Interesting article, Peter. I agree that a 4 year degree does not necessarily prepare you for a career in development.
A University like any other educational institution can only teach you what you want to teach yourself.
I was sat down in front of a PC at age 4. It was a big old Compaq laptop from the late 80s.
I played with Linux in high school but decided to study Political Science instead.
Today I work as a self-taught developer on international projects in distributed teams.
Studying social sciences for me was intresting because I could understand machines but I had a harder time understanding society.
What I didn't get from a CompSci degree I learned on my own through online resources. This ofcourse reflects a privilege of coming from a family that was financially well off enough that I didn't have to accept any work I could get at an early age.
Society will need to review how we do education. The cost of a University education can be a significant barrier, especially in the US, but even in New Zealand. Student loans are terrible, encumbering students with debt early in life when their earning potential has not been developed.
In the past University has not only been a qualification system for certain professions, but a more general education in topics like philosophy. Interestingly the Internet has made this kind of material more available and less elitist.
Vocational organisations like coding boot camps have sprung up to cater for those who want a fast track, much like I suggested. However, the promises they make are unrealistic. They may arm you with the foundations, but you need a year or two to mature and gain self confidence. This is true regardless of whether you come from University or a boot camp.
I don't want to beat up on Universities, they have their place after all, and we need them for basic science and technology development, but the value equation will drive people away towards more efficient options.
My son was sat down in front of a computer at six months - but only for a photo op :-) However, by three he was able to use a mouse and play basic games. Now... well lets just say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
I fully agree with you on the cost benefit analysis of Universities. In Croatia, the equation is a little better with a government subsidized education being free or costing at most one months average salary for the whole year. The problem is more in the content that is being taught. There is not enough collaboration with private sector and students are burdened with general STEM courses well in to their third year.
I put a lot of faith in e-learning as it gives the student more market power anf choice in selecting his education.
I am glad to hear about your son. Best wishes!
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