Computer Science is actually the hardest degree at university
Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg… they don’t know the struggle
I’m a final year Software Engineering student who’s seen many things at uni. This is why I can tell you: Honestly, Compsci is the hardest degree and you all know it.
I can immediately hear the cries of objection from the physics students, but hear me out. A degree is more than just reading lists and exams. While computer science doesn’t have a reading list, it has some of the highest contact hours and toughest exams – there’s much more to a computer science degree than people realise.
There’s the image problem
There’s a misconception thanks to the successes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk that a Computer Science degree is easy, (three of those dropped out of university, the fourth didn’t even study computer science).
This suggests it’s the kind of subject where a 17-year-old can rock up with an idea, hack it together and Yahoo will buy it for $30million. It’s even developed a bit of a rock star image. But that’s simply not the case. It’s just not socially cool.
And the coursework is something else. For our first assignment in second year we had two weeks to write a Java algorithm that could solve Sudoku puzzles. Can you do that? Turns out neither can I. It’s really hard.
Explaining what you do is impossible
It really is. Software Engineering – basically Computer Science with a more employable title – is the ultimate conversation killer to the most popular question asked at university – “what do you study?”
I spent 12 months as a software developer intern at Disney EMEA’s head office in London and it doesn’t matter how I explained my job to my mum, thanks to her everyone back home still thinks I worked in the stores. Although in her defence she can at least stay awake while I try and explain what it is I actually did. Bless her.
No, I can’t fix your PC
I don’t know what it is about this one, and it’s not that I don’t want to help – I genuinely can’t. For starters, I have no idea what you’ve done to it, or how many viruses and malware you’ve put on there trying to pirate the latest Game of Thrones or Leicester vs Spurs game. Or, if it’s your hard drive or cpu playing up I’m as useful as a chocolate teapot.
I’m not a hardware guy. I can program a neural net, calculate the maximum payload for an aero-bot deployed to Mars, build a 3D solar system that runs in your browser, make a watch tell you the weather – but I can’t fix your PC. Sorry. Try turning it off and on again.
Other degrees are actually quite easy
I can hear the physics students (if there was an award for biggest moaners) calling “but the worst maths you do is A-Level trigonometry!” There’s no denying Mathematical and Theoretical Physics may feature some tricky algebra, but there’s also no denying a degree doesn’t have to have maths to challenge you.
Law for example has books on its reading list so big you can bulk up just turning the pages on some of those things. Essays too can be difficult to tackle in their own right and the English Literature department have written a book on essays.
But lets face it, the hardest part of any of those courses is staying awake during the lectures. And I’m not sure some courses even have lectures at all – Film Studies I’m looking at you.
As for the rest? Languages like to talk the talk, but who are they kidding. Drama is much ado about nothing and History and Interpol have as much class as a communist utopia, not hard at all. Biology students can sleepwalk their way through exams like the host of a parasitic apocrita. Psychology is no harder than any mother degree and as for the Social ‘Sciences’, trigger warning: my cat could do your degree.
The only one I’ve purposely left out is Geography. Geography often gets a hard time, which I think is unfair. I’ve sat in B23 in the late hours, in Rosser and PJM lounges at 4am debugging horrendous C code that just won’t compile and if there’s ever a student stuck in there with you, it’s a Geography student, working on some of the most beautifully coloured maps you have ever seen.
It’s the only course that even comes close to the difficulty of a Computer Science degree. Colouring in without going over the lines as well as they do, is just something you cannot teach.