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Computer science for the dyslexic

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    Hi,

    I'm heavily dyslexic and I'm doing the first year of a foundation degree in biology which I hope to top up to a full undergraduate degree in Environmental Biology at Plymouth University.

    Previous to starting this course I have worked as a computer technician for 6 years troubleshooting the network, repairing PC's and doing loads of server stuff.

    I know HTML, CSS, PHP (Taught myself), SQL and I'm starting to learn JAVA.


    I am very very dyslexic, which I have been assessed for and have student support.

    I would like to do a masters at a later date in computer science and due to the dyslexic short term memory problems with a bad early maths education I find maths a real challenge, currently I am only at G.C.S.E. grade C level.

    My question is how much maths is involved in a computer science degree and is it possible to overcome this problem?
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    My husband is dyslexic and has a masters in engineering (and worked in programming for a few years after graduating) so it certainly can be done. He didn't have much support in high school and also did not have much maths when he left, however he then went to a college to redo high school maths (not from UK but basically equivalent to getting his A level maths at a good grade). I'm just wondering if doing something like this won't benefit you as well, even though it does mean the whole process will take longer than otherwise?
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    Well, I consider we are talking about a decent Computer Science degree and no "University labelled apprenticeship" (nothing against apprenticeships, but the Math part tends to be much lower). Thus it will be much more important to deal with a lot of Mathematics than to know Python, C, Java, etc. The knowledge of languages will be expected, but isn't the aim of the course. (You learn it of your own.)

    GSCE Math at grade C seems very low for me and as Math isn't that affected by dyslexia (At least there are a lot of dyslexic people with a very high level of/no problems with maths.)and you don't sound to be so confident in getting an higher grade, I don't think Computational science is the degree for you. (Unless you can know cope with it now.)

    But perhaps you look in other degrees than pure Computer Science, perhaps more in the engineering area or biology. (But I am afraid, without the will to work you through Math, Further Math and University level Math it isn't an option either, it is just less mathematical based than a Computer Science degree. )

    I don't see the sense for a Computer Science degree without math, because this will probably a degree with no real prospects.
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    (Original post by Nathanielle)

    GSCE Math at grade C seems very low for me and as Math isn't that affected by dyslexia (At least there are a lot of dyslexic people with a very high level of/no problems with maths.)
    I'm not sure how you get this conclusion - yes there may be dyslexics with decent maths levels but it takes work and support. My husband had very hard going in school because of it, and if the school is not equipped to deal with it can certainly affect maths results. His dyslexia didn't change between school and college, but the support he got did. I don't quite know how to translate a GCSE into our high school system, but his original maths marks were extremely weak. Clearly, with a masters in engineering, they did not remain so.

    If you do a quick google search on maths and dyslexia you'll see it is well documented that dyslexics often have problems with maths, and as you will know well if you miss the basics of maths you have no foundations to work on.

    So rather than dismissing the OP's issues it might be more helpful to find a way to address the current shortfall in his maths. Of course, if he doesn't want to do this, then your comments about a compsci degree not being the right one for him may be perfectly valid.
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    (Original post by sj27)
    I'm not sure how you get this conclusion - yes there may be dyslexics with decent maths levels but it takes work and support. My husband had very hard going in school because of it, and if the school is not equipped to deal with it can certainly affect maths results. His dyslexia didn't change between school and college, but the support he got did. I don't quite know how to translate a GCSE into our high school system, but his original maths marks were extremely weak. Clearly, with a masters in engineering, they did not remain so.

    If you do a quick google search on maths and dyslexia you'll see it is well documented that dyslexics often have problems with maths, and as you will know well if you miss the basics of maths you have no foundations to work on.

    So rather than dismissing the OP's issues it might be more helpful to find a way to address the current shortfall in his maths. Of course, if he doesn't want to do this, then your comments about a compsci degree not being the right one for him may be perfectly valid.
    I know dyslexics, which are quite good or very good in Math (from mild to quite severe), it is nothing I invented and the difference between their difficulties between learning a foreign language and Math are immense. (Saying this, while coming from a country, where dyslexic support is much smaller than in the UK. By the way, I said: not that affected and not, not affected)

    The GCSE math exams I saw are really easy and far away from a level, where you can see an ability for computer science. I was reading his post, as: He wasn't good at math and still has problems, not: When you talk to me, I could solve these problems easily, but with exams in school as this time, I couldn't cope, because nobody told me, how to.

    There is only one way to get better at Math: Hard work, phantasy, creativity, motivation and somebody, who can teach one as long as he doesn't find a way.

    (I mean the TS said he does an Biology foundation, thus he can't have that big troubles(now), as biology consists of a lot of memorizing and "reading". )
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    I'm okay with the basics and have also been tested for the maths verson of dyslexia (dyscalculia) - which I don't have.

    The main problem is that I imagine A-Level and beyond maths to be built upon the foundations of G.C.S.E. and occasionally I forget the basics and have to relearn the concept. My main concern is that I will forget the mathematical concepts in an exam environment.

    By the way the posts so far have been very interesting, and thanks for replying
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    (Original post by klain42)
    The main problem is that I imagine A-Level and beyond maths to be built upon the foundations of G.C.S.E. and occasionally I forget the basics and have to relearn the concept. My main concern is that I will forget the mathematical concepts in an exam environment.
    Hm, very difficult, one question: Are you currently doing some math or haven't you done Math since your GSCEs? If it is the latter, have you just tried to learn math consequently over some time? It is never to late to learn the "basics" and without practise most people will struggle, .... but just to understand where my concerns come from:
    There are a lot of pupils, who underestimate the amount of math involved in a Computer Science degree and you will have to compete with people, for whom Math hasn't been a problem at all (and becomes at University). That said, it can be the other way round, but be prepared and consider other direction, where you can work more with programming than understanding all the concepts behind it.
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    Background info:

    I left school with three C's at G.C.S.E. One in English Lit one in English Lang and another in Geography.

    I then went off to college to study computer repair and upon leaving started an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship meant that I had to get my maths up to G.C.S.E. grade C, which I did.

    I then started an access to higher education diploma (combined studies), the course mainly involved social sciences as everybody else on the course were training to be elderly carers. On the access to H.E. course I had to do another maths module that was at G.C.S.E. level as well and involved algebra which I began to become confident with.

    The access to H.E. finished in 2011
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    (Original post by klain42)
    Background info:

    I left school with three C's at G.C.S.E. One in English Lit one in English Lang and another in Geography.

    I then went off to college to study computer repair and upon leaving started an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship meant that I had to get my maths up to G.C.S.E. grade C, which I did.

    I then started an access to higher education diploma (combined studies), the course mainly involved social sciences as everybody else on the course were training to be elderly carers. On the access to H.E. course I had to do another maths module that was at G.C.S.E. level as well and involved algebra which I began to become confident with.

    The access to H.E. finished in 2011
    I'd call/email the universities that offer the courses you're interested in. I think most universities won't ask for your A Level and GCSE results when you're applying for an MA (they certainly didn't when I applied) so it just depends on the individual courses.

    Why are you going to study Biology if you want to do CS though? You'd probably learn a lot more if you did a BSc rather than an MSc that is designed for people who come from a different subject area.
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    (Original post by ginger.)
    I'd call/email the universities that offer the courses you're interested in. I think most universities won't ask for your A Level and GCSE results when you're applying for an MA (they certainly didn't when I applied) so it just depends on the individual courses.

    Why are you going to study Biology if you want to do CS though? You'd probably learn a lot more if you did a BSc rather than an MSc that is designed for people who come from a different subject area.
    I plan on doing a MSc in computer science because IT is being used more and more in every science, I was thinking about doing a master in bioinformatics but the computer science masters gives me a broader education.
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    I hope the OP would achieve her dreams really.

    :hugs:
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    (Original post by kka25)
    I hope the OP would achieve her dreams really.

    :hugs:
    I'm a "Him" not a "Her"
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    (Original post by klain42)
    I'm a "Him" not a "Her"
    woop :teehee:

    Sorry
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    (Original post by klain42)
    I plan on doing a MSc in computer science because IT is being used more and more in every science, I was thinking about doing a master in bioinformatics but the computer science masters gives me a broader education.
    Hm, given the fact that I would say, a computer science master without Math and without Bachelor degree required seems to me as somehow a "cashcow" rather than something which will give you the opportunity to do the same as someone who studied e.g. Biomathematics or Bio-Computerscience, I would say: Rethink if it is worth the money and if you can't achieve the same by doing e.g. a Bachelor thesis in some related topic and/or doing a Master which follows your degree. That sounds more suitable in my eyes and you have already some skills, so you should try to find some work experience at university. Maybe that is also less stressfull, than doing math or paying for a degree, which won't help you that much.
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    (Original post by klain42)
    I plan on doing a MSc in computer science because IT is being used more and more in every science, I was thinking about doing a master in bioinformatics but the computer science masters gives me a broader education.
    If that's what you want to achieve, it may be that a good bioinformatics course (e.g. Edinburgh) would actually be sufficient in itself.

    However, returning to your original question. What you're looking for is a "generalist" MSc in Computer Science, and the quality is a bit variable (understatement). Given that you want the more technical end, you need to be a bit pickier about which MSc to choose. For one, avoid any that aren't specifically "Computer Science" - with a few honourable exceptions these are aimed at people whose roles will be non-programming.

    An example of a good one is UCL (disclaimer: I used to work there); but you really want to check on the quality of dyslexia support in particular. Swansea (disclaimer: I used to work there too!) has particularly good support, and a decent generalist MSc too; Newcastle and York also would be ones to consider, from my knowledge of them.

    To be honest, most of the 'pre-92' universities have good generalist MScs with good programming content. Some of the newer universities do too, but not as often, though quite often they have better dyslexia support.

    George
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    (Original post by klain42)
    Hi,

    I'm heavily dyslexic and I'm doing the first year of a foundation degree in biology which I hope to top up to a full undergraduate degree in Environmental Biology at Plymouth University.

    Previous to starting this course I have worked as a computer technician for 6 years troubleshooting the network, repairing PC's and doing loads of server stuff.

    I know HTML, CSS, PHP (Taught myself), SQL and I'm starting to learn JAVA.


    I am very very dyslexic, which I have been assessed for and have student support.

    I would like to do a masters at a later date in computer science and due to the dyslexic short term memory problems with a bad early maths education I find maths a real challenge, currently I am only at G.C.S.E. grade C level.

    My question is how much maths is involved in a computer science degree and is it possible to overcome this problem?
    Given gbuchanan's suggestion, I would like to suggest that you might be interested in computational linguistics. Not only would this build upon your existing knowledge of biology (to what extent I am unsure, as it will depend upon what you will be taught), but you would obviously gain knowledge of the computing side and potentially get a better understanding of your dyslexia and think of ways that this can worked around from a computer software perspective too.

    Just thought I would throw the idea out there.
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    Hm, I think the topic of computer linguistic is much less mathematical(not saying zero math) and deals with prhramming languages, but I would also say, that a good record of work in bioinformatics and perhaps a Master in Bioinformatics will lead to the OP's goal, without the danger of too much struggle with a pure computer science master. (I mean in some way, you want also enjoy your studies, or? )
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    After a bit of research I think I might do Informatics as its broaded than bioinformatics but not as maths heavy as a comSci

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