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Statistics over computer science?

  1. Nov 28, 2014 #1
    i put engineering as my primary choice for university application and computer science as my second.
    however, im afraid that my grade might not be high enough to get into the engineering school, and im hearing a lot of negative things about computer science.
    i have been thinking of other possible majors that i might like, so i can switch my secondary choice to that one before its too late.
    i like physics and math, so i thought about majoring in physics, but i heard that its very difficult to do any interesting work unless i go to graduate school, which would be impossible since i will have to get my bachelors with student loan.
    then i thought about statistics, which involves a lot of math, but just like any other major, i cant say i really know anything about it.
    should i keep my secondary choice as computer science or switch it to statistics or some other major? if so, could you recommend me some options?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 28, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    You are hearing too much advice. Listen to your own counsel and do what you have a strong interest in.

    If you do engineering you have many fields that you can get into most of which will require some understanding of computer science.
  4. Dec 1, 2014 #3
    What negative things have you heard about computer science?

    I pursued what I was interested in, and it was a complete disaster. The biggest problem with that is making the mistake of thinking that the classes are going to reflect the job. In my case, I liked math classes, but I don't find very much to like about being a math professor, since it is about research and teaching, whereas I just like to learn math and try to make sense of it (I have been accused of being a "professional student", but that's silly because it's obviously a result of doing something that's incredibly difficult to contribute to as more than a student).

    You shouldn't study something you're not interested in, but I think it's not necessarily a good idea to pick whichever subject you are MOST interested in. Physics and math are only good choices for people who aren't interested in anything else. If you are interested in something else, take advantage and choose the better career. There are ways to choose a better career and still major in math and physics, but the easier thing is probably to go to grad school and study something else, like engineering, then or doing a double major. Possibly if you took the right applied math classes. Another one that you should look into is operations research/industrial engineering.

    Another factor is whether you think you would be a wiz at squeezing your way into an improvised job that you are very marginally qualified for--that means you have to be excellent are marketing yourself. If you don't think you would be good at that, you should go for a more vocationally-oriented degree that fits you more into a standard role, at least approximately.

    Choosing a marketable major is not going to be a guarantee. You should still be terrified of the job market and prepare accordingly. To make an analogy, if I am going to fight a grizzly bear, I would rather fight the bear with a spear, instead of with my bare hands. Even with the spear, it is very dangerous, but at least you aren't going in unarmed. Of course, it would be better to go in with 3-5 years of experience in fighting bears, but then you run into the catch 22 of not being able to get experience because bears are too hard to fight to get the experience needed to fight them. So, just take the spear because that's all you are going to get. You can take other things that you like, as well, but don't leave without the spear. This is why people who say that an engineering degree isn't a golden ticket to a job have no argument. People want you to start making money for them, ASAP. You don't want to be figuring out how to make them money. You want to KNOW how to make them money when you graduate, as much as you can. That's the bottom line. If you can do that by majoring in physics or math, fine. Just make sure that you do know how you are going to make people money, ASAP when you graduate.

    Maybe I over-do it with this stuff, since my own experience was so bad, but if I could have given myself this advice when I was younger, I'd be way better off, and it's a very common problem for people graduating into this job market.

    You do get paid in grad school, but the pay is low enough that it could be hard to survive while paying off the debts. I suspect it's not impossible. I don't recommend it, though.
  5. Dec 1, 2014 #4
    that was really helpful! @homeomorphic
    my mother told me one of her friends' child wasn't able to get a job after getting a degree in CS
    I also heard that a lot of CS majors are not confident with their skills and question their work abilities after graduating
  6. Dec 1, 2014 #5


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    Education Advisor

    The real question is "what do you want to do?" If you want to be an engineer then you should(need) to study it. Perhaps, if you are not accepted into the program, you go to community college and build up your grades and reapply. There is really no point in settling for a second hand career just because your first attempt didn't pan out.

    I'm a statistician and the work I do, while requiring mathematics, doesn't align very well with the type of work an engineer does. I spend much of my time reviewing data and procedures. I also write code in hadoop, r and python. Many of my colleagues on the computer science side, who work on the same project as mine, spend the majority of their time writing code and doing validations. Then we have the electrical engineers doing their thing producing data for me. We all work together, but the nature of what we do is all a bit different and in some cases dramatically so. The point of all this is to stress that it's a bit haphazard to be considering majors without considering the most common paths people in those majors follow.
  7. Dec 1, 2014 #6
    It's bad out there, so it can happen to anyone who isn't prepared. The major doesn't prepare you perfectly for a job, but it's better than a math degree. You really ought to do projects on your own, practice for interviews, and try to make sure you get an internship before graduating. I think a well-prepared CS major has nothing to be afraid of. Just work as hard as you can without burning yourself out, and you should be fine.

    Yes, it's my suspicion that CS majors aren't that far ahead of me with my CS minor, unless they are really on top of things by doing their own work outside of class (probably when classes are not in session). All you'd have to do is throw in 4-5 electives and a project class, and I'd have the major, and I find it pretty intimidating to get a programming job. 4-5 classes are a lot, but a lot of those things are like theory of computation or compiler design. Something like compiler design may make you a better programmer, but it's not something that employers particularly need you to know. A class like graphics or software engineering or AI is better. So, CS majors are definitely ahead of someone with a minor, but not by too huge of a margin.

    My solution for now is to try to go to a hacker school. They help to bridge the gap. Some of them are expensive, but there are a few that are free, aside from living expenses, and there are some that don't make you pay until you get a job.
  8. Dec 1, 2014 #7


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    I agree with this. If you don't get in then go to a community college and get your all your generals and core math classes finished. Already having an associates degree and your engineering pre-requisites done (with decent grades) will put you in a much better position for being accepted into an engineering program at a university.

    Computer science will not be very mathematically rigorous until maybe your senior year if you start taking more theoretical classes. But if you want a job right out of school with a BS then taking abstract computer theory courses probably won't help you. If you want a job as a coder you need to take primarily programming and software engineering courses, and you need to build up a portfolio of projects that you've done. A senior year group project resulting in some finished product and a presentation, and also an internship at some point are going to be important if you want to be competitive for software jobs.
  9. Dec 1, 2014 #8
    Thanks guys
    I think I'm going to try whatever I can to get into engineering school first, and if that doesn't work out
    I suppose I'll have to think about that later
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