Oberlin Blogs

A Major Declaration - The Story of Me and Computer Science

May 2, 2016

Teague Harvey ’19

As of 3pm, April 4th 2016, I was officially a Computer Science Major.

Seventeen months ago when I graduated high school, I had no idea what I wanted to study at University - which is not really an uncommon position (that's actually part of the reason I came to Oberlin). However, even eight months ago, when I first got to Oberlin, I still had no idea what I was doing.

I thought, 'So what?'
I blithely jumped into a bunch of classes my first semester: the FYSP Science and the Mind, Calc 1, Problems of Philosophy, and... Intro to Computer Science.
I'm going to be honest: there's not any real 'spectacular' reason that I took that class that led to my major.

It's not like the heavens guided my hand. There wasn't any encounter with a mysterious sage who told me my future. There certainly wasn't some poignant Hollywood moment during my registration with Ennio Morricone's 'Ecstasy of Gold' playing in the background to tell you that something important was happening.

In reality, I just needed another class in my schedule - I had never had experience with programming, and I knew that it's such an integral part of society nowadays, so I figured that I should at least take an intro class in the field.

Even then, there weren't any swelling emotional strings during my first class, or second, or third. Instead, it just grew on me, and became my favourite class that first semester. So, I decided, along with most of my new best friends, to take the next class in the major track.

Eventually, my friends started joking that I should just declare my CS Major already...
So I did.
It honestly felt inevitable. Somehow, I had subconsciously made the decision way before I actually declared.

So why do I did I choose Computer Science?

I'm honestly surprised I didn't discover this before, because I really enjoy logical thinking and problem solving. And at the core of it, that's what programming is.

The class I'm in right now covers a bunch of different ways of organising data to fit different applications and maximize efficiency - and with those data structures, we've written programs that solve mazes, index web pages and imitate Google, play Boggle, and play the Kevin Bacon Game, among others.

Even though I'm only in my second class, I can already write programs that actually do useful and fun things. Unlike some other fields, I don't have to spend so much time in intro courses learning all the old and outdated theories and methods - I can just jump right in.

But, of course, there's so much more to Computer Science than the basic programming I've seen so far. Oberlin offers upper-level courses in things like Game Design, Security, Machine Learning, and AI, which I can't wait to take.

All in all, I got really lucky to find what I liked as soon as I got to College.

But that doesn't mean that I have to stop exploring - I'm at Oberlin, after all. I get to take any classes that I want.

Case in point: I'm taking Intro to Contemporary Dance next semester.

But you know what? In finally declaring my major, I've realized something else about Oberlin, and why the 'liberal arts program' is right for me.

It's not just about taking classes outside of your major - and it's not just about fulfilling your 'Cultural Diversity' credits, or any other requirements.

Oberlin is about exploration, both inside and outside of a classroom.

In my time here, I've discovered new loves in swing and blues dancing, tumbling and the circus arts, as well as Computer Science.

I've found a major, sure, but more importantly: I've found my passions, and that's what really matters.

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