Hey man, I’m going to give you my perspective, experience, and insight on this. I’ve read through this thread, and I’ve read through responses to this question on other forums, and they typically go the same. I find that concerning, because sometimes, I get the feeling that people are kind of just saying things or being negative in general. So, here you go.
“I’m not very good at math.”
“If you’re not good at math, you’re going to have a bad time!”
“…So much math…”
That attitude right there is why so many people get weeded out of Computer Science and Computer Engineering programs. Is math really hard, or are you just not familiar with it and out of practice? What do you do when you try something and you discover you are not any good?
This happens with a lot of things, playing a musical instrument, drawing, painting, mathematics, running, bench pressing, programming, video games, etc.
No one is naturally good at math. Some people might be familiar with logic, because they grew up playing with puzzles or reading a lot. But a lot of us have to work at it.
Randy Couture, a champion mixed martial artist, once said, “Fighting is 90% mental, 10% physical. The workouts are the easy part. Getting into that ring, telling yourself you’re a champion, telling yourself you’re a winner, that’s the hard part. That’s the impossible part.”
Obvious bro-science aside, that quote can relate to anything. When I started playing guitar the noise was dull, out of tune, and burned my fingers. Pressing the tip of my thumb against the tip of my middle finger or index finger the next day hurt so bad, like I had touched an oven burner or something. But, guess what, because I wanted to sound like Zakk Wylde and Randy Rhodes, I picked up that stupid thing and carried on.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that pushing through the pain is what makes one a champion. Take physical pain out of the equation and put something else in there: Embarrassment, anguish, anger, impostor syndrome, or anything else that you may have experienced. My first College Algebra test I got a 61. In my country (United States), you need a 70 to pass, and that is not considered very good.
My first semester in college, my first math class (which wasn’t even the right math, I didn’t test into Calculus) and I’m already failing on the first test. What did I do wrong? I studied, just like everyone else! I got the right answers on the homework, isn’t the test just like the homework? This is bullshit!
I went home, pissed off, and hit the heavy bag for a while. If I can’t even pass fucking college algebra, how can I pass Trigonometry, or Pre-Calculus, or Calculus, or Calculus II, or Mechanics and Waves, or Electricity and Magnetism, or LIFE?
All weekend I was salty about it. Didn’t once think to go to the professor or TA. The next week I did, though. There had been an error on a couple of questions, which brought my grade up to a 74 or something like that. There were another couple of questions where I had made stupid, stupid mistakes. Probably because I was rushing or telling myself the past six weeks “You’re not good at math you’re not good at math you’re not good at math you’re not good at math you fucking suck at math you’re pathetic you shouldn’t be here everyone else is ahead of you you’re not good at math you’re not good at math…”
You get the idea, I was pretty messed up in the head (still am ). So, the next test, I took my time, thought about the question and applied my knowledge appropriately. Got a 100. Same for the Chemistry midterm that semester, I nailed it.
I got through College Algebra, tested out of Trig, got into PreCalc and went into Calc I and Calc II. Did I get 100s on all of my tests? Lol, no. I even failed an assignment or two. But that’s how it goes. THAT’S LIFE, SON. That’s how you learn. Some professors are assholes, and douchebags, and entitled pricks, but most are willing to help you out if you have questions.
I would be willing to bet that there is a Math Lab at your school. Those people are PAID to help you, man! If you try, at least try, have a way to explain what you don’t understand or where you are stuck, so many people are willing to help you.
PatrickJMT is a great resource as well. That website is GOLD for people in undergrad mathematics.
So, now you’re good with the math, awesome. What’s this I’m reading that you need a 4 year degree in CS to be a software engineer? Bro, let me tell you, if you stressed about this CompEng degree like I did, you are going to be outraged, BEYOND PISSED to discover at your first or second dev job that there are people there with no degrees, or an English degree, two History majors, and a Philosophy major. Strong wtf mother f’er I was told I have to have this degree and you don’t have one? I HATE YOU.
Not really, he was a cool guy.
Don’t sweat it man, I work with people that went the self taught route and they are doing well. They even freelance when they’re not working at our company (strong drive and motivation, I like video games and slothing with the cats).
The Calculus isn’t for the computer science stuff, it’s to train your brain to think a different way. Unless you go encryption or something, most programming is basic algebra, if that.
I hope this rambling made sense. Do what you love. I didn’t “love” computer science as a subject, but I loved what it gave me exposure to: Operating System design, embedded systems, firmware development, etc. School doesn’t teach you everything. The little terminal programs, compiler, and file manager you make are to teach you abstract concepts in a concrete manner.
NEVER give up on your dream though. Grab this shit by the balls and go for it. Nothing in life that is worth doing is easy, not success, finding your soulmate, weight loss, powerlifting, NOTHING. Let’s get our head down and do this shit. The best advice I was given was: Hey, shit head, quit crying: It’s only temporary.
It’s only temporary.