Hi Mr. Harvard MBA, love your blog. Sorry for a slightly longer question, but this is about my college/life and is both important to me and also utterly confused me as to what to do. Basically, I go to a pretty good University. Actually, one of the best in my country. I’m doing Computer Science because I’ve been programming since I was in grade 8, and always thought I had a natural affinity for it. However, about a year and a half into the program, I realized I just couldn’t focus enough to accomplish the grade requirements needed for the math and logic courses.
It wasn’t because it was too hard. Rather, it was just because I found my attention straying to other things. You see, I’ve been single for about 4 years now, and while that can be attributed to various factors in my life, a huge portion of my passion and interest lies in being more social, going out, working out, making friends etc…in general, helping my case in finding a girl.
I thought I’d accommodate this quest temporarily and enrolled into a joint English/Philosophy/History major for a year. As it turned out, it was a lot more interesting then I imagined, and I’m achieving constant B’s and A’s (as oppose to my C- in Com Sci). Secondly, it gives me loads more time to do the things I never did in high school, such as joining sports teams and traveling. I guess to sum up, I’m faced with the dilemma of career vs. relationship. I don’t think I want to sacrifice either, and I honestly don’t know which is more important or how things will even pan out in the long run. So what’s your take on the situation, and should I go back to Com Sci for a better career, or stick with what I’m doing now and hope for the best after graduation?
The Harvard MBA says:
Mike, your situation is not unique. It is absolutely true that doing a challenging Science/Engineering degree at a top-flight school will dramatically improve your prospects of landing a high-paying job at a prestigious company when you graduate.
It is also absolutely true that doing a challenging Science/Engineering degree takes a lot more time than something in the Humanities, and leaves far less time for sports, travel, and getting girls. No one ever says, “Damn, those CS students get all the girls.”
Unfortunately, there is no way to have your cake and eat it too. If it were easy to get a Science/Engineering degree, it would no longer serve as an effective screening factor for high-paying jobs at prestigious companies. However, there is one approach that may allow you to do both.
While prestigious companies care a lot about your degree, you don’t need a CS degree from a top school to succeed as an entrepreneur. In fact, any degree from a top school will pretty much signal that you have the raw mental horsepower to succeed. But if you want to use your programming skills to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to make sure that you hone those skills. This honing can take place outside the classroom, and might take less time than doing a complete CS degree (which, by the way, doesn’t necessarily help you be a great programmer).
If I were you, I might try coding some interesting apps, if not starting a company. (The problem with starting a company is that it will consume even more time than your CS classes!). If it seems like you can build your programming muscles without the tedium of your CS classes, go ahead and complete your humanities degree, play your sports, see the world, and enjoy the company of the ladies. When you graduate (and you are no longer surrounded by so many attractive and eligible women) you can turn your attention to entrepreneurship full-time, and your lack of an official degree will be less of a handicap.