University vs. Self-Study
Self-study is an exceptional talent we cannot negate when mastering computer science and information technology. It’s an incredible way to get your skills off the ground and scrape the surface of your chosen field. But is it better than studying a computer science and information technology degree at university? Sure, YouTube, Google, and even OpenAI’s infamous ChatGPT could be excellent tools for self-study, but is it better than the real thing? We at Cybernews Academy want to explore the skills you can gain while at university and whether you can self-study your way through a classic computer science and information technology degree.
University vs. Self-Study
Some of the most prominent figures in tech are university dropouts. Names like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have risen to tech infamy without achieving a full university degree. So, how important is a degree? In most cases, if you want to break into the computer science and information technology industry, most employers require a degree in computer science or any related field. From this, we understand the value of a degree isn’t lost in the digital age. Degrees are still valid, particularly in technical fields such as computer science and information technology.
What is self-study
The concept of self-study is pretty straightforward. It is the art of teaching yourself an academic subject without assistance from a teacher, tutor, or mentor. This can be achieved through YouTube videos, reading academic papers or articles, and Googling your topic to your heart's content. Self-study has some positive aspects, such as working independently and saving money on university-related expenses. However, there are some definitive skills, competencies, and benefits that you will miss out on if you choose self-study over university.
Benefits of going to University
The benefits of attending university are vast and expansive – they encompass anything from networking opportunities to direct industry access through your university. Let’s look at why you should consider undertaking a computer science and information technology degree.
At university, your program is specifically structured to have one specific outcome: preparing to enter the workforce. Higher educational institutions feature university professors' original work, which can be highly insightful and exclusive to the university. The curriculums have been crafted to give you the best outlook on the industry and will help you contextualize your knowledge through practical and theoretical work (depending on your institution.)
There are plenty of networking opportunities at university that you wouldn’t get with independent study. Your university may hold networking events or participate in nationwide conferences that help you build connections with companies and individuals within the industry. At university, you are surrounded by students and professionals with extensive knowledge and understanding of the industry. Professors and lecturers will most likely have connections to the industry, so networking within your university is a benefit you wouldn’t get with self-study.
Greater graduate prospects
On average, those who attend university and obtain a degree have a greater chance of a high-paying job post-graduation. HESA revealed that the employment level by course of study for Computer Sciences was 81.8%, and Engineering and Technology reached 85.9%. These are incredibly high rates, showing that those who undertake computer science and information technology degrees will likely break into the industry post-graduation. This can be attributed to a degree as a form of validation, showing that you can perform the necessary duties. Similarly, professionals who have worked in the industry will be teaching you the fundamentals of your discipline. Furthermore, many modern computer science and information technology degrees expose you to or reflect the industry, meaning you should acquire some industry knowledge while at university. You could also earn more money as those with a computer science and information technology degree generally have greater earning potential.
Development of skills
Although you can learn a range of extraordinary skills through YouTube, self-paced courses, or resources you can find online, nothing beats developing your skills with the help of trained professionals. Your lecturers and professors will help you develop core skills by tailoring curriculums and crafting lesson plans based on the fundamental facets of your discipline. You could develop skills faster and more effectively with the help of a trained professional who can guide you through the foundations of programming languages and other technical skills needed post-graduation. It’s not only technical skills that you will develop. You will acquire and strengthen soft skills such as collaboration, problem-solving, critical thinking, etc. The skills you learn while studying computer science and information technology subjects at university are transferable, meaning you will be able to use them when you enter the industry.
Foundation for further learning
If you complete an undergraduate degree at university, you will have laid the foundation for future learning. You can automatically go into a master’s degree where you can further specialize in your chosen profession– whether this is cloud computing or cybersecurity, you are looking to specialize in, you can with a bachelor’s degree. If you don’t want to go into research, a degree will still allow you to understand the fundamentals of your discipline.
Industry relevant knowledge
The knowledge you gain from your degree will directly correlate with the industry, as that is what the degree prepares you for. The knowledge you may get from the internet about computing may only sometimes be accurate; it could be filled with hyperbole, and some of the articles you may read could be useless if not from a credible source. So, with self-study, how do you know what you are learning is legitimate? With the guidance of trained, experienced professional mentors and tutors, you can ensure that you are receiving the relevant industry knowledge needed to secure a job post-graduation.
Accreditation and Credentials
Attending a credible, accredited, and relevant university in computer science and information technology may open more doors in terms of graduate opportunities. If you have taken the self-study route, there is nothing to say that you can do the work that the industry demands. With accredited programs and credible university credentials, you are more likely to land a position at your dream tech job.
There are so many reasons to attend university. Not only will you obtain many unbelievable benefits if you undertake a degree in a higher education institution, but you will also make exceptional memories and connect directly with the industry. At university, you will gain guided knowledge curated by industry professionals and academics that will give you the best possible chance of securing a top-quality education and your dream job post-graduation.