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computer science or information technology

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no one is going to be able to tell you what to study, and personally I believe if you don't know what to study then it may be a good idea to make sure you really are ready to go to school (again, this is just my opinion and I'm sure a lot of people disagree with it, but I think that people should go to school with purpose, not simply because it's a societal norm).

As far as the difference between them is concerned, computer science is generally considered to be the study and application of how to program computer software (a very broad and lackluster definition, but I think that gives the general idea) whereas information technology is usually the study of how to manage data and the networks that are used to distribute that data (i.e. a networking administrator type of degree).

However, the definition is more then likely variant between one school and another, especially when the schools are in different countries, so your best bet is going to be to contact the school to see specifically what they mean when they say computer science or information technology, but the fact that you haven't yet done that tells me you should probably re-read my first point.

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Yes, both are very arbitrary terms. Computer Sciences dont actually exist, its a made up term, perhaps to make the field sound more legit then it currently is. This isnt a bash on computers or education, CS is just too young to classify... that and it lacks a proper codex to actually define what it is. To this date, people still cant decide if programming is an engineering, science or art track.

That said, computer sciences generally gears towards programming, and normally with a heavy bias on theory. If you are interested in hands on, this probrably isnt the area for you. However, CS degrees tend to be more respected on the whole.

Information Technology tends to be a catch all phrase, and when applied to schooling it normally applies to technical colleges. This can range anywhere from programming, to networking to helpdesk.

In the end, neither track really matters, its the reputation of the school in question and what you want to end up doing that matters.

In the end, your "title" is going to be a joke anyways, since even after 40 years, the computing industry still hasnt done a very good job in the job classification area. A few years back I was asked at my job what I wanted my title to be. I was a cross between a programmer, a lead programmer ( ... wow... 2 reports! ) and a general IT decision making guy ( aka... what solutions to buy/impliment ). I figured Systems Analyst was a good comprimise decision. A few weeks later, everyone from the helpdesk guy answering the phone, to myself had the same bloody title on our business cards. Next time the "self evaluation" reviews came up I wrote Mr Wizard as my job title. Funniest part is, it passed all the way through the system including HR, and for a few short weeks, my title was Mr Wizard.

Eventually HR got wise to it, didnt much find it very funny, and I was back to being a Systems Analyst ( as a side benefit, the Sys Analyst roll was revised and the other people got titles anywhere from Network Admin to Helpdesk Tech ), but not before business cards got printed. I still have a box of 500 business cards listing my title as Mr Wizard. God I love those cards :)


So, hopefully this illustrated something. In the computing world, titles and names really mean nothing these days. Unless you can enroll in a class on Computer Wizardry 101!

Cheers,
Mr Wizard

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Original post by Nanook
what to study?

whats the difference betwen them?


Comp Sci is more focused on maths, programming, and how computers work at a low level. It can also cover the theory behind lots of stuff, like computer graphics.

IT is more focused on databases, networks, and high-level programming.


The Uni that I did IT at was very flexible tho, for example I did subjects on MIPS assebly programming and making games in Direct3D 9... Other people in my course learnt how to make web-apps and MS access databases. Some people basically just learnt how to work on a help-desk...

My g/f did comp sci at uni, she now works as a Mathematician/Games-designer and i work as a Tools-programmer/database-manager/audio-video-processer.

However before I even finished my IT degree I was hired as a C++/UnrealScript programmer for a (different) games company (Due to me teaching myself how to make games outside of uni).


Bottom line - dont rely on Uni to teach you everything you need to know. If you wanna get anywhere you have to learn how to learn by yourself.

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Original post by Serapth
In the end, neither track really matters, its the reputation of the school in question and what you want to end up doing that matters.


I have to really disagree with the statement that "its the reputation of the school in question that matters". I strongly believe that it's really up to the individual to make the difference. I know plenty of people who have gone to somewhat respected schools and done little or nothing with their time there. Simply because a school has a strong reputation doesn't really reflect on a person who goes there in general.

I've always heard it doesn't matter where you go to school (Undergrad at least) it's really more important what you do with your time there. I totally agree with this, plenty of people can't necessarily even afford to go to schools with good reputations, does that mean these people are any less capable post graduation? Definitely not. You can get the same education going to an unknown school as you can get going to a universally recognized uni. It all depends on what you do with your time.

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Comp Sci is thought of as "Developer types" by most people, IT is thought of as "Sys Admin types" by most people. Comp Sci learns some OS, networking, DB ... IT learns some programming ... but the focus is different. ITs focus is on things like leveraging computer resources at a corperate enviroment - and often even includes a few idiot classes on stuff like using office applications (which are VERY usefull skills, just somewhat boring to learn in a class).

Comp Sci is MUCH better suited to a job as a programmer or in the game industry - but is not very well suited to getting a "computer" job for a small company which doesn't need full time programmers (perhaps they need some scripts written, a small db app written and maintained, and new technology configured - that is a job IT is much better for).

They cross-pollinate plenty though.

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Original post by Morpheus011
Quote:
Original post by Serapth
In the end, neither track really matters, its the reputation of the school in question and what you want to end up doing that matters.


I have to really disagree with the statement that "its the reputation of the school in question that matters". I strongly believe that it's really up to the individual to make the difference. I know plenty of people who have gone to somewhat respected schools and done little or nothing with their time there.


I guess I should clarify here. Im talking about when it comes to getting a job. Frankly, and I hate to say this, but the reputation of your school matters more then you think.

Im not say that a programmer from an Ivy league school is a better programmer then a self taught Joe off the street. Anything but, infact. I am just saying, in terms of future career advice goes, people in HR positions dont know a damned thing about programming, but they do know their schools!

Schooling doesnt magically make someone a better ( well anything ). The school systems are fundamnetally flawed and merely possesing a good memory can get you through many programs. But, if you think the bias doesnt exist in favour of one school over another, your sadly mistaken. Sad but true, when chosing a school, you should keep this in mind.

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Original post by Serapth
I guess I should clarify here. Im talking about when it comes to getting a job. Frankly, and I hate to say this, but the reputation of your school matters more then you think.
I have to disagree from personal experience. I went to one of the least recognised universities in Australia. In fact, allmost no employer I've met has even heard of it. However, as i said before, I had landed a full time programming job at a company making a FPS on the Unreal2.5 engine before I had even graduated.
What matters is what you do, and what you can demonstrate that you know.

I know this might not be true for many industries, but AFAIK in the games industry, what you can demonstrate is a lot more important than the name of the institution that you graduated under.

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Have you done any research to back these claims Serapth or is this just speculation based on your assumptions? I am from a family steeped in academia, one of my parents is the dean of their department at UNC-CH in North Carolina, the other is a respected professor at Duke University, institutions which are considered to have "good" reputations.

Now I haven't done any broad research either, but I have definitely discussed this with both my parents who seem to share the same philosophy, that it doesn't really matter where you go to school, it's what you do with your time there. Having Harvard printed on my degree doesn't automagically make me more qualified then someone who went to a lesser known institution; anyone who thinks so is just plain wrong.

However, lets avoid derailing this thread. Nanook, as I said you should contact the schools you are considering attending and specifically ask them what they offer under the various curricula. Go with what sounds the most interesting to you, heck if you don't like it a few months in you can always change majors, right?

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hum.. I live in argentina atm and I've been thinking about starting at this uni: http://www.palermo.edu/ingenieria/informatica/lic_informatica.html but now im abit unsure about this.. If anyone know spanish(?): this is more like a IT carrer right?

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Noticing the discussion, I think I will include my own question here that is related to the original post. What is the difference between Computer Science and Software Engineering?

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I believe what Serapth is saying is a sometime deal. If I was looking for someone to hire and some one came to me with a small unknown school and the other with well known school and they both excelled then one would pick the one who went to the well known school. I would do so because I would have a chance to gain a person which had training with some advanced technology. Small unknown school tend to not to be technically all there if you know what I mean. We all know money can make you popular so schools that are well known are that much more richer than our average joe schools they get money from different place and just have it made. I know cause Ive been to the small ones and heard about the big ones from good old friends and been to some of their parties.

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It can really be boiled down (in most cases) to this: CS is more academic in nature, focusing on the theoretical stuff and putting that theory into practice by writing code, while IT is more practical and tends to focus mostly on things "not programming" (or higher level programming, at least), while delving less thoroughly into theoretical issues.

If you want to be immersed in a more innovational culture, go with CS and get into research. That sort of experience helps you to really drill down and become very knowledgable about specific things (i.e., computer graphics, or AI).

Just my opinion, of course. :-)

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Original post by owiley
I believe what Serapth is saying is a sometime deal. If I was looking for someone to hire and some one came to me with a small unknown school and the other with well known school and they both excelled then one would pick the one who went to the well known school. I would do so because I would have a chance to gain a person which had training with some advanced technology. Small unknown school tend to not to be technically all there if you know what I mean. We all know money can make you popular so schools that are well known are that much more richer than our average joe schools they get money from different place and just have it made. I know cause Ive been to the small ones and heard about the big ones from good old friends and been to some of their parties.


That and keep in mind, the person doing the initials interviews, generally isnt a computer person. In any company with greater then say, 100 employess, your resume generally falls through the hands of an HR person first. Their criteria for selection definatly isnt the same you or I would choose.

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Original post by AdamGL
Noticing the discussion, I think I will include my own question here that is related to the original post. What is the difference between Computer Science and Software Engineering?


...yeah. What IS the difference?? They seem to me to end up at a similar place. O.o

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Original post by Aquila
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Original post by AdamGL
Noticing the discussion, I think I will include my own question here that is related to the original post. What is the difference between Computer Science and Software Engineering?


...yeah. What IS the difference?? They seem to me to end up at a similar place. O.o


Software Engineering is the study of how to make software.
Computer Science is the study of how computers work.
IT is the study of how to apply computers/software to do useful things.

Comp Science (and sometimes IT) can cover Software Engineering as part of their studies. For example, to learn how computers work, you should also learn how to make software.

Usually software engineering will be covered quickly in a Comp Sci or IT degree, but some universities may offer a pure software engineering course that will cover it in more detail (while skipping a lot of the theory). Pure Soft Eng is kind of a balance between comp sci and IT.

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At my university, the difference between CS and IT was that CS taught you a lot of the underlying theory of specific algorithms. IT taught you have to use linux in specific environments or setting up servers and things like that.

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