Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Prerequisite for computer science major

  1. Nov 5, 2011 #1
    Hello everyone!

    Let me first start with some quick background information. I am just finishing up my AA degree and am on my way to a university to go for computer science or possibly computer engineering. I am not good at math, I have to really apply myself just to get a C+. Because of this weakness, I will be taking a year off of school to self study in the mathematics course I will need for my undergraduate studies. (only Trig, chemistry, intro to prog. in c*&physics) I know I would rather work hard for something rather than not, because no matter what you choose to do in life, you still have to work, but I am trying to see how hard I will have to work, you know ;) I know not everyone will agree with taking a year off, but seriously I have been working on my AA for 5 years, I am not going anywhere, lol :0

    Anyways, so the question is, do I have to be familiar with anything before going into the computer science/engineering field?
    Now I am speaking broadly. It doesn't just have to be the language. Think about what in general will give a person a better understanding of the field of computer science. Maybe some sort of software, I can mess with. The thing is there is so much information out there, it can be a bit scary reading up on that stuff...

    I also want to know, would it be a good idea for me to try to shadow a network analyst? I work at a library and we have a network analyst that comes and helps us with our technical issues. I wanted to know would it be detrimental towards my major choice or beneficial?

    Also, I would like to know your opinion. I am reading a lot about how universities are watering down the course material so that they can get average joe's an jane's in the door. Do you guys think this is true? If so, what do you think can be done for someone who wants a true education? What can they do to attain it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 6, 2011 #2
    First of all, you need to narrow down the field, what you are after.

    "Computer science and computer engineering" is too vague. Are you after hardware or software side of things? You mentioned networking for instance. This is a good field if you like it (much in demand too) but it is very, very different from (for instance) User Interface design, Compiler construction, databases and only marginally related to real-time systems.

    All those fields (and more) require different sets of skills as well as different levels of proficiency in them. For instance, you mentioned math and, in particular, trig. A good working knowledge of that is absolutely essential if you want to work in Computer Graphics ---on the technical side--- of if, i.e. rendering engines. But I can't think of a good use for it if you are heading RDBMS way.

    Generally speaking I agree that today's training courses have been watered down quite a lot. It used to be that programmers were maths, physics, engineering graduates turned into this (then new) field. Today, yes, too many unis and such offer just the lowest set of barely passable skills. How to combat it? Well, you could try goind by reputation. Or look at the curriculums they offer, at the type and level of the graduates (as well as enrolments!) they are after.

    But hey, have a look and see what you like :-) Good luck.
  4. Nov 7, 2011 #3
    Thank Grizzled for the response.
    I am starting to see that computer science is a very broad field and figuring what exact field I want to specialize in will be a challenge. You mentioned terms such as compilers, RDBMS, database, real-time systems, and embarrasdingly I have no idea what those things are. I believe more research on my part is needed, in order for me to really know what I am getting into.
    As for looking around at other universities, I am limited to one college. The nearest one to my job and home. I wonder is there a place on this forum where I can get information on the differing careers in computer (hardware and software) field?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook