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Advice on an extra year or two in school.

  1. Oct 11, 2013 #1

    I've been asking around at job fairs, along with classmates/faculty, and the consensus seems to be that lots of people want physics majors who know about programming, handling data, and modeling.

    The problem is.. I don't know much about those subjects. What's the best way to fix this? The most obvious choice is picking up a minor in computer science, but is this the best option?


  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2013 #2


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    You can learn programming on your own!

    My son (a math major) decided to learn Java, so picked up an Android device, designed a simple game, and then spent Christmas break working on this project. As he became more interested he devoted weekends after completing has homeworks, and the following summer.

    He used the completed game as a "portfolio"; it was a significant factor in obtaining a good job in his chosen field.

    So how many computer science classes did he take? One - intro to programming, which was taken _after_ he finished the game. At this point he said it was very boring, but he did get an A in it.

    The lesson here is that you can learn it on your own, but it is best to have a definite project in mind - that keeps you focused on what you need to know for that project, and provides some motivation when looking for "the best method" to get something accomplished.
  4. Oct 11, 2013 #3
    Programming is definitely something that you can learn on your own. I would, however, still take computer science courses in college. I wouldn't necessarily aim for a minor, but rather courses that you will find to be helpful. If you have the time, I would just take an extra cs course every semester until you graduate. I found that while the cs classes weren't too difficult, the projects did take up a lot of time. As an added bonus, your courses will probably be taught in C++ (might be in Java) which is very useful when it comes to real time systems or simulations. I would also advise learning a scripting language as well, such as MATLAB or Python.

    The CS courses are more focused on the program structures, rather than the actual language (except maybe the intro course), so it shouldn't be a problem to learn 2 languages simultaneously. C++ is probably one of the more complicated languages you would be asked to program in, so you shouldn't have a problem teaching yourself other languages
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