Computer Science

I'm thinking of taking that as my major...

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8 Replies - 2125 Views - Last Post: 08 July 2008 - 03:08 PM

#1 Ogre  Icon User is offline

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Computer Science

Posted 03 July 2008 - 10:39 PM

Hello, I'm new here.

I'm a Sophomore in High School and I want to take Computer Science as my major for when I go to college (if?). I'm ready to make changes if it doesn't work out but this is what I'm thinking right now and have been for the last year or so.

I'm already teaching myself C++ to get a headstart and to really see if this line of work is something I want to do for a lifetime. I don't want to be one of those guys who goes headlong into college with little to no prior experience in his chosen major.

The thing is, the highest level of math that I can take is Algebra 2 because I'm going into Geometry next year and Algebra 2 the year after. I know Computer Science heavily revolves around math and I have no problem with that. I don't really think I have a problem with math either, it's just I'm an under-achiever and that can seriously affect what classes you can take the following year. Because of my laziness and carelessness I can't take Trig or Calculus as a Senior.

So I'm thinking of going to a Community College first to get my core classes down and to take those needed math classes.

Right now I'm a bit confused because I don't know if this is a "pipe-dream" ready to fall apart. And I really don't know how my abilities stack up against the odds. Considering the fact that I'll be taking a lower level math class then is expected for those who usually or are planning to pursue this major, I really can't tell I'm just wasting time thinking about it.

I'd really like to get involved with something do with Computers, IT or Software Development or something similar but I'm not sure how I'll fare...

So if you could help me out of this predicament, offer words of wisdom and advice, that would be helpful. Thanks for your time. :)

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Replies To: Computer Science

#2 no2pencil  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science

Posted 03 July 2008 - 11:04 PM

The highest math I ever took in highschool is basic Algebra, & I've had a development at a fortune 500 company.

So what's that tell ya :P At least there is hope. I hate math. If you can learn it (& comprehend it), then you are one step ahead of me!

If it's something you truly desire to do in life, then it's no pipe dream, it's a goal.
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#3 Tom9729  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science

Posted 03 July 2008 - 11:58 PM

@Ogre, You sound like an intelligent kid, I'm sure you'll do fine. Just keep programming, and keep an open mind (best way to learn).

I took Algebra I my Freshmen year, Geometry my Sophomore year, Trigonometry my Junior year, and Precalculus my Senior year. Next year in college I'm going to have to take Calculus I (as part of my CSC major).

You might want to see if you can catch back up Math-wise, or you'll have a lot to make up when you get to college (and you have to pay for those courses up front). If your High School offers a summer school program like mine does, you might be able to take Geometry and get back on track.

Academia aside, the amount of Math knowledge you need to have depends on what kind of programming you want to do.

IT is setting up computers, installing software, managing networks, etc. AFAIK you wouldn't be doing a lot of programming in an IT job, but you'd probably have a much better time getting one at your age. A friend of mine (18) recently got a job at our old High School working for IT. He has to lug around computers all day, but it's a job.

There's also Computer Engineering, which involves things like writing firmware for embedded devices (a guy I talked to at my internship last year was a Computer Engineer, he wrote the software that ran on some of the imaging satellites whizzing around up there).

You should also look into getting a paid internship somewhere. My High School had a paid summer internship program where you tell them your interests, and they find a company for you to intern at. I only made minimum wage, and I worked in HR, but I got to talk to some CSC guys and it was really quite interesting (food was good too btw).

The most valuable resources for you will be books and the Internet. :)
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#4 Mallstrop  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science

Posted 04 July 2008 - 04:04 AM

I've been to 2 British Universities (I assume they're pretty similar to your colleges) and the difference between their courses was huge.

The first one was Warwick University, even with top grades in A level maths I wasn't prepared for the mathematical content of their course, I really struggled and only just managed to get through. We had awful lecturers trying to teach us even more Maths in the first year which didn't help. A quarter of the first year was Maths and almost every other module contained quite a bit of it. The whole course was very theoretical and I came out totally confused and struggling to even program in Java which they had apparantly been trying to teach me. The lecturers were all too busy with research to care about students.

The second University wasn't ranked as high but it's course was aimed more towards getting an understanding of computer science suitable for finding a job at the end. After a very easy maths module in the first year there wasn't any more enforced maths modules. I came out of that university with a 2:1 (2nd best grade for people with a different system.)


I guess what I'm getting at is that the maths knowledge you need depends highly on the course you do. I must admit though. the more maths you know the easier it will be to learn some of the stuff they teach.
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#5 Tom9729  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science

Posted 04 July 2008 - 11:57 AM

I (obviously) haven't been to college yet, but you'll probably want to look for colleges with small class sizes. My mum went to UB (University of Buffalo) and she said there were several hundred people in most of her classes, and many of the teachers could barely speak English. Not a good environment for learning IMO. :)
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#6 c0mrade  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science

Posted 06 July 2008 - 09:56 PM

I'm with you Ogre - going into my senior year. I'll take trig.

My advice: get an internship. I've got a great position, working as a programmer. Nobody holds my hand, but I'm holding a real job.

Trust me, one you get into the real world - nobody will care about your math grades. It's all about what value you can provide for the company.

Also remember that experience is worth a lot, most companies will substitute experience for a degree. (not that I'm saying there is no need for a degree, just an example of what it's worth).
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#7 BetaWar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science

Posted 06 July 2008 - 11:01 PM

Quote

My advice: get an internship. I've got a great position, working as a programmer. Nobody holds my hand, but I'm holding a real job.

Holy shit, where do you live? I can't even find a part time job at a fast food place! I am going into senior year in HS and have taken all the tech classes (with the exception of AP tech which they are only offering next year, and I will be taking then).

I don't know how much math is used in the programming, I suppose it has to do with which field/job you get afterwards. I am going into Calc BC next year, because AB would put me in with a lot of ANNOYING PEOPLE that I would prefer to stay away from. Either way Calc BC is the second highest math course my school offers (Diff EQ being the highest; though they call it Calc 3).

If you enjoy programming and are willing to work hard and follow your dreams there is nothing holding you back. Just make sure to start caring about math at least; that should help you out (in getting into a good college if nothing else).
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#8 Programmist  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science

Posted 08 July 2008 - 03:04 AM

The only thing I see that would limit you is that you, by your admission, are an underachiever. I'm going to be very honest with you. If you plan on continuing to be an underachiever, then don't bother, as the world does not need anymore mediocre programmers (well, maybe Microsoft could use a few more ;)). If, however, you see your underachieving for what it is (laziness) and have a solid plan to correct it, then go for it. If you want a B.S.+ in CS from a reputable university you're going to have to take calculus and calculus-based physics - probably at least 2-3 semesters of each. It may seem weird that you have to study continuous math for a degree that is mostly concerned with discrete math. Partly, it's just a good foundation for other advanced maths and probability and it's good for any scientist/engineer to know. But it's also partly to weed out...wait for it....the underachievers. These are not difficult subjects, but if you do not put in the time and effort, you will find success difficult (if you are at a university that is worth a damn). It's true that you may never use calculus after you graduate. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try for an "A." Any subject that requires mathematical rigor can only help you in a CS career.
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#9 millenium_dare  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science

Posted 08 July 2008 - 03:08 PM

Don't put yourself under too much pressure at this point. I just had my college orientation at CSUS yesterday where I was given the major requirements and realized that I should be taking Calculus in my first semester, but am only prepared for pre-calc. My last math course in HS was Adv. Alg2, but I took ACE courses during the year which effectively dismissed me from the introductory programming classes. Because I got those out of the way in senior year, I'll have plenty of time to complete the lesser math courses, get up to speed with the rest of the class in math and still be ahead of the curve :P .

I was also kind of an underachiever when it came to mathematics, but it was because I re-focused that energy into studying for my Cisco classes, learning different programming languages and methods, delving into the hardware of a computer, etc. Now that I look back, though, I appreciate the time I spent in math because the problem solving skills I learned were more valuable than any language out there.

Also, as c0mrade said, search for internships that will give you real world experience in programming or IT. For the last couple years I've interned for a very large semiconductor company and appreciate the hell out of my experience here. Not only did they hire me based competence and experience, but they allowed me to switch my title when I was overwhelmed and unimpressed with my job (building and monitoring in-house customer tracking applications). What you need to do is find a company that will respect its interns, give them real-world problems to solve and be willing to help them learn new concepts when needed.

Anyways, as long as you are passionate about computers, and are willing to work at it, no math course is going to stop you. Realize, though, that nobody was ever blessed with the inherit knowledge of computers and for the most part, computer science majors are the most ambitious people out there (maybe second to...brain surgeons?). Good luck with your remaining high school years and be sure to make them count :^:

This post has been edited by millenium_dare: 09 July 2008 - 08:03 AM

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