Grad program vs Honours

TN04

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Hey guys, long-term lurker here that decided to make a new account.
I recently graduated with a BSc CS and have been offered a place in a graduate program at a pretty big company.
On the other hand, I have the option to study further and get my honours.
I didn't do amazingly well in my Bsc, so getting accepted into a grad program was a surprise, and I'm not really sure if I should pass up the opportunity.
Would the experience in the grad program be more beneficial than spending the year doing an honours degree?
Any advice?
 

cguy

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Personally, I would do honours if I had to do just one. If you can get into a grad program afterwards, you will have both.

I know of grad programs at some elite US companies that outstrip any other education you are likely to get in that year, however, for the most part you will really just be trained in the processes for that company, and also more than likely practices that you would pick up wherever you go (source control, branching strategies, continuous integration, testing, verification, validation, coding standards, etc.).
 

McSack

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From an old fart who's been in the game for 30 years perspective... take the grad program opportunity. You can always do honours after you've worked for a year or 2 and probably on the company's expense too
From my experience, once you have worked a while it is what you can do and the projects you've worked on that counts more than what qualifications you have
Grad programs are pretty much a "fast track" through the start of your career
 

Sumen

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I would take the grad opportunity as well - the opportunity to complete your honours will always be there.

Grad programs are like jobs, it might take a long time to find another one.
 

TribbleZA

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Yes I agree with @McSack. There are going to be lots of people with qualifications- it comes down to practical experience in the end. If you can excel in the grad program, not only do you have experience but you have a work reference too. Also vitally important. Honours can always be done later but I get the feeling there will be plenty of other things you will need to study.
 

cguy

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I disagree with the above 3 posts. The opportunity to do honours when you are working, possibly with financial responsibilities, and out of the studying mind set is relatively limited.

I believe that some of the other posts got this backwards: While I do agree that experience is very important, at the end of the day everyone will have experience within a few years, however, only some will have qualifications. Also, not everyone will have the quality of experience one is more likely to obtain by starting off with the strongest academic foundation that it is reasonable for you to achieve.

Apart from local career concerns, an honours degree also has much better international recognition.
 

ryu

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If i may add my 2 cents here, i'd say go with the grad program - these programs are usually on a rotation basis meaning you would get rotated to a new department every few months which in turn will give you experience in each area of the company - this will give you a chance to see which department suits you best while giving you much needed experience!

Also if the company takes you on full time, you can bet your bottom dollar they will invest in you! Meaning they will pay for your honors in any case down the road or when you ready.

I also notice that graduates from these programs get offered positions starting at mid tier not entry level so that might persuade you as well.
 

Ancalagon

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I would do the honours now. Remember, you do not have to choose one or the other - you can have both. You can do honours next year and then grad program the year after. If you do honours next year, you will probably get a higher starting salary in any case.

Plus, your degree will be more internationally relevant because you will have a 4 year degree rather than a 3 year degree.

Why not do the grad program first and then honours second? Because, as someone who has spent A LOT of time studying part time, studying part time is something you want to avoid if you can. You are still young, enjoy your life of no responsibility and studying. Life gets difficult enough for you later on in any case.

I don't see any good reasons why you should do the grad program first and honours second. There are just no good reasons for it.
 

TribbleZA

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What if the offer for the grad program is only good for now? He/she should check before making any decisions.
Ultimately you will have to do what you feel is right for you. We all believe we have good reasons for suggesting what we do - but it is your life.
 

Ancalagon

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What if the offer for the grad program is only good for now? He/she should check before making any decisions.
Ultimately you will have to do what you feel is right for you. We all believe we have good reasons for suggesting what we do - but it is your life.

He would likely have to reapply next year after getting his honours. While there are no guarantees, his chances are likely better after getting his honours.
 

cguy

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I am curious if those recommending against honours have done their honours degrees?

For me it was my richest year of coursework because it drew on everything I had learned to that point. It was also my first exposure to proper research, which was a big factor in setting the course of my life.
 

retromodcoza

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I am curious if those recommending against honours have done their honours degrees?

For me it was my richest year of coursework because it drew on everything I had learned to that point. It was also my first exposure to proper research, which was a big factor in setting the course of my life.

The above is true.

For the record I have an honours degree - but thats the highest I went. Take this with a pinch of salt.

A graduate program is trying to get something out of you. Its not an education. Its training. (or it is at most SA companies). At the end of the training (which will be in the ways of the company , as above) they hope that you will return the investment by ploughing skilled work into the company that you were trained for. The grad program is not a gift. Its not a leg up. Its reciprocal.

Honours , however , is trying to give you something. The whole focus of it is to give you an education free from the constraints and influence of commerce. It wants nothing in return. It is also regarded as the gold standard by hiring managers at that level.

Oh , and don't go into a training program thinking you will go back to honours "some day". You WONT. Everyone in a job that was at university knows that the probability of going back to university once leaving is VERY low. The above posts saying experience counts more are right - but you can , as others have said , have both.

Don't rush this. Life is long. Those under 40 are all going to live till 90-100 because of modern medicine , so 30 is the new 20. Take your time.
 

McSack

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I am curious if those recommending against honours have done their honours degrees?

For me it was my richest year of coursework because it drew on everything I had learned to that point. It was also my first exposure to proper research, which was a big factor in setting the course of my life.
Only seeing the continuation of this discussion now.
I'm busy completing a masters at my ripe old age :)cool: ) and there is no way I would have seen the applicability of what I'm learning without the experience of a few years
I have also seen hundreds/thousands? of people across various industries complete their honors&masters while they work. I guess it all depends on what you want out of life.
I've always been more of a get-my hands-dirty-as-soon-as-possible type of learner and started working before I finished my 1st qualification.
 

WaxLyrical

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In the work environment everyone is asking for experience - so do that.
 

cguy

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Only seeing the continuation of this discussion now.
I'm busy completing a masters at my ripe old age :)cool: )

Fantastic!

and there is no way I would have seen the applicability of what I'm learning without the experience of a few years
I have also seen hundreds/thousands? of people across various industries complete their honors&masters while they work. I guess it all depends on what you want out of life.
I've always been more of a get-my hands-dirty-as-soon-as-possible type of learner and started working before I finished my 1st qualification.

I started working as a Software Engineer when I was finishing off my masters and worked right through my doctorate too. The type of work I did during this time never would have been available to me had I not completed my honours, and nearly my masters (very engineering/maths/computer-science intensive). This gave me a lot of flexibility in that my wages were much higher than my peers, allowing me to buy a Cape Town house at age 24, and get the type of flexi-time needed to finish a doctorate. Once again, the type of work that eventually took me overseas, would not have been possible without completing my doctorate.

I have heard the "work first, study later, so you can see the applicability of your studies" argument before. While this is entirely true (in that one does get to see some applicability of one's studies), studying first is far more likely to get you into a field where one's education is more directly applicable than a field that did not require the studies in the first place.

Where I have worked in my 20 or so years, almost everyone has had either a masters or doctorate, and nobody I know of at work finished any qualifications later. The primary reason being that if someone has experience in their particular job, they are more likely to stay there than restart their career in a field more aligned to their recent studies (although some experience is transferable, a lot is not when talking about higher qualification requirement jobs).

Conversely, most of the people I know who have finished postgrad degrees while studying, either continued doing exactly what they did before or made reasonably incremental career moves afterwards based on their studies because they already had established careers.
 
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TribbleZA

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I am curious if those recommending against honours have done their honours degrees?

For me it was my richest year of coursework because it drew on everything I had learned to that point. It was also my first exposure to proper research, which was a big factor in setting the course of my life.
True - Honours is valuable.

I worked for a recruitment company as my first job. Experience is what sets you apart from those with the same degree. I have trained in colleges and again - employers do look at your qualifications, but if a person with the correct qualifications and experience applies, they stand a higher chance of getting the job.

I have a son doing his Honours in Physics. This is one field where I believe it is important to get your masters before you look for full time employment. It will set you apart from everyone with Bsc degrees. But in IT and business - you need experience. It is not the kind of job you can do easily with only book knowledge. In IT especially - you are going to be learning for the rest of your working life. So doing your honours while working is not going to be strange.

Everyone has different opinions - you need to decide what is right for you.
 
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cguy

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True - Honours is valuable.

I worked for a recruitment company as my first job. Experience is what sets you apart from those with the same degree. I have trained in colleges and again - employers do look at your qualifications, but if a person with the correct qualifications and experience applies, they stand a higher chance of getting the job.

Agreed. I find it very strange that people always end up debating the value of qualifications in terms of degree vs. experience, when it's always better to have both. Focus on studies, and the experience will always come. Go straight for a job, and further studies become considerably less likely, and the experience is usually not the best type.

I have a son doing his Honours in Physics. This is one field where I believe it is important to get your masters before you look for full time employment. It will set you apart from everyone with Bsc degrees. But in IT and business - you need experience. It is not the kind of job you can do easily with only book knowledge. In IT especially - you are going to be learning for the rest of your working life. So doing your honours while working is not going to be strange.

This seems to regress from your previous position. Experience is great, but it's still better to have both this and qualifications, even in IT. Also, there are many IT jobs, where book knowledge is required, and also the only way to get the right experience.

I don't think that there's anything strange about working while doing honours. It's just suboptimal to do it while working: Firstly, many people intend to do it, but never even register because life gets in their way. Secondly, it's hard to do while balancing a job, rent, family, etc., Thirdly, they are already entrenched in a particular area of work, and while additional qualifications may make them better at their current job, switching to a new job where they can fully leverage and further develop their new skills is often a big psychological and financial hurdle.
 

TribbleZA

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Agreed. I find it very strange that people always end up debating the value of qualifications in terms of degree vs. experience, when it's always better to have both. Focus on studies, and the experience will always come. Go straight for a job, and further studies become considerably less likely, and the experience is usually not the best type.



This seems to regress from your previous position. Experience is great, but it's still better to have both this and qualifications, even in IT. Also, there are many IT jobs, where book knowledge is required, and also the only way to get the right experience.

I don't think that there's anything strange about working while doing honours. It's just suboptimal to do it while working: Firstly, many people intend to do it, but never even register because life gets in their way. Secondly, it's hard to do while balancing a job, rent, family, etc., Thirdly, they are already entrenched in a particular area of work, and while additional qualifications may make them better at their current job, switching to a new job where they can fully leverage and further develop their new skills is often a big psychological and financial hurdle.
Oh he will be working at the university during this year. He will be a tutor. His problem is a bit unique as he doesn't know what aspect of physics he wants to go into. I offered him a choice. Do his masters and use this time to find out what exactly he wants to do with his degree - or go and see what sort of job he can get. It is really difficult if you don't know what you like. Once he knows what he wants to do - we will know what sort of companies he should apply to. In the meantime - he will learn more and help those who are struggling, as lecturing is possibly one of the things that interests him.
 

cguy

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Oh he will be working at the university during this year. He will be a tutor. His problem is a bit unique as he doesn't know what aspect of physics he wants to go into. I offered him a choice. Do his masters and use this time to find out what exactly he wants to do with his degree - or go and see what sort of job he can get. It is really difficult if you don't know what you like. Once he knows what he wants to do - we will know what sort of companies he should apply to. In the meantime - he will learn more and help those who are struggling, as lecturing is possibly one of the things that interests him.

BTW, there are a lot of physicists in finance. They tend to be great applied mathematicians.
 
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