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Truths your college don't tell you why they teach you in such an awful way.

Juneau Lim
full discloser: #CodeNewbie #horribleAtHumanLanguage
Updated on ・3 min read

While studying by out of school during summer vacation, there were some points that I have realized. All of below doubts are ones that either I have actually heard from other student or myself was wondering during the first two semesters.

  1. Weird custom style rule

    In the first programming course, my college uses its own style rule that is violating PEP 8. It was quite annoying to be fair. I actually even wrote a program to detect the style errors that is not detected by a code editor. Now, I believe that the reason the school did it is that they don’t want those to be detected by third-party software which is not a student's own brain. Students should learn how to follow style role without a tool nagging them word by word. Actually, after realizing it, I regret a bit I had written that program.

    screenshot of Bracket Detective

  2. Pen&Paper exam

    Yes, it is painful and it takes really a lot of time. However, the fact is that you have to do it like that in job interviews. When I took online courses with embedded edited I usually do it in my IDE and copy+pasted into. After a realize it, I wonder if a stop doing it so.

  3. The narrow scope of the programs

    When I was talking with my friend about this topic, I said that 0. it’s maybe because school is afraid of a high failure rate. He added,

    It’s like finding the greatest common divisor.

    I think it is an elegant way to address the situation. However, I also think it’s not all. I also think 1. School believe a student who want knowledge will find a way to get it by themselves, and 2. They want students to learn how to do it. Learning is a life long journey. And it is impossible to teach everything in school, especially such a fast-changing industry like ours.

  4. Unnecessary courses

    At front of technical writing class and system and analysis class doors, I heard so many times students saying “This is a waste of time.” And many of them actually often skip classes intentionally.

    You know why? Because it IS necessary. I’ve heard many times from co-op students. That they also thought so when they were learning them for the first time, but when they joined an actual workforce, they found that is actually used. My only complaint about those courses is that it doesn’t feel to be enough. I think I just should practice my own.

  5. Why should we use such an old version of language and editor?

    • Editor: Why school use Notepad++ and NetBeans instead of one of cool JetBrains’ software? Auto-completion is so cool.

      Because school don’t want you to use that auto-completion. When you first learn a language, you have to LEARN the syntax. And there no better way than actually, and fully use them. With a variable name as well, you have to learn how to carefully use them without making mistakes.

    • Language: Java now announced 12, but we are learning 8. What’s wrong with our school.

      I bet it is for your own good. When you even not fully learnt what OOP is, you wouldn't want to learn Java 12 features is it will be too overwhelming. In fact, It's even hard to learn Java 8 features.

I am not sure if It is the school's actual intent or I am beautifying it. Either way, I am pretty satisfied with it and happy to be a student at my school. I know that there are so many amazing developers who self-thought without having a classic form of education and doing just great. However, for me, I like the facts that there is a curriculum that has been developed through decades with trial and error, and the existence of teachers and classmates who exist physical, not in the screen. Even though I understand school is just a beginning of learning and not provides me with everything, I believe it's providing me with a pretty good starting point.

Discussion (8)

elliot profile image

I especially agree with your points 4 and 5.

4: Although many courses may not be directly applicable to your future career, just having a breadth of knowledge is such a useful thing. It may make you realize you are interested in something new, or give you valuable perspective, or a weird new way of thinking. My personal philosophy is to enjoy learning for the sake of learning.

5: It makes intuitive sense to learn the basics and then build on top of that. Sometimes it feels overly restrained, but I genuinely think it is valuable to learn from the ground up. A lot of developers get caught up in tools rather than concepts, and I think jumping into tools right off the bat is part of the reason for this. When you start with tooling, it becomes difficult to imagine life without them, or with different tools.

voidjuneau profile image
Juneau Lim Author • Edited

Fair points. Your opinion on 4 is applied to my "Business Fundamentals for IT" course. I loved that class more as a life hack skill and having another viewpoint. Learning basic concepts can be applied to every language, so I also believe the most important thing is to learning mechanism and structure.

Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

anpos231 profile image

Are you serious with that tooling?
I've just noticed that I fell in love with Atom so much, I did not realize, that there are better alternatives out there :P

Still, I don't feel like switching.

voidjuneau profile image
Juneau Lim Author • Edited

Same to be honest. I love VS code and IntelliJ there is no going back. But I think using dull tools helped me remembering to code lines just like the same way hand note taking does.

anpos231 profile image
anpos231 • Edited

The only problem I have with colleges, is that they have such a powerful ability, to strip students from the enthusiasm students had, before going there.

I've seen so many people with self-taught background in programming, going to college, just to drop it after first year. Some people lost interest in CS so much they decided to change the industry.

voidjuneau profile image
Juneau Lim Author • Edited

That's such a shame. I haven't thought about that problem before. Is it like school break the wings and put into a cage? I think dropping school is totally ok if the school is not for them. I am so sorry to hear that there is even people change the industry.

severusken profile image

Well written! The problems addressed in this article are similar in my case. I hated college (and yes, some profs) so much that during my 3-year college I only went to class the days we had exams.

Technology world is involving so fast and the traditional education system, the thing that remains unchanged for last hundred years, will never be able to catch up.

voidjuneau profile image
Juneau Lim Author • Edited

Thanks for sharing your opinion. You are right. Because of its legacy and relationship with the system as a whole, the high education system is really not easy to change as fast as society does. As somebody who graduated alternative secondary education, I can partly imagine what your problem was.
The good point is, at least there are many alternatives these days.🙃