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  • How useful was school for you?

    So I am in college for learning how to network and occasionally the teacher will remark that even though something is in the book, you'll probably never ever need to know it IRL. Obviously this makes sense and is realistic.

    There are two schools of computer security experts. The first one is the people who went to school for it. The second is the people who never set foot in a college classroom.

    So with all of that in mind, what "school" do you come from, and if you went to school, how much of what you learned is something you use (involving computers) in your daily work?
    ======================================
    DJ Jackalope
    dopest dj in the galaxy. *mwah!*

    send in the drop bears!
    ======================================

  • #2
    Re: How useful was school for you?

    i use absolutely zero of my higher education for my job, but i use things i've learned hundreds of times in my daily life.

    higher education often is (and, in my mind should be) primarily about expanding one's horizons and making you a well-rounded individual. my major, while technology-based, was actually under the umbrella of my school's Humanities department and overseen by someone with his PhD. in Philosophy.

    As über-techy as i seem to be, at heart i believe strongly in liberal-arts education and i feel that all students should be exposed to the literary canon, critical thinking courses, the arts, and many varied cultures.

    There are those who think that people who are going to tech fields shouldn't have to "waste" time/credits/money on humanities courses. This is the corollary argument to those who are majoring in social work or education saying that they shouldn't have to take higher-level math or applied science courses. I find fault with both arguments. In fact, I believe that the more specialized one's major is in either direction, the more reason you have to push for a minor (or at least a handful of supplementary courses) that covers the other side of the coin.

    Basic (middle school / high school) education provides the foundation. Higher education makes you well-rounded. Technical education or post-graduate education provides specialization.
    "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
    - Trent Reznor

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    • #3
      Re: How useful was school for you?

      Originally posted by DJ Jackalope View Post
      So with all of that in mind, what "school" do you come from, and if you went to school, how much of what you learned is something you use (involving computers) in your daily work?
      I was a political science major. I ended up doing electronic warfare for the Navy, which had nothing to do with political science. Along the way I basically self-taught myself on the computer/tech side, and now that's what I'm doing full-time.
      Originally posted by Deviant Ollam View Post
      higher education often is (and, in my mind should be) primarily about expanding one's horizons and making you a well-rounded individual.
      I agree with this 100%. College IMO is/should be much more about about maturing and learning to be a responsible adult then about specific skills. Specialization comes through advanced degrees, on-the-job training, certifications, and self-teaching.
      "\x74\x68\x65\x70\x72\x65\x7a\x39\x38";

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      • #4
        Re: How useful was school for you?

        School was useless for me as well. The only good things were the extra curricular stuff that got me into tech. I had one teacher that saw tech savvy in me and gave me my first job repairing computers. There was about a half dozen of us who got free reign on the network and ended up running half the school.

        I agree with the other posts, post secondary, while useful for the piece of paper to get in the door, is useless at instilling something that was'nt there before.
        Never drink anything larger than your head!





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        • #5
          Re: How useful was school for you?

          My major is Computer Science, and the interesting thing about my school is that they don't teach the specifics (like specific programming languages, or specific ways of doing things, or particular pieces of software), but they teach you the underlying theory and expect you to be able to apply that theory to any practical situation you may come across. It made for an interesting schooling experience, and a lot more difficult, but ultimately helped me to solve problems in my current job much more easily.

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          • #6
            Re: How useful was school for you?

            I guess my experience is different from most of you guys. I went to college as a computer science major at a small school that didn't have the resources to teach the latest and greatest but rather was forced to teach you HOW things worked and WHY they work that way. My goal was always to be a professional penetration tester (which I am) and that knowledge (along with other CS skills like programming) have been a huge benefit to me.

            Unlike many in this industry I can say for a fact that without going to college I would not have been able to have the professional success that I have now. Both from the standpoint of needing the degree to get the interviews that I wanted and the standpoint of using what I learned.

            On a side note (that may be a factor in my situation) I went to college several years after finishing high school and was very motivated to do well. In every class I took anything less than 100% was a failure to me (and trust me, I failed plenty) but I really wanted to learn everything they were teaching. I certainly noticed a decided difference in my attitude and that of many of the 18-22 year old kids that were there on daddy's dime (I obviously paid for college myself). I also went year round and busted my ass to complete college in 3 years and 1 semester.
            Last edited by Chris; February 28, 2008, 16:38. Reason: fixed ridiculous grammar error made while touting the benefits of college
            perl -e 'print pack(c5, (41*2), sqrt(7056), (unpack(c,H)-2), oct(115), 10)'

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            • #7
              Re: How useful was school for you?

              Coming from an Engineering/Technology background I guess I don't know what to say(yes I do :-) ) to some of what I'm reading here.

              In high school I liked & excelled at math & science more than English but always wondered where it was all leading to. Despite dropping out of high school it wasn't until college that the wow moment came.

              Everything we do every day is applied mathematics & science. Until you take really advanced math & science you just don't see just how important it is. Advanced math & science enables you not just to use technology but create it from nothing.

              Where would computers be without Linear and Boolean Algebra? George Bool was a giant in computers before there ever was one.

              However, I do believe in a well rounded education. College English taught me to think critically something that math and science didn't; and also how to prove my point and speak the language necessary to be recognized. History taught me to see through the haze of doubt about current issues. Psychology taught me about the human condition. Sociology taught me about society and gave me insight into other societies. I could go on, it's all so important.

              I've used what I've learned in each and everyone of my education experiences(including massage school) IRL and am a much better person because of it. I'll never regret going to school or be bitter about having to get a degree to do what I wanted to do in life. I feel incredibly privileged that I had an opportunity to get a college degree as well as a secondary education. If the conditions were right I wouldn't hesitate to go back for my Masters or PHd.

              Certifications come and go, but a college degree is for life and they can never take it away from you. I remember working as Engineer before I had my degree and always felt uncomfortable like a I wasn't a member of the club. As rotten as that is, that's life. I don't have to look over my shoulder today or put up with the comments that he doesn't have his degree.

              Get your degree, cherish your school days.

              xor

              Standing on a slippery slope, with a red herring in hand, begging the question.
              Last edited by xor; February 28, 2008, 15:52.
              Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This applies to making babies, hacking, and youtube videos.

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              • #8
                Re: How useful was school for you?

                Your teacher is an asshat. If you only want to be a helpdesk technician in life then learning about FDDI is probably pointless.. And thats fine. From an educational standpoint it is your teachers responsibility to line you up with as many tools as possible to help facilitate knowledge depth, not to limit what he thinks your career will be with what he teaches.

                When I was taking community college computer classes in Maine, a common thread was that no one would pursue more than one track in life, ie hardware, networking, databases, development, etc because there is just too much to know. They say this to placate those in class that don't belong in the field to begin with. I have made a career out of proving them wrong and would not have the job I have now without a somewhat solid understanding of *everything*. Of course you'll specialize at some point, but that is *your* decision and probably not one you'll choose to make at the entry point of a career.

                All that said, I have a BS in a business type degree and what deviant shares is quite accurate in my opinion. Your first four years are notoriosly similar across all majors and really are expected so. MS is when specialization really kicks in. BS is really just about sticking with it, getting it done, and proceeding toward field experience. Looking back, I can see the utility of having gone compsci instead, but plan to correct that quite easily by pursuing an MS in CS. In retrospect, maybe I should have stuck with accounting or pursued law.
                if it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud; and I'm gonna go there free.

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                • #9
                  Re: How useful was school for you?

                  Originally posted by converge View Post
                  In retrospect, maybe I should have stuck with accounting or pursued law.
                  Corporate Tax attorney, easy 5 - 6 figure salary, more with your own practice. But then again you wouldn't be having as much fun.

                  xor
                  Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This applies to making babies, hacking, and youtube videos.

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                  • #10
                    Re: How useful was school for you?

                    Originally posted by Chris View Post
                    On a side note (that may be a factor in my situation) I went to college several years after finishing high school and was very motivated to do well. In every class I took anything less than 100% was a failure to me (and trust me, I failed plenty) but I really wanted to learn everything they were teaching.
                    I did three years of college a while ago - went to school for Marketing with a minor in East Asian history. (Talk about two extremes!) I never graduated. I decided to go back to school this spring (2007) and am on the Dean's list and all that good stuff after spending my earlier college years on probation. My last class should be this summer, unfortunately it's the one I've all ready failed three times: college algebra. I totally agree with the different outlook than most students that Chris has. I don't go for the 100% but 90% and above is pretty ok with me. My.02 for tonight.
                    ======================================
                    DJ Jackalope
                    dopest dj in the galaxy. *mwah!*

                    send in the drop bears!
                    ======================================

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                    • #11
                      Re: How useful was school for you?

                      DT- if you have a moment, i'm especially curious what your answer would be to this since I sort of know what you went to school initially for...which isn't really about computers....
                      ======================================
                      DJ Jackalope
                      dopest dj in the galaxy. *mwah!*

                      send in the drop bears!
                      ======================================

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: How useful was school for you?

                        School sucks big time. School wont teach you everything that you want to know, its all up to you on how you will get those information that you want to learn. Well the good side of school is that it will get you more mature its a matter of self development rather than developing your skills. But with self development you can always learn that through the day to day experience that you will have.
                        Key fingerprint: 0ABB 9D57 E4FB 2B66 3E7F FC5D 8A83 09AA 6A88 9DEB

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                        • #13
                          Re: How useful was school for you?

                          Originally posted by semprix View Post
                          Well the good side of school is that it will get you more mature its a matter of self development rather than developing your skills.
                          Interesting contrast for me, as the tail of school was my opportunity to be less mature about things than I should have been.
                          if it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud; and I'm gonna go there free.

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                          • #14
                            Re: How useful was school for you?

                            I'm not saying there weren't worthless classes that I took. Man I hated English Lit, I couldn't wait until it was over. Just wasn't my thang; but I still have a book of poetry on my shelf buried amongst all the computer and engineering books. It has a very lonely place on that shelf but for some reason I kept it.

                            I didn't like Temple as much, preferred Drexel much better. Drexel was awesome it is a uber geek environment. Heck my senior project was on 802.11 wireless networks and how to improve the coverage at my college and where to install the new routers at another building that was added. Spent a week there doing site surveys; very cool stuff.

                            Stanley Milgram, Harlow, and Pavlov you guys didn't find that stuff interesting?

                            Listen DJ.L you technically feel lost in math, as you are always a class behind. You get really good with algebra once you get to Calculus. Really good with the Derivative once you get to Cal 2 which is Integrals, and it goes up from there through Planes and Vectors and 3D math; and diffy-Q. One class that I wished I had taken was quantum mechanics; that stuff is just so cool.

                            xor
                            Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This applies to making babies, hacking, and youtube videos.

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                            • #15
                              Re: How useful was school for you?

                              As many of you know, I'm currently pursuing my Ph.D. in C.S, after having spent several years as a SysAdmin. Having my feet in both the Hacker world and academia has given me an interesting perspective.
                              In addition, just like Deviant, I have degrees in non-tech areas (german, music, history). I find my varied background to be both and advantage and a hindrance at times. Helpful, because I seem to be able to see threads and patterns that no-one else notices, in academia, that is a huge plus. A disadvantage is that I lack a lot of the depth and focus that my peers have - and I'm flailing around right now trying to fill the holes in my background

                              Like Chris, my motivations and attitude are different from many of the other students, and I see my degree as essential to the kind of work I want to do. (and, like Chris I don't always pass my classes the first time)

                              Is a CS degree useful? 10-15 years ago, I would have said no. Many people I know dropped out and took very profitable programming jobs in start-ups. But the world has changed since then. It took a number of years for other countries to tool up their CS teaching assembly lines, but they did, and now they are rolling off highly competent techies at a rate in which the US cannot compete. (I could actually write lots on this and document the major events and changes, but that would bore most people) -

                              So, in short, what a CS degree does in today's job market, is quickly narrow the applicant pool. (which is growing rapidly) A typical universities' CS undergraduate program requirements are the same across the board and promise a minimum level of knowledge, experience and basic competence.
                              Why should a busy manager take the time to interview a maverick who may or may not have the qualifications needed for the position, when (on paper at least) a person with a bachelor's in CS will be sure to have them? (though that is really a myth - businesses do think that way)

                              Jackalope - Getting through College Algebra: I've got some great links I'll pm them to you. The hardest part is getting past the fear that failing causes you. Xor mentioned Drexel, they have a fantastic online Math Forum that provides free help to anyone anywhere. I also strongly suggest that you find a tutor - (maybe one of the class's T.A.s) It maybe that what you need someone to show you how to look at a problem differently.

                              Math is really a language, but it is a very formal one. Once you understand the grammar and the syntax - you have to discipline yourself to speak it (work problem sets) carefully and systematically.

                              -mouse


                              QUOTE=DJ Jackalope;92711]I did three years of college a while ago - went to school for Marketing with a minor in East Asian history. (Talk about two extremes!) I never graduated. I decided to go back to school this spring (2007) and am on the Dean's list and all that good stuff after spending my earlier college years on probation. My last class should be this summer, unfortunately it's the one I've all ready failed three times: college algebra. I totally agree with the different outlook than most students that Chris has. I don't go for the 100% but 90% and above is pretty ok with me. My.02 for tonight.[/QUOTE]
                              One Voter really can make a difference. Ask me how!

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