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Question regarding first-year University/College students

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This will probably determine how I am going to judge my peers, but anyway: Does the majority of college or university students (I am talking beginners) that enter into the Computer Science / Game Dev fields have any past programming experience? I am not talking some gritty shit like highschool work where they ask students to draw bouncing balls in Java (what the fuck?), more along the lines of actually getting something done that requires a bit of thought and a few days/weeks/months of programming? The reason I guess I am asking is because I am actually wondering how many people that enroll are dedicated - so to speak - to spending long nights typing and getting carpel tunnel syndrome from it. To put it in a rough state of mind: am I going to be surrounded by ignorant people?

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[depending on the school; in my experience]

The slim majority will probably never written code before; period. The vast majority (~90-95%) will not have written anything requiring more than a week of work. Exceptional programs (CMU, MIT, Stanford, Waterloo) will generally attract exceptional students, but for the hundreds of more common programs, ignorance is the norm.

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As Telastyn notes, it depends on where you go, and even then it can still vary massively. At Oxford, I have one friend who did almost no programming before the course started, and another who hacks on the Linux kernel.

I would be very, very wary of saying that people who haven't got extensive past programming experience aren't "dedicated," or of saying that people who have got extensive past experience are dedicated. If it were always true, then you'd never have dedicated newbies or burnt-out veterans.

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Original post by superpig
As Telastyn notes, it depends on where you go, and even then it can still vary massively. At Oxford, I have one friend who did almost no programming before the course started, and another who hacks on the Linux kernel.

I would be very, very wary of saying that people who haven't got extensive past programming experience aren't "dedicated," or of saying that people who have got extensive past experience are dedicated. If it were always true, then you'd never have dedicated newbies or burnt-out veterans.


Although you raise a point, as I've said, I am talking about the dedication that requires sitting in front of the computer and typing up the same lines over, and over, and over again and solving problems that require a bit more thinking each time. If, as Telastyn said, the majority haven't done jack all, then what the hell are they doing taking up class seats of people who actually DO know their shit?

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Oh, and everyone except Telastyn, my comment regarding typing 'same lines over and over again' was an exaggaration :).

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Original post by Jovan
If, as Telastyn said, the majority haven't done jack all, then what the hell are they doing taking up class seats of people who actually DO know their shit?


Learning. If they were already fully capable of solving problems and implementing the solutions, why would they go to school?

By the way, you don't have to be some super genious hacker who's always near a termianl to be a good programmer (like those people at the ACM programming compettion - yikes!). There are plenty of opportunities for people who don't "spend long nights typing and getting carpel tunnel syndrome from it."

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'There are plenty of opportunities for people who don't "spend long nights typing and getting carpel tunnel syndrome from it."'

Exactly. Staying up all night coding does not equal coding 'street-cred'.
In fact, it probably means you procrastinated.

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I like to exaggarate sometimes :p, however, pretty much every one of my friends who are programmers started out long before they hit university, so to me anyway, it seems as if the norm is that people who are seriously interested in game development/programming would have had previous knowledge, and of course, that anyone who is spending money on this, is seriously interested.

I guess my judgement of people knowing what they want to do "after high school" is a bit skewed.

Quote:
In fact, it probably means you procrastinated.

Or have a very ugly case of insomnia.

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I would asy most people who are likely to love computers (and therefore become "dedicated") usually already love them before they get out of high-school (with an occasional exception where someone doesn't really get a chance to experience them until later in life). But just being into computers doesn't necessarily mean you will already be a programmer. Many things in life depend on circumstance ... what music you like is laregly determined by culture and region etc ... likewise whether you have learned to program on your own is largely determined by what exposure you had, what friends and family you had, what classes your high-school offered etc.

I learned a tiny amount of commadore Basic in grade school with a friend. Then took Logo in a 4th grade summer course, then taught myself GW BASIC in 6th grade. But almost noone I met at college had a similar backgroud. Many did however get started in computers between 6th and 12th grade - but not all, and not even all the good ones. Some of those smart people we're busy learning math, science and history while I was drawing simple colored circles on my CGA monitor in basic.

It takes all types.

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yeah thats true xai but there some thing that neither influence the human soul. Take me for instance, I am a self taught programmer and was so before entering college years back but I failed to get in the grove of doing useless programs. One teacher which wasn't mines made the programs hard and full interesting problems. the majority of the student body never programmed or was slow grasping the what it meant to program.


Also I had no friends to help me learn c++ except the people on gamedev.net
thx very much to them I can write code and understand where I am going with it.

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From my experience (Warsaw University), about a half of the students starting first semester have never ever written a program longer than a few pages. And vast mayority (80%(??)) had no idea about programming whatsoever (myself included).

There were some people that had been attending some programming competitions in high school - but this kind of "fun" was purely algorithmic and IMO can't be called programming.

And lastly: there was a choice for each student to take a course of "introduction to programming" (whole 1st year) in Pascal or in Scheme. And people that already have had some experience in imperative languages were encouraged to take the functional course. So any unequalities in level were dissolved that way.

-----
One more thing. I remember there being some people who didn't even own a computer. How does that sound, huh? Does being poor immediately disqualifies you from ever becoming a programmer? I guess not...

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Being a first-year (well, second-year now I guess) CSE student, I must say I was surprised at the level of competition in my program. I've had extensive programming experience, including two large(ish) projects I worked on with a team and got a 5 on the AP CS AB test. I'd say at least half of my peers have had a lot more experience than I.

However, CSE (at least in my program) isn't much programming. It's more computer SCIENCE, i.e. discrete structures, formal models, boolean algebra, etc., etc.

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Quote:
Original post by Jovan
Quote:
Original post by superpig
As Telastyn notes, it depends on where you go, and even then it can still vary massively. At Oxford, I have one friend who did almost no programming before the course started, and another who hacks on the Linux kernel.

I would be very, very wary of saying that people who haven't got extensive past programming experience aren't "dedicated," or of saying that people who have got extensive past experience are dedicated. If it were always true, then you'd never have dedicated newbies or burnt-out veterans.


Although you raise a point, as I've said, I am talking about the dedication that requires sitting in front of the computer and typing up the same lines over, and over, and over again and solving problems that require a bit more thinking each time. If, as Telastyn said, the majority haven't done jack all, then what the hell are they doing taking up class seats of people who actually DO know their shit?


Im a junior at RPI and Id have to say I agree with Telastyn. People's programming skills are all over the board. Some have never seen or dont know what a basic console is... while others already work for companies as hackers for security testing.

In regards to difficulty... Id have to say that for an absolute beginner, college level courses cram a lot more than can truly be absorbed (programming wise) by a beginner. So if you are an absolute beginner you would have to put in a lot of overtime to stay on par with your peers. I can personally say ive seen plenty of friends struggle through due to lack of previous exposure to programming in general. Mostly stemming from the fact that its hard to be dedicated as you say, when they are trying to cram so much language syntax and programming theory into your head.

So overall... I would say the majority of college CS students have at least been exposed to or have tried programming on their own.

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Speaking for the South of Australia, I'll put in my two cents :)

Regarding the knowledge of first year Software-engineering + Computer Science students...there were people like myself who knew zip (I have played games forever, finally decided I wanted to make them when I got to college) -- and I will admit, sometimes it has felt like an uphill battle -- always there will be someone more knowledgeable than yourself in any problem domain, but I've resigned myself to that fact :P.
These days, I am a fourth year, approaching honours and I help tutor people from the previous three years of the degree with programming because it seems (this is personal observation, hence subjective...) that many of them either fail to grasp the fundamentals of programming or have never had previous experience with it.

That said, there are also people who came in with 4+ years programming experience -- some of whom I am good friends with. Interestingly, most of these people now consider that I have surpassed them in programming skill/knowledge.
Now, I'll admit that I've done lots of hard work and reading to get here, but it's not like we programmers have some sort of mystical midichlorians that imply one person will be better than another -- we succeed based on our relative intelligence, ability to solve problems and, importantly...our willingness to admit that we don't know everything and therefore must learn continually.


note: Aforementioned 'hard-core' people could be thought of in a similar vein to Superpig's linux kernel hacking friend. Example: Writing in x86 ASM when there's no real reason to.

Either way, as far as dedication is concerned...do we measure this in lines of code produced, or hours spent solving problems? Too difficult to quantify if you ask me.

~Shiny.

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