Is a CS Degree Worth It?
Many people ask me throughout the week, “Would a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science be a better option for me than attending a coding bootcamp that is non-accredited?” The quick answer is NO! But let me explain my reasoning a little more so you can understand how I have come to this view point. First of all I think there are three main factors that come into play when making a college decision, so let’s take a look at what those are.
According to College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2017 report, students at a public four-year institution paid 213% higher annually then they did in 1987…and get this: that’s with inflation to adjust for today’s prices! Students at private institutions had their prices for college go up a bit too, to a whopping increase of 129 percent since 1987. The below chart shows the increase over the years.
Public four-year institution (average cost for all majors):
Tuition for 1987-1988: $3,190
Tuition for 1997-1998: $4,740
Tuition for 2007-2008: $7,280
Tuition for 2017-2018: $9,970
Private nonprofit four-year institution (average cost for all majors):
Tuition for 1987-1988: $15,160
Tuition for 1997-1998: $21,020
Tuition for 2007-2008: $27,520
Tuition for 2017-2018: $34,740
According to collegecalc.org the average Computer Science associate program cost per year is $20,139, with an average two-year total program cost of $40,278. Average annual out-of-state cost for a bachelor program in Computer Science is $40,785 with an estimated average four-year degree total cost of $163,140 and if you want to continue on to get a masters degree that will cost you on average $40,000 more putting your grand total education cost at $203,140.
So we know to get a computer science degree it’s going to be crazy expensive but is it worth it? I mean, maybe if you’re getting the skills necessary to quickly find a job making a great salary it will eventually pay off, right? Well, not so fast. According to a survey by mystudentvoices.com which surveyed 517 students 72% of computer science majors did not have a job lined up in their career field before graduation. This has been very consistent with my own experience where we usually have several computer science grads in each cohort we teach because they don’t have the skills to enter the job market in an entry level position. Just to be clear, though, I think it can always help you to have computer science degree stamp on your resume but since this is a skill-based industry, if you don’t have the skills after you graduate in my experience you have to get the skills some other way.
It’s no secret that software developer jobs earn great money and usually bring in far more than the national median salary in the U.S., but do computer science degree grads make more then bootcamp grads? And are employers just as eager to hire bootcamp grads as they are someone with computer science degree? As far as compensation it’s hard to say because I am not getting the data from colleges on what their grads are earning post-college. But looking at the average for junior developers in Birmingham, AL on Glassdoor.com, which is roughly $54,000 annually, and knowing our average graduate gets a starting salary of $48,000 a year, I don’t think it’s worth the $155,140 extra it would cost to get a degree rather than going through a program like TrueCoders. At best, a computer science grad would be getting only 6K a year more.
To come to a conclusion, I don’t think a computer science degree is a bad thing but in my opinion, with how fast the technology world is changing and how much an individual will be set back financially for the cost of that education, I think your money is better spent elsewhere.