Hello all, I am working towards a Bachelors degree in computer science and I had planned to get the associates degree first so I would be able to get an entry level job to start gaining some experience. The problem I am having is that the school I am attending doesn't offer all the classes that I need to graduate by the end of next year(2013). So my question is do I take all the classes I can at this school to save money and then transfer at the end of next year and just continue on towards the Bachelors degree and try to find an entry level job that I can get without any degree or stay and finish the associates? Do I even need a degree to get an entry level job? I work in construction as a plumber and I wanted to make the change to a new career to start building an experience base, so I don't know which direction would be best and I appreciate any help you may have. Thank you for your time and if you need anymore information let me know.

do I take all the classes I can at this school to save money and then transfer at the end of next year and just continue on towards the Bachelors degree

Yes, it is the best way to save your money when you go through college. I did the same and it helped me a lot. Take as many classes that CAN be transferred to the college you want to go to or classes that are required to graduate. Do NOT take any classes that will not be transferred or required. However, it depends on which school you are going. I went to a local community college and I could transfer all classes I took from the school when I went to another local (public) university.

try to find an entry level job that I can get without any degree or stay and finish the associates

That's depended on your current qualification and some lucks. If you ask a degree is the only factor to get a job, no. But if you ask a degree helps you getting a job, it is more likely to help you but not a guarantee. It's all depended on the employers and the type of jobs you are looking for.

Do I even need a degree to get an entry level job?

As I mentioned earlier, depends on the job you are looking for and the employer. Some jobs may require a degree and some may not. A degree is somewhat an implication that the person has enough patient to learn and can get through whatever being thrown at. However, some employers value experience more than degree/education. So the answer is may be...

Thank you Taywin for your response. I am going to take as many classes that I can at the school that I currently attend and transfer when I have them done.

I do agree that some employers look at experience when applying for a job and that is why I was thinking that making a switch in jobs now, even if it is an entry level position, I would still be gaining some experience as I learn. I think I will look into some jobs around where I live. It can't hurt to look and who knows I may find a job that is willing to take me on and that may help expand my knowledge and skills that much faster.

But you need to consider about the comparative environment, as these days people who have the degree cannot get a job. This means it’s less likely that a employer will employ some one who have qualification in collage than the person who already have a degree. I would advice you to finish collage and go university and do a placement. This way you will get some money and experience. (according to UK education this may change where you live)

There is a hidden benefit to education that is oftentimes overlooked (in my opinion). That is that you can interact with people who are already in the industry and get a leg up on your competition - even if it is for a little lower pay at first.

Case in point - several years ago I was in the exact same situation as you. I was in construction, was attending community college part time in hopes to transfer as much from my AS degree when I ultimately went for my BS. While I was there I took a class from someone who owned a business and taught evenings part-time. He and I hit it off and while he did not end up hiring me directly he was probably my strongest reference when I started applying at large (and we still talk to this day).

The AS afforded me two things:

  • It allowed me to 'test the waters' to make sure I wanted to spend the next 4 years working toward a degree
  • It allowed me to save a substantial amount of money in getting my degree.

My suggestion is to use your time getting an AS to do a broad search on the industry (via a variety of classes) and see what you like. If you find something that drives you find a teacher/employer/mentor and latch on. Suck them dry for experience. Offer to work on the schools resources for a small stipend (or for free at first). All of these things will position you to be at the front of the pack once you enter into the working world.

Thanks drameshgar1 and L7Sqr for the good points you both made. Sometimes trying to figure out the best course of action is tough, I just want to be in the best position I can be in order to find a good job later on.

I have one more question, would a B.S. in Information Technology be a good degree that is in demand, or is the B.S. in Computer Science a better choice for future job prospects?

I thihnk a B.S. in computer science would look better on a resume than information technology.

They are 2 different fields. The Computer Science is more on the concept and algorithm. You will be taught about how things work briefly. Most of the time, you will be taught how to come up with an optimal solution and may have to develop one. The degree does NOT teach you how to program, but requires you to be capable of learing new computer languages in order to demonstrate that you understand the concept. Each computer language may have advantage over others in the sense of illustrating a concept/algorithm.

The Information Technology, even though I didn't get the degree in this major but took one class to see how it is like, is more on programming and how to use a program. You will learn how to do it, but you are not taught how to do it in an optimal way or develop an idea to make it optimal.

Comparing learning in CS and IT, CS is a lot more difficult but more useful in the sense of concept development. If you just want to be able to program and do not want to dig deep, IT may fit you. If you feel more comfortable with acadamic field, CS would be fine for you.

Thank you for the responses. Are there any good online Computer Science degrees?

You wont get much in the way of a degree per se, but there are a wealth of online courses geared to Computer Science. MIT OpenCourseWear was one fo the first but there are newer resources that are aiming at a more interactive approach.
There are some institutions that provide online courses but you have to be registered with the school, pay a tuition and, in most cases, attend at least some minimal amount of in-class lecture.