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How was your experience in college as a computer science major?

I will be attending college next year and I am wondering what I should expect.

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Scott’s Answer

Hi Jason,

Great to hear you will be studying computer science!!

I started out my degree at Purdue University, and the first class I tool, people said it was a "weed out class". By this they meant that it was really hard on purpose, because there are too many students, and they wanted to get rid of many of them. I had the impression that if I got passed the first class, the rest would be easier. Well, it wasn't. It just got tougher and tougher.

Maybe that's not what you want to hear, but I think it is good to know. If you love programming and learning, you will do fine provided that you commit to it and plan to spend a lot of time doing the work they give you. I cannot emphasize it enough: you need to work hard to succeed. But the good news is that there is always demand for computer professionals, and the harder you work, the more you will be rewarded for it.

Now let me tell you something else. When I started, I thought Computer Science = Computer Programming. No no no, there is so much more to it than that. In fact, some of the great inventors in Computer Science were from the early days of the field where they did not always have computers! They did not need computers to start to build out the field of computer science, instead they worked on the theoretical side based upon how computers were being designed.

There are so many interesting topics within the Computer Science, such as:

- How computers work (at the hardware level)
- How to solve problems efficiently (algorithms and complexity theory)
- How computers do mathematics (numerical analysis)
- Database theory
- Programming language theory (including how to implement a programming language)
- Operating System theory
- How to build games and graphics including 3D
- Artificial Intelligence
- Networking including web programming
- Information theory + cryptography and data security

and lots more! Honestly, I love many of the topics, but ultimately you will be developing a breadth of skills that you will use a subset of in your career. So I would advise to be open minded, enjoy it, but also work very hard! Good luck!
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Oanh’s Answer

Hi Jason,
I have studied some very interesting topics, such as internet, web development, software development and more. I love these courses. It is little difficult, and challenge, but I like that because it is good for your future career.
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Bernard’s Answer

Hello Jason,

My experience as a Computer Science major was, for the most part, amazing.

I met a lot of people, made great friends, and learned various lessons I would not have learned on my own.

What helped accelerate this process was forcing myself to join the Computer Science club. I am an extreme introvert so it was hard for me to interact with strangers. Over time, those strangers became my friends and mentors.

Without those experiences, I would not be the person I am today, not just as an engineer, but as a whole person.

There are two lessons that I think should be learned early:

1. Engineers aren't the center of the universe. We may be smart, but we do not know everything
2. Find your niche that you are interested in and mix it with what you learn in your Comp Sci courses. This can come later after your first intro courses, but it is good to know how you can be different from the next engineer.
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Billy’s Answer

Hi Jason,

Congratulations on choosing Computer Science as the area to focus on in college. I applaud your selection. From a career perspective here is what I would like to share with you:

1. When you build a solid foundation, you can stand up a tall career on it. College is very important to build that strong foundation that will allow you to build a very interesting and rewarding career.

2. Engage actively in this learning by interreacting with faculty, course material and your peers to deepen your learning. Build your connections with experts, faculty and peers to collaborate with.

3. Explore/experiment with new avenues within this area to see where your passions are strongest, and you can contribute using the gifts you have been given.

4. Don't just be a consumer be a creator as well. Think of how you can express your creative energy.

5. Finally, have fun with learning and build a habit of life-long learning. Please understand in our modern world learning needs to continue well into your professional life to help you stay current with your knowledge and skills.

I wish you great success in your journey!

Best
Billy
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Rodrigo’s Answer

HI Jason
it was great, try always to do not miss any class, in this type of career you always learn something new, and you have to be always updated with all the themes, try to understand the basis to understand the compelx things, and try to complete the classes with self learning, could be as simple as youtube videos or online courses, but if you really love the career will be very easy for you

good luck
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Remy’s Answer

Hi Jason, I'll focus my answer on the "computer science major" part of the question rather than the "college" part. :-)

In my case, the CS major chose me, more than the other way around. As I mentioned in another post, when you start college, it is easier to know what you do NOT want to do than it is to know clearly what you want to do. In many cases this is directly tied to what you are naturally good at. This feeds into wanting to know more. Learning more. And getting rewarded for that learning and that work. It becomes a self-sustaining virtuous cycle.

CS in college was something I enjoyed to a large extent because I was good at it, and derived satisfaction from it beyond academic grades. This translated over time into satisfaction in my job.

So, if you CHOSE CS as your college major, you have already accomplished two important things:
1/ You have decided what you WANT to do, and I hope what you LIKE to do.
2/ You have set yourself up for a career that is as multifaceted as it is potentially rewarding.

Back to your question and CS experience in college: make the most of it to EXPERIMENT as many things as you possibly can. CS is a very broad field with infinite applications. From the hardware to the UI and everything in between, there are many different things you can do. Think about the kind of PROBLEMS you want to solve. What LAYER will this drive you to work with: Kernel, OS, Network, Protocols, UI, and so on. What LANGUAGES will this drive you to use. What SCOPE will this allow you to impact. What is the MANIFESTATION of your work. Etc.

Explore, make the most of it. And remember. It is OK to not get it right from the first time.
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Kathryn’s Answer

So my major was electrical engineering and my plan was to minor in computer science. During my time in college, there were no laptops - computes were in a lab. Everyone would have to go to the lab at some point to complete their projects. Today, I am pretty sure there will be some type of access to whatever computer platform you need. Either way, unless you are some genius programmer - there will be a lot of late nights.
Now when I think back to those times in college, although it could be tiring and frustrating - it was definitely fun to be there with classmates - everyone working together, trying to figure out the problem. And the feeling you get when the program works - is still absolutely satisfying. However, electrical engineering and computer science together was too much for me. I had to choose. I chose electrical engineering because I felt, I would still be able to incorporate programming in my career. I absolutely love programming. It is a bridge to so many different avenues, from web design to analytics. The possibilities are endless.
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