Mad, Beautiful Ideas
Why I hate CS 474

The Computer Science department here at Montana State University came up with this great idea my Freshman year. They introduced a class that they started requiring for seniors called CS474 - Consulting. The idea was that they'd get senior level CS students to help answer questions and aide a TA during a lab section for a Freshman/Sophomore level course. Great idea, right? I'd thought so.

But now, I'm at the point where I'm having to be a Consultant for a CS160 - Intro to Computer Science lab, and it sucks. Now, to be fair to the students in that lab, a decent percentage of them are not CS students, they're taking this course for other reasons. However, this just means that the majority of them don't have a fucking clue what they're doing.

We're seven weeks into a Java-based Lab course, and I have students who still don't understand what a gorram method is. Seven weeks programming, and several are making the same scoping mistakes week after week. I'm usually pretty patient when explaining things. Years of trying to tell my Dad how to use the various electronic devices has taught me quite a bit of patience, even if I don't always use it. But it just becomes so difficult when I'm answering the same question week after week for these people because they clearly aren't at all invested in the class.

So please, when you take a course, try to be invested enough in it to actually learn the material. It will protect the sanity of those who are trying to help you.