What's the value of a Computer Science education?

I’ve been increasingly questioning the current model of university education in the US. Not only the value for the money, but just the entire notion that it’s a good way to learn. I got my Bachelor’s in Computer Science from UVA, which has been going through utter facepalm-worthy madness recently. It may be biasing my point of view.

A friend recently sent me this:

This shop was written up in the WSJ last week: http://devbootcamp.com My daughter is looking at it. What do you know about them, if anything? What do you think? Here’s how I responded:

I don’t know any of them personally. That looks like a much better use of my time than the 5 years I spent getting my CS degree. The curriculum covers a lot of good material. Someone who goes into that with zero programming background will likely come out of it with enough knowledge and context to start doing something productive, but no awareness of deep underlying principles and fundamentals. That is the exact opposite of UVA’s CS curriculum. People often see someone do silly things due to lack of CS background, and say you should have the fundamentals first and then learn the specifics, but I’m not convinced that isn’t elitist BS. It strikes me that an apprenticeship model might actually be a better way to learn than the ivory-tower-then-someday-you-will-code way.

It’s only 9 weeks. What does she have to lose other than 9 weeks and some cash? She could stand to gain tremendously.

The current model of higher education in the US currently seems completely broken to me, and I’m really interested to see how some of the alternatives shake out. One thing is for sure: higher education, and the university model in particular, is about to get disrupted. Hard. Like being hit by a freight train.

I'm Baron Schwartz, the founder and CEO of VividCortex. I am the author of High Performance MySQL and lots of open-source software for performance analysis, monitoring, and system administration. I contribute to various database communities such as Oracle, PostgreSQL, Redis and MongoDB. More about me.