<p>S was open to talking about college tonight. He has always been a computer kid. Always. Lives and breathes computers, has always talked about being a programmer or network engineer. Always. Tonight, I asked him if he had any thoughts about what he might want to study in college, fully expecting him to say, "Duh, Mom, computer science!" </p>

<p>But what he said instead was, "Computers or languages."</p>

<p>I did not see "languages" coming at all, and am amazed. Languages!</p>

<p>As we talked on, about this and that, he mentioned that he'd like a better Hungarian textbook; he has my old college text. I'm doubtful another exists, the market for such things being so small, but I'll look.</p>

<p>Languages. I would never have guessed!</p>

<p>Maybe he'll end up doing natural language processing :)...</p>

<p>Our son was the same way - and when he got to college he said that computers are too "practical", and he wants to major in math or physics instead. He started with that his first quarter, but found himself jealous of what his friends were doing in CS class... So he took that class, and it was CS all the way ever since (graduated last year, and is gainfully employed).</p>

<p>A dear friend of my parent's son (sort of like an older cousin to me) started at an Ivy in finance. No interest in CS at all. When he hacked into the professor's computer to change the parameters of a business assignment so his "company" was able to produce more widgets, the professor pulled him aside and suggested CS was a better major for him. Has a CS PHD and a finance MBA and is very successful. I wish he would send some $$ to me!</p>

<p>^^ seriously?! LOL I wish I could hack in my school's transcript data so I can change some of my history grades... :p I'm glad that professor had the sense to kick him to another department instead of to the dean!</p>

<p>To the OP- Computer science IS a language itself. And Hungarian is a very difficult to learn so your S must've really liked the "decoding" aspect of the computer science and wants to try his hand at foreign languages. Tell him to learn some German too! :) Very big computer/technology business over in Central Europe...</p>

<p>I had no interest in computers when I started college; out of college, I immediately got a job as a programmer, with eight credits of computer science to my credit. (Unlikely to happen today, but that was back in the dark ages when things like that happened regularly.) CS classes were fun!</p>

<p>I think maybe I should have seen this "languages" thing coming, however. As I've recounted elsewhere, S will sit in the bathroom for 40 minutes reading through the one Hungarian textbook we have. Also in the bathroom is "German for Dummies," which we picked up at a library sale for a buck. Somewhere in the house, there is a German textbook picked up at that same sale. S taught himself the Greek alphabet when he was three, and used to type English words in Greek letters once he discovered he could do that in MS Word. He has a poster in his bedroom of different alphabets, showing the development of the Roman alphabet, this procured after finding him flipping through a dictionary to find the information letter by letter. And he has a couple of books on Japanese. </p>

<p>He wants to learn German and is upset that his high school doesn't offer it. (He's taking Latin now.) Last night after starting this thread, I started looking for German classes elsewhere. The local state U has a summer school class that starts the last week of his HS classes; I wonder if there's any way his HS will excuse him from morning classes the last week of school...?</p>

<p>I just didn't realize how much he likes languages. It never occurred to me that he might want to major in language in college.</p>

<p>Last night after S went to bed, H (S's stepdad) was lying on the sofa opposite me. I recounted the conversation I'd had with S, and when I told him S's reply of "computers or languages," H sat up with a "What?!" He was as surprised as I!</p>

<p>ticklemepink, I think the decoding/coding aspect of computers appeals to S a great deal, and that carried over into some of the choices he's made for summer nerd camp classes; his first session, Cryptology was at the top of his list, followed by Ancient Greek. (He got Crypto; still hasn't taken Ancient Greek, though it appeared on his list again for this summer, but again, not in the number 1 spot.)</p>

<p>Owlice - Congratulations; it sounds like you've raised a S who may provide ongoing surprises as he explores college. You may enjoy this observation from former Harvard Dean W.C. Burriss Young who worked for over 30 years with Harvard freshmen and their families:</p>

<p>At Commencement, we graduate whole classes. But we grant degrees to individuals whom we trust to be independent of mind as we welcome them into the fellowship of educated men and women.</p>

<p>The "independence of mind" does not, of course, occur over night. Some students come upon it more rapidly than others, and feel early comfort in taking personal responsibility. All are given support by the college, and urged to think of the freedom that comes with starting this next stage of their education not as freedom from something, from home, from community, and above all, from authority, but as opportunity, or freedom to. As students begin to think of freedom in this way, they can consult deans, advisers, proctors, instructors, and parents with the knowledge they are using, not surrendering their independence.</p>

<p>For parents, the freedom that freshmen enjoy can be hard to accept. So can recognizing how little you can now appropriately and directly do to shape the daily round of your son's or daughter's experiences or his or her lifestyle choices, curricular, or career plans. When the aspiring medical student since twelve tells you that high school teaching is now the plan; or when the sure-to-be Olympic swimmer you drove through rain and snow to age-group swim meets swaps varsity swimming for theater; or when the one who was certain to major in economics, go to business school, and take over the family firm, decides instead on English, don't take it as deliberate hurt or as a rejection of all you have done together as parents and children. Almost always, it is neither. A young person is setting out on his or her own life's course. Don't try to hold the course you set and have been sailing together for seventeen years. It is very hard to sail a ship with two pilots. Come along, by all means. But keep in mind that it is a new voyage, someone else's voyage. This way, college can be the shared and happy embarkation it ought to be for you and for your student.</p>

<p>gadad, thanks. He's certainly providing surprises as he explores HS! He's a freshman; shocked me completely when he signed up for AP Government for next year. I didn't see that coming, either!</p>

<p>Languages combined with computer science can be very interesting. I went to a very interesting lecture years ago when my son was attending an IBM lecture series for high schoolers about programming computers to do translations.</p>

<p>The linguistics/computer science interface -- computational linguistics, natural language processing -- is hot hot hot right now. Many kids interested, sending a jolt of energy through linguistics departments (says my linguistics-professor sister-in-law). A cousin who just graduated from Harvard is in a comp/ling PhD program in Holland, which sounds really cool to me.</p>

<p>I am amazed that you have Hungarian and German language books in your bathroom. All I have are a few catalogues:)</p>

<p>S specifically said he's not interested in linguistics. I will not recount his comments about socio-linguistics; let's just say they fall into the "not positive" category! I'm sure he doesn't know the breadth of possibilities in linguistics. He seems to see this as something separate from computers, yet...</p>

<p>One time S told me that the reason he was interested in Hungarian was that he wanted to program his TI-89 to do translations, English to Hungarian. The TI-89 might not have the diacriticals necessary for this endeavor, however.</p>

<p>Whatever it is he wants to pursue in languages, though, whether something to do with computers or not, is a-okay with me! I'm still amazed. ("How DID I miss this?" "Where DID this come from?!" "Wow, not just computers!" I'm still shaking my head!)</p>

<p>lje62, lol! We have catalogues sometimes, too. <a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>national geogrpahic magazines end up in the powder room around here.</p>

<p>Encourage him to think about schools with linguistics--theoretical linguistics is practically made for math-y people, and in terms of rules, constraints, etc. can have a lot in common with compsci. Understanding the basics of syntax is an enormously helpful skill for a CS person to have. Plus, Linguistics is awesome (and I'm not just saying that because I'm a ling major!).</p>

<p>I can realte to this one.</p>

<p>I have a son with a Mjor in Computer Engineering, which was expected, and now a minor or double major in Japanese to go along with the computer hardware stuff. He is pulling 17 credits every semester and has to take a summer or two to get it all in.</p>

<p>He just decided he liked Japanese LOL</p>

<p>That's pretty crazy; computers and languages are my major interests as well.</p>

<p>etselec, I'll look for something suitable for him to peruse about theoretical linguistics; thanks!</p>

<p>I found a German class which starts next month, but it's an "adult ed" class and requires that the student be at least 18. I don't know whether the school would be willing to waive that if I sat in the class with him. Will have to check!</p>