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I'm currently a student in software engineering and I am very passionate in computer science. In my university we learn how to design an application with design patterns and a bunch of other techniques to have a good software. But I have a really bad problem: I want to know everything. I'm currently writing a little game engine in c++ while I write an application for iOS5 while building a website for a client while doing my homework, and my homework takes a lot of time for not that much learning.

I Recently came to a conclusion: I can't achieve all my projects. Some of my friends tell me to drop university so I can learn faster because I will be able to work my other projects at my fast rhythm.

Do you think university is a good learning environment or is it better to be autodidact?

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closed as not constructive by Kate Gregory, Mark Trapp Oct 31 '11 at 18:26

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Do not down-prioritize your studies. The things taught at university underly all the things used in the industry, but the industry does not teach you all these things. If you are so fast, how come you cannot do the homework that fast? –  user1249 Oct 31 '11 at 17:56
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...and for the record, just glancing at your profile tells me that university can still offer you a thing or two...or three...or four... –  Stargazer712 Oct 31 '11 at 17:58
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The point of university is to learn to be an autodidact with guidance from more experienced people. People who attend the bare minimum lectures and do no reading do not pass. –  StuperUser Oct 31 '11 at 17:59
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I think this is pretty much a textbook bad subjective question. –  Chad Oct 31 '11 at 18:22
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@Jean-Philippe Leclerc - It seems like you are making an excuse not to do your homework. How about doing your homework before you do hobby projects? –  Ramhound Oct 31 '11 at 18:44
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3 Answers

You need both. Your degree will get you a job. Your passion will get you a good job.


The problem is that it is extremely difficult to get interviewed for a good job if you don't get the degree. An enormously large number of companies require it, and if you don't have it, you won't even get the opportunity to talk to a person.

Being smart (regretful as it is) will not get your foot in the door. That is where your degree will come in handy.

Bottom line: Get the degree. Keep your passion. You'll thank me later.

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Being smart/passionate about it does make getting the degree, with good grades, much easier. –  Philip Oct 31 '11 at 17:47
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@Philip, only true if he's not bored. The best solution: he should finish even if he's bored. It's good to learn how to work even when you're bored. –  Stargazer712 Oct 31 '11 at 17:49
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@Stargazer712 true facts, there's no job where you won't be bored some of the time. –  StuperUser Oct 31 '11 at 18:00
    
@Stargazer712, I think if you love programming and computer science, you're less likely to find the degree boring. Or if you're bored because you already know the stuff or they're teaching it too slowly, smartness and passion should still make it easier, even if it's not more fun. Leaving you more time to do other projects that you want to do. –  Philip Oct 31 '11 at 18:09
    
Also, not finishing what you've started is a warning signal! Industry want solvers, not quitters. –  user1249 Oct 31 '11 at 18:32
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You wish to know everything because you do not yet understand everything at a low level and have a passion to learn.

It is okay to have a passion to re-invent the wheel when you are learning, because for many of us this is how we learn. When you get older and have more experience you will likely be annoyed with these well solved problems and seek out the most efficient design patterns and toolsets to solve your unique problems quickly. C++ game engines are plentiful and vast, and most of them probably can already do what you are working on and more, but it is invaluable learning exercise still to attempt it yourself.

My final piece of advice to you is to not give up on university. University education may be failing you, but you will fail yourself if you do not see it through to the end. The world is a harsh, unfair and inefficient place and the world WILL judge you based on that piece of paper that universities hand out to graduates.

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If I were you, I would not quit university! University will (at least is supposed to) give you a sound theoretical basis in computer science. It is the only chance (if you do not continue with a post-graduate course) to get a robust understanding of many areas of computer science and you will profit from that knowledge for the rest of your career as a computer specialist. This does not mean you should not spend time on your own projects. As a student I was hacking a lot besides doing my homework for class.

Also, my experience is that often a degree really makes a difference, i.e. it is not only a piece of paper. E.g., I had a boss (a project manager) who had no degree and maintained that practice is more important than a title gotten from university. Well, it was quite apparent that he was lacking certain skills (e.g. abstract thinking, long-term planning) that you can learn at university. By this I do not mean that all people without a degree are bad developers (I remember a colleague that had no degree but was an excellent developer and did a lot of reading on his own), but if you attend university you have just more chances to be confronted with certain topics and to spend time on them.

Just my two cents.

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