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Old 03-08-2011, 11:26 PM   #1
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I aspire to be successful one day (Doesn't everyone? Sadly not). I want to get a degree in computer science and go into programming. I have always been good at programming and related things (HTML and Java are two I'm very good at).

The problem is that I have never done well in school. I am very capable of getting good grades, but I slack off. My cumulative high school GPA is currently around 2.3, if that. I am, however, on an advanced curriculum. 2APs, 4/7 senior classes (As a junior).

My question is, what should I do? In terms of planning my future, that is. What kind of classes should I take for the remainder of high school (One year). Currently, I am in:
-AP Stats (Have taken Precalc previously, sucked at it)
-Physics
-Engineering
-Mythology (lol)
-Morality (Required by catholic school.)
-Geography (Took it in 7th grade so my new school decided it didn't count)
-Spanish 4

I basically said **** it to any advanced course in anything except science and math.

What kind of math will I need? What kind of science will I need? I am looking at taking summer courses for programming and the likes.

tl;dr: what kind of math and science background will I need for a degree in computer science and to be truly set for the world of programming?
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:39 PM   #2
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Well you really should try getting a degree in computer science. That would mean going to a college or university. I wasn't a stellar student in high school - just too many distractions and I didn't see the point. I took quite a few years off and just worked, and then went to university. The academic environment changed everything and I became a really driven student. I had to upgrade some of my high school courses which I did at a local college during the summer. I wouldn't be too concerned about not being a good student at high school. Everything is different in post secondary education.
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:45 PM   #3
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Well you really should try getting a degree in computer science. That would mean going to a college or university. I wasn't a stellar student in high school - just too many distractions and I didn't see the point. I took quite a few years off and just worked, and then went to university. The academic environment changed everything and I became a really driven student. I had to upgrade some of my high school courses which I did at a local college during the summer. I wouldn't be too concerned about not being a good student at high school. Everything is different in post secondary education.
I did forget to mention one detail - I WILL be going to college. I am trying for Morris, a very respectable college with a great computer science degree. I am currently at a college prep school, and have been my whole life.

My sister, and a great friend of mine experienced the same thing - bad in high school, didn't try but they said that everything got 100% easier in college. My only fear is that I don't have this shift. I haven't been doing my homework since 4th grade; I have never gone more than 2 or so weeks doing homework consistently. I just have serious motivation problems. Luckily I do well enough on tests to make up for it, but...
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:50 PM   #4
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Computer Science is less about programming and more about learning how to think about algorithms and solving problems. You will be taking a metric shitton of math for CS. Very little time will actually be spent on teaching you how to program, you will be expected to learn that on your own.

What type of programing would you like to do in the future? Any clue?
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:56 PM   #5
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Computer Science is less about programming and more about learning how to think about algorithms and solving problems. You will be taking a metric shitton of math for CS. Very little time will actually be spent on teaching you how to program, you will be expected to learn that on your own.

What type of programing would you like to do in the future? Any clue?
Couldn't tell you. My options for math next year are pretty slim. I can either take some BS courses or AP Calc. I am obviously going to try for Calc but I wasn't too good at Precalc.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:01 AM   #6
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Oh, and for reference, my SAT scores combat my poor GPA: I got 1850 on the last one and am taking another one this Saturday. Shooting for 1900.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:37 AM   #7
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Math math and more math. I'd enroll in math at the local community college and get your high school to count it (that's what I did).

I'd take Linear Algebra and Diff EQ, along with multi var calc if you really want a head start. Those classes form the basis for all kinds of algorithms. Things like credit card numbers, bar codes, and the like come directly from Lin Alg and the other classes will help you quite a bit. Basically I'd focus on any sort of class that teaches you mathematical problem solving (physics etc.) or some kind of useful mathematics. After all that, once you learn base two number systems you'll be ready to rock the binary world.

As mentioned above, CS classes will focus largely on the math behind it and correct principles in design, programming is something they expect you to learn along the way.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:41 AM   #8
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You will seriously take a metric **** ton of math classes for a CS degree. I took...

Advanced Algebra (because my highschool algebra was awful)
Calc 1
Calc 2
Calc 3
Diff EQ
Linear Algebra

That is actually enough for a math minor where I went to school, but CS students were not allowed math or physics minors. But we were required to have a minor, so mine was history.

Science:
Chem 1
Physics 1
Physics 2
Physics 3

High school classes that will help you include trig, trig, and more trig. And as strong an algebra foundation as you can get. Calculus relies so much on strong trig knowledge. At least mine did. My prof for all 3 classes loved his trig.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:46 AM   #9
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One more thing. The more programming languages you can expose yourself to, the better. After a while, they all start to show their similarities. This is something you can do now that will help you throughout your coding life.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:54 AM   #10
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High school classes that will help you include trig, trig, and more trig. And as strong an algebra foundation as you can get. Calculus relies so much on strong trig knowledge. At least mine did. My prof for all 3 classes loved his trig.
Trig is important? Luckily I was very, very good at trig. I wasn't really good at anything except for Trig in Precalc. I think logically more than academically, if that makes sense. How does this fare with computer science and programming? I "get" things more than I can do them, in an academic sense. That's why I was good at programming and HTML - less plug 'n chug **** and more figuring things out.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:40 AM   #11
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It's probably different depending on the prof and your calc curriculum, but mine was heavy with trig. Probably 80% of my calc questions were trig based. It was hard for me because I was always much better at algebra than trig. But when I finally finished calc 3, my middle name might as well have been Trigonometry.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:47 AM   #12
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Funny, I was very good at trig (maybe the only A I ever got in a math course) but SUCKED at calc. I just didn't get it. Maybe I would now if I had to take it....fortunately I don't.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:03 PM   #13
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What the **** is morriss? Sounds like an unknown **** school to me. If you want to be around the smartest apply to the best schools... Caltech, mit, harvard etc.

I graduated high school with a gpa of like 2.0 after failing tenth and eleventh grades. I went to college and failed the **** out of that while working at the school IT department. After that I just worked in IT and shortly made very good money for a 19 year old.

I don't program but I have friends who are professional programmers

I strongly recommend skipping the four year college and instead

Spend time on your own learning various languages
Write some cool apps with those languages
Use those sample programs and skills/knowledge to get you an internship, paid or unpaid. ****, try to get one now. Work experience counts a shitload more than a degree everywhere in computer job land. Also, if you're set on college, apply to the top schools like I said.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:07 PM   #14
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Also, what do you mean by successful? Be specific.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:20 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Faeflora View Post

Spend time on your own learning various languages
Write some cool apps with those languages
Use those sample programs and skills/knowledge to get you an internship, paid or unpaid. ****, try to get one now. Work experience counts a shitload more than a degree everywhere in computer job land. Also, if you're set on college, apply to the top schools like I said.
While self learning and being self taught is being great, a "programmer" with no college degree in the field is going to have a helluva time getting his foot in the door.

He wouldn't get beyond the online application in most places where under

Experience and Education he has nothing. Especially since he'll be going up against many who can actually put BS (the degree, not the fecal matter) under the education.

As for the OP. Math is important in getting the CS degree almost everywhere. I'd argue that unless you're doing science based programming it's far less important in the real world.

I've got a BS in CS with a minor in Math and used my math for a while just understanding writing software for a bunch of scientists but that was before good project management practices made understanding the math behind a project less important.

At some point if you want to succeed in college you got to buck up and work.

I breezed through HS with a 3.8 not paying attention to **** by simply doing the easy work that was put in front of me. The work gets harder in college and for me the quality of poon and the amount of parties certainly gave me many more choices than going to class and doing the work.

The biggest problem in college isn't the difficulty of the computer courses (if you're smart), it's all the other bullshit classes you have to take. Math in college for me was much harder and way more labor intensive and time consuming than any software or computer course ever was.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:39 PM   #16
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That's why I say go for an internship ASAP. Whenever he decides to enter the market with or without a degree, he will likely have go through an internship.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:45 PM   #17
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There is no question, I WILL be going to college and getting a four year degree.
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Old 03-09-2011, 01:02 PM   #18
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Calculus, calculus, and more calculus.

You can squeeze by in a stats, trig, or algebra class. If you don't understand what's going on in Calc 1, you're going to implode when you get to Calc 2.

Or, at least, this was my experience when I was a Mechanical Eng. student for a semester and a half.
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Old 03-09-2011, 01:02 PM   #19
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my 2c... CS major, math minor. Started out at a good school in computer engineering (Uof Arkansas, fayetteville), classes were hard, but I learned a lot. But I didn't get the best grades because I'm lazy.

So, that wasn't working very well, got job offers here and there... wanted to leave. Ended up in moving back in with my mom going to the local school that is kinda considered crap... Classes were super easy, still learned a lot, looked like a star compared to most of the rest of the students... barely did homework, brought my grade point up... graduated and now.... where I got the degree doesn't matter at all for 90% of cs jobs... its just that you have one, and that you learned how to do **** right. The big school was better for partying though, and various other distractions.

In the real world, you end up working with people that don't have CS degrees, and therefore don't necessarily write good code. This is annoying, but hey, at the end of the day I look good when my code doesn't break like everyone else does.

My other piece of advice is... don't go to school if you aren't really that driven to get the degree and do the things necessary to make that happen. Its often hard work and if you're lazy and more into partying like I was... its a waste of your time and money. My advice is take a couple years off if you can, get a crappy programming job even... and learn why you need a degree the hard way That way when you go to school you appreciate everything you're learning and it clicks better.

I did a bit of programming at a job in high school, and a couple more jobs while I was in college... When I learned formal programming at school everything kinda clicked as to why the theory is important, and I learned that **** better than my class mates because they just wanted to pass the tests.
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Old 03-09-2011, 01:03 PM   #20
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OP needs to research things a bit more in the real world. Traditional thinking says 'go to college get a degree in X' which is always a good avenue to pursue, especially if you are an academic type. There is nothing wrong with having a degree under your belt.

In the Internet world, such thinking need not apply. Talented individuals turn that on it's head and have companies seeking THEM out, not the other way around. If you want to be a hard core developer and actually work on cool projects, start immersing yourself NOW. If you want to be one of the thousands struggling to get a job after you graduate with degree in hand, do that as well. Or meet yourself in the middle with a degree and some bonafide experience which will mean something when I look at your resume

To be honest the most talented and successful developers I have worked with did not possess degrees in CS or a background in programming academically.

I don't hire people who have gone to college to get a degree in CS unless they have significant real world experience which trumps that. The kind of work we do just does not require that type of education background, 98% of it would not be utilized.
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