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Change from CS to other course?

  1. Feb 18, 2015 #1
    Hello folks,

    I know there are lots of threads like this in this forum. I've read some of them and could get some good information. However, each case is a different one, and that is why I've decided to Sign Up and ask a question (also I want to participate more on the forum, not only reading but commenting too).

    A little bit of my background, I'm a student in Computer Science at a good university in Brazil. I'm now at my 3rd year (20 years old) as a CS student. Why did I keep studying even though I wasn't sure this was the right undergrad for me? Well, at first I thought this was the best for me, but now I'm pretty sure that although I like some of my classes, I don't see myself working with it in the future. I talked to some friends that work now in this area and their job is boring, all about making boring programs to companies, debugging and testing to get a bad payment by the end of the month. I like programming, but not like this. One other thing that bothers me is the fact that I have almost no math in my course now (the first two years I had Calculus, Algebra and Statiscs), I miss the physics I had in High School and never studied again in College (CS has no physics classes). All we are studying now are boring specific things (like Operational Systems, NetWorks, Software Engineering).

    I then talk to my friends studying CE or EE and their classes (and future prospects) seem a lot better than mine. I actually feel a lot like changing to one of those two: CE or EE. Another option that I have been considering for some time is physics, specially because I have two relatives that are physicists, and my girlfriend studies astrophysics and when talking to them, it seems like a very good field to work on.

    So, what I need help for? I wanted opinions from people that I don't actually know, but that do know about all this courses and future prospects. Maybe even an opinion from someone that has gone through something like what I'm going through now.

    I think more informations about me may come as the thread grows.

    Sorry about any english mistakes,

    Please, be realistic, do not tell me "what I want to hear", but "what I have to hear".
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 18, 2015 #2
    I don't know what you should do, but I have two points. One is that you might consider whether there are certain kinds of programming jobs you would like more than others. For example, if you like math, you might consider studying some statistics and machine learning and become a data scientist. Or you might be interested in image processing. Secondly, be open-minded about what's interesting and what's not. Whatever job you get is probably going to have its boring parts, so you have to put it into perspective and question whether you dislike it on a fundamental level or whether its something you can live with. Boring is actually an appealing word to me for jobs because it sounds very close to "easy". And nothing could beat doing easy things and getting paid for them (difficult AND boring is a different story). I like to do difficult things on my own time, instead and not be held accountable for them, if I fail. I tried doing something hard (PhD in math), and it just ended up sucking much more than boredom would, and it wasn't even that interesting. The path leading up to it was interesting, so it was the perfect trap for me, but once you get to the things professors actually do, it kind of makes me sick to my stomach to think about doing them for a living, so I moved on. I just landed a job as a software developer, and I'm excited about it, despite expecting some aspects of it to be boring. In the end, I will learn how to use computers to create great things.
  4. Feb 19, 2015 #3
    I like doing some programming, but every time I'm doing a big class work (a big program) I see how I will hate this life, because most of the time the problems are about the language, the algorithm is correct, but in some point there is a pointer missing, a bad alloc, or anything else. Then suddenly you have to use another programming language, and even though you know how to build algorithms, you start having problems with the new language because its allocation system is slightly different from other languages. This is not something exact like math, and this is what bothers me the most.

    This is why I was thinking about doing a more exact thing, like CE, EE or even Physics.
    CS has not been hard for me so far, I can say. Even though I'm not very happy with it, I'm still among the best students (on the top 20 by the university order based on grades). In my opinion, CS is more about hard-working and pacience than anything else. You don't actually have to understand very complex theories (like eletromagnetism, or thermodynamics), there are indeed "outside of the box" ideas, but that is as far as we get I think. Meanwhile EE and Physics are about observing the nature and its behavior, for example, which seems a lot funnier, lets say.
    I may be wrong about what I'm saying, but that is my opinion so far, if you think I'm totally wrong, please show me what I'm seeing wrong.

    Oh, and about future ideas, I always wanted to be a professor, doesn't matter the area I'll be in. Also, I want to work on researchs (possibly inside a university) to help the world.

    I'll make some questions here to make it clearly: Do you think it is worth it changing from CS to another course (my choices would be CE, EE or Physics) ? More specific, would it be worth it changing course with my age (20 years old)? Would I be too old when I graduate from another course? Am I seeing CS by the "wrong side"?

    Thank you in advance,
  5. Feb 19, 2015 #4
    I think you have to expect something is going to bother you about math or physics, too. I don't think there's any way to avoid things that bother you, so like I said, it's a matter of figuring out whether or not you can live with the bad parts. Because there are always bad aspects to just about any job.

    As far as understanding complex ideas, as I said, you just need to find the right area and you'll have to understand complex theories (computer vision, image processing, graphics, machine learning...). Physics might seem more fun, but you haven't really tried it. It's not clear that you're going to actually like those other things more unless you try them. I actually started in EE and thought I liked math more, and I did up to a point, but it ended up being sort of a disaster as far as the full PhD went. I hated research, which was fairly unexpected. There wasn't much warning that it would be so bad, but by the time I was done, I was running for my life from academia, as fast as my legs could carry me. It was really painful, and then on top of that, it took almost a year and a half to get this job after I graduated because my research was so far from reality or anything that anyone outside of math cares about. So, be careful of going from the frying pan into the fire or the grass always being greener on the other side. There's no guarantee that some other field isn't going to drive you crazy, too.

    If you want to be a professor, make sure that you are sure you like teaching. I just thought I would, but it turns out I don't. I like tutoring because it's more direct communication, but I don't like dealing with entire classes, day in and day out. But tutoring is a great way to prepare for teaching.
  6. Feb 19, 2015 #5
    Also, I would strongly caution against physics if you want to be a professor because there aren't enough academic positions to go around.
  7. Feb 19, 2015 #6

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    And in what field is that not the case?
  8. Feb 19, 2015 #7
    Well, it's generally a concern, but I think it's particularly bad in physics. But you'd have to look at the stats.
  9. Feb 19, 2015 #8

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    Shouldn't you be the one to look up the stats? After all, it's your claim.
  10. Feb 19, 2015 #9
    I think I remember seeing some stats, but maybe it doesn't matter that much because in his case, we're talking about several years in the future. So, let's just scratch all that and say just don't count on being a professor. My hunch is that physics is not one of the more promising ones, but I don't think it's that important of a point (and one that may change based on how the job market evolves), so I will just drop it for now, and just call it a hunch, given that we don't have stats from the future.
  11. Feb 19, 2015 #10
    In fact, I think I sort of misspoke. I think I just meant to say, don't count on being a professor, especially in physics.

    But other disciplines may have closer links to industry jobs, so it may be a bit easier to do something closer to what you intended in another field, generally speaking. If you want to do particle physics, I'm not sure you can find a place where you can actually do that without a lot of luck or other things. But if you want to do computer vision, I think that's a little more realistic. You can study it in grad school and then go out and do it. You may be able to do that with SOME branches of physics, but I would choose carefully.
  12. Feb 20, 2015 #11
    I see. So homeomorphic, I'm sorry if I'm going too personal, but you basically did something like I'm thinkin on doing: Changed from EE to math? And as you said, to get a job with math degree is a hard journey (well, here in Brazil, a degree in Math or Physics basically implies you'll have to be a professor of some sort, basically no company hires Math or Physics).

    You are right when you say I don't know if I'll like the other fields, but I'm not quite sure I'll be able to keep in CS much longer (but maybe this thread can change a bit my mind). The semester will start in march, and I'll do some CS classes, but I decided to get some "outside of the area" classes, and got Basic Economics and Differential Equations. Image processing is one of the few area that attract me. Right now I'm helping on a "research" in Operational Research, I kind of like it, but I'm always thinking that I would be happier doing another thing, that is why I came here for help, I'm confused.

    Physics is one of the choices, but I do agree that it is not really easy to get a job. That is why I was considering more a EE or CE. My problem with CS is also that it is too sofwtare based ( especially if you are going into the business area), and as I said before, I wanted something more "nature driven", observing the nature of things, trying, testing, which there is in both Physics and EE (for the last, in all the eletromagnetism, energy conversion and etc.). CS, at this point, seems too "artificial", let's put this way. Not sure if you get what I mean.

    As for teaching, I'm not sure if tutoring is the same thing here (actually we have another word for that) but I did "tutoring" last semester, and will be doing it again. I like helping and teaching what I've learned to others. It has always been like that, that is why I think being a professor would be something I'd like to do. But of course I've never had to deal with an entire class of students, it may be a lot harder.

    Oh, thank you for the colaboration so far, it has been an interesting thread for me :)
  13. Feb 20, 2015 #12
    Yes, I actually got fairly close to finishing the EE degree. Originally, I just declared math as a second major, but then I had some classes I really didn't like, so I just dropped the EE major altogether.

    Well, software is becoming more and more a part of the nature-driven stuff. If you're really sure that you want to do something else, you may try re-rolling the dice, so to speak, but I do think it is sort of a dice roll. It's good to stay the course, unless there is a really compelling reason not to. So try EE or CE if you want.
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