Computer Science Degree

Discussion in 'Community' started by Billicus, Jul 23, 2003.

  1. Billicus macrumors 6502a

    Billicus

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    Charles City, Iowa
    #1
    I am going to be a senior in High School this year, and I am trying to decide what to get a major in when I go off to college the proceeding Fall. I am considering many things and it is hard for me to decide what to do because I'm a smart kid and I'm good at a lot of things. So my question for the great people of MacRumors is this: What could I do with a degree in Computer Science? I think this has something to do with programming? Is that correct? Second question: What would a degree in Computer Information Systems be for? Thanks in advance. :)
     
  2. NavyIntel007 macrumors 65816

    NavyIntel007

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    #2
    A Computer Science degree will open a lot of doors for you. I major in CompSci and am getting commissioned as an Intelligence officer in the Navy. At Miami, they've just started to branch off the degree into different fields. I think some are general, game design, databases, cryptology...

    It's a good major if you want something technical for your Bachelors but don't want to get raped by something like Engineering.

    Not only that but for grad school in an MBA program the degrees compliment each other pretty well. Also law. If you're interested in Law, you could make a play to be a rare software copyright lawyer.

    Possibilities are endless my friend, any other questions, don't hesitate to PM or IM me... :cool:
     
  3. Billicus thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Billicus

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    #3
    What kind of occupations require degrees in Computer Science outside of the Armed Forces? I know you mentioned Software Copywrite Lawyer as one, but what could I do if I only had a degree in Computer Science itself?
     
  4. rainman::|:| macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    #4
    computer science isn't bad, but it's certainly not what it used to be... there's an influx of people graduating that went into cs after the dot com boom, and they're flooding the market-- that can only get worse with time, as each year's graduates come out. But a specialized degree in something up and coming, like nanotechnology or other research fields, is a good way to hedge your bets... Sure the field could fold, but more likely it will skyrocket, leaving you square in the middle of things...

    a lot of my friends went into computer science, but the last time i spoke to them, only one was still in that general area at all... and even he specialized in engineering...

    pnw
     
  5. janey macrumors 603

    janey

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    #5
    name anything! seriously!
    how about this nice job: OS X Software Engineering Generalist/Debugger
    among the requirements: BS in Computer Science or equivalent
     
  6. bbarnhart macrumors 6502a

    bbarnhart

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    #6
    If you had the choice between earning a CS degree or a CIS degree, the CS degree is more prestigious. Most large firms have a need for both.

    BTW if you don't already code by your senior year in high school, don't bother with a CS degree. You probably won't like programming and you probably won't be good at programming. Maybe a CIS degree is for you.

    Also a business degree combined with a CIS degree would be considered a bonus.
     
  7. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #7
    CS is still a young field and programs vary across schools. it's difficult to talk about the value of a CS degree w/o knowing anything about the program providing that degree.

    e.g. i got my CS degree from Purdue in '88. at that time (and it may still be that way), it was very much a math degree and i didn't do a lot of programming (though i was and am still a skilled programmer).

    most of my work in the s/w industry was more engineering-like. though i almost never directly applied my CS teachings, it served as a great foundation.

    i know some programs teach a bunch of languages and call that a CS degree. is that worthwhile? you'll have to answer that for yourself.

    most of the people i've worked w/ do not have CS degrees. and i must admit i had issues w/ forestry and history majors working on critical s/w systems. most were not up to the task.

    if you can figure out what you want to do, you can find a program tailored to that. short of that, a CS degree from a good school would probably provide a good base from which to decide later.
     
  8. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

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    #8
    What you learn in college about Computer Science will give you both a general understanding of the theory and practice of the field, and also plenty of practical skills in a number of areas: programming, networking, hardware, applications, information theory, database systems, etc. Because the field advances so rapidly, the specific skills you pick up will last some years, but not for the length of a career. It's the general understanding of the field that will be beneficial in the long run.

    You will be continuously learning in this field, so your "practical skills" will be only the starting set for your career. If you like learning (like me), it's an exciting major that can lead to careers in countless areas. If, instead, you want to build a resume and "retire" to a permanent job, I think Computer Science is the wrong major.

    Many of the computer-related jobs these days didn't exist at all 10 years ago. Before the World Wide Web, there were no web designers or webmasters. Who knows what new jobs will appear along with the next wave of technology?

    And keep in mind that programming is only one aspect of Computer Science. I know plenty of people in the field who don't know (or remember) a thing about programming, and they keep plenty busy!
     
  9. G4scott macrumors 68020

    G4scott

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    #9
    I don't do hardcore programming yet, and I just graduated from high school. I'm going to be in the college of natural sciences at the University of Texas in Austin to study Computer Science...

    I've been trying to get acquainted with the syntax of java, and some other languages... I've been probing around the Apple Developer Tools stuff for documentation and tutorials...

    I got hooked on programming, and making computers do what I want them to in 7th grade with a TI graphing calculator. I just loved programming the calculator to make games, or useful math programs and stuff...

    I even made a cheap 3d maze...
     
  10. bbarnhart macrumors 6502a

    bbarnhart

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    #10
    The market where you will be living after you graduate is important. I hear that it's hard to find a programming job in some parts of the county.

    If you are going for the programming degree, like some other people here have said, it's not the actual programming language thats important, it is the theory behind it. It's not about C, Java or ATL. It's about a multi-threaded app or an app that reads and writes to a database or how do you send data from one process to another process. Programming languages just allow you to do all of those things.

    I graduated from college in 1992. I took 3 credits in COBOL (that is very useful now, not really) and a one credit C course. The theory classes (discrete structures & algorithms) were taught assuming you new Pascal or Modula-2.

    Also, keep in mind that you will probably be a Windows programmer. So you will need to know MFC, ATL and perhaps .net and C# if those ever get off the ground. These API sets are another layer. Then there is the API that your future employer has.
     
  11. bbarnhart macrumors 6502a

    bbarnhart

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    #11
    If you are thinking about a CS degree you need to make sure that the stuff in bold above sounds exciting and fun. If you think that it sounds boring and dorky and you'd rather be d/l MP3's then you don't want a CS degree.
     
  12. janey macrumors 603

    janey

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    #12
    ergh...egads...what if i like coding but i hate it if someone pays me to do it?
     
  13. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    toronto
    #13
    it's not nearly as good as you make it sound.

    developing s/w has so many more things going on than programming. at once you've got to be an engineer, a psychologist, a babysitter, a handholder, a writer, a logician, a magician, a manager and a salesman.

    aside from doing the things that surround coding -- architecting, designing, testing, prototyping, documenting, installing again and again and again and again...

    ... you've also got to manage all the personalities, fears and insecurities of those around you. people fear change. they fear technology. they fear the unknown.

    i spent very little time programming. in the lifecycle, a lot of time is spent testing.

    but what takes up a crapload of time is stuff like:
    - calming down managers
    - translating what users say they need to what they actually need
    - fighting w/ vendors
    - trying to get different vendor s/w to work w/ each other
    - negotiating scheduling (hint: double any time estimate a manager gives you)
    - working out the logistics of the various environments (development, testing, deploying)
    - documenting
    - training everyone around you
    - fighting fires
    - constantly reminding everyone why the path taken was chosen
    - constantly explaining why a proposed shortcut won't actually help the project
    - constantly telling management why you're behind on the schedule they made and you never really agreed with
    - being dragged off to another pointless meeting just when you started making progress
    - answering the same questions over and over and over

    and if you think you can get away w/ being a simple coder, you'll soon realize that you need to move up to design, because so few people are actually good at it. then you'll move up to architect, manager, etc. and code less and less.

    there's a taste for you. it's not like this for everyone. but it is like this for a lot of people who prove to be valuable. anyone else working in the industry experience some or all of this?
     
  14. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #14
    fwiw, that was my experience working on large integration projects w/ lots o' custom coding (the kind that involves from 8-100 developers and takes years). i worked on many such projects during 11+ years in the industry.

    of course, not all projects are like this, so ymmv.
     
  15. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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  16. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #16
    i know a man who got his master's in computer science from MIT and his PhD from Stanford and for some reason, he thinks that there was not a lot of math in his cs studies...and for some reason, he thinks cs is a really old field and old degree and that everybody had it going from the 1950s

    i know his assessment is way off since everybody i have met from the past who was in the computer field says basically the same things you do

    when i mention programming, he says computer science has little to do with that:confused:
     
  17. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #17
    All I have to say is this: people will always use computers. (duh!!!) ;) The field sucks right now, but things will pick up. A CS degree, like any degree, exists to build a foundation. They give you the skills to learn later while on the job. That's where alot of the real learning takes place.

    Programming is a tool. That is all. What you can produce with your knowledge in programming is what is important. Its analogous to me telling you that everybody knows how to write, but we can't all be writers because not all of us can make full use of the skills we have. Lots of people can program. I can program (poorly). But can I do anything productive with my understanding in programming? Pffffft, no. I'm a Medical Physics major. I don't have to worry about computers, per se.

    Also, consider Software Engineering. Again, this is one of those degrees that will not directly apply anything you learn in school during your employment. However, you use your skills for other things that you don't learn in school. You learn to do it on the job, and alot of it may be business-related or something. You never know.
     
  18. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

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    #18
    You forgot the most important one: detective! Debugging is part of the work of a programmer and, if you have the right frame of mind, part of the fun. When you put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and try to find out why what you told the computer to do is not what you meant to tell the computer to do, it's your job to test evidence and eliminate suspects until you find the culprit.

    Is wrestling your errant program into submission different than beating the computer at chess? Well, yes, but both can be rewarding when you feel the accomplishment of using your brainpower to solve the logical puzzles involved.

    As zimv20 points out, there are a lot of tasks for a programmer. Whether you enjoy, tolerate, or can't put up with them depends on your personality. If you have to "fight fires", remember that you once wanted to be a fireman when you grew up. Call it "showing off" instead of "documenting" and it might not seem so dreadful. If you are "answering the same questions over and over and over", isn't that what a teacher does?

    My point is not that programming is the perfect profession. It's that it can be for those it suits.

    In the current U.S. job market, overseas programmers have made it hard to find a well-paying programming job without special skills such as database administration, network engineering, or team management abilities. Or just lots of experience.

    übergeek says "what if i like coding but i hate it if someone pays me to do it?", which brings up another aspect. If you have enough programming talent and a great idea or two, you don't have to work for anyone. Find a niche, build the best software mousetrap, and maybe you'll be the next self-made billionaire.
     
  19. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #19
    i think that network engineering will be the next field to be lost to the third world IT workers

    just like the textile field was lost to the third world in the past century, this century will have us computer jobs go more and more overseas...computers and programming are a skill that is not particularly intellectual and can be taught to third world people at a low cost

    a skill such as being an expert us historian, PhD marine biologist, or biomedical engineer is not something the third world is likely to produce and take jobs away from the usa

    there will be a time in the future when the usa will not be any more educated than anybody else and the whole world will have unbelievable access to all information...the days of the usa being a world leader are prolly numbered and all large and powerful empires fall sometime
     
  20. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #20
    depends on the def'n of CS. i would tend to agree w/ your friend, but i come from a program where that's true.

    i learned about statistical analysis, OS design, compiler design, the theory of computability, FFT, algorithm analysis, micrologic, AI, NLP, et. al.

    many class assignments involved programming, but only a handful classes, all at the lower level, taught programming.

    again, a lot of math theory.
     
  21. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #21
    ahhhhh, debugging. yes, with a good debugger, it can be fun. programming, too.

    that's one of those things that "surround coding." sadly, there's far too little of that and far too much of the external stuff -- especially that which isn't supposed to be a part of the development process.

    i left that part of the industry in '99. these days i do some easy PT work as an admin. funny how many of the same "fear" issues pop up.
     
  22. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #22
    well that's cool

    i plan on my PhD in network engineering/computer engineering at the extended university program, or a master's if that is too hard or time consuming...my college wants me to teach networking as more than an adjunct or teacher's aid/pet, so i need an advanced cs related degree

    the only bummer is that the networking field is down right now and there are a lot of networkers out of work after the silicon valley meltdown and dot.com bust...things will get better herer...maybe next year, maybe next decade...but it's almost a predictable cycle...the question is who is the predictor who will be accurate this time?

    sometimes i wish i was a cook than in the IT field...people always need to eat:p
     
  23. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #23
    i switched to acting and writing. people always need to be entertained, too. :)
     
  24. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #24
    man, if i had any talent in acting or writing, i would leave the computer behind forever

    ...except i would still log into macrumors every day;)
     
  25. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #25
    my life is 1000x better. had to take that 100% pay cut, though :)
     

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