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Path to a CS degree for a 20-something with no formal qualifications? Watch

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    Hi TSR! Looks like there's a lot of great advice here. I'll cut to the chase with bullet points. Hopefully this is the best subforum.

    Me:
    * 23y/o
    * Scotland
    * No qualifications whatsoever (no standard grades, nothing).
    * That's due to an... unusual upbringing, and not due to learning difficulties, health problems, or other external issues. Nonetheless my lack of academic experience is a problem (I know it's crucial to learn how to learn.)
    * Lifelong obsession with computers
    * Self-taught programming ranging from webdev to C++
    * Have been doing freelance dev work for a couple of years
    * My maths (as assessed only by myself) is solid up to, but not including, calculus (but including some linear algebra)
    * Good at learning new things on the job as needed- I've had to do this a lot in my freelance work

    I'm not sure if 23 counts as a mature student or not- the cutoff I sometimes see is 25, but that probably refers to starting the degree course itself rather than any stepping stones to it.

    I want to work towards BSc Computer Science in order to:
    * Add a ton of theoretical rigour to my programming skills so that I can solve deep, interesting problems
    * Get a qualification that employers will recognise
    * Get a qualification that immigration boards will recognise, so that I could at least theoretically work in North America, AU/NZ, or SE Asia in the future. I believe that getting a working visa is more or less impossible without some kind of degree.
    * Hopefully socialise/experience uni life while I'm still young enough that I wouldn't feel too alienated from other students

    Open University is a no because:
    * No actual CS offering- only "Computing & IT" which does have maths and analysis portions but is mostly focused on software engineering, networking, etc
    * I don't want distance learning- my current work is 100% remote and it's making me a shut-in. I actually want to get away from that, at least a bit.
    * Not recognised worldwide. People dispute this, but try going to Singapore's automated work visa checker and telling it you have an OU degree. Then try again and say you have a degree from a brick-and-mortar uni.
    * SAAS will not fund full-time distance study, and even if they did, I would be very hesitant to use up my chance at a state-funded higher education on the OU if I could instead use it to get a non-distance degree.
    Spoiler:
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    I should stress that I have no intentions of getting a degree at public expense and then jetting off to Asia for the rest of my days! This is just about keeping doors open for me.

    The rUK concept of an Access Course doesn't seem to exist in Scotland except for SWAP.

    It seems to be vaguely possible to get onto HNC Computing with work experience only, and from that jump to year 2 HND Computer Science, and from there to the second year of a degree course. Is that generally correct?

    Ideally I would skip HNC Computing- judging by its spec, it's unlikely to teach me anything new- and start from the first year of HND Comp Sci. But this is probably impossible going by the HND spec (GG7D16) and entry requirements.

    Has anyone been in a similar situation? Any advice? I've never been exposed to the formal education system before, and anything that is obvious to you is probably new to me
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    You might need to get GCSE Maths and English to start with, this is one thing uni's(in England at least) can be pretty religious about. There's also (I believe) a SWAP STEM course that can lead onto a Computer Science degree.

    Another option would be to self-learn A-levels and sit the exams as a private candidate. Also try contacting uni admissions departments and see if they'll consider your work experience in lieu of formal qualifications. In terms of being considered a mature student your parents income is still factored in until you're over 25, unless you're estranged or have been living independently of them for 3 years. You're correct in that it's from when you start the degree itself.

    The first year of a CompSci degree involves teaching people to code from scratch, if you're already doing freelance work then you're miles ahead.
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    Have a look at unis offering computer science degrees that include an intergrated foundation year.
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    Thanks for the info James:

    (Original post by JamesN88)
    You might need to get GCSE Maths and English to start with, this is one thing uni's(in England at least) can be pretty religious about.
    [...]
    Another option would be to self-learn A-levels and sit the exams as a private candidate.
    Yep, seems to be a similar state of affairs here. I see requirements phrased like this:
    Note that you will need to meet our post-16 Mathematics requirement (e.g., a B or higher in the Scottish Higher or A-level), and this is not met by an HND or BTEC on its own.
    It does seem that taking Highers as an adult is almost unheard of here, although I do see places that would offer it.

    (Original post by JamesN88)
    There's also (I believe) a SWAP STEM course that can lead onto a Computer Science degree.
    I'll look into this more closely.

    Also try contacting uni admissions departments and see if they'll consider your work experience in lieu of formal qualifications.
    I assume you mean asking them to waive the GCSE/Standard Grade and A-Level/Higher reqs, given that I do an HND course or similar? I very much doubt it's possible to start straight at uni without some lower credentials, work experience or no.

    In terms of being considered a mature student your parents income is still factored in until you're over 25, unless you're estranged or have been living independently of them for 3 years. You're correct in that it's from when you start the degree itself.
    Thanks for clearing that up.

    The first year of a CompSci degree involves teaching people to code from scratch, if you're already doing freelance work then you're miles ahead.
    Thanks for that- so essentially what I'm looking for is the minimum set of qualifications needed to jump into year 2 of a BS. I think the stumbling block will be the maths prerequisites.

    I'll look into all the paths you mentioned.

    (Original post by LS28)
    Have a look at unis offering computer science degrees that include an intergrated foundation year.
    This doesn't seem to be a thing at any Scottish unis except St Andrews, where it's still squarely aimed at school leavers with Highers.
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    Hi, have you look at the SWAP (Scottish Wider Access Programme)? They should be able to help you to access HE in Scotland.

    If it's like it is here in England, you will be required to have Maths and English GCSE (or equivalent). I did an Access Course a few years ago and those without the relevant GCSE's were able to take their exams as part of the Access course so it still took just a year.

    Mine was in Business and Enterprise. There wasn't a great deal of content I couldn't get my head around having worked in sales and marketing for 8 year prior to this, but it did teach me some of the theory behind everything which I needed at uni, and more importantly, the academic skills needed to progress and succeed on a degree course.

    You are young (I did mine at 27) but don't be put off by the extra year studying. If I had been able to go straight into my degree without the preparation the Access Course offered, I would have really struggled.

    Good luck
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    Look at Birkbeck University of London mate. They will give you chance, maybe starting with a certificate course leading to the degree. Its a quality place that listens to cases like yours, and teaching is high quality and rigorous. It is decently ranked around 30 or so too and has amongst the highest grad salaries.

    As you can see below, they will give you a shot even without formal qualifications, instead they'll administer their own test. I was similar to you, terrible a-levels, But i was given a chance, finished with a 1st and am going to Cambridge for postgrad. If you work hard there's no limit. I think with your enthusiasm and experience you could go straight into the degree.

    You can also take the course part-time and work as all classes are in the evening. There is also a great social scene at the bar, as well as all the other UoL bars etc. I had an amazing time there and i was 31 when i started.
    Best of luck.

    http://www.bbk.ac.uk/study/2017/unde...es/UUBSCOMP_C/
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    Hello there! I got into Teesside University for their games programming course with no qualifications at all - not even a singular GCSE - but with a portfolio of work. Also, being a mature student they were less reliant on grades.

    This is the piece of work that I submitted https://github.com/RyanSwann1/SFML-CPP-Platformer

    It's probably with checking with the low ranking Universities.
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    Falmouth University have a process for Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) for entry at undergraduate level. I have given offers to several mature students through this process onto the BSc (Hons) Computing for Games course that is offered within the Games Academy. As others have already pointed out, you would still need to evidence English and Maths ability equivalent to GCSE grade C; but, this can be incorporated into the APEL process. Likewise, a portfolio and interview would very likely also form part of the process in lieu of other missing qualifications.

    The courses we offer, however, are very practical, applied, and tailored to the games industry. Our students do a lot of hands-on programming which is then contextualized within computing theory (rather than being theory focused). From the tone of your post, it sounds like you're less interested in software engineering and more interested in mathematics, data analysis, and computing theory. If so, then you should consider broadening your course search to include Data Science courses.

    All the best,
    Michael
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    (Original post by Gordon_D)
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    (Original post by DCRsilver)
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    (Original post by BonBons123)
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    (Original post by Falmouth Uni Games Academy (Computing))
    .
    Thanks all for your input, I've thoroughly investigated the options given in this thread. However, despite my dismissal of the Open University above, I'm now considering it more strongly. After discussing it with others it's been pointed out to me that:

    * The CS content, although not really comparable to a brick uni's CS degree, is somewhat deeper than I thought and would serve as a reasonable foundation for further study (assuming I choose relevant modules)
    * There would be nothing (other than funding) preventing me from doing a 1 year master's at a brick uni at some later time
    * It is perfectly possible to have a good social life with distance learning and it isn't reasonable to blame methods of study for my (lack of) socialising
    * SE Asian countries do in fact recognise the degree (with Singapore in particular, it depends on how you enter it into their checker and they care about the honours classification). The exception is TEFL, for which online degrees usually don't count; I'm fine with that
    * SaaS does fund tuition for 120 credit/year OU study, they just don't offer a living cost bursary or loan

    This seems to mostly invalidate my issues with it. I'm still very torn because it undeniably represents less intense study than a brick uni, but I think it may be a more realistic option for me at this point.

    Thanks again for all the advice! I have some more thoughts/questions but they would probably be better suited for the OU subforum. I'm still considering all possibilities.
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    Access to Games at Middlesbrough College or Access to Computing
    Level 3 qualification which leads onto university courses, part time
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    You could always do just one year of TOU, then use this to apply for computer science at brick uni (if you only use 1 years funding, you are still eligible for full degree funding after this), this is the route I followed to get accepted to the current Uni I'm at.

    Without GCSE's though I'm unsure you could even get into an access course, I think going to college to complete your GCSE's would be the best route for you personally, then apply for access and/or integrated foundation degree the year after.
 
 
 
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