Will I be bored in a Computer Science degree?

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ym123
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Hello.

I am considering studying computer science at university. Assuming I am looking to go into a software job, could you help me answer the following questions.

Pretty much all the universities don’t require prior programming experience. If I can already program quite a bit, then will I be bored in the degree? What do they teach in the degree that I may not know. Will it just be a waste.

Also, I am aware that computer science isn’t just programming, but a lot of architecture, networks etc. However, if the programming is going to all be Stuff I already know, is a degree in electrical and electronic engineering better for the theoretical part of it?
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hello_shawn
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CompSci have a lot of theoretical stuff in the second and third years. First year has a lot of the basics that you'll breeze through because you already know, but possibly in a different programming language than the one you're used to.
Also if you're looking for coding jobs then some will take you on in placements/ internships between uni years, you just have to look hard enough for them. Then you'll have an idea of what employers look for in full-time coders
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pseudoname
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The vast majority of good software engineering jobs will require a computer science degree -- however much experience you have -- though many also seem to accept electrical engineering. I think what subject you should choose depends on whether you want to be a hardware engineer or a software engineer to be honest.
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ym123
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(Original post by pseudoname)
The vast majority of good software engineering jobs will require a computer science degree -- however much experience you have -- though many also seem to accept electrical engineering. I think what subject you should choose depends on whether you want to be a hardware engineer or a software engineer to be honest.
Thank you for the reply.

The thing is, I am not really sure if I want to close the options that an electrical engineering degree has by taking a computer Science degree. If I could do a electrical degree and get software jobs at good companies for graduate roles, that would be great. Would this be in my favour if I started to create a portfolio, e.g github pages. Or should I just stick with the computer science degree.
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pseudoname
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(Original post by Techtech123)
Thank you for the reply.

The thing is, I am not really sure if I want to close the options that an electrical engineering degree has by taking a computer Science degree. If I could do a electrical degree and get software jobs at good companies for graduate roles, that would be great. Would this be in my favour if I started to create a portfolio, e.g github pages. Or should I just stick with the computer science degree.
I'd imagine a software engineering degree is definitely going to be more valuable for software engineering jobs on your CV even though electrical engineering is accepted as a substitute, though if you have an incredible portfolio it would probably make a negligible difference. It will also matter less and less the more years you have in the job market.

I don't know how good you are at programming, but if you think your skills are good enough that you could get hired as a graduate at a big tech company today then go for electrical engineering. Also, you will not have very much time (if any) to do software engineering whilst doing an electrical engineering degree, so your software engineering skills today will not be much better in 3 years time if you choose a different degree, hence why it is very important you're confident enough in your skillset to be hired today.

How much experience do you have? You only said "I can program quite a bit" but that doesn't imply very much.
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ym123
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(Original post by pseudoname)
I'd imagine a software engineering degree is definitely going to be more valuable for software engineering jobs on your CV even though electrical engineering is accepted as a substitute, though if you have an incredible portfolio it would probably make a negligible difference. It will also matter less and less the more years you have in the job market.

I don't know how good you are at programming, but if you think your skills are good enough that you could get hired as a graduate at a big tech company today then go for electrical engineering. Also, you will not have very much time (if any) to do software engineering whilst doing an electrical engineering degree, so your software engineering skills today will not be much better in 3 years time if you choose a different degree, hence why it is very important you're confident enough in your skillset to be hired today.

How much experience do you have? You only said "I can program quite a bit" but that doesn't imply very much.
Well, I’m not sure. I know I can do well beyond the A-Level specification for Computer Science, but what I meant was that I would probably know more than would be taught for a lot of the computer science course.
How can I gauge how “good” I am? This will really help me make a decision if I use your advice above.
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pseudoname
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(Original post by Techtech123)
Well, I’m not sure. I know I can do well beyond the A-Level specification for Computer Science, but what I meant was that I would probably know more than would be taught for a lot of the computer science course.
How can I gauge how “good” I am? This will really help me make a decision if I use your advice above.
It's kinda hard to judge how good someone is with generic questions but my main one would be this: are you only familiar with writing "spaghetti code" or are you familiar with a wide variety of programming paradigms/principles/design patterns? It's obviously quite normal to use spaghetti code for personal projects, but if you were programming at a high standard I would expect you to have some experience outside spaghetti code.

A good way to test yourself I think is maybe reading some advanced programming books for the languages you are familiar with; if you really know it all then you should be able to breeze through these without trouble. I agree with Acsel: I'm not convinced you're as good as you think you are given the way you talk about your skills.

Also wanted to correct my reply above regarding not having any time to do software engineering whilst doing an electrical engineering degree: you will of course have 100+ days during the summer holidays of first year and second year, but that's obviously not a whole lot of time.
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winterscoming
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(Original post by pseudoname)
The vast majority of good software engineering jobs will require a computer science degree -- however much experience you have
This statement could not be any further from the truth; A degree holds no value whatsoever to employers - their priority is to hire someone who has the skills to be able to do the job; problem solving, understanding technology, abillty to write production-qualty code, and to deliver working software to clients or users. All of which are exactly the kinds of things which are best learned through having first-hand experience.

The vast majority of software engineering jobs do not require any kind of formal education in computer science, and are wide open to anybody who has the right skills and experience to do the job. Companies frequently hire people who have never been to university, and those who have a background in Non-STEM subjects or otherwise entirely unrelated to computer science as long as they possess the right skills and are able to demonstrate those skills in an interview.

Interviewers usually assess candidates based on their own technical tests, often asking interviewees to write or fix some code, face-to-face Q&A, maybe a 'whiteboard' problem to solve, or some kind of walkthrough of projects that they've worked on - the decision to hire someone is based on how well someone performs in those sorts of things.

The only software engineering jobs which require a degree are those which are based heavily around academic research, in which case employers would typically be looking for people with a very strong academic background - usually a Masters (from a university with a decent reputation for research), or a PhD.
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pseudoname
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(Original post by winterscoming)
This statement could not be any further from the truth; A degree holds no value whatsoever to employers - their priority is to hire someone who has the skills to be able to do the job; problem solving, understand ingtechnology, abillty to write production-qualty code, and to deliver working software to clients or users. All of which are exactly the kinds of things which are best learned through having first-hand experience.

The vast majority of software engineering jobs do not require any kind of formal education in computer science, and are wide open to anybody who has the right skills and experience to do the job. Companies frequently hire people who have never been to university, and those who have a background in Non-STEM subjects or otherwise entirely unrelated to computer science as long as they possess the right skills and are able to demonstrate those skills in an interview.

The only software engineering jobs which require a degree are those which are based heavily around academic research, in which case employers would typically be looking for people with a very strong academic background - usually a Masters from a prestigious university, or a PhD.
You're absolutely right here actually, my bad. I somehow misread job requirements on the big tech company pages e.g. Google "Minimum qualifications: • BS degree in Computer Science, similar technical field of study or equivalent practical experience."

Anyway I don't think it's particularly relevant to OP anyway cause electrical engineering would count as a similar technical field. The main issue is whether he does have sufficient practical experience.
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pseudoname
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(Original post by winterscoming)
This statement could not be any further from the truth; A degree holds no value whatsoever to employers - their priority is to hire someone who has the skills to be able to do the job; problem solving, understanding technology, abillty to write production-qualty code, and to deliver working software to clients or users. All of which are exactly the kinds of things which are best learned through having first-hand experience.

The vast majority of software engineering jobs do not require any kind of formal education in computer science, and are wide open to anybody who has the right skills and experience to do the job. Companies frequently hire people who have never been to university, and those who have a background in Non-STEM subjects or otherwise entirely unrelated to computer science as long as they possess the right skills and are able to demonstrate those skills in an interview.

Interviewers usually assess candidates based on their own technical tests, often asking interviewees to write or fix some code, face-to-face Q&A, maybe a 'whiteboard' problem to solve, or some kind of walkthrough of projects that they've worked on - the decision to hire someone is based on how well someone performs in those sorts of things.

The only software engineering jobs which require a degree are those which are based heavily around academic research, in which case employers would typically be looking for people with a very strong academic background - usually a Masters (from a university with a decent reputation for research), or a PhD.
Actually to be fair I'm not completely making this up -- knew I got it from somewhere. Looked at some more job listings from Apple/Google and some of them list a computer science degree in educational requirements and don't mention anything about "equivalent practical experience"
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winterscoming
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(Original post by pseudoname)
Actually to be fair I'm not completely making this up -- knew I got it from somewhere. Looked at some more job listings from Apple/Google and some of them list a computer science degree in educational requirements and don't mention anything about "equivalent practical experience"
Writing something as a requirement on a job description isn't the same thing as saying it's mandatory for the job though. If those companies allowed some clueless HR manager to handle their IT recruitment then that could result in CVs being filtered out for not having a degree, but actually most don't work like that any more for IT recruitment, and they usually have technically-minded recruiters who understand which skills to look out for.

Perhaps think of it another way - consider a talented hobbyist programmer who has never been to university but spent the past 3-4 years at home working on their personal projects - probably built a bunch of apps and games in their spare time, read a whole bunch of programming books, enjoys solving logic puzzles and completes difficult programming challenges for fun - has a pretty strong grasp of a couple of programming languages, and has a pretty good idea about a few different programming paradigms etc.

Realistically speaking - that person probably has loads to say on their CV which would make them jump straight out to a recruiter at a company like Apple or Google - probably just as much or more than a good computer science graduate. Technically-minded companies like that aren't going to dismiss someone purely on the basis that they don't have a degree or that they aren't a 100% match for the job description; they're well aware of the fact that the skills people learn on a computer science degree are able to be picked up in a whole bunch of different ways, and most companies generally already have plenty of people working for them who have no formal computer science education (particularly among the most experienced people working in senior roles).


Lastly, it's worth pointing out that very few companies even bother mentioning education background when hiring mid-level or senior engineers because once someone has more than 2-3 years of experience writing code in a professional environment, their skills and expertise nearly always outweigh anything that a university could teach someone. In reality, universities actually aren't very good at teaching the skills needed for these jobs in any kind of depth (partly because the courses are run by academics who are too far detached from the industries that graduates are walking into, but also because experience is a much better teacher) - so whatever a Computer Science graduate learns at university usually ends up being superceded by everything they learn in the first few years of their career anyway.
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ym123
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Wow. Thank you for clearing that all up, I was getting kind of confused.

In electrical and electronic engineering, I have found out that pretty much every course will teach C for embedded systems. Will this be enough “practical experience” for grad roles, or should I still make a portfolio of my own projects. My plan is basically, if I would like to do Software development, just secure a graduate role, and hopefully gain some years experience like that. It will make future jobs much easier.
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Molseh
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Just a note to add on the is a degree worth it or not.

If you have aspirations of working abroad or in higher level management in a large organisation a degree is pretty much a prerequisite to get past HR. It is also a valuable tool in salary negotiations.
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ym123
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Overall, what degree do you think is better for me. Here is my position:

Computer Science or electrical and electronic engineering:
Undecided on what career, could range:
from electrical and electronic engineering jobs e.g signal processing, embedded systems, circuit systems etc.
Or software development, ethical hacker etc.

Advantages of computer science degree: allows easy access to SE or Ethical hacker path. I am interested in technology. Salary seems much better in UK than EEE. Looking at modules, I am fairly certain that I will enjoy the course.

Disadvantages of comp sci: May be bored for practical AND theory, since course requires no prior knowledge. Multiple websites that say it is not worth it any more. Closes off all EEE paths.

Advantages of EEE: allows easy access to EEE jobs. Possibility of transfer to SE? Interest in technology. I like maths a lot, and heard there is a lot in EEE. Keeps open computer science jobs, as well as EEE jobs (or am I wrong?). Not much written online saying it is bad.

Disadvantages of EEE: Not the best choice for SE, EH. Seems to have worse salary than comp sci? I have no idea if I will enjoy the modules because I have not studied even the very basics in school.

Also, another possibility is these computer engineering type degree, still at good unis such as Warwick, Bristol and Cambridge(as a specialisation).
Bristol - http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/under...d-electronics/
Warwick - https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/dcs/ad...rgraduate/cse/

However, these degrees seem uncommon, though it is possible. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both? Should I do it if I can’t decide, and want to keep open both options. Will it get me jobs in both SE and EEE.

Overall, given my position, what should I do. I do not want to apply, and either during my degree, or once I’m industry regret the past years, and say “If only I had done degree X”.

Sorry for the long question. Help would be very much appreciated!
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PrettymuchGod
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(Original post by ltsmith)
i had 5 years of programming experience when i started my CS degree and i regularly felt out of my depth in the content we were studying. mind you, CS is taught in a VERY mathematical and theoretical manner where i'm studying so your mileage may vary.
where are you studying?
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Hi I'm currently doing a Computer Science degree at uni.

I think uni's vary quite a lot in what modules they teach, at my uni the first year is quite hardware heavy and there are equal hardware and software options in second and third year. I'm in first year and would say I spend only about a fifth of my time programming.

I think most uni's tend to focus on understanding how a computer thinks rather then programming. It's learning how to break a problem down using algorithms and maths that you have been taught and not only finding a solution but finding one that is efficient, scalable and maintainable. Then after all this you may do some programming but rather then just teaching you the syntax they teach you to understand what every line of code is doing not only in relation to the other parts of the code but in terms of memory and what's going on inside the computer.

There's quite a few maths modules which go beyond maths and further maths in terms of discrete maths, calculus, trigonometry etc. We then program some of these algorithms in python. My uni does some human interaction modules such as learning how to run an experiment and what makes a good design, we are learning about circuits and signals and are about to start creating a robot. We also program simulations of old machines such as EDSAC and the analytical engine, learn about the history of computers and get down and dirty with binary and learn how instructions are processed all the way down to the transistors that build the logic gates. We have an algorithms course and a programming course, they do start off basic (though at my uni there's different levels of tasks - level 0 if you've never programmed before ever to level 2 if you're fairly proficient) but get hard quite fast.

The second and third year modules include AI, machine learning, computer vision and more. So while the programming side may be easy to start in the first year (the learning curve is quite steep for those who haven't programmed much before) the other topics may require a bit of work and as you get into your second and third year the programming may become a bit of a challenge.

I can't really advise you either way but thought I'd give you a bit more of an insight in to what comp sci is about (obvs it varies from uni to uni) and show it's a bit more then just programming which would be more software engineering - also many unis offer Computer Science and maths with maybe worth having a look into (knowing the theory will really help your programming).
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ym123
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Thanks for your advice, but still need advice on the following:

Overall, what degree do you think is better for me. Here is my position:

Computer Science or electrical and electronic engineering:
Undecided on what career, could range:
from electrical and electronic engineering jobs e.g signal processing, embedded systems, circuit systems etc.
Or software development, ethical hacker etc.

Advantages of computer science degree: allows easy access to SE or Ethical hacker path. I am interested in technology. Salary seems much better in UK than EEE. Looking at modules, I am fairly certain that I will enjoy the course.

Disadvantages of comp sci: May be bored for practical AND theory, since course requires no prior knowledge. Multiple websites that say it is not worth it any more. Closes off all EEE paths.

Advantages of EEE: allows easy access to EEE jobs. Possibility of transfer to SE? Interest in technology. I like maths a lot, and heard there is a lot in EEE. Keeps open computer science jobs, as well as EEE jobs (or am I wrong?). Not much written online saying it is bad.

Disadvantages of EEE: Not the best choice for SE, EH. Seems to have worse salary than comp sci? I have no idea if I will enjoy the modules because I have not studied even the very basics in school.

Also, another possibility is these computer engineering type degree, still at good unis such as Warwick, Bristol and Cambridge(as a specialisation).
Bristol - http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/under...d-electronics/
Warwick - https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/dcs/ad...rgraduate/cse/

However, these degrees seem uncommon, though it is possible. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both? Should I do it if I can’t decide, and want to keep open both options. Will it get me jobs in both SE and EEE.

Overall, given my position, what should I do. I do not want to apply, and either during my degree, or once I’m industry regret the past years, and say “If only I had done degree X”.

Sorry for the long question. Help would be very much appreciated!
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AdamApple
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(Original post by Techtech123)
Hello.

I am considering studying computer science at university. Assuming I am looking to go into a software job, could you help me answer the following questions.

Pretty much all the universities don’t require prior programming experience. If I can already program quite a bit, then will I be bored in the degree? What do they teach in the degree that I may not know. Will it just be a waste.

Also, I am aware that computer science isn’t just programming, but a lot of architecture, networks etc. However, if the programming is going to all be Stuff I already know, is a degree in electrical and electronic engineering better for the theoretical part of it?
Hi,

I study Digital Media Technology at Birmingham City University. Although I don't study Computer Science its self I do study within a faculty with Computer Science courses. At BCU I know that you have a lot of freedom to push yourself within the field you're studying. Within my course for example they don't require you to have previous HTML knowledge but when I joined in first year I did know some already. I was able to push myself and create more advanced web based applications whilst others learnt the basics. You'll find by 2nd and 3rd year everyone gets to the same level.


Hope this helped,
Adam
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pseudoname
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(Original post by AdamApple)
Hi,

I study Digital Media Technology at Birmingham City University. Although I don't study Computer Science its self I do study within a faculty with Computer Science courses. At BCU I know that you have a lot of freedom to push yourself within the field you're studying. Within my course for example they don't require you to have previous HTML knowledge but when I joined in first year I did know some already. I was able to push myself and create more advanced web based applications whilst others learnt the basics. You'll find by 2nd and 3rd year everyone gets to the same level.


Hope this helped,
Adam
Yeah, techtech is thinking too much about the "no programming experience required" thing. Imo all the people with no programming experience are just going to find it a lot harder to get a first-class degree, it doesn't mean that you're going to find the course easy.
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