By this point in the year, I’ve agonized over my schedule for next semester ad infinitum. I have spreadsheet upon spreadsheet and Google docs galore. But have I reached a decision about what to take yet? Nope.
What I do know, however, is that I want next year to have variety. Last spring, I filled my entire schedule up with math, science and programming classes, proud of myself for taking on such an ambitious schedule. While on their own, I probably would have enjoyed the classes, having little else to think about besides “I don’t have the right answer yet” wasn’t much fun. As a result, I didn’t do very well and seriously started to question why I decided to become a CS major in the first place.
Variety is why I did so well in high school. My days were the perfect balance of drawing and writing and solving problems and volunteering. There was harmony between my right brain and left brain, and I really enjoyed becoming an uomo universale.
In college, though, you have to pick one thing. I’ve hated the idea so much that there have been times I’ve vowed to take on as many as four different majors. I just couldn’t stand the idea of “only” being a programmer and being forced into a completely one-dimensional existence.
Thankfully, though, I’ve come to realize that computer science doesn’t tie you down as much as I originally thought. You can definitely get a job that’s creative, or socially conscious, and there’s room to explore your other interests. Being a programmer just means that you have the skills to contribute to something important in a way that most people do not. It doesn’t mean that you’re supposed to feel bad for not wanting to spend all of your free time reading C# tutorials.
This understanding has made a big impact on my time here. Not only has it helped me to simply stay in the department, but it has also helped me to accept the identity of a computer scientist. I no longer view my days as sitting in front of a computer doing mental aerobics, but can see the bigger picture of where the work I’m doing is taking me. That’s much more important than the number of hackathons I’ve attended or how complicated I can make my homework sound, in my opinion.