does help in terms of getting your career started in computer science. Thanks for listening.