Why a Computer Science College?
I didn't set out to go to a computer science college. I was a biology major. If you'd asked my what my interests
were or what I wanted to do, that's what I would have told you. Computers were just outside of my area of
One of the things about Biology, of course, is that unless you specialize in the more technical areas your job
prospects aren't so hot. You'll probably start out cleaning the lab. But ya know, I was optimistic and young and
didn't have a clue.
I learned about computing when my parents picked up an atari computer with a BASIC cartridge. I spent the whole
summer learning something about programming. I was never good at it, but I learned the basics (pun intended.) By
the way, this was back before floppy drives were generally available. Programs had to be saved on cassette tapes.
Clunky, awkward, and unreliable. Our first floppy drive for that thing cost something like $300!
So when I went back to school I took a programming course, in Pascal, and had a blast. Pascal was internded to
be a teaching language and was never meant to actually be used. So how do you teach programming when
students can't use the language you're teaching??? Naturally some enterprising programmers took care of that
Oh yeah, one more thing... those were the days when one wrote programs with a specialized typewriter that
punched holes in special cards. You then ran the stack of cards through a machine that read the stack, processed
the data, and printed out whatever it was supposed to print. Certain issues like the cards not feeding in properly,
or a missed semicolon, which would crash the program, just made it more ... interesting. Real monitors and
keyboards were installed the following year.
I found that the available computer science college courses weren't really so difficult, but the did
require a certain line of thinking. I had never really worked with such purely formal logic before.
Constructing creative solutions to problems out of code was a fascinating process for me, one that made all the
work worth it, even with the bad feeds and missed semicolons. I began to reconsider my original plans for going
into biology, but it didn't happen.
I knew that people who graduate from computer science colleges made good money and it seemed like it would be
more fun than cleaning labs. But life moves us of into interesting directions and I never went back to any
computer college, though I did take some computer courses online. Actually, they were more web design oriented,
than programming. Still fun, though.
The more that I think about it the more I think it would have been a good idea to just dump the biology
and leap into the computer science. While biotech is advancing at a rapid rate the world is reaching a point
where everything is run by, or linked to, computers. Keep your training up and it seems like serious job
Nowadays, of course, you can get your computer science colleges online and do all your studies from
your own computer, sometimes at your own pace. The quality of intruction can be just as good as face to face, but
it demands more self-discipline than regularly scheduled classes that you physically attend.
Of course, if you are able to attend one, in person, you get to practice on their hardware, which might
just be better than yours. Something to consider.