Computer Science degree: practical?

<p>A thorough understanding of computers seems, to me, an important part of a 3rd millennium education. </p>

<p>If I had to grade my knowledge of computers, the grade would be a C-, with higher scores for visiting all the major attractions on my PC, like Firefox and Microsoft Word and Excel, but demerits and failing marks for conveniences most young people appear to have no problem using: what is a "smart phone"? what's a "hash tag"? </p>

<p>Many young people know how to take a computer apart and put it together again, and can even charge $20, $30, $40+ an hour for their services--before getting their HS diploma!
There are even 10-year-olds in Romania and Belarus who have enough knowledge to infiltrate the computer systems at the CIA or FBI. Yet I can't even remember my password!</p>

<p>To me, earning a computer science degree seems like the most straightforward way to acquire knowledge of computers. But I'm worried that the degree program will be too bent on theory, and will not teach me the practical aspects of using a computer, and how to fix them when something goes wrong. </p>

<p>Will a computer science degree, in your opinion, give me the knowledge to be both a computer scientist and a skilled tradesman?</p>

<p>From what you want to do, I’d say computer engineering is more what you’re looking for. Computer Science deals more with the software side and applying theories to computers. Computer Engineering deals more with the hardware side.</p>

<p>^^^ Absolutely. Or Computer Information Systems…</p>

<p>Neither of these will tell you how to use a computer or how to fix them.</p>


<p>Assembling a computer from parts ordered online is really easy… you just follow the directions (there are guides out there). You can’t break anything unless you drop it hard. All the plugs and sockets are idiot proof (i.e. it is impossible to place the CPU in the wrong orientation, because it only fits in the socket one way).</p>

<p>If you want to be a true leader and innovator, you need to know theory. If you just want to be a grunt getting paid $10 an hour, then sure, learn to be a “skilled tradesman” (whatever that means) and have a boring job dealing with the idiocy of others…</p>

<p>Computer science is definitely practical. It almost sounds stupid to point out that everything runs on computers, and yet the vast majority of young people I’ve met don’t know any programming. So, knowing how to program puts you ahead of A LOT of people. </p>

<p>Assembling computers: easy. Never done it, but I know it’s really a matter of ordering parts and putting them in a plastic frame. It’s not the same thing as programming. Computer science, I find is better than a more narrow study like “computer information systems,” since it touches upon many aspects of programming rather than just a specific application of computers. A lot of the time it’s good to be familiar with multiple languages and programming methods as well as knowledge of mathematics and logic that you would get with a computer science degree.</p>

<p>Programming, however, has a very different feel from other skills you learn in schools and it’s often very difficult unless you practice a lot and start early.</p>

<p>CS will teach you how to code, not how to put together a computer or troubleshoot or use Twitter…</p>

<p>If you’re talking about troubleshooting and screwing computer parts together, you can just teach yourself, and you wouldn’t need a degree. My dad does that for a living (fixes people’s computers), and while he went to college, he got his bachelor’s degree in microbiology and a master’s of business administration. He says though, that when we went to college computers were really new. CS will teach you about developing software and Comp Engg will teach you about designing hardware.</p>