Lost and confused Computer Science Student

This is a discussion on Lost and confused Computer Science Student within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; Hello all! Here is a little background information on me. I transferred from a local CC because I was unsure ...

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    Lost and confused Computer Science Student

    Hello all!

    Here is a little background information on me. I transferred from a local CC because I was unsure of what I wanted to major in. I always excelled at and enjoyed my computer classes in high school. I have NEVER programmed prior to my first Java course this past spring. I thought I would declare myself a Computer Science major and just hope I enjoyed it. I stressed out the entire summer before starting university because I couldn't deal with the fact that I wasn't 100% sure what I wanted to major in. I thought the only hurdle in this journey would be the heavy math load. This hasn't been much of an issue as I have completed Calc 1-3 along with Engineering Statistics after this semester. The main hurdle has been determining if programming is for me.

    I am currently in my third year as a Computer Science student. I took a Java course last semester, like aforementioned, which I enjoyed. I am taking my first C class this semester and have been losing motivation. I think I am losing the passion that I once had in my Java class. I started assignments immediately in this class. I enjoyed studying and trying to create my own small programs. I feel as if that passion is starting to dwindle with this C class. I am unsure if its because I have been having some problems understanding the more complex parts of the C language or if I am just losing interest in programming.

    I know I would like to work in the IT field. The thing is...I'm not entirely sure I would want to be a programmer for the rest of my life. Is that basically the primary job focused around a CS degree? Should I continue to pursue a CS degree if I am uncertain about programming becoming my profession? I've been very stressed out since the start of the semester. I'm worried because I don't know what to do and I feel like I am wasting time. I'm pretty late in my educational track. I wish I was experiencing this in my first year and surely not my junior year. I also would hate to have all my math pre-requisites not count for anything. I wish I loved programming and knew for sure this is what I wanted to do. The feeling of uncertainty is unbearable.

    Lastly, What is a typical day for a programmer in the professional world? That is some insight I would greatly appreciate. I want to know how much different (if at all) being a programmer in the real world is compared to writing programs in college.

    Does anyone have any advice for this lost and confused Computer Science student?

    I appreciate any advice.
    Last edited by Frankie15; 10-05-2011 at 09:49 PM.

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    Yep... stick with it.

    Maybe C just isn't your thing... or maybe you're right about reacting to the more complex nature of C programs... I do know that when I don't yet understand a task well enough to code it, I tend to get a bit "put off" on the chore. So I think about it for a while ("while" being measured in anything from seconds to months) and when I am confident that I understand the task at hand, I suddenly find myself back at the keyboard coding like a whirlwind.

    Java "babysits" people through a lot of nuts and bolts tasks, like strings, memory cleanup and such, that C makes you do manually. You should see this as an opprotunity to understand programming right down to the minutia... an understanding that will help you no matter what language you end up coding in.

    As they say... when life hands you lemons... make lemonaide.

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    It's going to be a tough grind no matter what you do. I'm a CS student as well, and the classes giving me the biggest headache right now are the software planning ones. Flowcharts, use cases, descriptions....it's so fuzzy, with faintly perceptible rules that you can violate at any time. It's more akin to sharp novel writing than coding in many ways. My point is, the job that goes along with it is an "Analyst", but just because it's not coding doesn't mean it may not be just as dreary and draining. I would just make friends with the fact that doing mind-numbing work is part and parcel of the computer field, but you grind through it for that beautiful feeling when the picture starts becoming clear and everything starts clicking.

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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie15
    What is a typical day for a programmer in the professional world?
    A Day in the Life

    Nah, realistically there is no such thing as "a typical day for a programmer in the professional world". It varies according to the day, the programmer, and the world (i.e., the company, team mates, etc).
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    Thanks for the advice guys. I appreciate it very much.

    Is a programmer the only job I can really get with a CS degree? This uncertainty I am facing is somewhat stressing me out. I would hate to endure the rest of my education and come to realize I get sick of programming as a career. My school also offers an I.T. degree, but I would imagine I would have a better shot at a job and make more with a CS degree, right?

    Common, I was researching similar CS topics and I saw a post where you mentioned making a program to show off your programming skills to a potential job. Creating things like a file searcher and what not. Is it not a good sign that I wouldn't be interested in doing that? I also wouldn't even know where to begin whatsoever on doing something that sounds so complex (then again I have only had 2 programming classes). I just cannot make up my mind on whether or not this is for me. I want to like it so bad, but I have been having second thoughts lately.

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    You can get into networking. You could be a database administrator, which isn't really programming. You could be a Unix guru. There are a lot of variants on the hardcore code-crunching programmer.

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    One thing I do have to admit is this. When I am working on something minor (like right now), one of the best feelings is when you finally figure out how to get the program to do exactly what you want to do. I always get a feeling of euphoria when this happens! :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie15 View Post
    Thanks for the advice guys. I appreciate it very much.

    Is a programmer the only job I can really get with a CS degree? This uncertainty I am facing is somewhat stressing me out. I would hate to endure the rest of my education and come to realize I get sick of programming as a career. My school also offers an I.T. degree, but I would imagine I would have a better shot at a job and make more with a CS degree, right?

    Common, I was researching similar CS topics and I saw a post where you mentioned making a program to show off your programming skills to a potential job. Creating things like a file searcher and what not. Is it not a good sign that I wouldn't be interested in doing that? I also wouldn't even know where to begin whatsoever on doing something that sounds so complex (then again I have only had 2 programming classes). I just cannot make up my mind on whether or not this is for me. I want to like it so bad, but I have been having second thoughts lately.
    Oh my...

    In a nutshell, you need to stop being overwhelmed and start being curious...

    Instead of "Oh my god what's this?"... "Ok, now how's this work?" ... it's all about approach.

    Either that or change you Major while you can...

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    C++まいる!Cをこわせ! Elysia's Avatar
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    Computer Science is a lot about the computer and technology as a science. That is, you create new solutions for network, databases, algorithms, etc.
    IT is a little more about being a programmer, making software.

    Note that there are not precise definitions about what these fields do. They tend to overlap a lot, and so even if you are computer scientist, you you will probably end up writing programs. Similarly, IT might end up writing big programs (which is typically what software engineers do).

    I don't think you really should think so much about these particular fields. Instead, take a look at the programs and the courses that offer. Then choose what YOU enjoy most. In the end, it's you who will choose what you want to work with.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

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    Elysia,

    Are you saying its worthwhile to continue to pursue Computer Science despite my apprehensions about being a programmer when I graduate? Sometimes it seems as if I am having a mild panic attack because I get so stressed out and confused. I wish I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I know CS is VERY heavy on programming and I feel like I am lacking in motivation to becoming a programmer. I always hear CS degree is primarily involved around programming. I DO want to work in the IT field, but I just don't know if I want to be a programmer. The only other computer related degrees my university offers is Computer Engineering and Information Technology (Completely online).

    Would I be better off pursuing an IT degree if I want to work in the computer field and not be a programmer? Or will getting a CS degree open even more doors into IT jobs asides from being just a programmer?

    My biggest fear in life is making the wrong decision and graduating with a degree in which proves useless for what I want to do in life.

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    >My biggest fear in life is making the wrong decision and graduating with a degree in which proves useless for what I want to do in life.
    Then find out what you CLEARLY want to do if you already haven't.
    Manasij Mukherjee | gcc-4.8.2 @Arch Linux
    Slow and Steady wins the race... if and only if :
    1.None of the other participants are fast and steady.
    2.The fast and unsteady suddenly falls asleep while running !



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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie15
    My biggest fear in life is making the wrong decision and graduating with a degree in which proves useless for what I want to do in life.
    You still don't know what you want to do in life, right? Therefore, any course that you pursue, be it a degree course in CS, or say, a hobby course in flower arrangement, may prove useless for what you want to do in life.

    Or it may not, e.g., the problem solving skills and algorithmic thinking you learn in the process of learning computer science may be applicable elsewhere, and flower arrangement skills could become useful for your own wedding.

    I have heard of people with degrees in the humanities who become successful programmers, and I see no reason why a CS graduate cannot transition to something that does not directly make use of CS. So, making the "wrong" choice of major for your degree does not mean it is the end for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie15
    I know CS is VERY heavy on programming and I feel like I am lacking in motivation to becoming a programmer.
    The bigger problem I see here is not whether you graduate with a degree in CS, but whether you graduate at all, because if you really have no motivation to program, then you may well lack the motivation to succeed in your programming assignments, which may have sufficient weightage on your grades such that you fail CS module after CS module, which in turn would reinforce your negative thinking about programming.
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    C++まいる!Cをこわせ! Elysia's Avatar
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    These fields are so big and they overlap, so it is usually quite trivial to "switch" from one to another. Furthermore, it may very well be that you may be asked to do something that is not "directly" in your field (ie make a software).
    So my point is this: choose the one you like the most. What you learn will serve you well and be useful knowledge.
    With this knowledge, you can easily add skills later that is more relevant to what you will work with.
    Don't worry, with any computer/IT-related degree, chances are that you will your skills and knowledge useful, and not useless.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

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    Talk to your academic advisor, i'm sure they dealt with situations like this before and would offer you different options to chose from with much more detail.

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    Graduating in IT/CS is valuable for your entire life, proves, that you were persistent and clever enough to concentrate on a certain subject. Thus an employer will see you more valuable for your whole life. A few years study is a good training for the brain, too, your general problem solving skills, etc. will improve. It is possible to change field within IT later to (ERP) consultancy, salesmanship, system organizing, etc. Obtaining a degree can also dispense you from making an entrance exam at your next college/university, which you can choose as your favorite major.

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