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Minor in computer science w/o previous experience?

hotchair5hotchair5 47 replies11 threads Junior Member
Is it doable? Or will I be behind the rest of the class? I'm planning on majoring in either math/chemistry if that helps.
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Replies to: Minor in computer science w/o previous experience?

  • simba9simba9 3269 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Very doable. Plenty of people in your intro CS classes won't have much or any CS experience.
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  • hotchair5hotchair5 47 replies11 threads Junior Member
    What if I ever decide to switch my major to CS? Are there many CS majors who haven't taken AP Comp Sci and such in high school?

    I only recently realized how useful CS can be in getting a job, etc. But from the intro videos I've seen online I really like it and it sounds like a fun and interesting career. I'm just wary of the major because of my lack of previous experience.
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils 4044 replies32 threadsForum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science Forum Champion
    Many CS majors go in with no experience. The playing field is usually level by the end of year 1. You'd be fine.
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  • nanotechnologynanotechnology 2503 replies23 threads Senior Member
    I'm almost finished with my CS minor, and I started out with no programming experience. It's definitely doable. The intro classes start out without assuming you know any programming. If I had discovered programming earlier I might have done a CS major, but I didn't get into it until too late in college to make the switch. But the lack of previous programming wouldn't have been an issue.
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  • hotchair5hotchair5 47 replies11 threads Junior Member
    Really? Wow, I never knew that. I thought most CS majors would have already been done regular and AP CS in high school. So then, does that just mean these people who had taken AP CS in high school are just able to skip a couple intro classes?
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  • nanotechnologynanotechnology 2503 replies23 threads Senior Member
    It depends on the school. Sometimes they can skip an intro class or take a condensed version of the first 2 semesters. At my school, however, no one can skip the first 2 semesters because there are fundamental design concepts that they really want to make sure everyone has.

    Think of it this way: not everyone had AP Physics in high school, but that doesn't prevent them from taking it in college, and some schools will let you skip intro physics if you did take AP Physics. Also, not every school offers AP CS or even any CS classes, so it would be pretty tough to require that going in.
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  • hotchair5hotchair5 47 replies11 threads Junior Member
    Okay, that makes sense. I just have one last question then: what kinds of classes do they look for students to excel in? I know engineering emphasizes math and science, but what about CS?
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  • PhantomVirgoPhantomVirgo 1051 replies37 threads Senior Member
    They definitely want students to excel in math. Excelling in science certainly helps as well.

    For me, my high school didn't offer any kind of computer-related classes outside of basic typing. I didn't even consider CS until my second quarter in college, when I decided to take the intro programming for CS majors (not realizing that I probably should've taken the non-major class) on a whim. I loved it, did well in the class, and now have CS declared as my second major as a rising junior. Trust me, after the first couple lower division classes everyone's on approximately the same skill level regardless of prior experience. My advice to you is to just try it as soon as is feasible and see how it goes.
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  • hotchair5hotchair5 47 replies11 threads Junior Member
    I've already watched bits and pieces of the intro CS classes posted on the MIT youtube channel and I enjoyed those clips and what I learned from them. I also like the idea of making programs, etc., though I don't have any space to fit in any CS type classes for my senior year schedule, so is there any other way I could dabble in the material? or should I just wait until college?
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils 4044 replies32 threadsForum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science Forum Champion
    @hotchair5‌

    codeacademy.com is a great way to learn. I would recommend starting with python.
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  • hotchair5hotchair5 47 replies11 threads Junior Member
    @PengsPhils‌ How in depth does code academy get compared to college courses?
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils 4044 replies32 threadsForum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science Forum Champion
    I can't say as I am actually yet to take a college course in CS. I will say that I am self taught on sites like codeacademy and have worked in a paid programming position for a software/web company. I have taken AP CS as well though, and if AP CS is anything like a college course, then you get a good deal of it. What will be missing from codeacademy is the complex math, algorithms, and more advanced concepts like recursion. Specific methods of designing programs like MVC will also be left off, but that is often not taught until a software development course, or at least a secondary CS course from what I know. What will be the same is the syntax, conventions and basic logical practices, all of which are important to have a strong base in. The first language you learn helps you to learn and be familiar with other languages as well, so knowing how to code before college helps there too. A codeacademy course will be plenty for someone without any CS experience.

    As said before, the playing field will be level after about a year regardless of experience. The experience will help you in that first year though, and perhaps more importantly confirm/deny your interest in CS.
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  • hotchair5hotchair5 47 replies11 threads Junior Member
    I'm actually currently trying it out and I like it, but maybe that's because I've only completed about 5% or so. I have yet to delve into the hardcore coding. Anyway thanks so much for your help and recommendation!
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  • hotchair5hotchair5 47 replies11 threads Junior Member
    Oh and one more question: What would colleges think if I applied as a CS major and I haven't taken AP or regular CS, even though my school offers them. Can it hurt my application even though I do well in math?
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils 4044 replies32 threadsForum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science Forum Champion
    Hm. Idk there. I wouldn't say it has no effect, but I don't think its anything to worry about or lower your safety/match/reach school scale over. It's not like you can do anything about it so don't even think of it. If there's a legit reason, explain it in an essay or something if you can. I thought you were planning to be a Math/Chem major though?
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  • hotchair5hotchair5 47 replies11 threads Junior Member
    Yeah I was planning on a Math/Chem, but Its been hard to choose. I really like Chem, but Math was more of an option just because I'm good at it. Its not necessarily something I would love. I think its more between Chem and CS now though. I had never really considered CS before because I just assumed all of the majors had already taken classes in hs and I would be way behind, but after seeing all the responses to my post I think it's more of a competition between Chem and CS. I like them both, but I'll have to give CS some time.
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  • nanotechnologynanotechnology 2503 replies23 threads Senior Member
    Take the classes for both starting out. After a few college classes, you'll probably have a better sense of what you'd like to do.

    Also, for my two cents on codecademy: it's a great place to start, but it's not going to cover nearly the volume of material you'll get in a college class. I'd start with codecademy, but that will just give you the basics. After that, just start programming something that you want to make. When you run into trouble, use the codecademy forums or take advantage of websites like Stack Overflow. (Honestly, I don't know how people programmed before stackoverflow.)
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