As the subject of the thread suggests, I'm considering studying computer science, accountancy, or actuarial science. I have some questions.
For CS, Accountancy, Actuarial Science
>How much does pedigree matter? That it to say, which one would be most accommodating for someone who doesn't/didn't go to Rose-Hulman or Wharton or Stanford?
>Which is the fastest track? Which one is the longest in terms of time sink?
For Computer Science
>A.S., B.S., post-bac certificate/degree,
alternative program e.g. Dev Bootcamp, Hack Reactor, Coding Dojo, etc. which one?
>Does degree really even matter? beanactuary.org explicity states it doesn't.
>MBA, MS, BBA, certificate, etc. which one?
>Is CPA the gold-standard? Does it matter how I get there?
Here's a breakdown from my understanding.
School does matter, but in the long term the best programmers will hold the best jobs, so although good schools have good students and better teaching methods, it's ultimately up to you.
School may be important to get into better firms, but the most important thing is the diligence to go forward with the Actuarial exams. I think school is more important than CS for this, because it's the field where business and mathematics meet, so you need to have a strong school with strong connections.
Prestige is everything. It will make the difference between going to work as a bookkeeper and working Big 4 and moving to better things. I attend a University that has a top accounting program and generally students are easily able to find jobs. At other schools, it's a fucking disaster.
Ultimately, you want to end up going for a CPA as an accountant if you want to work as one.
There may be cases where a CFA/MBA is a better choice (if you work in finance/banking/management).
As for CS, you need to go for a MS/PhD if you want to contribute to the field, but generally people don't go to graduate school because it doesn't make much sense for such an applied field.
Also, I'm in Austin, TX. My options are restricted to St. Edward's, the University of Texas, Austin Community College, and Texas State.
So, you would admonish me against accounting unless it were at a top-flight school with placement at the Big Four, correct? ACC has an inexpensive post-bac that would allow me to sit for the CPA, but from what you're saying that might not be the world's best idea.
CS is abundant in terms of options. TX State has a decent program, ACC is a feeder school for the other three, St. Edward's is meh, but UT is the jewel in the crown and is in the top 10 for undergraduate CS programs.
Regarding Actuarial Science, I hear the exams are a slog and are the biggest component like you say in terms of employment. I'm not super keen if I want to study mathematics or statistics explicitly despite doing well in both, but...if necessary I will.
Go to University of Texas - Austin.
If you can't get in, go to community for 1 year and try to transfer (make sure you get perfect GPA no less).
I would recommend going for Accounting.
It's the number 1 accounting school in the country (I go to the #2 UIUC).
CS as 2nd choice, but start learning to program in your free time to see if you can do it for hours on end.