What College Did Not Teach Me

College is a fun and exciting place to be. You meet people that are like minded and striving to be successful. My college years were fun but challenging. Like many students, I had to find a balance between working full time and going to school full time. This puts you in the awkward position of being a working adult and a college student at the same time. Most of my employers were not understanding of the fact that I was going to college and did not want to work around my class schedule. On top of that, some of my professors were not understanding of the fact that I had to work to support myself. Therefore, I had to make sure one did not interfere with the other no matter what. This was easier said than done because exams would be scheduled for different days and times then my classes. I have even had employers refuse my schedule requests because they did not feel college was important. This put me in the position of choosing between school and my job. In the end, I always chose school because I felt it would get me further in life than the jobs I was working at.

It took dedication, constantly looking for jobs, a few years, and finding a company that believed in me to finally start a career in my chosen field. I was overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude to finally be a developer. However, I quickly realized that college did not give me the in depth knowledge I needed to be a successful developer. I currently hold a Master’s Degree with a concentration in web technologies and a web development certification. So, to come to the realization that I was not prepared for my chosen career was hard for me to comprehend. After a couple of days as a developer I realized my classes only gave be the basics of HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, and PHP. They did not go into enough depth with these languages to build modern websites. Yes, college taught me how to build a website but they taught me how to build outdated websites. Websites today are responsive, dynamic, and have intricate designs.

My excitement for my position quickly turned into panic as I came to the realization of how much I needed to learn in order to be successful in my new position. With some pointers, I started Googling for videos that explained HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, and PHP more in depth. I also need to know more advanced aspects of development like API’s and SSL to continue moving up in my career. I was able to find some great resources that enabled me to learn the information that I needed. However, it takes time to learn everything that you need to be a successful developer. This is what I paid all of that money and spent all of that time in school for. I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated that college did not properly prepare me for the career I had chosen. After all of the work, money, and sacrifice that college took, I had to teach myself most of the skills needed to be a developer.

I have been told my entire life that if I worked hard, went to college and got my degree that I would become a successful adult. What they should of said is if I work hard, go to college, and get my degree that I might become a successful adult. What most people fail to tell you is that college will give you an overview of what your career will be like in the real world. However, college will not give you everything you need to be successful in your career. Many college students are sadly mistaken that they are able to jump right into a career after graduation and their salary expectations are too large. I know what you are thinking, why go to college then? What is the point of all of that work and accumulating all of that debt if it does not guarantee me a career? Honestly, nothing in life is guaranteed to you and a college degree is more of a self accomplishment.

I have communicated with a few people that made the decision to not go to college or only have some college and still have the careers they wanted. This got me thinking, did I make the wrong the decision by going to college. The whole reason I went was to become successful in the the career of my choice. If you are able to obtain this without going to college then what was the point? Now, I have wasted years of my life and accumulated a painful amount of debt. However, after talking to them I realized that I had made the right decision to graduate from college. Some of them had told me they wished they had their college degree because even though they have experience they could get further in their career if they had a college degree. Others have told me they feel college is a waste of time and companies no longer pay attention to what degrees you have. What it comes down to is the industry that you are trying to be in. Due to the many online resources available that enable you to teach yourself, the tech industry is one of those industries that experience is more important than a degree. You will find that there are many people in the tech field with successful and lucrative careers without a degree.

It is important for you to research what the correct path for you to take for your career. This would include if college is right for you. If you do decide to go to college, research what college is best for you. This includes ensuring the college you choose has good quality programs that will best prepare you for your career. Do not choose a college based on where your friends are going because you may end up in a career you do not want. Even if you are going to college you should research if there are things you can do on your own to teach yourself. This will only help you land the job you are looking for. Keep in mind that one of the main problems with going to college for a tech degree is technology evolves so quickly it is difficult for the institutions to keep the curriculum up to date.

My advice is to get as much real world experience for your chosen career as you can before and while you are in college. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a career you did not want or jobless. What is going to really give you the edge in the job market is if you have a degree and experience. You are able to find jobs with one or the other but it is more difficult to get the one you want. In my case, I was fortunate to find a company that believes in me enough to help to me grow, point me in the right direction, and give the the time and experience I need to become a successful developer. Do not make the same mistake I did by thinking college will get you where you want to go. In the end it is up to you to make sure you have the necessary skills to be successful in your chosen career field.