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Student: Information Technology or Computer Science?


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#1
Deaner6666

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Hi everyone, and thank you for looking at this thread. I'm a current student (20 years old) at community college, soon to complete my general A.A. by Summer 2011, and then transfer to USF (a larger state college). There is a problem though. I'm trying to decide between doing Information Technology or Computer Science. Speaking with advisors has been a lackluster experience, as I'd be sent from one vague-answer advisor to another at both my community college and (soon-to-be) state college, until finally realizing that none of them knew what they (educated in counseling or business) had no idea what they were talking about. And, well, here I am now hoping that one of you guys can give me a little information on which to pick. Below I've listed some information about both "what I do not know" (which is the key question) and "what I do know" (which is data about my academic, technical, and personality background which will help you tailor an answer to me specifically.)

What I do not Know
First, of course, does with the job opportunities associated with my degree. I fear someone with an Information Technology degree may not be as competitive as someone with an Computer Science or Computer Engineering degree. This comes from the confusion of what specific difference there is between a BS-IT degree and BS-CS or BS-CE degree, which I've only gotten vague answers to and not the "you want this degree with this concentration, and based the people I've met and personal experiences you'll want something like these three." Here is a flowchart list between Computer Science and Information Technology:
http://www.poly.usf....ITflowchart.pdf
http://www.cse.usf.e...owchart2009.pdf


What I do Know
Second, here are the things that I do know. I am hands-on orientated, with skill in building, repairing, and maintaining computer hardware and networks. This is the vague idea of what I want to do in a career, and I say vague because without the knowledge to say for example, "well I know about databases now, and the class was fluid to me, and I like networks and hardware, so I'll do something in databases" there is no way to know whether I'd like databases vs. support vs. network admin. vs programmer and so-on. Also know I am not fluid with mathematics all the time, it takes time for me to learn mathematics and often struggle with rushed teaching (from poor teachers) but when learned it's easier to master. I understand that programming,whille rather programming that isn't geometric heavy (like video game design, which I don't want to do) or pure mathematics (like robotics, which I don't want to do either), deals with very little math beyond College Algebra and (sometimes) Statistics and is more language based learning (which I excel in), which leaves me interested in having programming knowledge. I also know that the information technology field is an area where learning, discarding that learning, and re-learning (because of new languages or techniques) is a common thing, such I am neither afraid of because it's very enjoyable.

Thank you much, and I know this is a mouthful for one post.. but I feel it's necessary to give you the "round idea" of the situation. I'm very hopeful someone can answer this with either personal or data-based experience, because you guys are literally my last hope here..
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#2
rajkk1

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Hey Deaner,

After reading your post I can give you some advice that I hope will be at least a little useful, based on some people that I know.

From what your interests are, it looks like you would definately be more interested in a degree in Information Technology. Computer Science is very math heavy and Information Technology will give you a much more rounded education (with courses such as General Psychology and Communications for Engineers) and hands-on, relevant training (like IT program design and IT Networks & Lab). Taking a degree in Computer Science is essentially going to be maths (with a bit of computer and physics stuff!)

That being said however, you would probably be a bit more competitive with a degree in Computer Science for the same reasons. Employers like people who are good at maths. This is because you can pick up a lot of the hands-on/practical stuff you would have learnt in an Information Technology degree later on (either by yourself or on-the-job training), but doing the opposite (i.e. learning Information Technology and then trying to pick up maths/computer science stuff) is a lot more difficult. And employers feel that a good maths base can always come in handy. So a lot of people would either take a degree in Computer Science and then look for a job in IT (giving them a slightly competitive edge) or even do a degree in Computer Science, a masters in Information Technology and THEN look for a job (in which case they are a lot more competitive!). Also doing a degree in Computer Science gives you more openings than doing a degree in Information Technology (say if you decide to go into something like economics afterwards) but that doesn't seem too relevant to you.

So here's how I see it:
Degree in Information Technology: it's what you like, but a little less competitive
Degree in Computer Science: what you like less, but a little more competitive
Degree in Information Technology and Masters in Information Technology: what you like (although getting into a masters program with an Information Technology degree is a little harder than with a Computer Science degree), more competitive BUT can be expensive
Degree in Computer Science and Masters in Information Technology: what you like less, followed by what you like, a LOT more competitive BUT can be expensive

My final piece of advice however is that once you get into a job, then it's all about how well you do in the job. So even though taking a degree in Computer Science may make you more competitive, all you need is to get ONE job offer in the field you're looking to work in and then you can really start proving yourself to the company (and in some cases if you're really good and you need a masters to climb up in the hierarchy the company may even pay for your masters education!)

So unfortunately, although I would tend towards a degree in Information Technology, it's the cliché (but true) "it's up to you" situation. Also I strongly encourage you to keep asking for advice and see what you can come up with (maybe you'll find that someone else may completely disagree with me!). But don't be way to stressed about it because in the end, whether you do a degree in Information Technology OR Computer Science, you'll be useful to someone in the job market!

Sorry for the long-winded answer and hope it helps at least a little bit!

Good luck buddy!
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#3
dsenette

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IMO a computer science degree probably get's you less clout in the job market. it's way too vague. it's like a liberal arts degree....what the heck is a liberal arts degree? it doesn't tell me what you know.

an IT or IS or CNS degree tells me immediately what you studied. In most cases you don't want to over specialized, but with "computer stuff" you want to specialize more than normal (you still want to be rounded and have a lot of cards to play). the market (in general) is pretty saturated. there are a lot of people competing for those jobs. having a degree that says "i know how to do this thing that you want me to do specifically, as well as a few of these other things that you haven't thought about" is a lot better than having a degree that says "i know some things about some things"
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#4
Cold Titanium

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So you would definitely recommend a CIS vs a CS when it comes to actually getting a job? I've been debating that myself.

Currently the maths are giving me trouble, but I'm a good coder. I just have trouble with all the abstract theoretical stuff. Is Physics I and II really necessary to be competitive? It seems that schools skimp on the maths that we really need (discrete, etc...) and just give us a generalized program.

Have you seen CIS majors get hired over CS majors?
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