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Top 10 Misconceptions About Computer Science

By Katie Lee on 2017-07-16

When someone thinks about computer science, a flood of thoughts come to mind, some of which are nowhere near the truth of the matter. This article talks about the top 10 misconceptions about computer science and CS degrees.

The first thing that may come to mind when you think about computer science is a bunch of socially awkward nerds. You may even think of that one nerd who helped you in chemistry or the IT guy you always call at work when your computer isn’t working. In reality, it is not just these super smart nerds in the field - though some may fit that profile. Deep down, this is a probably a well-known fact that we just refuse to acknowledge.

Another misconception is that students striving for a degree in computer science only learn programming and coding languages. This is a portion of what they learn, but not all of it. There are other elements of CS such as discrete math and theory that don’t involve programming. The reason we think this one is probably due to the fact that we are under-informed when it comes to the topic.

Some degrees restrict you to a particular field. If you go to med school, you will usually end up in a hospital. However, in computer science you are not restricted to one field but rather, everyone needs a handy dandy computer expert, whether it be for coding for billing or working on video games for a corporation like Bethesda (goodness knows they need to fix their AI and smooth over all the bugs - but where’s the fun in that!). This is a valid reason for learning computer science and if you like this type of job dexterity, you should definitely consider getting a degree.

Many people learn some elements of computer science, such as coding, by themselves. This, however, does not mean that you don’t need to waste money on a degree and that you can learn all of the course by yourself in the comfort of your bed. Aside from the learning of new concepts, the point of going to college is to strengthen your foundation on a topic or, if you know nothing about what you are going into, to build a foundation of knowledge. You can only teach yourself so much so when you inevitably come across a new problem, you wouldn’t be able to solve it since your foundation is so shallow. Thus it is vital that you expand your toolbox by getting a formal degree in the topic and if you become really good you might be able to bargain for a good salary to pay off college!

The fifth wrong sentiment among many is that computer science is both a how and why career. You need students of the field to know what the theory is behind the practice and how to implement a solution. This is a struggle for students trying to take a class in the topic because the classes are not named in a way that indicates whether they are in how or why. Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back if you powered through this misconception and still knew the truth.

When you think about computer scientists, the thing that comes to your mind - aside from them being nerds - is that they can hack absolutely anything. A handful of them might be able to, but not all of them. Those who can are typically self-taught which shows that they need a formal degree because the classes that are taught to students has almost nothing to do with hacking. So don’t be disappointed when you show up to computer science 101 and you learn nothing about hacking.

Please don’t go up to someone who has a degree in CS and ask them what the best phone or laptop is. True, some of them have knowledge in the features of different phones and computers but again, not all of them do. The ones who do have some knowledge have the same information as other people. It’s not like Samsung or Alienware send all of their product designs to every computer scientist.

“Creative” fields in some minds would be that of artistry or music. Computer science is usually not considered creative. This is totally wrong. Computer science makes video games and different apps possible. The person using photoshop is probably very creative but so are the people who made photoshop.

“Computer sciences majors can always fix your broken tech!” Some of these students and graduates can but it’s most likely due to the fact that they learned how to on their own. You don’t necessarily learn to fix every gadget in the class, it is just not relevant to the course curriculum. But if a CS kid had a cool teacher who taught more than what was required, props to him or her for being dedicated.

The final misconception - though there are certainly many more out there - is that people who study computer science study wifi router and connections as well as viruses. This is simply not true. If you ask someone with a CS degree, “why is my wifi connection so bad,” they will probably know as it is common knowledge that your router either doesn’t expand over your full house, too many people are using it at once or turn it off and on again. This does not mean that they study routers specifically.

These misconceptions show the misinformation that others have who are not taking computer science classes. Computers are the frontier and computer scientists are settling it to help make systems easier for us and in return we will ask you to fix our stuff and recommend phones. Maybe this is how life is supposed to be.

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