Hate Doing Computer Science: What to Do?

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Here’s what to do when you hate doing your Computer Science degree:

You really only have two options: you can finish the degree despite hating it, or you can abandon your computer science degree program.

That might mean finding a new major, a new school, a new career path, or any number of other choices.

It comes down to weighing the cost of staying versus leaving your program.

So if you want to learn all about your options when you don’t like Computer Science, then this article is for you.

Keep reading!

Hate Doing Computer Science: What to Do? (All the Info)

Which Computer Science Degree Are You Pursuing?

We’re tackling a big, personal, complicated topic today.

There is a lot to get through, and I don’t stand a chance of keeping this concise unless I narrow the discussion down a little bit.

There are a lot of potential computer science degrees and certifications out there.

You can get a bachelor’s (or undergrad) degree in the field.

You can pursue countless variations of professional degrees, including master’s and PhDs.

There are also bootcamp certifications and countless other unofficial, not-quite-degree paths to take.

Each of those paths has its own considerations, and it’s too much to cover in one article.

So, I’m going to cut out most of it and just talk about a bachelor’s in computer science today.

Some of the advice you read might be applicable to other programs or circumstances, but with this narrower focus, I can take you through prominent considerations and hopefully help you explore your options and come to a good decision.

Why Do You Hate Computer Science? (4 Reasons)

Ok. You’ve been pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer science, and you’re far enough in now to know that you absolutely hate this degree program.

That’s a tough place to be. 

Fortunately, you still have some options.

It might make sense to power through and finish the degree.

You might be better off switching majors or making other major changes.

There are a few questions we need to ask to help you arrive at a good conclusion, and the first is the most obvious.

Why do you hate your degree program?

The answer will heavily impact what you should do to remedy the situation.

Let’s consider the four most common reasons that people come to hate computer science studies.

#1 Time

It’s a time-consuming degree program.

For most people, getting a bachelor’s in computer science requires more than 10 hours a week of studying.

That’s in addition to however many course hours you’re taking, programs you’re enrolled in, projects you have to complete, and everything else going on in your life.

One of the reasons computer science is considered a hard major is the time that is involved.

Other hard majors might require difficult critical thinking skills, but there’s an opportunity to quickly solve problems (such as in math and physics).

With computer science, even if you’re really good at it, it still eats up a lot of time.

If time management is why you hate the program so much, then keep that in mind when I take you through some of your options later.

There are definitely alternative study paths and career paths that could free up time, and you might not have to abandon computer science.

#2 Coding

Every computer scientist will tell you that their field isn’t just coding.

In fact, you’re probably far enough into your own program that you can explain that fact to people.

While it’s true that computer science is about a whole lot more than just coding, coding is still a significant part of the process.

For some people, solving problems, coming up with algorithms, and thinking about the deep concepts of computer science is a lot of fun.

But, grinding away late into the night to try to tweak the actual code you need to finish a homework assignment or project is not fun at all.

If you hate coding, then that’s going to present problems to you as a computer scientist.

Fortunately, there are areas of research and facets of computer science that you can pursue that require a lot less coding.

You can look into systems management, signal processing, cognitive science, and a number of other adjacent fields that allow you to focus on the aspects of computer science that you enjoy while minimizing coding.

#3 Logic

On the other hand, coding might not be the problem at all.

For some people who get into computer science, they find that thinking like a computer isn’t fun at all.

It’s not that problem solving is miserable, but reducing everything into the raw logical terms that a computer can actually follow is exhausting.

If that sounds familiar to you, then there is good news.

Your computer science prerequisites are easily going to transition into a lot of other STEM fields that might not prove so frustrating.

I’ll talk about how to explore other majors a little later, but if your point of frustration is centered around the specifics of putting things into machine-understandable terms, you might do really well in math-related fields, or any of the major sciences.

If, however, you don’t like having to work around logic in a more general sense, then STEM in general might not be for you.

Remember, that’s absolutely ok.

There are a lot of fields that focus on creativity, or social skills, or any number of marketable abilities that aren’t pure logic.

#4 Other Aspects

Computer science isn’t just coding, algorithms, and logic.

It explores the very ideas of how thinking and cognition works.

It considers human-machine interfacing and how to improve communication on both ends of that exchange.

Really, it delves deep into a lot of mind-bending topics.

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds.

Most of all, if none of those aspects of computer science truly, deeply excite you, then the field is likely to prove exhausting.

Most successful computer scientists are driven by a nerdy passion for what they do.

They genuinely like it.

Regardless of why, if you don’t find that passion, or if there’s something specific in computer science that drives you insane, then you’re probably going to want alternatives to a career in this field.

I have plenty of suggestions for you, but before that, we need to consider a few more vital questions.

How Far Along Are You in Computer Science Degree?

In some cases, this question actually matters more than what we’ve already discussed.

If you’re in your very first semester of computer science and you already know that you hate it, there’s basically no reason to stay in the program.

Go find something that doesn’t make you miserable.

Conversely, if you’re only admitting this half way through your final semester, it might be reasonable to grit through the last several weeks and finish the degree.

Once you have a computer science degree, you can look into viable transitions for continued education or career paths.

One thing is for sure, the difference between a computer science degree and 97% of a degree is night and day for most hiring managers, even if you’re not applying for computer science jobs.

How Invested Are You in Your Computer Science Degree?

That is not a financial question.

It’s a personal question.

To answer this, you need to think about why you went into computer science in the first place.

What drives you?

How much is finishing the degree worth to you, on a personal level?

You can think about how far along you are and why you hate computer science while you answer this question.

This is all about fleshing out the context of your situation.

Are you a fourth generation computer scientist who is following a family legacy?

Did you just pick the major because you heard it would lead to well-paying jobs later?

Your level of investment matters, and this is what is going to lead to some advice that might differ from things you have heard in other places.

If you’re invested enough, it’s worth enduring some pain along the way.

If there’s a goal, and that goal is worth overcoming your hatred of computer science, then stay the course.

If you’re not invested, then there’s absolutely no reason to stick with something you hate.

There has to be a drive, so figure out your motivations and just how much they mean to you.

How Are Your Finances?

The altruist in each of us will say that money doesn’t matter.

Only happiness matters.

It’s ok to remember those lessons and pursue a fulfilling life, but unfortunately, money does matter.

There’s a big difference between someone who has college paid for them and the freedom to switch majors without incurring tens of thousands of dollars of debt and someone who is going to have to skip meals if they delay their graduation by a semester.

It’s not fun, but it’s important to take stock of your finances.

If you can afford to leave computer science behind, then that seems perfectly reasonable.

If abandoning the degree program is going to make it difficult to keep the lights on, then you have to weigh miseries.

Nothing about this is pleasant, but you have to decide if you would rather be broke or working a job you can’t stand.

Everyone’s answer is different, so think carefully about who you are in this context.

What Should You Do With Your Computer Science Studies? (4 Options)

You might think of some other important questions that matter to your situation, and that’s great.

This is a big decision, so weigh everything as best you can.

But, I’m trying to keep this focused, so we’re done with the self-reflection questions.

It’s time to get into solutions.

Basically, you have two options.

You can finish the degree, or you can not.

The second option there comes in a lot of forms.

You might switch majors.

You might drop out of college.

You might find a creative solution that I’ve never heard of before.

Regardless, you’re either finishing the degree or you aren’t.

I’ll talk about finishing the degree as one of the options below.

Everything else is exploring ways to get out of your degree path with as little collateral damage as possible.

#1 Explore Other Majors

If you want to get out of computer science, this is the starting point.

You can look into a ton of other majors and see if there’s a transition that checks your boxes.

You might be able to do this in a way that is satisfying, timely, cost-effective, and still good for your career plans.

Computer science is pretty deep in STEM, so if you’re more than about two semesters into the program, then you probably have covered prerequisites for a lot of other STEM fields.

Look into every science that piques your interest along with engineering programs.

Electrical engineering is the closest to computer science (within engineering disciplines), so that might be a good or bad thing.

On the other hand, your time in computer science might be enough to show you that STEM isn’t for you.

It’s good to know that before you invested 20 years into your career.

In that case, explore very different majors and see if you can find a good fit.

Naturally, this option depends on your answers to the previous questions, so take this advice for what it’s worth.

#2 Work With Your Advisor

When you get far enough into a degree program, you should be assigned an advisor.

This is someone who is an expert in computer science and presumably teaches some of the classes you might take.

This person is a resource.

Not all advisors are as effective as each other, but it’s still someone you can reach out to for advice.

They can help you weigh your options and really explore what you dislike about computer science.

They might be able to make personal recommendations about how to switch gears.

They might help you find a double major path that allows you to push through and finish your degree while opening up new options at the same time.

They also know how your specific school works, so they can give specific advice on how to schedule classes around your new strategy.

#3 Push Through

As I mentioned before, it might make sense to power through and finish the degree.

If you’re close to finishing, can’t afford to quit, or have any other powerful motivator, it’s ok to finish even though you dislike the content of the degree program.

Regardless of why you hate the program, if you think you can finish, that’s worth considering.

After all, a degree in computer science doesn’t lock you into a lifetime of work in that field.

Once you finish, you can get a temporary job in computer science until you find a better path.

You can go into teaching.

You can abandon the field entirely and just use your degree as a bargaining chip to try to negotiate for better jobs and pay in whatever you end up doing.

In the interest of making this decision as simple as possible, here’s a way to think about it.

If you believe you are capable of finishing the degree, that’s probably your best choice.

If you know you won’t finish, then transition out of computer science as quickly as you can without burning bridges.

#4 Leave School

Until recently, this idea was largely taboo in the United States and many other western countries.

Even today, it’s taboo in a lot of circles.

But, you don’t absolutely have to have a college degree no matter what.

There are plenty of challenging, fulfilling career paths that don’t require college, and many of them pay quite well.

It’s also ok to make “meager” wages doing something that you truly love. 

Obviously, this is all too personal for me to generalize it in an article to the masses.

You have to make this decision for yourself.

But, if you know that college isn’t right for you, it’s better to admit that sooner rather than later.