Help Me Feel Better About My Choice of Major
August 8, 2012 4:38 PM Subscribe
Should I be studying what interests me (philosophy) or what is marketable/employable (computer science)?
posted by sevenofspades to Education (59 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
In less than a month, I'll be off to a well-regarded public university to start prerequisites for a computer science major. I am worried because a) I have been going to community college for the last two years and classes will now become more difficult by an unknown margin and b) I know next to nothing about computers right now and imagine having difficulty with the math-laden pre-reqs.
I decided to take up pre-reqs for computer science after realizing the odds are not in my favor to succeed in studying philosophy (competitive grad school admittance, low number of openings for philosophy professors). My decision on class choices was made without too much thought on how well I'd actually do in them. It may be worth a mention that when I set a goal of transferring to this school from my community college, I had my sights set on studying philosophy. I only changed my mind after I was admitted and I thought a little more practically about the situation.
Now, it is close to the start of the semester and I am, again, leaning toward philosophy. I have a whole host of people close and not-so-close to me that think that I should study computer science because of the job prospects. That thought weighs heavy on my mind, but I doubt I will even get to a point of considering computer science-related jobs. There are two math classes as prerequisites (calc II and discrete math) and I have been historically bad at math, perhaps due to the fact I always thought "I'm never going to need to know this" and not studying.
I am not even quite sure if I'd enjoy a job in the field. I briefly tried learning java on codeacademy.com and thought it was interesting, but lost interest at a point where I needed more explanation than the website provided. I know a very little bit about how coding works due to my strong interest in webpage design when I was much younger (html and css/stylesheets). I was about 12-13 at that time and when my interest waned, I never picked it up again. My end goal with my possible computer science degree would be a job as a software developer. To be bluntly honest with you all and myself, I am still not quite sure what they do (as far as the day-to-day goes), but know the pay is good. (The pay/job security being my main motivation for deciding to pursue this major.)
On the philosophy side of this question: I have always been interested in "the big questions of life" (as I'm sure most people are). I enjoy reading a lot and analyze things to death (everything). I enjoy trying to see things from a different perspective than my own. I enjoy debate. I think all these things combined make me well-suited for philosophical study. My end goal would be to become a professor, but I have also seen philosophy majors go on to consulting, which also seems a suitable career path. Law school, without the thought of incurring mountainous debt, would be appealing of its own merit.
And so, I am left feeling torn. It is still not too late to enroll in phil. classes instead. An ideal, pragmatic approach would be to take computer science pre-reqs and if I don't do well or discover I have zero interest, than to switch to philosophy. However, if I tank my computer science classes, my GPA will plummet and so will my chances at a good grad school for philosophy. I feel like I have to make this decision now because the computer science program is very condensed and will be basically two straight years of computer science without electives. I would really like to graduate within two years and thus don't really have time to dabble.
Also, if anyone is wondering why I am not considering any other majors, I feel like I lack any real, marketable skills or have any other interests I could base a career off of. Computer science is at least, basically, a skilled trade compared to studying pure sciences or maths (again which I have no interest in).
What should I do? Welcoming any and all insights and opinions.