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MilesRobson

Question to CS Degree holders

31 posts in this topic

This is kinda a weird question.

I'm currently in general edu in a community college, and planning on heading to a four year college afterwards.
With Computer Science, it seems like every 4 year college in my state (Florida), has different... languages and requirements.
Some want me to take Intro to C++, or C# or Java. Some go into theory more than classes, I've seen one do only C++, one only Java.

While I'm sure not taking the intro class won't kill me, it seems like it might be limiting me. I'm teaching myself C# just to understand programming in general, but I feel like should be practicing the languages that most schools are gonna throw at me anyway.

Or maybe I shouldn't to expose myself to other langs. more?

My basic question is, did your two years of CS education aid you to a point where self educating to other resources, and languages was [i]easier?[/i]

I don't really know what I am asking, but I feel like I have two years of pure practice and self exploration before I hit the college stuff.

On a side note, while I'm sticking with C# for XNA and Head First, I personally liked C++ the most. I don't know why, it just seemed more dependent on me, which was helping me learn.

PS: If anyone has a personal opinion of Florida schools for CS, please share. :D
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If you're in college pursuing a Bachelor's in Computer Science and aren't studying algorithms and data structures your freshman year, you're in a horrible program.
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Supplemental questions that may or may not be added to the topic:

How does school that teaches you CS force you to study by yourself? What should I do, if my school doesn't force me to do anything, more like "giving you a laid-back option of learning" and "unable to encourage students to learn"?

I'm in my third year of CS, and I still don't feel like my school is forcing me to do something, other than staying above the passing grade thresholds.
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[quote name='Telastyn' timestamp='1326564181' post='4902698']
If you're in college pursuing a Bachelor's in Computer Science and aren't studying algorithms and data structures your freshman year, you're in a horrible program.
[/quote]
I'm in a Community College getting my AA, and transferring to a four year college to get my CS Degree.
By the end of my AA, I should have this [url="http://www.ceecs.fau.edu/computer-science/computer-science-admission-requirements"]http://www.ceecs.fau...on-requirements[/url] along with this [url="http://www.broward.edu/ext/ProgramPrintAANew.jsp?programcode=1010"]http://www.broward.e...rogramcode=1010[/url].

Florida Atlantic asks for lots of Calculus, Physics, and some intro in to programming, and my community college asks for the humanities, history, and other credits.
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I shudder to think how far behind you'll be with that curriculum.

Anyways, back to your original post: Yes, just like anything else, more experience in something allows you to more easily learn advanced topics and make variants on existing knowledge easier to learn.
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[quote name='Telastyn' timestamp='1326572733' post='4902750']
I shudder to think how far behind you'll be with that curriculum.

Anyways, back to your original post: Yes, just like anything else, more experience in something allows you to more easily learn advanced topics and make variants on existing knowledge easier to learn.
[/quote]
I mean, that's depressing. xD Shuddering is bad.
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A college degree is not job training.


A CS program is about data structures, the algorithms to manipulate the structures, and the logic to turn those algorithms into massive applications.

The languages they teach are secondary. The school should teach you a few if you don't know any, but a good school will have classes that require you to learn 3-4 languages before you are done. C++, Java, Eiffel, Scheme, C#, Python, and more, will be options. You will also likely pick up SQL. You will be encouraged to work on other languages that you like, and that is a good thing. You and your peers can pick up as many new technologies and languages as you want.

The critical component of the BS in CS is not that you know how to program in today's current hot language, but that you will have the skills to program in ANY programming language, that you can learn ANY programming langage asked of you, and that you can learn, unlearn, and relearn technologies as the come available by knowing all the fundamentals in the field.

A good programmer from the 1950s could be dropped into the modern day, pick up a book on C#, and once he got over the amazement at how far computers have advanced, would be able to apply the same rules of logic and structure with today's language as he did in Fortran, Lisp, and Cobol that he used in the 50's. Each generation of programming languages and tools allows developers to work at a higher level than the one before; yet with each round of advancements the rules of logic and the underlying data structures and algorithms are the same.
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[quote name='Confirm4Crit' timestamp='1326593063' post='4902838']
[quote name='Telastyn' timestamp='1326572733' post='4902750']
I shudder to think how far behind you'll be with that curriculum.

Anyways, back to your original post: Yes, just like anything else, more experience in something allows you to more easily learn advanced topics and make variants on existing knowledge easier to learn.
[/quote]
I mean, that's depressing. xD Shuddering is bad.
[/quote]

I disagree. It is on par with many AA and AS programs I have seen.

Remember that an AA or AS is not the basic entry-level ticket to a programming job. That's a bachelor's degree.

The AA or AS program is something you would see in an office worker, such as a secretary or salesman (who isn't going into technical sales) or similar office professionals. It would enable the person to work closely with the regular programmers and not feel dumb. It is also an intermediate step to do exactly what was described -- get your general education and associates degree at a less expensive community college, then transfer to a bigger university for the BS degree where you focus on the topics.

I agree it could have been a little more heavy with CS topics, but it isn't so far out of touch with what many schools do.
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[quote name='tom_mai78101' timestamp='1326567589' post='4902718']
Supplemental questions that may or may not be added to the topic:

How does school that teaches you CS force you to study by yourself? What should I do, if my school doesn't force me to do anything, more like "giving you a laid-back option of learning" and "unable to encourage students to learn"?

I'm in my third year of CS, and I still don't feel like my school is forcing me to do something, other than staying above the passing grade thresholds.
[/quote]

If you feel that you are being under challenged, then it is up to you to push yourself more. Do not strive to merely pass, strive to excel. If you are still under challenged you can always take on a job, enroll in more classes/elective credits, participate in other organizations, or tackle outside projects.

School is not there to force you to do anything. All they are required to do is to provide some metric to evaluate your performance and give you a grade that tells people that you have some basic competence in the subject.

I like to think of it like this: In what other time in your life will you have an opportunity to do nothing else but expand your knowledge? Even if you do not end up using your degree directly, knowledge is one thing that can not be taken away (ok barring a traumatic brain injury of course).

So I agree with BCullis that you need to adjust your attitude.
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Example from my own history:

In a class on assembly language, one of our first assignments was to write a looping program to draw a Christmas tree.

All that was required was a set of alternating glyphs in as a big triangle, then a solid block of different glyphs as a small square for a trunk. Not too hard, yet a bunch of students didn't get it right and got poor grades.

I wanted to learn more. I wanted to do more. I investigated what bits to set to turn on color, and asked what else I could do to make my program more awesome. My tree was green, with a white star on top, and throughout the tree were either random other glyphs in colors (such as the universal money sign that looks like a pointy ball), and occasional blinking white dots with green backgrounds.


I did not do all that to try to show off. I did it mostly because it seemed like fun. And secondarily because it was something I wanted to learn. Obviously I ended up getting A's in the course, but it was mostly because I love the field and seek my own challenges.

Sticking to the bare minimum is enough to pass, but is that really what you want out of life? Life will certainly pass, it is up to you to do something with it.
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I mean, I feel I like I'm pushing myself if I'm studyin' on my own time, with no one prodding myself.

[url="http://www.khanacademy.org/"]http://www.khanacademy.org[/url] is a neat resource xD
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[quote name='Telastyn' timestamp='1326564181' post='4902698'] If you're in college pursuing a Bachelor's in Computer Science and aren't studying algorithms and data structures your freshman year, you're in a horrible program. [/quote]
You could equally well be in an average-to-middling program.

The majority of incoming freshman who declare a CS major, have no useful background in programming (many have no background at all), and scant knowledge of mathematics. First year is often spent teaching basic programming proficiency, and catching up on maths/physics and general university requirements (English, writing...). Advanced students may be allowed to skip straight to second year courses, but that's by no means a given :(
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[quote name='Confirm4Crit' timestamp='1326686330' post='4903119']
I mean, I feel I like I'm pushing myself if I'm studyin' on my own time, with no one prodding myself.
[/quote]

Welcome to adulthood.

The only truly compelling forces in your life are your own. You can let those be the drives you have; to eat, sleep, and otherwise care for physical needs. Few people find that life satisfying. You can choose to make commitments to others and follow through with them. You can choose to set goals and push yourself to reach them. You can choose to develop your skills and talents.

It is your own job to prod yourself forward. Friends and family might help with the effort, but it is only you with the ability to act on it.
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[quote name='frob' timestamp='1326721205' post='4903220']
[quote name='Confirm4Crit' timestamp='1326686330' post='4903119']
I mean, I feel I like I'm pushing myself if I'm studyin' on my own time, with no one prodding myself.
[/quote]

Welcome to adulthood.

The only truly compelling forces in your life are your own. You can let those be the drives you have; to eat, sleep, and otherwise care for physical needs. Few people find that life satisfying. You can choose to make commitments to others and follow through with them. You can choose to set goals and push yourself to reach them. You can choose to develop your skills and talents.

It is your own job to prod yourself forward. Friends and family might help with the effort, but it is only you with the ability to act on it.
[/quote]


YAY, I'm an adult! xD. But I defiantly understand what ya mean.
[quote name='swiftcoder' timestamp='1326695630' post='4903151']
[quote name='Telastyn' timestamp='1326564181' post='4902698'] If you're in college pursuing a Bachelor's in Computer Science and aren't studying algorithms and data structures your freshman year, you're in a horrible program. [/quote]
You could equally well be in an average-to-middling program.

The majority of incoming freshman who declare a CS major, have no useful background in programming (many have no background at all), and scant knowledge of mathematics. First year is often spent teaching basic programming proficiency, and catching up on maths/physics and general university requirements (English, writing...). Advanced students may be allowed to skip straight to second year courses, but that's by no means a given [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/sad.png[/img]
[/quote]
Humor me. If I did get the chance to hand pick a stronger program, where should I go? Any suggestions?
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[quote name='swiftcoder' timestamp='1326695630' post='4903151']
[quote name='Telastyn' timestamp='1326564181' post='4902698'] If you're in college pursuing a Bachelor's in Computer Science and aren't studying algorithms and data structures your freshman year, you're in a horrible program. [/quote]
You could equally well be in an average-to-middling program.

The majority of incoming freshman who declare a CS major, have no useful background in programming (many have no background at all), and scant knowledge of mathematics. First year is often spent teaching basic programming proficiency, and catching up on maths/physics and general university requirements (English, writing...). Advanced students may be allowed to skip straight to second year courses, but that's by no means a given [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/sad.png[/img]
[/quote]

That's kinda sad. I haven't been out of college that long...

Even without programming background, students were expected to take the data structures and algorithms course freshman year where I went (though I wasn't in the CS program). Picking up a programming language & basics was considered something you got alongside the theory.

Hell, even my non-CS program required programming with the reasoning that any intelligent person could work out how to do the basic problems (make a series of 4 LEDs blink in order for example).
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[url="http://www.broward.edu/images/ProgramSheets/2195.pdf"]http://www.broward.edu/images/ProgramSheets/2195.pdf[/url] is the most intense thing I see at my [i]community [/i]college, but I'll look for more later.
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[quote name='Confirm4Crit' timestamp='1326729479' post='4903268']
Humor me. If I did get the chance to hand pick a stronger program, where should I go? Any suggestions?[/quote]
Stanford, MIT, Chapel Hill NC, UC Berkley? And that's just a few from the cream of the crop... There are literally hundreds of universities with strong CS programs.
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There's the difference in that last link.

It is not a Computer Science program.

It is a "Computer Programming & Analysis" (trade degree) program.


If your goal is to get the associates degree and then transfer to a bigger school for the [b]computer science[/b] degree (which is the standard entry ticket) then the academic program will be fine. It is weaker than those who studied CS to begin with, but it should not be a fatal blow to your education.
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[quote name='frob' timestamp='1326781665' post='4903517']
There's the difference in that last link.

It is not a Computer Science program.

It is a "Computer Programming & Analysis" (trade degree) program.
[/quote]
I understand, I was just throwing that up as a list of classes I can tack onto my AA as I enter a university.

On a side note, I have been looking around in out of state universities a little more strongly. I'd lose a Florida only grant, but if it's worth it, it's worth it.
And I've been hanging around with some friends in UF, they're Educational Plan looks on par with mine.

I have a feeling I'm over reacting. xD
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[quote name='Telastyn' timestamp='1326730459' post='4903274']
That's kinda sad. I haven't been out of college that long...

Even without programming background, students were expected to take the data structures and algorithms course freshman year where I went (though I wasn't in the CS program). Picking up a programming language & basics was considered something you got alongside the theory.

Hell, even my non-CS program required programming with the reasoning that any intelligent person could work out how to do the basic problems (make a series of 4 LEDs blink in order for example).[/quote]
Glancing at [url="http://www.cs.fsu.edu/current/undergrad/flowchart.pdf"]the offerings from Florida State[/url], which my colleagues suggest to be a fairly respected CS program in that area, they don't offer a Data Structures course until Junior year.

In [url="http://www.suffolk.edu/college/21801.html"]our own program[/url], which is considered quite rigorous (albeit lightly attended), data structures is a second-year requirement. And we have trouble filling second-year courses - our bleed-off of rising freshmen to quote-unquote "easy" majors in the humanities, is staggering.

As little as 5 years ago we could rely on incoming freshmen to have some programming background, even if it was only a little PHP/MySQL. Now we are lucky if they have a solid grasp on highschool-level algebra... Such are the changing times, especially for schools that don't run admissions based on scientific excellence. Departments adapt their curriculum to suit, or wither away.
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Indeed, my university now condenses algorithms and data structures into one class, spring sophmore year. Freshman year is C++ 101, then C++/STL; then java/swing(!?!) before algorithms & data structures...

No wonder we can't find any competent programmers anymore...
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[quote name='Telastyn' timestamp='1326851822' post='4903860']
Indeed, my university now condenses algorithms and data structures into one class, spring sophmore year. Freshman year is C++ 101, then C++/STL; then java/swing(!?!) before algorithms & data structures...

No wonder we can't find any competent programmers anymore...
[/quote]
I'm just gonna start teaching myself, I want to become a competent programmer :D
If there's a will, there's a way. Hopefully.
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I'll echo shadowisadog's excellent advice from the first page, about 'school not making you a good programmer'. It's true of pretty much every program in university, but especially in CS departments. CS courses may teach you the tools you need, but it's up to you to become proficient with them, and ultimately to excel as a programmer.

Equally, I'll echo frob's statement that a good programmer can switch languages at will - languages are just tools. Don't worry about what language each college uses, etc. just practice till you are a strong programmer, and the rest will follow naturally.

The point, is that learning is pretty much on you, even in university. And you'll probably learn more and faster on your own terms than you do in courses (but courses do serve to open your mind to things you would otherwise have missed, plus the piece of paper at the end of it all is invaluable).
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