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I'm applying to university very soon, and I have my mind set on programming. I narrowed down my program options to Web Services and Applications, Computer Applications, and Computer Games.

I'm leaning towards Web, since I've been developing for Web since college.

Question

So, my question is, would it be very difficult to switch career path from Web to Software for example should I find years from now that I would have preferred a different career path?

Note

The three programs are all part of a Bachelor of Computer Science and seem to share the same basic courses.

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Which ever you take you will switch paths over the years. You will find yourself working in languages that don't exist now and generally doing interesting stuff. The important thing is to learn how to learn new skills and the basics how abstraction works etc –  Zachary K Feb 21 '12 at 15:54
    
Hi Shane, career advice is off-topic here: we can't predict the future or can only guess at whether switching is going to be difficult for you. –  user8 Feb 21 '12 at 19:59
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closed as not constructive by Mark Trapp Feb 21 '12 at 19:58

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My experience is that university will give you a better, deeper understanding of the concepts and theory involved in computer science and software design in general.

How you choose to apply that understanding is entirely up to you.

If your university offers you a web paradigm course, it will likely delve into issues and considerations specific to development in that environment. This won't be exclusive, they're still going to give you a broad set of tools.

I surmise that most of what you will learn will be transferable, though you would need to brush up on topics relevant to the new domain ... possibly through courses or participation in open source software, etc.

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If you are anything like the norm, you will most likely discover 5-10 years from now that what you studied had pretty little impact on what your career ended up being. I studied physics, now I run software teams. Guy next to me has a masters in chemistry and he's a project manager now.

Pick a program that interests you (that you will work hard on) and that you think will develop your academical and analytical skills. University is for learning how to learn and how to apply analytical thinking and reasoning on solving problems.

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I think there are a still (quite a few) people who see web development as the "ugly stepsister" of what they think of as "real" development. As such, it's probably somewhat easier to get a job doing web development if the degree says your emphasis was in application development than vice versa.

I wouldn't worry a lot about making a hard and fast decision immediately though. Yes, when you start college, they (generally) require you to declare a major, but don't view it as being carved in stone -- especially during the first year or two, it's usually quite easy to change with little or no loss. Of course, the bigger a change you make and/or the longer you wait to make it, the more likely it is that you'll end up having taken some courses that don't apply, but you're not talking about a huge change here -- spending some time exploring won't hurt a thing.

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So, my question is, would it be very difficult to switch career path from Web to Software for example should I find years from now that I would have preferred a different career path?

If you're smart, then no, it's not difficult at all. I didn't do any web programming in university, but for the first few years out of school that's what I did because that's where I found work.

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In your first few years of college, your core classes should be the same with whichever degree you pick of those. The point of the degree isn't to force you into one specific area, but prepare you for a wide variety of fields within the CompSci realm. The Web Services and Computer Applications degrees sound very similar, the Game one may have more classes that deal with 3D graphics and such. At my university, all of these would be under the degree of Computer Science with a focus on whichever field.

What I would say to you is, do whichever you're going to enjoy more, because all of these degrees will open the door for you to go into almost any field within Computer Science (as long as it isn't super specialized ie. Bioinformatics) so it's really up to you. It's so important for you to enjoy your education rather that just seeing it as something you need to get through.

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+1 Thanks for the insight, I really should focus on enjoying it more, I just stress out when it comes to applying, don't want to mess up. –  Shane Feb 21 '12 at 15:29
    
I did the same thing, but the thing you'll realize when you get out (at least I did) is that school doesn't really prepare you for the job, it prepares you for teaching yourself how to learn new aspects that will help you with your job. –  David Peterman Feb 21 '12 at 15:32
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Do you have to choose right away? I'd think that the first year or two of all those programs would have a lot in common. It's very common for students to switch majors entirely, from maybe English to Biology or whatever. So even if you pick something now, you should be able to change your mind for quite some time to come.

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Yeah, on the application I have to pick one, but I guess I could change during studies, thanks. –  Shane Feb 21 '12 at 15:26
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