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Computer science or biology

SirHenSirHen 1 replies1 threads New Member
I've been thinking about my major for a while now. I've narrowed it down to either bio or comp sci. I've taken ap classes for both and worked at places for both. My transcript is good enough where I'm confident in getting into a good school for either. I don't really like any subject, but my strongest subjects are bio and comp sci. I've heard that bio is lots of work low pay, and that comp sci is lots of work high pay. I don't care about money, I just want a lax job, so my dream job is to be a professor. Which major is more viable for this? Mainly asking because lots of bio majors have PhDs but can't advance to professor, but on the other hand, I've never met a comp sci major with a PhD.
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Replies to: Computer science or biology

  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10979 replies235 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2019
    The post-graduation job market for bio majors is not good, not at the BA/BS level, not at the PhD level. Biology has been that way since the 1990s. Comp sci is a much more marketable major.

    CompSci profs usually hold a PhD--it's part of the job description. (You may never have met one, but I know several.....)

    I can tell you that being a professor isn't a "lax" job. My SIL is a tenured full professor (in quantum computing) and he works even longer hours than his wife (my daughter) who is a physician. (And it's not just him. We have numerous friends from grad school who are science/engineering profs. They all work more than 40 hours/week.)

    Professors have a whole lot of other responsibilities beside just teaching a couple of classes/semester. Professors also earn considerably less than their counterparts working in industry do. Being an academic means long hours & relatively low pay (for the amount of education required). You do it because you love it.

    edited July 2019
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  • SirHenSirHen 1 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks for the info, it's about the same as what I've heard. Again though, my primary requirement is that I have free time and a lax career. For me, bio is the easiest stem major, especially in a workplace environment. I don't know how a CS major compares, but ive heard they live extremely busy lives. Also, I dont know about other professors, but I currently work for an associate professor in bio, and maybe its because he's tenured, but every professor in my floor barely does anything, and half the time don't even bother to show up because they're on vacation or taking a walk. I know they also stress about grants and whatnot, but they have an astonishing amount of freedom outside of that. What kind of sucks is that I'm limited to stem majors, as ive only done stem related ECs and chose heavily stem related classes. I'm honestly open to changing my major to any stem related major as long as it satisfies my conditions.
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10979 replies235 threads Senior Member
    You're not limited to STEM majors just because you've done STEM ECs in high school.

    You don't actually need to apply for a specific major when you apply to college. You can apply as "undecided". ( Exception -- many CA publics. require you to apply for a specific major because so many disciplines are impacted/oversubscribed). Once admitted, you're not locked into any particular major. You can sample a variety of disciplines in college before declaring your major. At most colleges, you cannot officially declare a major until midway through your sophomore year--and you can change majors right up to the beginning of senior year. (Though doing the latter may cause a delay in graduation.)

    Summers are slack time for college professors. They are doing other things besides teaching--attending professional conferences, professional networking while traveling, doing departmental committee work, writing or reviewing journal papers, writing grants, reading to keep current in their field, designing new projects/experiments, fielding conference calls, responding to email, supervising grad students. They may not be in the office or lab, but they're not doing nothing. You just aren't seeing what they're doing because they're working elsewhere. Professors often don't like to work in their offices because they're not always conducive to getting things done---too many interruptions. (BTW, "going for walk" is frequently used as a synonym for cognition--they're thinking deeply about a problem and how to solve/approach it and don't want to be disturbed. They may actually go for physical walk-- or not--but that's not the only thing they're doing.)
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4184 replies92 threads Senior Member
    The “lax” part of it only comes after you’ve become tenured. Before that, many teaching positions are quite unstable actually and you most likely need to work pretty darn hard in research and/or have super presentation and oral skills before you get the seniority.
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  • AndorvwAndorvw 367 replies9 threads Member
    @SirHen - you seems over-thinking your college major. How serious/committed are you in medicine? Have you done any shadowing/volunteering yet?

    CS major typically go into IT industry, you don't need PhD to work in IT, lots of IT people don't even have college degrees (many of them only have associate degrees) and they make 6-figure salaries (e.g., many cyber security people are ex-hackers). So if your pre-med path does not work out, you don't need CS major to work in IT, you just need some IT certs and hands-on experience (which you can easily pick up in part-time or summer jobs). CS major is bad for pre-med, similar to engineering majors because they consumes lot of time and GPAs are typically low. Pick an easy major to keep your GPA high and just pick up IT certs/experience on the side (if that interests you). IT jobs (particular the hot ones like cyber security) make much more money than college teaching which requires PhD and post-doc.

    As for Bio, if you're interested in Bio and able to get good grades (A's) in Bio, why not. Don't overthinking your college major in the first 2 years. Re-evaluate your GPA situation by end of sophomore year. Whatever you do, don't pick any hard major (CS, engineering, hard-science like Biochem), your GPA will suffer and your pre-med dream pretty much gone.
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