1. Anonymous Coward

    Which degree...?

    Let's see.

    I've got to avoid CS because I hate and completely fail at maths (I've tried, trust me). Half of me thinks stop right there. Surely, CS must be the only useful computing related degree (well, perhaps not as useful as it used to be...) and if you can't nail that, good luck even managing to get a job in the industry.

    The other half of me has a choice between more business orientated options (Business Information Systems, Information Technology Management) or something more "hands on" (Computer Forensics, "Ethical Hacking").

    You see, half of me thinks that a computing degree that isn't CS is pretty much worthless for the computing industry. The other half thinks, from what's available to me, that a business orientated degree will give me the best employability while the more "hands on" degrees will be essentially a lot more interesting.

    I understand that no CS and I guess I would call a "deficiency" in maths blitzes most career options - but how can I salvage something worthwhile from the choices I've got?

    Thoughts would be greatly appreciated. You can be honest. Brutally honest.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Which degree...?

      Need more input ...

      What are you good at, and where are you in your education?

      Rumor has it I can be bluntly honest ... but I'll get this round in ;-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Which degree...?

        What am I good that? Well, that is a good question.

        I can string a sentence together, usually correctly. These days, that's got to count for something, right?

        But really, I've never struggled at anything other than maths. I've never had problems in other subjects. Always received decent enough grades and college wasn't a problem either. Although my hand eye coordination does leave something to be desired and I never quite entertained the idea of running around a field in the rain.

        Unfortunately, instead of A Levels at college I opted for a BTEC (IT Practitioners) as my freshly free from school mind didn't want any more exams. Funnily enough, I have nothing actually against them. At least I got the best possible result it offers.

        I started a CompSci degree but the maths put me off. I did actually seek help with it, but it wasn't just one or two areas, it was more "what is he on about now?" per lesson which quickly becomes disheartening. That kinda snowballed and mostly killed the whole course for me. Options to swap degrees (replacing the maths with business, essentially) got complicated due to issues between schools, module deficiencies so I pretty much gave up.

        I guess it left an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

        I'd like a degree though, one related to IT and a career in the industry afterwards. I just can't decide which is the best to go for from the options I've got.

        1. jake Silver badge

          I'm probably going to get lots of "thumbs down" for this. (was: Re: Which degree...?)

          Reading between the lines, you're not an IT bod. You're a management bod.

          If you don;t actually have one yet, get a bachelors degree in anything. The proverbial "underwater basket weaving" will work, but I'd recommend something more useful long-term. ("International Agriculture Management"? "English Literature"? "Broadcasting"? That kind of thing, anyway.)

          Then complete just enough course-work to get an MBA.

          You'll be employed for as long as it takes to retire ... and before you question this, most[1] MBAs don't know squat about "maths". True, they can add & subtract, and some can even multiply & divide, but if you say "algorithm" or "logarithm", they look at you blankly.

          Yes, it'll take some time. TANSTAAFL. As my wife succinctly puts it, "nothing replaces butt in the saddle time".

          [1] Stop it, already. I clearly said most.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'm probably going to get lots of "thumbs down" for this. (was: Which degree...?)

            Nope, no degree yet. Dropped out of my CompSci. That was purely because of the maths angle. I enjoyed and for the most part did well with the other course content. Programming related stuff never got far enough to become a problem I guess (and with the maths issues, I assume it would have eventually).

            Thing is I already sent my UCAS in with my choices - I've been accepted into all (the IT management for Business, Business Information Systems, CompForensics, Ethical Hacking). I've just got to figure out what's the best from the ones I can choose from. From reading the replies, it's kind of becoming painstakingly clear that all are bad as each other.

            1. jake Silver badge


              Forget "CompForensics" & "EthicalHacking" and the like. You can't learn that kind of thing in school[1]; you either have it or you do not. Go for "IT Management for Business". Translate that to a future MBA ...

              Might not be what you were expecting. Again, I'm reading between the lines and it's a gut feeling on my part. Do you have face-to-face access to a career-path counselor with RealWorldClues[tm]? Ask around. Squeaky wheel & all that ... If I were in Blighty, I'd volunteer, but I'm on the left side of the left side of the pond.

              [1] Any school claiming otherwise is separating fools from their money ...

  2. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

    What do you actually want ?

    I'm not clear what sort of career you want, so I'll ask some questions...

    1) What are you better at than other people ?

    2) What do you enjoy doing

    3) What do you hate doing ?

    Those are the "big picture questions", they evolve into "are you good with people ?", "are you methodical ?" do you want to spend all day in an office ?

    Many CS degrees have little maths, which is of course why so many are shit.

    The feedback I get from people that do various flavours of security from malware hunters through pen testers, cryptographers et al is that "security" degrees /masters aren't all that useful.

    I sense that you want a career in IT, even though so far you've not actually said why, or what you have to offer.

    I'd point out that there are many UK IT industry jobs where technical skills, as in coding, hacking, configuring are peripheral.

    I have a bit of a reputation for the bluntness you cite, but you don't actually say enough about yourself for me to do that, contrary to popular belief I need at least some facts to work on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What do you actually want ?

      That's part of the difficulty as well. I'm not honestly sure what kind of career I want either , but I need to understand the jobs available to me. In ten years time I don't want to be stuck in a job with no opportunity for development or basically a future because I picked the wrong degree now.

      I understand that me saying "a career in the IT industry" doesn't really help either. It's a blanket term that covers too much and the options I have (or at least, the only options I see) are few.

      For me, IT has always appeared to be the logical career choice. I've always been interested in computers and technology in general. Developing this into a career just seemed the way to go from an early age. For better or worse, that's primarily where the interest stems from.

      And still being in education and only having a non IT related part time job as a basis of a working environment, I can honestly say I find the "big picture" questions pretty much unanswerable.

      I thought of much as much with the security related degrees, even though the overall course content seemed more interesting.

  3. Corinne

    Have you thought about looking at the "softer" side of IT - Business Analyst, Project Manager, PMO etc? An interest in the tech really helps with those, but you don't need to learn the stuff that tends to need maths for them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, in the end, I've gone for Business Information Systems.

      Comparing it to the other 3 available to me, it seemed the best choice.

  4. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

    Don't do forensics

    I'm researching a piece which has caused me to speak to various poeple in the IT security business, every one of them were clear that forensics and security degrees weren't what they hired.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't do forensics

      Thanks for the update, I appreciate it and I look forward to seeing that piece, sounds interesting.

      In the end I opted for Business Information Systems, seemed the best choice for the options that were open to me. The modules tie into my interests as well so, hopefully, this will be good stepping stone to start from.

  5. elreg1990

    Applied Computing

    I suck at maths so I did a degree in Applied Computing (At Dundee) and it was awesome. Lots of hands on, still a good theory grounding, team projects, dev/ops stuff. Helped me hit the ground running. I can agree with the bloke who said not to do security or forensics, everyone who did that I know is unemployed.

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