The subject title says it all. Is it worth taking classes at a university?

I'm impatient with myself, and I would love to learn Java (some Sourceforge projects intrigue me) quickly and accurately. Is it worth the huge investment in time and money to take classes somewhere, or even online... or is it effective to use some freely available online resource, like tutorials and whatnot?

I'm a writer, so my time is pretty limited despite the hours I spend tossing paragraphs into OpenOffice in front of my monitor.

Suggestions/comments/experience recollections?

Of course it is, but you can't learn everything from a class. So, I would recommend outside study's while taking the class.

well i think, taking a class is not necessary but what you need is practice after reading some online or offline tutorial and resources. I have interest in programming since high school, and I learn it by reading and doing practice... like changing the code of tutorials and running them, so i can see the difference...
many of my friends in university, after taking our first programming language lecture (c programming) can't write a program (yet they pass)... because they didn't practice what they learn.
if you are new to programming it may take sometime to get used to it...

well i learn lots of thing before attending to classes at university, just by reading and doing some programming... so it is not necessary, i think.

I see what your saying.. I myself learned tons from books and stuff, and I'm currently in ap computer science and know way more than my teacher, due to the studies I did outside of school. So, if I know all of this, why am I taking the class? I'm taking it to get credit for it. It's the same way with college, or online classes. You take them so you have proof that you know the stuff. What would happen if you fill out a resume for a job? You couldn't just put that you learned everything you know from books.

yep, that's true, you need to prove yourself, i agree with you,
but Locke.Digitalus i think only wants to learn java for a hobby, so he don't really need to prove himself...

Formal education is invaluable.
Just picking up some source you don't know the first thing about whether it's well designed and programmed or not and thinking you can learn the language from that is just silly, it won't work.

Learning from a GOOD book can work, IF you can bring the discipline to do it properly and IF you can recognise which is the GOOD book (rather than the cheap book that looks nice). Problem is that unless you have that formal education and/or a lot of experience you won't know how to recognise a good book and if you do you're unlikely to be interested in beginners' books...

Thanks for all the replies. Now, if I can add another "argument" to my question -- can anyone tell me if it is more worthwhile to go to an actual brick-and-mortar school, or enroll in an online / correspondance course? Would I be losing out on anything by taking an online university approach?

It is accurate to say that learning Java is more of a hobby... at the moment. I'm a writer, not a lover-of-mathematics, so I've been told that I use the incorrect side of my brain to be a decent programmer. That may or may not be true, but I would like to have some education (if it's worth getting) in a technology field.

It appears that most of you believe a formal education is the most sure-fire way to "get it" when it comes to Java, and I'll go along with that. Again, though, could I learn through an online university?

Thanks.

I would DEFINATELY go with the online course. This way you can learn more at your own pace, and it's much easier to teach yourself than have an instructor try to teach you. Also, about the mathmatics part, I'm not the best in math, but I'm pretty darn good at programming. You said you were a writer, this means you have excellent language skills, and in my opinion, this will help you much more. Actually, if you like the aspects of language, you will probably love programming.

A good flesh and blood teacher and contacts with other students can help a lot.
It keeps the interest alive and gives real people to exchange ideas with.

Most online courses don't have anything coming even close to that, they're just glorified tutorials.
The only benefits you get from them is that you can choose one that's offered by an institution that's not conveniently close to visit and that you can schedule to do them in your own time (which brings a very real danger of letting them slip for going to the pub or playing a game).

I guess I was wrong. I've had enough of teachers...In my class, I have a crappy teacher, and the other students know nothing.

huh? What have you been sniffing? Let me tell you something kid, in the real world the vast majority of wished do NOT come true (unless maybe you're an extreme masochist who only wishes for bad things to happen to him).

Taking classes comes in handy when you're applying for a job as a Java programmer. It's a proof that you have a rather good knowledge of the language.

You can also go for Java certification, but i still think it is necessary to take some classes to be successful...

You can get started with some good books. It teaches you so much in so little time.

given the questions asked by schoolkids here and elsewhere you have to wonder about that "proof that you have a rather good knowledge of the language".
99% at least are of the "do my homework for me because I'm too lazy to learn anything" kind or at least the "I'm utterly clueless about even the extreme basics and too lazy too do some learning" kind.
If that's enough to get kids through school I'd say that classes are an indication of a lack of knowledge...

It is little silly to start war over something like this...

On one hand I do argee with jwenting that university does not fully prepare you for real-life job as programmer. It is very short time spam to get and learn something in depth as they try to give as more option to choosee from. I finished my BSc degree just this summenr and I have to admit that I just got broad knowledge in programming (we did C++, C, Java and some PHP and Perl) for all you guys working in industry that will just basics such as GUI, DB connectivity and very-very little of networking.
On the other I do not agree with you jwenting. The percentage counts for students that do they homework must be higher, I consider to be something about 20%, but that still very low.

@schoolsoluction & kukushkin - university Java knowledge will not realy get you job and not all your wishes will come true

Where did I say that the percentage spread of questions we get here is the same as the percentage spread of students who are motivated and willing to learn against those who are not?
I hope greatly that the majority of students never need to post questions here or elsewhere, or if they do aren't recognised as students because of the nature and style of their postings.

Given the students I encountered as a student, that would be the reality of the situation, but of course that's over a decade ago and things may have changed.
If your experience tells you that only 20% of students in courses leading up to a BSc are motivated to learn the skills they're being taught that's to me exceedingly shocking.
In my days that other 80% would have washed out in the first year, or more likely never even gotten admitted to the study because they'd have washed out in lower education.

I think that education system in UK is very tolerant, they could be harder on students. Back home(Slovakia) you still have to go trough selection process and often writen examination before you admited to join university. Where here strangly they admit as many students as they can and doesn't matter what their knowledge in given area is they hope to teach them everything from scratch. Then they got large number of students leaving or changing university/course path for various reasons.
This year I'm taking my MSc in Mobile Computing and teaching approach is different, very are finaly expect to do lot of work on our own. Some people have problem to cope with it they they praining and wishing it was like before. For me, I wouldn't change it... :D

That's because in the UK (as in many other countries) universities get paid a fixed price by the government for each student they have, irrespective of results.
If they get paid based on real results to government specified tests they'd be more careful as to whom they admit.

It's the same here, but the entry requirements are high enough that most are never allowed to enter (several years more pre-university schooling than most kids get, at a higher level with more difficult tests).
As a result those kids that do make it are usually reasonably well motivated.

I think it will be very usefull if you take university regular classes. Internal assessments, seminars, assignments and other activities involved with the subject will give you better grip and insight on the subject. I agree with the fact that ultimately what comes is its your knowledge any way, gaining mastery over the subject is what is the ultimate satisfaction. Allso i would like to add that university degree will be an added proof which might help
you a lot if you want to use the knowledge as a profession(A must requirement if you want to play safe).

Try to take some team projects without consideration of earniing. You will learn and gain a lot.

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