They’re called “frequently asked questions” for a reason – because a lot of people want the answers to them! Read below for information about placement tests, the difference between different degree types, and advice on what type of educational path to follow.
Do I have to take a placement test to get into the program?
It depends on where you go, but most likely yes. A lot of colleges require you to take placement tests in reading and writing regardless of your major. You will have to obtain a minimum grade on two different tests in order to qualify for certain classes at the college level. Some colleges also require you to take a math placement test, either to get into the program or in order to be placed into the appropriate math class. Some computer science programs require completion of a higher level of math than would be required for other majors. This is because computer science programs are notoriously heavy on math topics. If you score higher on these tests, you may be able to place out of certain classes that you would otherwise have to take and thus get credit without having to spend a semester studying the material. Also, you might not have to take these placement tests if you are transferring from another university and have the requisite number of credits in English and math classes.
What is the difference between computer science and information technology?
If you earn a degree in IT, or a related field such as computer information systems, you will be qualified for a degree in network security or administration, tech support, software testing, or database development. You might take classes in Windows Server Exchange, Oracle, Java, MySQL, or Linux. A lot of four-year universities don’t offer bachelor’s degrees in information technology, so an associate’s degree of this type might not be transferrable. Make sure you check with your school to find out how easily you could go on to get your bachelor’s if you wanted to do so. Computer science degrees prepare people for careers as software developers, engineers, or programmers, although you may have to continue your studies as a baccalaureate student for some occupations. You will take classes in C++, calculus, physics, data structures, and discrete math. Depending on the exact parameters of your program, you may find the computer science route to be more math-intensive.
Should I get an industry certification or pursue an associate’s degree?
If you have no college experience and no prior work experience in IT or computers, you are unlikely to find a job in the field with just a certification. Especially if you want to advance at your company, it’s probably a better idea to spend the time to get an associate’s degree. If you do have some schooling and/or work experience, however, then it depends on your employer. If you’re only looking to work for a specific company, do some research if you can. Some employers are only interested in specific industry certifications, while others won’t hire you unless you have a particular degree. A lot of hiring managers are willing to consider different combinations of work + education, but it’s virtually definite that whoever you interview with is going to expect some recent work experience and some college, regardless of how far you go with your education.