I would love to major in CS but I have no affinity for math.

Hi, I’m currently a senior in high school and looking to possibly major in computer science! Title basically explains my predicament. And, sorry, long post ahead :frowning:

So as far back as I can remember, I vividly recall displaying an interest in comp sci even though I had no idea what it encompassed. The concept of being able to create something that would make a difference in someone’s life was just exciting. My dad’s also in the industry so I more or less grew up around computers/programming, which then rubbed off on me. The first time I was definitively like “yeah I’m gonna major in computer science!” was probably sixth grade.

Of course, in recent years I’ve worked on my comprehension of the subject so I’m not entirely clueless anymore, haha. I ended up completing 3 out of 4 comp sci classes offered at my school and did alright in both AP CSP and CS A (5 and 4 respectively, but probably means nothing as I expect actual college courses to be significantly harder). Outside of school I’ve also done some tinkering with 2D game development, comp sci curriculum creation (for an outreach project; mostly principles), a bit of front-end web development, and basic robotics, all of which I have enjoyed greatly. Not a whole lot of stuff otherwise, unfortunately; much of what I know is probably suuuper rudimentary too. And I can’t shake the feeling that I’m extremely underqualified and will probably get denied from every CS program I apply to. But that’s a story for another time haha. My feelings towards computer science haven’t changed since I took my first engineering class in 7th grade, and now I want to seriously consider pursuing a degree.

That is, in theory. Here’s the other side of the equation: my capacity for math is, quite frankly, nil.

I’ve never taken any honours math classes and the one time I did (tested into one), I dropped the class in lieu of a normal math class after two weeks because I had a D. Sure, in college prep math classes I maintained an A with almost no effort and even doubled up on math classes my first two years of high school, but I don’t think those can even begin to hold a candle to honours courses. To add insult to injury, I have not touched calculus beyond a single precalc class (got a B and a C, yay!) that covered limits, derivatives, and some other basic material. When I tried AP Calc AB, I dropped the class shortly afterwards because of my subpar grade.

It may be that I do have some capacity for math and I just happened to be in a bad place—I don’t recall necessarily struggling much in any math class before precalc and my mental health was particularly poor around the time I took it (slowly getting better now). That meant I had a pretty weak foundation leading into AP Calc. But I can say for sure I have never an an affinity for it, so majoring in computer science would definitely be an adventure accompanied by lots of ups and downs.

I’m well aware that comp sci is very math-heavy and if I don’t improve, I’m going to fail (lol, bold of me to assume I’m going to get accepted into a CS program to begin with). Thus, I’ve already set my sights on working my way up from square one using resources like Khan Academy, as I also have no doubt that there are holes in my math foundation.

I also know there are other related majors that are less intensive/other majors that have been suggested to me, but none of them have struck the same chord. Of the alternatives that I’m more seriously considering, they’d be software engineering, marketing, and nursing.

Knowing this, would I be better off pursuing another major that I have less passion for (but would possibly do better in) or should I power through computer science? Thanks in advance!

My first suggestion would be to do research into technology-related majors and careers. It’s true that a CS degree has a significant math component, though easily getting through mainline math and being challenged by AP isn’t necessarily a no-go.

Software development/engineering, information systems, HCI, game design, etc., all have varying math/development balances that may be worth looking at.

As a current CS major who also has no affinity for math, I believe in you. I got a C in AP Calc AB (nearly a D). Furthermore, I didn’t do great in Calc 2 in college either (got a D), but do not think that not doing well in math will be the end all be all for CS.

The primary reason CS is math heavy is to develop problem solving skills, not necessarily for you to be able to apply Euler’s method off the top of your head while doing a coding internship. Like RichInPitt said, there’s so much variety in the CS field that you can find something that isn’t math heavy that fits you well.

You will also likely take math courses that deviate from what you’re used to in high school math. For example, Discrete Math (that’s CS-focused) is a pretty big deviation from any other math class you might have to take. It’s more conceptual, more abstract. I found that I did better in those classes than I did in classes like Calculus, you may feel the same way!

Now you also don’t want to tank your GPA, so put in a concerted effort into your math classes when you get to college, of course (go to office hours, ask a ton of questions, always do your homework, take advantage of free peer tutoring, basically prioritize your math classes when it comes to work distribution). But please don’t think you can’t major in CS because you’re not great at math. Most CS majors I know didn’t like Calculus, didn’t like Linear Algebra, etc. You’ll find plenty of folks who are dreading those classes as much as you might be. You can cry together and get through it together!