Help! I think I May Have Picked The Wrong Major!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by StarMan, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. StarMan

    StarMan Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm intending to major in Computer Science.

    And now, I'm not sure I want to. Fan - bloody - tastic.

    After several years in Hospitality and realising it wasn't going to lead anywhere spectacular, I made the call to go back to University at 31. But, I felt assured it would be worth it if a job along the lines of software engineer was there at the end for me. Hell, it's been ranked the #1 job several times. Good money, lifestyle etc. Apparently.

    I'm just wondering if that has been more of a motivating factor than I've cared to admit.

    We're in the second half of the year and, after spending some time learning the basics of programming, we've now started on algorithms. I'm not enjoying it. I'm looking at the material and trying to convince myself it's worth it. But, I've been at odds with myself since I started and I can't keep going on without facing up to it.

    I know next year opens up into different arenas with more focus on software engineering. I don't know how much different it will be from the material I'm doing now. Secondly, is it a good idea given how I feel about what I've done so far? I've been told to see out the first year and see how I feel then. Well, I'll have to given I can't get a refund now.

    I knew I was taking a risk. I'm just disappointed I haven't taken to the material like I thought I would. So far as the bigger picture, should I keep persevering if I'm saying all this? I'm no kid and banked a lot on seeing this through. I don't want to simply abandon it without at least considering other options and assure myself I'm not being too hasty.

    The other thing is I don't really have another option to fall back on, so would likely have to start again next year on 100 level courses (the only thing that comes to mind is Psychology!).

    Whether you've been through this yourself or are in this particular industry, I'd be glad to hear your thoughts. Thanks. :confused:
     
  2. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If my experiences as a Computer Science major are any indication - if you're not prepared to spend hours in front of a computer and possibly end up hating them altogether, pick another major.

    I started in Computer Science but switched out when I realized that a) I wanted a social life, and b) I didn't want to end up hating computers. There were other factors as well, but those were big influences on my decision.
     
  3. StarMan

    StarMan Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks for the input. :)

    One thing I do feel a lack of is the social aspect. I like computers, but I like people, too! I have been very handy with computers over the years but I wonder if that necessarily makes computer science the right avenue.
     
  4. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Prior to college I'd never really had much of a social life (insert generic jokes here). When I developed one I won't pretend I handled it well in terms of balancing it with schoolwork, but I would have regretted having the option to have one and being forced to deny it.
     
  5. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    Hate to be a downer, but if you picked your major for "money and lifestyle", you were in for all the wrong reasons (except if you majored in Pimpin').

    Also, it was kind of a gambit to put all your work in one topic you basically knew nothing about. Gambits often don't pay off.
     
  6. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    Major in something you LIKE. If you major in something you don't enjoy, you probably won't end up working in that field anyway. Or if you do, it'll be for a short time until you realize you hate it.

    I have no intention of ever using my degree for anything.
     
  7. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Have to agree with the iguana. Selecting a major should be based on what you're interested in, with an eye to future utility in the job market, too. If you can't stand the course material now, what makes you think you'll want to work in the field indefinitely? Picking a major based on what careers are in demand now isn't a good strategy. You have to be able to predict what will be in demand when you have the degree. Since that's not possible, a degree with a wide range of usefulness in a variety of career paths is better. But you have to enjoy it or you'll just keep changing majors.
     
  8. Non Sync

    Non Sync Captain Captain

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    I'd stick with it just a little bit longer. You might be able to go in a different direction instead of pure programming. Build upon what you are interested and blaze a new path.

    I find that my programming experience can also be applied in other non-computer areas. By understanding how applications are created, I can usually figure out how most applications work without any training/experience on them.
     
  9. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    I'll agree with those who say choose something you like. I never got my bachelor's, but I was planning to get a degree in Education, though my real passion was theatre. I wish (a) I'd switched majors, (b) finished a degree, and (c) gone to a school with a film department.
     
  10. T'Bonz

    T'Bonz Romulan Curmudgeon Administrator

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    I made that mistake in my youth. Majored in computers. Got out and discovered that I really didn't like it, even though it paid well. Was bored and not real happy at work for a few years 'til I switched to other things.

    Not that it hurts to have computer expertise though.

    BTW - being a programmer doesn't necessarily mean you don't socialize with co-workers. That wasn't a problem ever.

    The trick is to find something you like BUT something that will pay well enough to support yourself and a family if you decide to go in that direction later.
     
  11. rhubarbodendron

    rhubarbodendron Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If you want to program, you need the basics (all these algorithms etc). It's like trying to become a chef without having to chop up stuff.
    What you should ask yourself now is what weighs heavier: your love of programming or your dislike of algorithms. If it's the first, hang on. If the latter counts more, change subjects.

    It's no shame to make a wrong decision. It'd only be a shame to stick with it and not learn from a mistake.
    If I were you, I'd use the time till the end of the year to look around for other things that seem both interesting and promising and to get detailed information on all possible choices. Then, by the end of the year you might have found a good alternative and be able to switch subjects.

    What counts is that it's something you like doing 5 days a week and that will earn you enough to make a living.
    If psychology is just a stopgap, don't take it!

    If I am not mistaken, Spaceball is a programmer. Maybe you could ask him about the every day things of that profession (and how much algorithms are involved)
     
  12. StarMan

    StarMan Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks everyone. What got spilled up top was a bit panicked and stressed.

    Maybe I'm being a little harsh with algorithms. I see their value. Your chef analogy is understood - I've done plenty of time in the kitchen as well. :lol: So far as the programming side. Well, in the first half of the year during our intro to Python, I must say it was a challenge - but an enjoyable one. Sure, I bashed my head against the monitor a few times - but once the concepts started sinking in, I enjoyed the process of creating little programs and that 'eureka!' moment when everything went according to plan. It's also neat to look over material that would have completely bambozzled me at the beginning of the year and now go 'yeah, I know what that does'.

    I see an opportunity to marry creativity, an interest in technology and a well paid career. I suppose I'm guilty of wanting to run before I can even walk.

    Had a good chat with my Mother (Mums are the best) and really, my best option is to see this year out, work hard and give it an honest go.
     
  13. Tora Ziyal

    Tora Ziyal Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^ Makes sense to me.

    Any semester that you have room for an elective in your schedule, consider taking something totally unrelated to computers. Psych, history, literature, philosophy, anything not science/technology-oriented. It'll give you a chance to meet different people and think about different things.
     
  14. Naira

    Naira Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In my experience as a computer scientist and a software engineer, you can't be a good programmer without a strong background in algorithms and mathematics. However, early courses in CS can be pretty boring, e.g., math you don't understand why you need them, algorithm theory with no practical examples etc.

    You can try to stick with it a bit longer and find the aspects of it you enjoy the most. For example, maybe general programming does not feel insteresting for you but mobile applications programming does.

    Obviously, if you don't like doing it, you won't enjoy either studying it or working on it. You are not 20 anymore, if you really don't like it just let it go and find something that suits you. Just make sure you really don't like the subject, as opposed to the general change of going to Uni (if I understand correctly, it is only your first year).
     
  15. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Also, the software engineer designs the software, the programmer programs it. It's the difference between the architect and the brick layer.


    Theory in university classes is lame and boring in general. Especially analysis, linear algebra, algorithms, computability theory, it's all groundwork, but most of it you will never EVER need in your entire life as a programmer or even software engineer. You can immediately stop giving a fuck about the halting problem in a Turing machine.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013
  16. rhubarbodendron

    rhubarbodendron Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    When I started working with computers, there was no such thing as a software engineer yet. Only programmers. And we'd write things like:

    10 START
    20 PRINT "I am such an oldtimer that I still am fluent in BASIC"
    30 PRINT ":-)"
    40 END

    And in q-BASIC, C, C+, C++, Pascal and Milan. Then there's a huge gap and lately (12 years ago) I started with PHP and HTML.
    LOL I'm the Daniel Jackson of ancient computer languages :D
     
  17. Davros

    Davros Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You forgot the goto 10 line. ;)

    I changed majors 3 times and wound up with a history degree.
     
  18. Yoda

    Yoda Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If your only other idea is Psychology then you you really don't have much of a choice but to stick with Comp Sci. :lol:

    I mean going to school for something that you're truly interested in is great and all, but if you can't pay for it, and the degree is the kind that doesn't pay for itself, then going that route is a bit foolish.
     
  19. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    Interesting, they teach python in college now? I just taught myself that a few months ago. It's a handy little scripting language without a lot of the subtleties that compiled languages need to worry about, but it can do some powerful things. Probably a reasonable place to start, actually.

    When I was doing my undergrad it was mostly C and Java. (Some classes claimed to teach C++, but I later realized they were actually teaching "C with classes," which isn't quite the same thing.) A few more esoteric languages here and there for the hell of it. And I remember using some Pascal and TrueBasic back in the day, not that anyone touches that anymore.

    There are many different types of programming. You can put all your time into designing terrific GUIs, or you can write an equally complex program without ever leaving the command line. You can focus on machine learning, or stochastic search, or networking. It's a very broad area, really, so I'd be surprised if some aspect of it didn't catch your interest.
     
  20. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

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    I would say that, if you don't like algorithms, computer science may not be a good fit for you. At the end of the day, it's about solving problems. Algorithms provide blueprints for solving certain kinds of problems so you don't have to "reinvent the wheel" every time. For many problems, there are already very efficient solutions, and that's what learning algorithms is for.

    My mathematics background is actually pretty spotty, but then I don't work in the sorts of software that call for complex mathematics. It's mostly enterprise software, web, databases, etc.

    I would suggest trying some programming on your own to see if you actually like that, and then you can decide if software is an area you really want to work in and getting through the CS degree is just a slog you have to endure to get what you want, or if you hate the process of developing software itself, in which case you should definitely choose another career path. There's no point getting into this line of work just for the money, if you hate doing it.