Computer science major?

This is a discussion on Computer science major? within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; Hi, I'm a junior in high school right now. My dad was the one who actually forced me to take ...

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    Computer science major?

    Hi, I'm a junior in high school right now.

    My dad was the one who actually forced me to take computer science this year so I could fill up my schedule. My computer knowledge was limited to basic Microsoft Office and the Internet and I still have to say, I'm pretty computer-handicapped.
    However, I'm finding that I enjoy taking computer science right now, am maintaining a solid A, and planning on taking AP computer science next year. I do have a couple questions that my counselor wasn't quite able to answer:

    1) Should I even be trying to pursue a career related to computer science when I'm pretty much computer handicapped? So far, this has seemed like a pretty easy class and programming isn't hard for me (and it isn't just because the teacher is easy, I have one of the few A's in the class). In order to pursue something in computer science, however, is my knowledge on programming alone going to help?

    2) What types of programs/internships/camps/classes relating to computer science could you suggest me to take (preferably over the summer)? I live in CA, so preferably somewhere in Nor Cal, but I'm open to any residential programs elsewhere in the U.S.

    3) I've also researched the major and have seen that computer science is very popular and hard to get into. Are there any classes I should be taking/take to help boost my college applications (I feel like just taking two computer science classes isn't enough). I know how internships at hospitals would look good if you want to major in the medical field, but I was wondering if there is anything similar for computer science related majors?

    Thanks for your time, I know this was long.
    Last edited by aznprincess888; 03-13-2008 at 01:50 AM.

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    Oh, and another question:
    My dad is some type of engineer dealing with hardware. He seems to stay up very late (like around 1-2AM) doing work. Is this typical of hardware/software/computer related jobs? Is this just how all work in all types of fields are?

    And it seems like computer-related jobs (software, engineering, etc) are becoming scarce. It seems like a lot of people are getting layed off. Do only the people who excel in computer science get the good jobs?

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    1) Should I even be trying to pursue a career related to computer science when I'm pretty much computer handicapped? So far, this has seemed like a pretty easy class and programming isn't hard for me (and it isn't just because the teacher is easy, I have one of the few A's in the class). In order to pursue something in computer science, however, is my knowledge on programming alone going to help?
    If you don't find programming hard, then you are already in the minority as far as most computer science students go. There is no such thing as "computer handicapped", everything can be learned by anyone willing to invest the time.

    2) What types of programs/internships/camps/classes relating to computer science could you suggest me to take (preferably over the summer)? I live in CA, so preferably somewhere in Nor Cal, but I'm open to any residential programs elsewhere in the U.S.
    Northern california is probably the best place in the entire world to find a computer science internship. You are only a junior in high school though, so don't worry about this yet. Just work on projects that seem fun to you, and you will learn plenty. Once you have finished a year or two in college, then you can start thinking about internships.

    3) I've also researched the major and have seen that computer science is very popular and hard to get into. Are there any classes I should be taking/take to help boost my college applications (I feel like just taking two computer science classes isn't enough). I know how internships at hospitals would look good if you want to major in the medical field, but I was wondering if there is anything similar for computer science related majors?
    Concentrate on getting your GPA as high as possible, and do good on the SATs. These are the two major things which colleges look at. It also helps to have some extra curricular activities like club participation and sports.

    My dad is some type of engineer dealing with hardware. He seems to stay up very late (like around 1-2AM) doing work. Is this typical of hardware/software/computer related jobs? Is this just how all work in all types of fields are?
    This depends on the job and the person. People who love what they do are more willing to stay up late working on projects. Some jobs expect 70+ hour weeks from their employees, but others (like mine) only expect the standard 40.

    And it seems like computer-related jobs (software, engineering, etc) are becoming scarce. It seems like a lot of people are getting layed off. Do only the people who excel in computer science get the good jobs?
    This is not true. It is actually a very good time to be looking for a job as a software engineer. I can't say it will be the same in 6 years when you graduate college though. This is not something you should be taking into consideration, just choose a major doing something you like, that should be your priority.

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    If your dad forced you to take CS, then you got the problem right there. It's not his future that is going to affect the decision. Something went horribly wrong in the first step.

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    I second all of bithub's answers. I would only add that having two computer sciences classes under your belt, including the AP class, will help a lot in getting into the major. More advanced math classes will also help. And if you don't get in to the major but you are accepted to the school, then just go in undeclared and if you do well your first year or two you will be accepted eventually.

    >> If your dad forced you to take CS, then you got the problem right there.
    This is only a problem if you don't like CS and he forces you to continue. Suggesting a CS course isn't that bad of an idea, but don't continue with it if you don't like it.

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    Suggesting is not what he said, he said forced him to take classes, the kicker was to fill up classes...

    I think it's a bad idea.

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    Crazy Fool Perspective's Avatar
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    >Suggesting is not what he said, he said forced him to take classes,

    but he also said he enjoyed the class, which is what really counts.

    as for question 1: I mentioned in the other thread that I didn't know anything (absolutely 0 experience, not even in high school) about programming entering univeristy. I pretty quickly went to the top of my class and programming was probably my strongest area throughout undergrad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bithub
    You are only a junior in high school though, so don't worry about this yet.
    There exist high school summer programs. I went to one; it was great.

    Quote Originally Posted by aznprincess888 View Post
    1) Should I even be trying to pursue a career related to computer science when I'm pretty much computer handicapped?
    Yes (if you like it). You don't need to know how to use computers in order to write software. I don't know anything about computers except how to run my compiler and text editor. You'll find that most of CS is not 'programming' per se, anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by aznprincess888
    3) I've also researched the major and have seen that computer science is very popular and hard to get into.
    Are there limits in particular schools as to how many people can fit in a certain major? Gack! There are a lot of idiots in comp sci, so if you're not an idiot (and your writing style indicates that you're not), you should be able to get in.

    Quote Originally Posted by aznprincess888
    Are there any classes I should be taking/take to help boost my college applications (I feel like just taking two computer science classes isn't enough). I know how internships at hospitals would look good if you want to major in the medical field, but I was wondering if there is anything similar for computer science related majors?
    Just take interesting or advanced classes: they don't have to be in comp sci. For example, any university with a reasonably-minded admissions program would be far more impressed by a student applying to a CS program who took and did well in AP Physics C than one who took and did well in AP Comp Sci.
    There are 10 types of people in this world, those who cringed when reading the beginning of this sentence and those who salivated to how superior they are for understanding something as simple as binary.

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    Registered User Aran's Avatar
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    Some good thoughts so far in this thread.

    if you've only taken one class in programming, you've probably barely learned the basics of the syntax of one language. That's about one percent of what you need to know to be a good programmer. It's a millionth of what you need to know to be a good software developer.

    If you don't enjoy learning about computers and technology, you probably will not enjoy working in computer science. Most of the job is learning.

    3) I've also researched the major and have seen that computer science is very popular and hard to get into.
    This is incorrect. The number of graduating CS majors bottomed out this year. There are fewer people with CS degrees graduating the past few years than there have been in the decade.

    Of course, that doesn't mean that good programs won't be selective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Perspective View Post
    >Suggesting is not what he said, he said forced him to take classes,

    but he also said he enjoyed the class, which is what really counts.

    Before college my parents "heard" how promising IT was and tried to force me to enroll in that curriculum, I told them that I'd rather do computer science and I think I'm better off for it. I'm sure if I had enrolled in IT I would have enjoyed the classes, but it's not what I wanted. I don't know, I think just because your parents pay for the classes, doesn't mean they have to control what you want to learn.

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    In this case the parents might not even be paying for the classes if it's a public high school. Regardless, I got the impression that the OP didn't mean "force" in such strong terms as you do. Encouraging or "forcing" your kid to try new things is not always a bad thing, as long as you let them decide whether they want to continue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aran View Post
    if you've only taken one class in programming, you've probably barely learned the basics of the syntax of one language. That's about one percent of what you need to know to be a good programmer. It's a millionth of what you need to know to be a good software developer.

    If you don't enjoy learning about computers and technology, you probably will not enjoy working in computer science. Most of the job is learning.
    That was what I was worried about. I've only taken (taking) this one class, which teaches the basics of C. It is all I really know about computer science right now, but I would like to learn more. I've asked my dad about taking some programming classes, but the nearest ones are about an hour drive away, so I can't attend those. They are offering some online classes, are those any good?

    So, here's the thing. So far, I'm liking computer science and I'm glad my dad had me take it. However, I'm worried that one AP course (to be taken next year) and this one introductory course isn't enough to go into this major. For example, for a medical major you would take AP Bio, AP Chem, anatomy, and do an internship over the summer at the very least. It seems like these two classes aren't enough to pursue a major in computer science.

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    Quote Originally Posted by indigo0086 View Post
    If your dad forced you to take CS, then you got the problem right there. It's not his future that is going to affect the decision. Something went horribly wrong in the first step.
    It seems like a lot of people are arguing over this so I'll set this straight:
    My dad didn't force me, but he made me choose between taking computer science of AP Spanish (which I very much disliked and wasn't doing so well in). I chose to take computer science, and now I find that I am enjoying it very much. It's really thanks to my dad that I've finally found a subject which I enjoy (I was all up for taking photo, but it wasn't "academic" enough).

    Hope this clears things up!

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    >> It seems like these two classes aren't enough to pursue a major in computer science.
    This notion is incorrect. Those two classes give you an excellent head start.

    The only other classes that might help you would be AP Calculus and maybe an AP science class (like Physics). However, those would mostly just help you get into your university and give a few extra units that you don't have to take.

    However, there will be people who start the Computer Science major without any of those things, so don't let a lack of these classes stop you. Do as much as you reasonably can do and you'll be fine.

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    I missed the whole bit about you being in junior high school, my bad. I'm dumb.

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