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Changing majors

  1. Apr 4, 2008 #1
    I know there might be a lot of threads on this...but I can't find any about someone in my situation...

    I really do not like my computer science course that I'm taking (the third cs course - assembly language programming) and I want to change my major from computer science to math. I'm afraid that I might regret changing majors - what if I will like upper division cs courses? Then there is also the starting salary difference and the jobs that math majors get (I don't want to be a high school math teacher). The problem is that if I switch majors, I would be switching out of the college of engineering and it would be a hassle to switch back into engineering if I change my mind. Right now, I am sure that I don't like the course I'm taking right now. So far, all we've been doing are number bases and bit operations (this is the first week of class). The professor is not helpful at all and that I am disinterested in the subject only makes things worse.
     
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  3. Apr 4, 2008 #2

    lisab

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    I don't know that you should make such a big decision based on one class. Maybe assembly program just isn't your thing. Besides, it could get more interesting as it goes along.
     
  4. Apr 4, 2008 #3
    That's what I was thinking, but another reason is that I didn't do so well in my cs course last term. I'm also relatively slow at doing the projects and homework, so it's very time consuming, but this seems to apply to most of my classes. But I'm especially slower at programming (compared to all the subjects that I'm also "slow" at) not only because of mistakes but because I think more. That's why I think computer science isn't for me.
     
  5. Apr 4, 2008 #4
    It's probably a good idea to ask yourself deep inside if you like CS or not, and if you really like Math or not. Having gone through the same mental struggle as you did, I recommend not to make any rash decisions. Sometime it is not your ability but your passion that matters. Even if you don't do well in school, it does not mean you will not do well in the workplace. Unless high grades are your top concern.
     
  6. Apr 4, 2008 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    One thing to consider is that if you don't like a particular course of study, you're probably not going to like it as a career. Even if it does pay well.
     
  7. Apr 4, 2008 #6
    Programming =/= CS

    But, if you don't like programming, you probably shouldn't do CS.
     
  8. Apr 4, 2008 #7

    symbolipoint

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    bubbles, do you realize that you are building some skill in both Mathematics and computer programming which you would be able to apply in some other coursework such as Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Earth Science, or something...? You might find some of these more enjoyable and somewhat less stressful than your computer programming courses. Your programming and analytical skills will help you.
     
  9. Apr 4, 2008 #8
    I found that physics (electricity and magnetism) isn't for me after last quarter when I spent three times as much time on it compared to my math class (multivariable calculus) and still earned a lower grade. It took me a long time to do physics problems, but I can do math problems fairly quickly. I don't like biology and science in general because of the amount of memorization involved, though I did enjoy the only chemistry course that I have taken. Chem lab was fun but the analysis and lab reports were tedious.

    It's not that I don't like programming in general, but I really dislike programming every little detail (that is what we're doing right now in our systems programming course). Rarely do I find code to be elegant, whereas equations and proofs seem more elegant. I know that in every field, there is tedious work. I actually used to hate math because I found it tedious since we did nothing more than applying the same algorithm repeatedly for every math problem. Though I get the same sense of satisfaction when I solved a problem regardless of whether it is a math, physics, or computer science problem.

    symbolipoint: I find your post very insightful. However I have not taken many science courses outside my major and I don't even know what those other subjects are about.
     
  10. Apr 4, 2008 #9
    Programming is an application of Computer Science, just like there are various fields of Applied Math which aren't as elegant, but are still required to get the job done.

    Computer Science is the theory behind programming. What is and is not possible to program, the most efficient way to do something, etc. I think you should try one of the more theoretical courses and see if you like them.

    When you get to doing a specific task, it becomes messy. This tends to be true of physics as well as math and computer science. The problems you usually get are "cooked" to make you arrive at an elegant answer, but as soon as you throw a kink in there, it all goes to hell. Kind of like how we can calculate all the properties of the Hydrogen atom analytically, but when you move on to Helium you're already forced to make approximations.
     
  11. Apr 4, 2008 #10

    symbolipoint

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    bubbles: You seem headed for a major-field change. Mathematics might well be the best field to choose. Study one or two or so courses of other physical sciences. You may find that applying your mathematics as a tool is easier than actually studying the tool. Your difficulties in Physics E&M are very usual. This difficulty is a matter of newness of the material AND inadequate conditioning in Mathematics. That course could become easier as you become more familiar with Calculus and Algebra applied to physical situations. You can not study E&M quickly. Summer is coming soon and you could take that time to restudy E & M on your own (just the book work). Among the three fundamental physics service courses (Mechanics, E&M, Modern Physics), the most difficult and confusing seemed to be the E&M course.
     
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