Thinking of quitting computer science


#1

I’m 15 years old and have loved to program ever since I was 13. I know I’m a bit young to be thinking about this, therefore If you wish, you don’t have to read the entire thing, just needed to get this off my mind.

Anyways, I decided to take my first computer science course in grade 10. It was really fun and furthered my passion for programming, however my mark was not what I expected it to be. Some of you may be thinking that my mark doesn’t matter in grade 10, and you’re right, it doesn’t. However my mark was a reflection of my skill, and according to my mark, I will never become even a mediocre programmer. Although after the course finished I continued to program pushing my self in hopes of getting better, however I am starting to feel that I will never become successful in this field. Currently I am thinking about quitting, however it pains me knowing I’ll never be able to do what I’m passionate about. I have always been a 90 student in math, and thought my background in it will at least earn me an 85 in the course. However I only received an 80. If any of you believe this post is ridiculous, you have the right to do so, and please do not feel the need to reply.


#2

I’ve been through this many times, and contrary to expectations the world didn’t end for me. I used to freak out so much about low grades (and still do at times) because I saw them as the foolproof indicator of success.

Keep in mind that there are many people who haven’t even studied math and still have become productive programmers. I think what matters most is what your passion is directed towards and what you do with it. If you love programming, you’re already more than halfway there. Most programmers don’t have to do math anyway because if someone’s thought of some kind of algorithm or ludicrous problem, chances are, it already exists in a form that you can simply reuse in your own code.

It also sounds like you’re from a high-pressure background. It’s always extremely hard to break away from that kind of thinking because it’s all you’ve ever known, but for your own happiness it’s worth trying to find your own way, although that can definitely be scary sometimes. I used to absolutely worship grades because I thought that getting high grades would absolutely guarantee me reaching my goals. While good grades are nice, they hardly are what propels people to succeed. You have to realize that grades are an extremely shallow metric of how competent a person is, and judging yourself based on that is severely limiting your potential.


#3

Thanks for the reply. I guess I’ll continue too do what I enjoy to the best of my abilities, and not worry about grades as much.


#4

You’re holding yourself to an arbitrary standard (80 v 90) in a single class. If you love to program, don’t worry about how you rank against others ruin it for you. If it’s a joy, it’s a joy and something that’s enjoyable to do is a good thing no matter how it ranks in some global scale of Best Code Ever.

If you’re coding since 13 and already conscious of being a better programmer, I’d plead with you to keep at it. The world needs more coders who care about quality-- we have far too many who think whatever they churn out is good enough. I’ve been coding professionally for 15 years and am better than 90+% of the coders I’ve worked with but all I’ve really learned in that time is that I have so far to go to be the coder I’d like to be. So that’s the downside of coding, that you keep discovering how ignorant you used to be, but that’s life in general really and you have to try to not let that bum you out. Focus on the Getting Better part and not the What I Used To Be. But focus short-term, don’t worry about whether you will “ever be” anything.


#5

What you are describing sounds like an example of a cognitive distortion. It is a habit of thinking that can contribution to depressions. You also are describing a fixed mindset. Consider the difference between that and a growth mindset. Finally, do you allow yourself to have hobbies? It’s okay to “fail” at hobbies.

Finally, check out this keynote by Jacob Kaplan-Moss from PyCon this year.


#6

In my case I was the 95+% student in my computer science class in school and I still don’t feel like I am not even allowed to call myself a competent developer yet. Contrary to what anyone tells you, your marks in school are irrelevant. Yeah they get you into college and whatnot, but beyond that they are just digits. Programming has been my passion since I was 12, im 22 now. I don’t have any fancy education and I have landed a sweet Python developer job and I make AngularJS and NodeJS web apps in my free time. What’s the moral of the story? If programming is your passion never stop learning and practising, sometimes it will feel like the world is turning against you but just never stop coding.

You will always compare yourself to others its only natural, and since you are still in school the only way for you to compare yourself to others are via your marks obtained in some test. When you start working you will compare your skill to some of the developers there. Programming isn’t something that can be mastered really, as soon as you think you reached the top you discover a whole new section you haven’t known about before, new technologies arise and then the field changes again. In fact there are several low class and mediocre developers out there and they seem to do just fine :smile: I have also met several developers that admit that they aren’t passionate about what they are doing and they are the ones who usually put in minimal effort, you have the advantage that you are passionate about it, so let your passion drive you to continue learning and you will see that your skills will improve.


#7

Thanks for the reply’s guys, I appreciate it a lot. I guess I’ll continue to practice programming and creating whatever small stuff I can. and i’ll also look into the cognitive disorder that codersquid mentioned. Thanks a lot guys.


#8

Think of those things as mental habits that all humans have. You aren’t necessarily disordered.

anyway, do a search on Imposter Syndrome, it is something many people experience from time to time. Maybe you are feeling that way, and it will help to see that other people do too.