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Moving forward after the useless Computer Science Major

  1. Oct 4, 2010 #1
    Moving forward after the "useless" Computer Science Major

    Let's face it, general consensus is a CS major is about as useless as you can get when it comes to the sciences. While you're taking your undergrad, they fill your heads with these lofty ideas and practical uses of computer science sub-disciplines, but in the end you're not really learning anything but an introduction to every possible application of science on a computer. It's like trying to study everything there is to know about a large lake while just skimming the top. You'll never learn in detail about the bed of the lake, the deep water creatures or the plant life despite the fact that you know they are all there. The truly frustrating thing is you have no idea that your degree is a death sentence for employability until you're ultimately finished, you call up your old high school buddies studying Software Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or something similar and your jaw drops when they describe their research and project experience. "Oh really? Well once in my AI class I made a robot dog out of legos...."

    But I guess there's no point in dwelling on the past. What's done is done! And in the end, I feel I DID get a decent education, I learned the basics of a lot of science disciplines and how to logically approach algorithms and programming. Regardless, this isn't going to help me with my goal: to continue my education with a focus on science.

    I've gone through many rough drafts in my mind about what I should study. I have many interests so it has been tough for me to narrow it down because I have no experience in working in extreme detail in any field. In the end, I've personally decided I want to focus on Engineering(probably Mechanical Engineering) but now I have to figure out how best to begin this process. I think this brings up an interesting point that might be helpful to many others in a similar position, a degree with little in common with the next level of education.

    What advice do you offer someone with a degree outside of their scientific focus, but remaining in the realm of mathematics and logic.

    Get another bachelors degree in the program of interest?
    Attempt to apply for Masters programs?
    Take undergraduate coursework as a catch up, then explore other options?

    If you have specific advice for my situation(CS undergrad, desired ME degree) or for other CS majors please let me know. I have a lot of CS friends from undergrad in the same boat.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2010 #2
    Re: Moving forward after the "useless" Computer Science Major

    Is more useful than the "____ Studies" "degrees". CS though is basically a form of engineering for most people.

    I personally feel that CS and programming are pretty useful for a lot of experimental sciences.

    I think you should read a few books at your level in multiple fields, and find out which one you don't want to put down. =)
  4. Oct 5, 2010 #3
    Re: Moving forward after the "useless" Computer Science Major

    Could you go into a little detail about why you think the CS degree is a benefit? I'm trying to mentally picture an interview with a Master's program admissions panel asking me this exact question. I can say that I have a firmly logical and math-based root in many difference scientific disciplines but past that I can't think of a firm argument why my degree puts me above others. Or even WITH people with a direct background.
  5. Oct 5, 2010 #4
    Re: Moving forward after the "useless" Computer Science Major

    Mainly because, like engineering, it sort of requires some rigorous work. If you feel that you've truly learned a lot, I don't see why you shouldn't be able to come up with reasons that your education so far would benefit further study in the sciences.
  6. Oct 5, 2010 #5
    Re: Moving forward after the "useless" Computer Science Major

    Ahh I see what your saying, but I guess my problem would be that a lot of programs/scholarships/admissions end up being competitive. With a degree that didn't directly prepare me for something like a masters in ME, I'm just at a disadvantage to those who do have them. I guess my question is less about how to "talk up" what I have, but more how to prepare for what I'm lacking.
  7. Oct 5, 2010 #6
    Re: Moving forward after the "useless" Computer Science Major

    Then learn on your own. You know how to read/study, right?...
  8. Oct 5, 2010 #7
    Re: Moving forward after the "useless" Computer Science Major

    You could always go to graduate school for math or any highly computational sciences like physics, neuroscience, biology, chemistry. With a CS degree, you'll be very skilled in making efficient applications for computational science fields. A relative of mine majored in computer science in undergraduate and is doing a Ph.D in computational neuroscience right now, dealing with artificial intelligence and modeling the human brain.

    If you want to go into engineering, though, I think your best bet would be systems engineering. This is probably the best field of engineering to go into with a CS degree because you don't need to catch up as much with fundamentals. It also pays a lot better and is more interesting/useful/significant work (I would say) than some monkey-programmer job.
  9. Oct 5, 2010 #8
    Re: Moving forward after the "useless" Computer Science Major

    I second engineering if you are looking for a decent job.

    The academia fields are too competitive.
  10. Oct 5, 2010 #9
    Re: Moving forward after the "useless" Computer Science Major

    Dude. Get a job in IT. There is plenty you can do with a computer science degree. A bad attitude might hold you back though.
  11. Oct 6, 2010 #10
    Re: Moving forward after the "useless" Computer Science Major

    Thanks for the advice guys! I'm staying away from the IT world...tried it for a year or two and hated the cubicle :)

    I'll definitely look into the software engineering stuff, and the other computational science things as well...I actually looked into Neuroscience, but the prereqs were a little too much, it would be another 2 years before I could get into a masters program. I like working with...things...as well so I was thinking engineering could give me an opportunity to use my education to its fullest while pursuing something I might like!

    Thanks again!
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