5 answers

How will I know if I will be able to handle the rigors of the Computer Science program I am starting soon?

Asked Rigby, Idaho

I already have a BS degree in English Literature, and I worked in the field as a technical editor and writer for about 15 years. During that time, I taught myself some HTML4 and a little CSS and LOVED IT. I now have the opportunity to go back to school to get a second BS degree and Computer Science is my goal. However, it's been 13 years since I've taken a college course. All I know for sure I that I want to become a developer; that is my end game.

#computer #computer-science #computer-programming #science #computer-software

5 answers

Chris’s Answer

Updated Plano, Texas

I am a computer science graduate (from many years ago!) and my son is currently a sophomore in college studying computer science. The kinds of things to be prepared for:

  1. lots of small/medium sized hands-on programming projects
  2. a few core curriculum classes (math, science, English, etc.) for your first several semesters, be sure to keep up with those assignments so you will have enough time for your CS projects

Because there will be many projects (some individual and some with a team), you will need to manage your time wisely. Best advice I can offer is to get your ideas coded and tested ASAP so you have something started. Some people will wait till the end of the alotted time to start and run out of time — expect lots of trial and error.

Chris recommends the following next steps:

  • Look at the course descriptions for freshman CS classes and note the programming language(s) and tools mentioned [for schools where CS is in Engineering, look at freshman engineering class descriptions too]
  • Look for some interactive tutorials for those languages you don’t already know to develop some familiarity. For example, if Python is used, here’s an interactive guide: https://www.learnpython.org
Chris, Thank you for the quick reply! Because I already have a BS in English, I don't have to worry about dealing with general ed. classes and can jump right into the core curriculum. I do have a few pre-requisites to take and a few math classes to catch up on, but other than that, I'm jumping into the deep end of the pool. What do you suggest I do at this point, given those details? Josh

Angelo’s Answer

Hey Joshua,

I just recently graduated with a degree in CS (a little over 5 years ago) and it was definitely more difficult that I expected it to be. Although you do have experience in coding, jumping into the academic field can get really technical and really confusing. That being said, yes, it will be difficult at times, but if you put in the work and the time to practice and study, you should come out of it just fine. You got this!

Rod’s Answer

Updated United Kingdom

Hello Joshua

It is great that you are willing to take the plunge and change career to follow what you love. I have done it a few times in my 50 year career: engineer, teacher, computer game developer, corporate financier and CEO of a marketing group. The world changes and opportunities arise and you only live once so grab what comes your way!

As far as knowing if you can handle it is concerned, you need to try it. There are plenty of great online courses out there and I suggest you try some. I have suggested a link below...

Rod recommends the following next steps:

  • Try the various micro courses at Kaggle: https://www.kaggle.com/learn/overview. They will give you a flavour of the coding with a data science flavour. Join the community!
Rod, Thank you for the response! I'm going to take a look at Kaggle first thing tomorrow! Josh

Chris’s Answer

Updated Plano, Texas

What is it about Computer Science that intrigues you? I ask because given your background (thanks for providing it!) you might be more interested in a boot camp program rather than another college degree. Check out Hack Reactor for an example of a boot amp program - faster and more focused than a BS CS.

The whole, short version of the story is that I drove a semi truck for the past few years. Early on in that chapter of my career, I was in a serious accident that is summarized here: https://youtu.be/FmLRxUd24E4
In addition to the traumatic brain injury I sustained during the accident, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder last September. The combination of ASD and the TBI qualified me to receive Vocational Rehab, and they like the idea of me earning another degree over doing a boot camp. The research I've done shows that the degree is much more marketable than the experience gained in a boot camp atmosphere as well. Aside from all of that, I really liked learning in a college-class atmosphere. I'm a life-long learner, and I picked up early on that I do better in a classroom setting.

Alex’s Answer

Updated Portland, Oregon

It's so exciting that you about to embark on a second BS degree in computer science! I have two answers to this question 1) If you want to "try before you buy" you can do an online introduction to computer science class. MIT has a great intro class that you can work through. If you find yourself enjoying yourself you'll know you have what it takes 2) Most computer science degrees have a lot of difficult classes in the first semester so you'll know in the first few weeks if it is right for you.

Alex recommends the following next steps:

  • Try an online computer science class