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Portfolio Vs. University Degree





cr3ativ3
Hey,

I have been thinking about my career path lately (I am in Gr. 10 High School), I originally had my schedule fixed around going to university however my marks and such are really low in academic classes... So I did switch around my courses for Gr. 11 and 12 to set me on a path to college in the Computer Engineering/Programming area.

I have lately been thinking about employement after College (or even before). I personally have an amazing portfolio, I have designed 10-20 websites in my time, and they are very professional sites... I design/code/integrate them for business. I even provide my own PHP CMS backend for business to use to update them.

I also run a Server Development project, with my so called "Perfect" setup... We are currently developing a GUI for the server (Similiar to cPanel).

Thats my portfolio, my worry is that a business I might apply to is gonna look at someone with a degree and no portfolio (or a small one). And hire them upfront over me with my amazing porfolio.

So my question is; do businesses higher people with degree's over people with a really great portfolio?
pll
I think it depends on who is your employer.

Some people will only look for an amazing portfolio and some others will only look for a degree.


But think about it, with your portfolio you can have (almost) the programming contracts that you want, so you could go freelance and decide, when you do the pages, how much you will earn and you will (normally) be able to work from your own home.

But if you get your degree and get hired by a company, you won't be so free, you won't decide how much you will earn, what contracts you do or not and maybe not work from your home.

On the positive side of getting a degree is that you can earn more when you own it. Wink
Ghost Rider103
I didn't quite understand your question all that clear, but I think I got it.

Think of it as if you were the client. Or even a business owner for that matter. Lets say you wanted to hire a graphic designer.

You have one person that just came straight out of college with the highest level of degree you can get for graphic and web design.

You have another person that comes in and has 15 years of experience in the business, but with no degree.

Who would you pick?

Are you going to pick the guy that just came out of college and still has learning to do and has almost no experience? Or are you going to take the guy who has all the experience and has already learned just about everything there is to know?

I personally would take the more experienced person. Sure the guy that just got out of college could make a great designer one day, but that will only be in time. You are the business owner and you need to up your sales NOW, not later.

So it all depends on how much experience you really have, and if you really have what it takes. You might run into some people that will take the less experienced person, but that probably won't happen very often.

But that is just my opinion.
cr3ativ3
Ghost Rider103 wrote:
I didn't quite understand your question all that clear, but I think I got it.

Think of it as if you were the client. Or even a business owner for that matter. Lets say you wanted to hire a graphic designer.

You have one person that just came straight out of college with the highest level of degree you can get for graphic and web design.

You have another person that comes in and has 15 years of experience in the business, but with no degree.

Who would you pick?

Are you going to pick the guy that just came out of college and still has learning to do and has almost no experience? Or are you going to take the guy who has all the experience and has already learned just about everything there is to know?

I personally would take the more experienced person. Sure the guy that just got out of college could make a great designer one day, but that will only be in time. You are the business owner and you need to up your sales NOW, not later.

So it all depends on how much experience you really have, and if you really have what it takes. You might run into some people that will take the less experienced person, but that probably won't happen very often.

But that is just my opinion.


That is my thought exactly, and with all the experience I have I hope to be able to get a great job right out of High School... to pay my way through college...

Hopefully the economy turns around for me in a couple years Wink
hangnhu
From my experience a good degree is if you just got out from school, a good portfolio is always more important and as you get older, people barely ask what you did at school, though it igood to have, it is still kinda secondary.
jwellsy
Unfortunatly a degree is more important. Lack of a degree will close many doors. A degree is a basic starting point. A portfolio can set you apart from other degree holders. But, not instead of a degree. Computer degree's are a dime a dozen. It's hard to even find anything that pays more than minimum wage for computer degrees. Even our secretary at work has a computer engineering degree.

Stay in School. You will regret it if you drop out.

Website design/creation is being taught in high schools and even some jr high schools. Employers know that. Half of the kids coming out of high school will have a portfolio of half a dozen webpages.

If your portofio includes several examples of multi-physics parrallel programming modeling, then you would have something marketable.
deanhills
hangnhu wrote:
From my experience a good degree is if you just got out from school, a good portfolio is always more important and as you get older, people barely ask what you did at school, though it igood to have, it is still kinda secondary.
This is a bit far-fetched. I have been involved in recruitment, and people who are recruiting are quite savvy to look through a portfolio. School would be very important and a requirement. The school grades may even be heavily scrutinized as recruiters would like to know how this guy did at school, also whether he participated in sports, and in voluntary programmes.
cr3ativ3
Well, the work I do at the moment with web design and web-based application development... is 2nd or 3rd year university level...

Imagine where I will be 2 years from now when I graduate high school.... If I was to spend oh 30k on a university, I will in all likely heard be paying 30k for a piece of paper and 2-4 years waste of my life.

The web design and crap kids do in school... is nothing compared to my portfolio.

I do contract work currently, for law firms and businesses... They love my work everyone says its really professional.

In that respect, I am 100% confident going to university is a waste of my time and money... I.E. if I took a University Web Design/Development exam I would pass most of them. (Maybe not so much in the heavy math/logic applications).

I currently plan to go to College however and get a College degree in computer engineering/software development. (Not a univerity degree).
hangnhu
cr3ativ3 wrote:
In that respect, I am 100% confident going to university is a waste of my time and money... I.E. if I took a University Web Design/Development exam I would pass most of them. (Maybe not so much in the heavy math/logic applications).


I only said that degree is considered secondary to portfolio, and I would never agree that university is a waste of money.

I don't know how a recruitment angecy works, but I know in a design office, the first thing they ask for is experience and skill, not education, if you're an intern, they ask for your portfolio, they want to know your personality not your school or your grades. nonetheless, education is important and you should have a teacher to be one of your reference, but overall it is still secondary.

if you have a good portfolio and the right skills and experience, you don't have to have a degree, it could be a HND or some other qualification and I'm sure you would be consider.

Mind you, I realise this is a USA base forum, so things could differ geographically.
pumpin
To the best of my knowledge, University degree is always the key to most employment though some organizations look out for professionals. Hence, University degree is NOT of waste of money or time.

If your your portfolio is that good, i'll advice you back it up with a degree. It places a step higher than any of your peer at the same time giving you more job opportunity. Give it a second thought pal Wink
jwellsy
General studies like algebra, calculus, humanities, art/music appreciation, earth science, psycology, physical education etc do seem like a waste of time and money at the time you go through it. Having a degree is much more than than the sum total of all those classes. It proves that an individual can visualize a goal much bigger than themself and have the dedication to complete that goal.

You're setting yourself up for some very damaging psycological conflicts. I would suggest you find a book on Emotional Intellegence. It will expllain why even if you get a job based on your portfolio and can outperform all others in your company you will likely be passed over for promotions. Other people that are not nearly as good at your job will pass you up. Life is not fair, and gets less so all the time. Why stack the deck against your self?

Use your talent to work your way through school without loans. Once you start working full time it gets much harder to go back to school. Do you really want to pidgeon hole your potential?
hangnhu
jwellsy wrote:
General studies like algebra, calculus, humanities, art/music appreciation, earth science, psycology, physical education etc do seem like a waste of time and money at the time you go through it. Having a degree is much more than than the sum total of all those classes. It proves that an individual can visualize a goal much bigger than themself and have the dedication to complete that goal.

You're setting yourself up for some very damaging psycological conflicts. I would suggest you find a book on Emotional Intellegence. It will expllain why even if you get a job based on your portfolio and can outperform all others in your company you will likely be passed over for promotions. Other people that are not nearly as good at your job will pass you up. Life is not fair, and gets less so all the time. Why stack the deck against your self?

Use your talent to work your way through school without loans. Once you start working full time it gets much harder to go back to school. Do you really want to pidgeon hole your potential?


A. I'm assuming that this portfolio are for people in design/art type of profession right? these professional are always encourage to be well-rounded , therefore studying all the above subject is never a waste of time or money.

B. I don't know about other work places or even companies, but not having a degree meant the less chance of a promotion is a bit extreme. prmotion should reflect on your perfomance on handling projects and workloads, current atitudes to office work, not what you did years ago someplaces they don't know about, except by a paper. having a degree may get you a job but it can't support you to keep hold of that job. it like behing hired because you're the son of the managing director and you don't have to prove yourself after that.

C. damaging psycological conflicts isn't this extreme?
jwellsy
hangnhu wrote:

I don't know about other work places or even companies, but not having a degree meant the less chance of a promotion is a bit extreme. prmotion should reflect on your perfomance on handling projects and workloads, current atitudes to office work, not what you did years ago someplaces they don't know about, except by a paper. having a degree may get you a job but it can't support you to keep hold of that job. it like behing hired because you're the son of the managing director and you don't have to prove yourself after that.

damaging psycological conflicts isn't this extreme?


I do know about many companies. I can guarentee you that many companies use a degree to differentiate eligability for first line supervision promotability and layoffs. Life is not fair.

I've seen this form of avoidable stress lead to many extreme problems. Relationships, health, addictions etc. can suffer when a person is unable to advance due to a lack of a degree. Then the problems can potentaly become self compounding in a vicous downward spiral of self destruction. Extreme? It's a logical continuum that people travel throught their lifetime. It's an adult topic, not an extreme topic.

Many people are perfectly happy to never get a degree or very many promotions. That's OK too. It's something that most people have to come to grips with in their own life. The OP is on his own journey and seeking options. The best way to evaluate options is to look at the potential consequences of those options.
deanhills
jwellsy wrote:
hangnhu wrote:

I don't know about other work places or even companies, but not having a degree meant the less chance of a promotion is a bit extreme. prmotion should reflect on your perfomance on handling projects and workloads, current atitudes to office work, not what you did years ago someplaces they don't know about, except by a paper. having a degree may get you a job but it can't support you to keep hold of that job. it like behing hired because you're the son of the managing director and you don't have to prove yourself after that.

damaging psycological conflicts isn't this extreme?


I do know about many companies. I can guarentee you that many companies use a degree to differentiate eligability for first line supervision promotability and layoffs. Life is not fair.

I've seen this form of avoidable stress lead to many extreme problems. Relationships, health, addictions etc. can suffer when a person is unable to advance due to a lack of a degree. Then the problems can potentaly become self compounding in a vicous downward spiral of self destruction. Extreme? It's a logical continuum that people travel throught their lifetime. It's an adult topic, not an extreme topic.

Many people are perfectly happy to never get a degree or very many promotions. That's OK too. It's something that most people have to come to grips with in their own life. The OP is on his own journey and seeking options. The best way to evaluate options is to look at the potential consequences of those options.
A degree or certificate is more than just a piece of paper. It shows a certain level of knowledge that has been obtained in a specific field of expertise, it shows self-discipline and staying power to have completed that degree, it assumes that you have a University or other background, which would have meant that you would have socialized with other University students or colleges. There is a good reason for making it an important tool in the selection process.
jabce85
a degree is definitely going to help you to get a job.. if i was hiring i would definitely look for a degree first before a portfolio; unless that is you're 50 and have so much more experience to outweigh any kind of lack of degree
hangnhu
I'm sorry to learn that an employer would actaully refuse a promotion simply because you did not have a degree. I wonder if that was an easy excuse to not give you promotion and favourism is played somewhere. did the one get promoted got a degree and is their performance better than the one who failed?

I have a degree myself but it don't seem to get me anywhere special, not even an interview and although I would never say it a waste of money because university was one of the most important time of my life, but my employers have not ask to see my degree 'certificate' once however a portfolio everytime.

if not getting a promotion can lead to damaging psycological conflicts then I think the problem is with you and you have use the lack of a degree to lay the blame on.

But, in a design world, if you don't have a portfolio, it is unlikely that you would have an interview, at least it seems so. As for a degree, it more correct to say you must have some form of education and training.

a degree, what level are we speaking? Dipolma, Bachelor or Master or others? I'm assuming we're speaking of Bachelor.
jwellsy
I was refering to Emotional Intelligence. Here's a pretty good one page explaination that shows the differences from IQ.
http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/teaching/iq/
A degree documents that a person has at least a minimum level of EI.
pgrmdave
In my, limited, experience - the larger the company the more important a degree. Remember, you're not competing against people with a degree and no portfolio - you're competing against people with a degree and a portfolio. It's not an either/or. Get your degree, and along the way continue what you've been doing, and you'll be very well positioned when you get out.
deanhills
pgrmdave wrote:
In my, limited, experience - the larger the company the more important a degree. Remember, you're not competing against people with a degree and no portfolio - you're competing against people with a degree and a portfolio. It's not an either/or. Get your degree, and along the way continue what you've been doing, and you'll be very well positioned when you get out.
Totally agreed. In addition to the portfolio of course networking is also very important. Best jobs are really found by word of mouth and through connections, not advertisements.
hangnhu
I thought this topic is to define which is more important for interview (if we have to pick one)
if we're still on the topic, it seems like more of us are saying that degree is more important than a portfolio - I wish you best of luck going to interview without a portfolio and only your degree to back you up. if you get the job, do come back here and report, I'll donate some frih points to you, but off course you do have to prove it and the job you get has to be design/creative orientated
jwellsy
I wish you the best of luck getting an interview without a degree.
hangnhu
Actually, I have both portfolio and degree, and I'm getting an MA as well (because I wanted to learn something new and there was no point of doing another BA level)
but thanks anyway
Bluedoll
What should we focus on education or portfolio? . . . by Bluedoll



Just a thought and I don’t know for sure if this is correct but here goes . . .


I know a portfolio is not a resume but in my mind a portfolio’s function is the same.

It says, “this is who I am and this what I can do!”

So, with that line of thinking, resumes (or portfolio) with qualifications on it (and one of those qualifications is education) do not land jobs, they get interviews. In an interview, resumes and portfolio’s are there for reference but it is usually the person that will get or not get the position based on a lot different reasons. If an interviewer is doing their job properly they will actually make their decision to hire a person mainly because the person is simply the right person for that company. For employers, it is a game of risk.

Do businesses higher people with degree's over people with a really great portfolio? The answer to the question might be businesses are interested in the best person for the job and may want to look at the complete picture.
deanhills
Bluedoll wrote:
What should we focus on education or portfolio? . . . by Bluedoll



Just a thought and I don’t know for sure if this is correct but here goes . . .


I know a portfolio is not a resume but in my mind a portfolio’s function is the same.

It says, “this is who I am and this what I can do!”

So, with that line of thinking, resumes (or portfolio) with qualifications on it (and one of those qualifications is education) do not land jobs, they get interviews. In an interview, resumes and portfolio’s are there for reference but it is usually the person that will get or not get the position based on a lot different reasons. If an interviewer is doing their job properly they will actually make their decision to hire a person mainly because the person is simply the right person for that company. For employers, it is a game of risk.

Do businesses higher people with degree's over people with a really great portfolio? The answer to the question might be businesses are interested in the best person for the job and may want to look at the complete picture.
Think the question was more along the lines of a University degree vs just a portfolio. If the University degree is a standard requirement for the position, I doubt that the portfolio would be able to compensate for it. But if the University degree is not an absolute requirement for the position, and the portfolio shows experience that is directly related to the position then obviously the portfolio could be the winner of the two.
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