As many people know, the CS department at UMD is world renowned. As such, many students come from across America and from all corners of the Earth just for a chance at a CS degree here. But while the program is extremely good for some people, it might not be for others. Here are 5 reasons why CS at the University of Maryland might not be for you.
1. You hate programming
If you hate programming, the CS wouldn’t be your fit at any university. But this is especially true at UMD where nearly all of the courses you take down in the lower level focus on programming. With the exception of CMSC250 and CMSC351, we’re talking about 4 or 5 courses of pure coding before you move on to the more theoretical stuff. It is said the university puts all the coding classes first to weed out the students who can’t decide if CS is actually their thing. At least the timing is sooner rather than later though. If you hate coding, you’ll discover it in one or two semesters. Then you can switch into something that you enjoy rather than suffering through the CS major.
2. You like to work in groups
Here at UMD, CS is a solo affair. All projects must be completed individually, no exceptions at the lower levels. If you violate this rule, you may be subject to harsh sanctions up to and including expulsion. This rule makes it tough for people to get help since they can’t just ask their friends for advice. The TAs are the only people who they can ask. At the higher levels, group projects may be given, but they are pretty rare. It really sucks if you’re an extrovert because pretty much all CS people at UMD are introverts.
3. You can’t think outside the box
Say you have 9 dots laid out in a a 3 by 3 formation. How do you connect all 9 dots using 4 straight lines? Questions like this one might appear on a CMSC351 exam. How about ways to store data? You could use a priority queue. Or a stack. Or maybe a linked list! See, if you aren’t resourceful and you can only solve problems using the textbook approach, you won’t enjoy CS at UMD. The professors in the department won’t tell you how to approach a problem because there are often many different solutions. The one you pick may be different from someone else’s approach. This can make coding extremely frustrating if you only know one approach to a problem but that approach just doesn’t work.
4. You are afraid of failure
If you want a 4.0 GPA, look anywhere other than CS. If you want to have a social life, avoid this major. If you want to graduate on time in 4 years, this is not the path to go down. Sorry, but the CS major at UMD is brutal. There is a reason why the university made it so you could repeat 18 credits. They must have had CS in mind. CMSC351 is especially brutal even with the absurd curve. Most people fail it the first time. Some fail it a second time and those people are now out of the major per university policy. You will probably fail a few CS classes in your 4 years. That’s OK because the university made it so you could get a degree in 2 and a half years… it’s so you’d have 1 and a half years to play catch up.
5. You don’t want to be a number
The CS major at UMD is home to the largest major on campus at over 3000. With so many people just like you, you’re nothing but a number. Unless you do something outstanding, you will continue to be just a number. And don’t think you can do amazing things. There are plenty of people who are probably smarter than you. Your professors won’t remember you unless you get to do research for them. That is not likely because everyone wants to do research and you’ll never get the opportunity to do so. At the end of the day, you’re just a number. There are simply too many people for you to get recognized for what you do. Too many like minded people that is. Do you want to be just a number during your 4 years here?
Choosing the CS major at UMD can best be described as suffering through 4 years of hell for a chance of having a bright future. If you survive, you’re pretty much set for the rest of your life. But CS is probably the toughest major on campus and only a certain niche of people fit. If you are in any way social, if you want to be recognized at school, if you follow the textbook to a T, if you want to succeed at things the first time, then please stay away from Computer Science at the University of Maryland. You will be so much happier and better off elsewhere.