The Journey That Is a Computer Science Degree

I’m almost done with my sophomore year at Hofstra university and about 65% of the way through my computer science ( CS ) degree. So, I just want to take a second to talk about my experience so far and document that so I can look back at the end and remember where I came from.

My Journey

It’s funny how much my mindset has changed in the last year alone. I started freshman year at Howard University (and I’m still a bison at heart, if I’m honest) as a physics major. I won’t go into the story of me coming home to New York, mostly because I’m saving that for another post. It’s important to know that I basically started over at Hofstra halfway through sophomore year at Howard.

I really have to thank Hofstra University for making that transition as seamless as possible, but again, that’s another post. Switching majors for the second time in three years, I ended up a computer science major. And I’m happy to say I haven’t looked back.

I tell everyone that learning to program was the most rewarding thing in my life. It genuinely makes me happy. Thats kind of what made me start this blog, the desire to show people this great skill (and hobby) I’ve found. But it’s not all candy and rainbows being a computer science major, there are times where it can be extremely frustrating. So if you’re reading this and you’re thinking about going for a CS degree, let me break down some of the pros and cons for you.

The Positives

There are tons of things I could say here but I want to just give you a few examples that I know you’ll run into when you start. These are a few of my favorite experiences so far.

Learning To Code

The first thing that I have to say about computer science is that you will be surprised at how quickly you’ll pick it up. All of my friends who struggled their fist year agree that most of their stress came from due dates on projects, test scores, etc. The actual process of coding, even when you don’t really know what you’re doing, is relaxing. It’s like doing a crossword or a jigsaw puzzle, if i rush you you’ll hate it, but the puzzle itself isn’t the problem.

Writing Your Own Code

This right here is the big one. Automating different tasks with code is now your default thought process. I’ll never forget the first time I wrote a program to do my math homework. I actually called my mom to show her it because I was that proud. I just took a boring, mundane task and automated it. Not only that, it was free! No more paying math majors to do your calculus with meal plan credits, you’re now entirely self sufficient.

Hackathons

Ok, so if you’re anything like me, you don’t sleep. Ever. That could be for a lot of reasons but mostly, you’re probably just on your phone. Also, if you’re anything like me, you love working on stuff with your friends. Playing games together, working together, or even just hanging out. If that sounds like you, you’ll love this. Picture coding with your friends, on what ever you want, for 12, 24, or even 48 hours. Now for the rest of you who aren’t excited by that, there are prizes.

The Negatives

So unlike the positive parts about being a CS major, there aren’t a ton of negatives that are specific to the major. Of course, you’ll run into all the same issues you would with any other major. But the most frustrating part of being a CS major is the constant feeling of being behind. When ever you’re in field that is always changing and advancing, you tend to feel like what you’re learning at the moment is outdated.

The only advice i can really give to you to tackle this is just keep pushing. Remember that the basics are the building blocks of the more interesting topics you research on your own time. Getting a good foundation literally cannot hurt you. When I took my second computer science fundamentals course, I remember thinking “didn’t we just learn all of this”? I kind of still feel like that but now I realize that yeah, we actually did, but now we’re learning how to actually use the things we just learned about.

So what is this post about? I’m not trying to convince you to become a CS major. I just want anyone who is thinking about it to be well informed.

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