A recent post on MeyerWeb got my attention. Essentially, someone asked Eric Meyer whether they should drop out of school (they are pursuing a computer science degree at a 4 year college). They wondered how useful a degree in computer science was for web development. You can read Eric Meyer’s response. I thought I would provide my own thoughts on this as well as solicit feedback from current and former students (I have been teaching web systems for 11 years).
My advice would be for the person to stay in school at this point. An education is valuable and often will allow you to get your first job. Once you have your foot in the door, it will be up to you to keep the job (based on your knowledge, skills, and abilities). By staying in school, you have the ability to hone these aspects. I would add that anyone considering entering this field might consider taking classes at a community college for the first two years. That being said, I have observed that there are vast differences in what is offered at various colleges and universities (some are still teaching materials which were out of date in 2001; others are staying at the cutting edge). Students should shop around and verify that the college is not only accredited, but also vetted by some web specific organization (for example, our program has been reviewed by the World Organization of Webmasters). One should verify that web standards are being taught consistently in the program (sadly, some programs do not teach web standards in any of their classes) and that current best practices are encouraged.
I am also curious as to what current and former students think about this topic. I know a fair number of former students have gone on to significant jobs in various aspects of web design and development. I also know that some students are struggling in the current economic climate. If you are reading this and you are a current or former student, please post a comment regarding your thoughts as to the value of your education (particularly the web systems classes). I do not plan to filter the comments (except to block the obvious SPAM drivel which plagues most content management systems these days).