I Realized I Hate Computer Science... Now What? Exploring Your Options

A computer science student with brown hair and a lime green hoodie holds their head in their hands over a computer

We have all been there. You’re in the middle of a lesson and trying your best to follow along, but despite your best efforts, you feel like you're underwater. In the moment, you can’t help but think, “I don’t think I care about this—in fact, I think I hate computer science.”

When it comes to postsecondary education, these courses are supposed to align with your career goals. You're pretty sure successful computer science graduates actually enjoy their field of study. Maybe you could once see yourself as a computer scientist, but now that you are up to your nose in annoyance and frustration--you aren't so sure.

It's time to pause for a second. You don't want to get stuck doing something you don’t really enjoy.

Maybe you're interested in a computer science degree because of the career opportunities associated with it or its power to shape the landscape of future industries. But is computer science still a good choice if you hate the material you need to learn to apply it? Are there other areas of study you should consider? 

Don’t worry—a lot of people studying computer science hit this wall at one time or another. And if this subject really isn’t your thing, there are still appealing and practical ways to pivot. Before you hit the red, “I definitely hate computer science” eject button on your plans, let’s consider some important questions.

Key questions to ask before you quit computer science 

Do you need to change your area of study? Or is something else in the way? Ask yourself these questions to better evaluate where you are at with computer science.

Which part of learning computer science do you hate? 

Consider what’s at the root of your frustration. Learning computer science and software development principles can be very difficult, and in turn, frustrating. But plenty of skills start out with a steep learning curve that eventually bend from frustrating to fun—ask any competitive online gamer. 

It can help to take a step back and try to diagnose what exactly has you flustered. If you are struggling with some of the underlying mathematics and logic involved, are there remedial courses, tutorials or lessons that can help bring you up to speed?

Are you having a hard time translating “theory” to how it is actually applied? Perhaps you can get some clarity talking to an instructor about how these principles work in the real world.

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the pace of learning? Maybe it’d be best to consider lightening your course load.

Remember, there’s a difference between hating the process of mastering a skill and hating the actual application of that skill.

Do I hate computer science or am I having trouble with academics in general?

Computer science can be a heavy lift, whether you are writing code, studying from a textbook or trying to make sense of presentations. It's easy to see your subject of focus as the problem if you aren't doing well with your classes. But take a second to evaluate your other academic pursuits.

Is this your first semester in a new program? If so, you might just be adjusting to the rigorous demands of your school in general. Maybe the problem isn't you first software development class, programming languages or the basic concepts of a given cs course--maybe the problem is just that you are spread really thin as you try to acclimate.

Reach out to your school or program for resources like advisors or peer educators. These experts can often help you balance everything on your plate and get faster with systems that might be slowing you down.

Do I hate computer science, or do I need better support? 

Trying to learn computer science on your own or learning from a teacher or education model that just doesn’t work for you can make a difficult subject feel totally impossible. Computer science programs and educational courses vary a lot from place to place—and your needs as a learner are specific to you. 

Maybe you are sitting in a classroom listening to lectures when you’d prefer to be online, working through computer science projects. Maybe you are studying online, but you’d absorb information better in an in-person environment, conversing with people. Maybe you need more support to get through a particular aspect of computer science—whether that’s a formal program, a tutor or just a great professor who knows what you’re having trouble with. 

Before you pull the plug on your plans, see if a change in how you learn this material makes a difference.

4 Potential alternatives to computer science to consider 

Sometimes you try something, and it doesn't work for you. There's nothing wrong with exploring other career paths or deciding to switch majors. Not everyone will thrive in this field. And in general, roughly a third of students change their major at least once (it's not abnormal to change more than once either)!

If you’ve considered the questions above and still feel like you need a new area of study, you have several solid technology-centric options.

1. Information Technology Management 

One natural pivot option is to focus on a broad information technology degree program like the Information Technology Management Bachelor’s degree at Rasmussen University. Here, the focus shifts to the setup, design and planning of critical IT infrastructure and networks.

An information technology-focused degree can set you down the path toward possible careers as a computer support specialist, a network systems administrator, or a field service technician, among others. While some of these roles may benefit from light coding, scripting or automation skills, computer science skills aren’t the focus.

This education route provides a solid and versatile foundation for tech enthusiasts to build a career path from.

2. Cyber security

Another potential pivot is to focus on cyber security. While this is certainly a program with a learning curve of its own, the focus shifts to subjects like network configuration, exploit detection and documentation, cryptography and building systems’ resiliency for worst-case scenarios.

A degree in cyber security can scratch your technological itch while offering you a chance to apply yourself to the cause of protecting information. Whether you’re working for the government, retailers or a healthcare provider, there’s a clear need to keep important information secure and out of the hands of bad actors. 

Plus cyber security can offer opportunity to gravitate toward the skills you like best. You could focus on creating or testing security software, coding malicious programs to test defenses or coming up with new ideas on how to best protect a company's assets or train users in best practices.

3. Web development 

If you are a good programmer (or just actually enjoy this skill), you should consider branching into web development.1 You’ll still write code and face the challenges that come with understanding programming languages—and the troubleshooting that comes with that. But it also has a narrower focus, which can feel more manageable or practical while you learn.

Whether you end up a front-end developer working to bring a creative vision to functional life or a back-end developer focused on tying together the critical databases and systems that work behind the scenes to power a website, this career and education path is worth consideration.

4. Data analytics 

With a mix of light programming, mathematical reasoning and tech-centric tools and systems, the data analytics field might be the perfect way to pivot from computer science. While this discipline is not without challenges, the subject matter involves different contextualization than computer science.

For example, a data analyst might review customer purchase data to identify which advertising tactics were the most cost-effective, then create a modeled projection for how to allocate future advertising dollars. The process of doing all that can be complex, but it’s a practical application of the skills that may make more sense to you.

If you like the logical reasoning required in computer science, this could be an appealing option.

Find your fit in the tech industry 

There are so many incredible roles in the tech industry, you don’t have to force yourself into mastering a subject you hate. There’s a wide variety of similar-yet-different career paths where you can apply the tech skills you've already learned and work towards something you enjoy.

Maybe your career path will be computer science, maybe not.

At the end of the day, you can decide if you want to work through your computer science struggles or see if it is time to pursue something new. If you are leaning toward the latter, you may want to check out “ 7 Technology Jobs That Don’t Revolve Around Programming” for additional tech career path options.

1Rasmussen University does not offer a Web Development degree program.

About the author

Brianna Flavin

Brianna is a senior content manager who writes student-focused articles for Rasmussen University. She holds an MFA in poetry and worked as an English Professor before diving into the world of online content. 

Related Content

Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

logo-accreditation-acen logo-accreditation-ccne chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors-masters 0 Credits 90 Credits 180 Credits 48 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE Start Here MASTER'S DEGREE PURSUERS End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE End Here MASTER'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors 0 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS 90 Credits Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE 180 Credits End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-msn chart-credential-laddering-nursing-programs chart-credential-laddering-post-grad-np chart-credential-laddering-nursing DNP MSN RN to BSN LPN to RN Bridge Accelerated BSN Professional Nursing ADN Practical Nursing Diploma Pre-Licensure Post-Licensure icon-colored-outline-bank icon-colored-outline-certificate icon-colored-outline-circle-dollar-sign icon-colored-outline-folder-search icon-colored-outline-hand-heart icon-colored-outline-head-blocks icon-colored-outline-head-cog icon-colored-outline-head-heart icon-colored-outline-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-outline-hospital icon-colored-outline-lifelong-learning icon-colored-outline-light-bulb-analytics icon-colored-outline-location-pin icon-colored-outline-magnifying-glass icon-colored-outline-monitor-healthcare icon-colored-outline-monitor-paper-search icon-colored-outline-nurse-rays icon-colored-outline-padlock-shield icon-colored-outline-person-presenter-screen icon-colored-outline-scales ras-logo-flame ras-logo-horizontal ras-logo-stacked icon-colored-advance icon-colored-arrows-cross-curve icon-colored-briefcase-star icon-colored-build icon-colored-bulb-analytics icon-colored-certificate icon-colored-continual-development icon-colored-duo-chatbox icon-colored-folder-mortarboard icon-colored-forward-ribbon icon-colored-gears-clock icon-colored-globe-pen icon-colored-growth icon-colored-hand-bubble icon-colored-hand-stars icon-colored-hands-gear icon-colored-head-blocks icon-colored-head-cog icon-colored-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-hospital-building icon-colored-laptop-cbe-skyscraper icon-colored-laptop-checkmark icon-colored-laptop-webpage icon-colored-location-map icon-colored-location-pin icon-colored-monitor-paper-scan icon-colored-mortarboard-dollar icon-colored-national icon-colored-people-chat-bubbles icon-colored-person-cheer-star icon-colored-person-laptop-checkboxes icon-colored-person-screen-instructor icon-colored-person-whiteboard icon-colored-phone-chatbox icon-colored-police-light icon-colored-prep icon-colored-presenter icon-colored-regional icon-colored-save-time icon-colored-shirt-hat icon-colored-skyscraper icon-colored-state icon-colored-student-centered icon-colored-support icon-colored-world-experience icon-triangle-arrow-up-plant icon-triangle-calendar-pencil icon-triangle-clock-rotating-arrows icon-triangle-display-gears icon-triangle-hand-right-speech-bubble icon-triangle-laptop-coding-brackets icon-triangle-mortarboard icon-triangle-paper-ribbon icon-triangle-person-cheer-star icon-triangle-person-juggle icon-triangle-triple-people-chat-bubble icon-modality-campus icon-modality-field icon-modality-online icon-modality-residential icon-arrow icon-bank icon-camera icon-filter icon-general-chart icon-general-connect icon-general-degree icon-general-discuss icon-general-email icon-general-find icon-general-hat icon-general-heart icon-general-laptop-building icon-general-laptop icon-general-leader icon-general-map icon-general-money icon-general-paperwork icon-general-people icon-general-phone icon-general-speak-out icon-head-heart icon-info-circle icon-mail-forward icon-mglass icon-play-solid icon-quote-mark-left icon-quote-mark-right icon-scales icon-share-square-o icon-simple-chat icon-simple-desktop icon-simple-find icon-simple-hamburger icon-simple-phone icon-spinner icon-tag icon-testimonial-quotes icon-util-checkbox-white icon-util-checkbox icon-util-checked-white icon-util-checked icon-util-chevron-down icon-util-chevron-left icon-util-chevron-right icon-util-chevron-up icon-util-circle-arrow-down icon-util-circle-dot icon-util-language-switch icon-util-loading icon-util-open-window-link icon-util-pdf-link icon-util-refresh icon-util-x rebrand-arrows icon-social-facebook-colored icon-social-facebook-square-colored icon-social-facebook-square icon-social-facebook icon-social-google-plus-square icon-social-google-plus icon-social-instagram-colored icon-social-instagram icon-social-linkedin-square-colored icon-social-linkedin-square icon-social-linkedin icon-social-pinterest-p-colored icon-social-pinterest-p icon-social-twitter-colored icon-social-twitter-square icon-social-twitter icon-social-youtube-play-colored icon-social-youtube-play graduate-cap-star-coin hand-coin hand-heart nurse-stethoscope-rays card-send-smile person-yoga-pose suitcase-star