Like most people, l grew up inclined to become a medical doctor. That’s what we were all told to do at some point. If one had the brains or the potential, medicine was the standard path to follow.
The first day of college classes, l attended a Chemistry class and we were doing Quantum Chemistry. Chemistry is a prerequisite for those planning to become doctors. I was fortunate enough to also attend an introductory to Computer Science class called Computational Networking.
I was bored in Chemistry class. There was nothing entirely new that l learned in the class. However, l was amazed by my Computer Science class. Everything in the class was entirely new. The class gave me the power to create. I made a small program that displayed a responsive button and a text area.
As l go into my second year, l would like to share some of the important things l have learned from studying Computer Science and why you should consider studying it.
1. Computer Science teaches you different ways of thinking.
Computer science involves the use of logical thinking. Most students drop out of their introductory to computer science classes because the thinking involved might be so foreign to them. The best way is to stick with it until one understands it. Thinking logically is a valuable skill to have – you can use it in some of your university classes and in your career even if it doesn’t involve programming.
2. It is okay to make mistakes and fail.
Prior to studying computer science, most situations were make or break for me. Computer Science taught to not be afraid; to experiment; and to learn from failure. Writing a computer program often involves writing computer code with bugs ( mistakes ). One has to go through the process of debugging the code so that a program runs correctly. This can be a frustrating process for novice programmers. When one begins programming their code usually has a lot of bugs. The debugging process often requires patience and care.
3. It teaches you team work and to do away with your ego
Computer Science programs can be as simple as creating a single button and a complete web browser. Writing complex programs often requires a partner or two. When writing a program as a team, a lot of co-ordination is required. This involves a lot of communication and planning with your partners. This can be from a single day to an entire month.
Programming can be challenging. Even the best programmers don’t know everything. It’s normal to ask for help from your fellow students, teaching assistants and professors. Computer Science taught me that asking for help is not a sign of weakness but rather a passion for understanding. It is okay not to know something as long as you make an effort to find someone who can help you.
4. You get to play master of your own little universe…well…almost.
Despite the image of Computer Science the media often portrays, Computer Science is not about making platforms like Facebook or games like Angry Birds. It is simply a way of solving problems. The skills that can be acquired from studying Computer Science, for example thinking logically and algorithmically, can be applied to real-world problems.
Problems that often seem daunting can be solved with code. Computer science helps you to break complex problems into simple problems whose solutions can often be applied to the complex problems. You get to think like a computer except you have the freedom to identify problems and come up with their solutions. This ability to solve problems is very empowering.
One of the great advantages that come with being proficient in computer science is you get to take part in hackathons. At hackathons you get to make cool stuff. Ideas can be converted into products in under two days. Hackathons are also a great way to meet mentors and learn about new technologies and projects. I fondly remember my very first hackathon because l made an app for a smartwatch and met Alexis Ohanian.
Thanks to the diversity in IT, there are other majors that you can pick besides Computer Science. Which ones would you suggest, and why?