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What should i go to college for?

  1. Sep 26, 2011 #1
    Hey, I am currently in 11th grade in a small town about 45 minutes away from any city larger than 5,000 people. I thought it would be cool to build my own little "computer shop and repair" store in my hometown, being the next closest one is 45 miles away. I have 2 torn up towers with hard drives and monitors in my room that i am trying to fix. I have 2 laptops, and a stationed PC downstairs.

    Ever sense i was a kid, i loved playing around with the computers. When i was 7 I begged my mom to buy me a junk computer that i was going to "fix" (i was only 7) and when my mom told me that she was not going to waste $40 on the "piece of crap" i cried for weeks. Always watched as my cousin would fix computers (he is the computer guy at the college that i am looking into) and a close family friend grew up fixing computers and now runs his own successful business by himself fixing computers and helping design new ideas for computers.

    I love computers, and it is my dream to build my own little store. What should i major in?

    Ps - I am not a big science guy, although within this year I have developed a way to interest myself enough to the point that i can be attentive. Math has always been fun for me, but i sometimes struggle.
    Pss - I also am considering being a teacher, and running a business as a side job.. But i do not want to be too busy, but i also know that teachers do not earn much, so maybe it would be a good idea.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2011 #2


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    You don't need a college degree to fix computers. There's some stupid thing called an A+ certification and a few others that you just study out of a book you buy at the store to take, but most people become good at fixing computers just by tons of googling and actually doing the fixing themselves.

    I tried to do what you did and it's an awful idea. 95% of the problems are going to be people coming in with 100 viruses (no exaggeration) and having you fix their mess. Then the rest will just come in asking why their 8 year old computer has become so slow when they try to install the newest version of The Sims that alone takes up twice the memory while active than their computer has. Plus don't expect to make any profit for the first couple of years.

    Where you do actually need something like a 2 year degree is if you want to become a technician. They know more about networks, installation, smaller computer systems, etc. At the real university with an IT major, you're looking at running and managing larger networks and have a better understanding as to how networks actually work. Those types are much less about fixing a single computer than managing a network for an entire company.
  4. Sep 26, 2011 #3


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    Hey techidiotc and welcome to the forums.

    If you want to really fix computers you should consider doing a technical course in electronics. It is basically an associates degree and you will learn to diagnose hardware faults and be able to really understand how to fix computers. Granted you won't actually be able to fix most things yourself: you will pretty much find out what is bad and order a replacement, but if you really want to fix computers professionally I recommend you do something like this. In the electronics course there is some calculus, but it's not too demanding.

    If you want to deal with the software side, then as the Penguin pointed out, there are numerous certifications you can get. In terms of fixing problems, you should probably just get experience in different environments. Most people use windows, so any experience in that platform will be useful. I can't really honestly imagine a linux user bringing in their computer for you to fix since they probably will do it themselves, and do it in a very short amount of time.

    In terms of starting a business, that is a whole other thing in itself. There is such advice out there for this and even conflicting sets of advice can actually be true and complementary. If I were you, my advice would be to get some certifications or the associates degree in electronics, and then work for someone for a little while. This is the best way to learn about what it would be like to run your business, and the best part of doing it this way is that you can make a much more informed decision rather than take more of a gamble.
  5. Sep 26, 2011 #4
    Hi tech: I'm not a computer guy myself, but the above posts seem right on. When I was in college there were no PC's!!!

    Consider getting some experience any way you can...fixing computers on your own, reading about computer components and networks as Pengwuino suggested, helping out
    anyone who has computer problems, taking apart discarded computers.

    You'll find that fixing computer hardware is mosty changing out parts with replacements: I don't think anybody fixes a RAM plug in or motherboard anymore....stuff is so tiny it's impossible to work on and it's way cheaper to buy a new part.

    And get whatever education interests you..,the more the better. As Pengwuino suggests trying to run a business adds an incredible layer of freedom, risk and complexity. So using your skills while being paid a salary by someone else is a good way to start.

    The other area that likely does require more advanced education is computer design and manufacture: how to design and make processor chips, RAM, hard drives, etc.

    A related area might be under this category:


    Note for example, "imaging" and "instrumentation"..... computer based applications!!!!

    Computers are used everywhere, so specializing if you like in an area can also be rewarding...say nuclear power plant or power grid monitoring and control. Computers even control engines today, like DDEC, Detroit Diesel Electronic Control
  6. Sep 26, 2011 #5
    Right, the above post has the same ideas that I was going to mention. I was like you when I was younger, except I was much more into software. Thing is, fixing little computers sounds like a great hobby, but I think you can do so much more with it if you tweaked your vision a little bit. Imagine fixing supercomputers with hundreds of nodes, or doing research in semiconductors or architecture of, say, microchips or storage devices. These are all things that your knowledge in computers can greatly help you with, so you should seriously consider them. Majors I'm talking about are mainly like electrical engineering, computer engineering, applied physics, computer science (when I say CS here I really mean software engineering).

    Also, I recognize that you're not a software guy, but don't dismiss the idea of software just yet. There are some aspects to writing code that requires a good amount of knowledge of the physical components of a computer and how they work. See if you can learn about, say, the Linux kernel and screw around with that. This type of work in "software" might appeal to you as well.
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