Do Graduates Make Better Developers?

Posted on: 24th Jun 2013 by: Dokoo

“G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring” said Google’s senior vice president of people operations recently. For those who aren’t aware, GPA stands for Grade Point Average, and is calculated from the college transcript of American graduates. He went on to say “the proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time as well. So we have teams where you have 14 percent of the team made up of people who’ve never gone to college.”


Elsewhere in the technology industry there have even more blatant slights at higher level education from Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal. He set up the Thiel Fellowship which is for students under 20 and gives them $100,000 and guidance and pursue other work, such as starting up their own business, starting a new social movement, or research. If you are accepted into this fellowship, one of the main requirements is that you do not attend college for two years.


Mark Zuckerbergs dropping out of Harvard was well document in David Fincher’s The Social Network, but he isn’t the only tech entrepreneur to have made an early exit from university. Look at the wikipedia pages of many of the biggest names in the industry, beside the “Alma mater” field you will find “(Dropped out)” follows the name of their college: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, and Larry Ellison to name a few.

I have no doubt that a university graduate certainly has their advantages, the years of hard work in the form of gruelling essays and dissertations that are required to attain a degree is certainly a display of dedication and discipline that any graduate should be proud of, however is this the metric that should be used when recruiting a developer?


From my own experience (currently a part time student in BSc Computing Systems at UUJ), university has given me great insight into the theory of software development, as well as the coding conventions, certainly more than I would have had if I had continued on my own self teaching path, however I feel my actual coding ability made better progress when I was not relying on my lecturers to set the class mundane programming tasks. My opinion is that university education is overrated by most of todays IT recruiters and more weight should be put on a candidate's aptitude, rather than their academic performance.


Dokoo is a digital advertising agency in Northern Ireland. Our award-winning services have helped many businesses optimise their digital marketing in Northern ireland.

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