Three years to a computer science degree

Instead of working in the fields like her mother, Leticia Sanchez hopes to earn a low-cost computer science degree in three years to make it from the Salinas Valley to Silicon Valley.

At Brooklyn’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School, students study a curriculum designed with help from IBM, work with mentors supplied by IBM and get on the inside track for IBM jobs when they graduate — potentially with an associate degree. TheΒ employer-linked grade 9-14 model will be replicated at 16 sites across New York state.

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  1. Seriously? IBM? Given that IBM has moved most of its jobs outside US, I foresee most of the students from 3 year program going unemployed.

  2. I can’t see any student getting through a top notch
    comp sci program in less than four years, given the
    math and science requirements of better programs.

    Sounds like another insane idea to me πŸ™

    • GoogleMaster says:

      And that’s after getting through high school in three years. Note the “grade 9-14 model” reference.

    • It won’t be a “top notch” theoretical computer science program. It will be a much more practical “how to program computers” program. Which is actually fine for most of the students who are currently taking CS. The end-game for a CS degree is *usually* to go get a job, not to get a PhD and prove things about sorting algorithms.


      So think of this as a vocational degree for programming computers, not a theoretical degree for reasoning about computation. Three years is fine for what they are trying to teach.


      The big risk here for the students is that the hiring folks at many/most companies will conclude that they aren’t as smart as the one who went the traditional CS route. Lots of companies like to hire smart, because they can teach a given skill, but don’t know how to make people smarter.


      Still, the first group seems to be getting a free ride, so they only have time at risk, not money. And this could well be a good bet for them given their other choices.

    • One more followup … the program seems to have partnered with some tech companies (e.g. Naval Postgraduate School, Cisco, Microsoft) for summer internships. This will help tremendously *IF* the kids can actually do what they need to do because internships are a cheap and low risk way for companies to evaluate talent [I’ve had interns ‘reporting’ to me for the last four summers and am heading off on a recruiting trip to try to find one for next summer … this is a much better way to hire than resume/interview]


      So I think that this program may have promise but with two big risks:
      (a) I don’t think it will scale, and
      (b) I’m not super confident that these kids will be able to program adequately well.
      Still … only one way to find out and it isn’t like there aren’t folks with traditional degrees who can’t program … πŸ™‚

      • Having fixed all sorts of bugs and faults in many pieces of software which are in common use on the internet, I can tell you that a LOT of people who think they can program can’t actually do it (correctly).

        This program might work, I’d agree, but IMO, it’s a bit of a stretch to think that most students could make it through a very rigorous program, assuming that’s the way it is implemented.

        I’ve seen a LOT of programs which are like this and none come close to actually doing something in a good two year associate’s program (i.e. – cisco network academy) or an actual four year comp sci or good information systems major, which IMO are harder and harder to find.

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        Mark, do you pay your interns? If so, how much?

        • Yes. About $30/hour and they also get a stipend that sorta covers housing and moving ( depends on where they choose to live and whether they have a room mate).


          I think this is pretty common for Silicon Valley tech interns.