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Does college name matter for East Coast Jobs?

 
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Hi,
I'm looking to start a Master's Degree in CIS. I've narrowed it down to two options: Aspen University and University of Denver. They're both online; Aspen University is exactly what I want in a Master's degree, and I feel like I only get half of what I want with UOD. Also, UOD is twice (if not more) as expensive. BUT, UOD is a bigger name. We're going to be moving to the Boston area and I'm wondering if the bigger name is important when finding employment as a software engineer. Please, I really would like to know.

Thanks!

Dan Silva
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The reputation of a university does have influence in the type of consideration you may get while searching for job interviews. This is so because it is a reflection on the quality of the educational experience provided by the institution. Online college degrees are still questionable as they cannot deliver the same quality of education that traditional schools do. Human, live, in-person interaction with professors and fellow students is an very important part of attaining a degree. Moreover, the dedication that is demonstrated by attending classroom education is valued more than abbreviated, short-cuts offered by "online" courses. This degree is simply an electronic product for generating revenue from the Internet, in my opinion. When I am reviewing resumes, I discard those with questionable academic credentials. You may want to reconsider.

Names that matter in Mass., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Dartmouth, Boston College, to name a few.

Good luck!
 
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In Boston in particular (I lived there for 14 years and did a lot of hiring there) college name matters a lot, probably more so than anywhere else. Boston is an academics town. Because there are so many colleges in the Boston metro area, starting with two of the top in the world (Harvard and MIT), and having a number of other strong schools (Wellesley, Simmons, Tufts, Brandeis, BU, Northeastern, etc.) and a large number of people who went to grad school there coming from top 25 schools as an undergrad, that a premium is placed on where you went to school.

DC: "What do you do?" meaning "How much political influence do you have?"
NY: "What do you do?" meaning "How much money do you make?"
LA: "What have you done?" meaning "Are you a success or just another out of work actor?"
Boston: "Where did you go to school?" meaning "How smart are you?"

Of course, since both are online, IMO neither will be given much credence (sorry) so I'd recommend doing the one you prefer.

--Mark
 
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Would it be better to get an online degree from a big name school, or get a sit-down degree from a lesser known school (i.e. Utah State University, or University of Utah)?
 
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Originally posted by Dan Silva:
Would it be better to get an online degree from a big name school, or get a sit-down degree from a lesser known school (i.e. Utah State University, or University of Utah)?



What do you mean by "big name?" University of Phoenix online has a "big" name in terms of brand recognition, but not a "big" name in terms of quality. Harvey Mudd is an ivy-level school but doesn't have much brand recognition in the mass market. Most "big name" schools (meaning high quality educational brand) don't have online degree programs.

Typically most degree programs are full time, part time, remote, or online. I'm not sure to which you are referring to by "sit-down degree."

--Mark
 
Dan Silva
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I'm referring to anything but online when I refer to "sit-down" experience. I feel like I'm in a tight spot because I don't have an undergrad degree in CS or related, but am currently gainfully employed as a software developer. There's no way I could get into a "high-quality" school if I don't have an undergraduate degree in CS or related. So, I guess I'm just looking for options that will help me further my career and give me credibility. Right now my only credibility is my SCJP 1.5. I'll gladly take some more tests if they mean something, but I figured that a MS would mean more.
Please, I need advice. Thanks.
 
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Originally posted by Dan Silva:
There's no way I could get into a "high-quality" school if I don't have an undergraduate degree in CS or related.



That's certainly not true. Yo need to have the appropriate knowledge base, of which a BS is the most clear way to demonstrate it, but there are other ways including subject exams such as the GRE CS test, or taking college level CS classes, or publishing papers, just to name a few examples.

--Mark
 
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Depends upon what type of software you are working on. Control software for telephone switches or air traffic control systems is quite different than business software, e.g. financial management systems, e-commerce systems, or customer relationship management systems.

In my experience, those with degrees in Information Systems or Information Technology tend to do better that Computer Science students in business software environments. This is a subjective statement, but based on real observation of performance, communication power, etc. Business software requires more creativity and communication rather than mathmatical formulas and algorithms.

A suggestion is to avoid the "online education" and find a good school that you feel comfortable with. Stop worrying about what a school's name or reputation is. In an interview it is not what school you came from, but what you have gotten from the education and what you have to offer. It is about you, not the school. Gain more confidence in yourself and your abilities and it will not matter what school you went to.

Good luck!
[ May 09, 2008: Message edited by: James Clark ]
 
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Originally posted by James Clark:
Depends upon what type of software you are working on... In my experience, those with degrees in Information Systems or Information Technology tend to do better that Computer Science students in business software environments.



I believe he was proposing an MS degree (Master of Science) not an MIS degree.


Originally posted by James Clark:
In an interview it is not what school you came from, but what you have gotten from the education and what you have to offer.



(I write the following for future readers looking for advice for their own specific educational questions.)

I don't think this is universally true. Honestly simply having an MIT degree opens a lot of doors for me. The name gives me instant credibility and the alumni network is great. The same is true for other brand name schools. The difference between school #8 and school #108 is huge, the difference between school #348 and #448 is not as large. That said there was a study suggesting that successful people will be successful no matter where they go to school and I certainly subscribe to that theory, the school brand name just makes some things easier (in the case of going to a top brand name university).

--Mark
 
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Dan,
I went to grad school online (Regis University.) I agree with the sentiment that it is not always viewed as well as a physical school. Or it confuses people if the school's physical location isn't near where you live.

"East Coast Jobs" is a bit generic. Some employers - particularly the really competitive ones - do care about brand name. Others are more interested in what you have done and what you know.

Also, I'm on the East Coast and don't know anything about either of Aspen University or UOD other than the fact that they both are in Colorado.

If one school offers what you want, I think that is a better criteria than what an employer might or might not know/think of your school.

I do agree with Mark that a brand name school helps, but remember that he went to MIT. That's one of top few schools in the country (don't know exactly which one). Beyond that I suspect the influence slips quickly.
 
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