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CS to liberal arts?

cumerrcumerr 1 replies1 threads New Member
I'm going to finish my A.S. in Comp Sci this semester and will be looking to transfer after I take a gap year. However, I'm considering majoring in Philosophy or Creative Writing (or English w/ CE concentration) and tacking on a CS minor. At the beginning of community college, I thought I'd go for the B.S. but since last semester I've been thinking it over. I figured I'd finish up my A.S. and then mull on it as the semester goes on. Well, so I'm thinking that I should go for the liberal arts degree.

There are a couple issues though:
1) My long-term goal is to work in the tech industry

2) Most of my noteworthy ECs are CS/coding related

3) My gap year will consist mostly of working on more CS-related side projects along with some self-studying of philosophy and trying to become a better writer.

4) Therefore, my application is that of a CS applicant and I'd look like one of those applicants trying to game adcoms.

My rationalizations for foregoing the CS degree:
1) Philosophy was actually my intended major, but since I'm a first-gen from a poor family, CS was a more practical choice. However, philosophy is the "right" type of challenging and intellectually stimulating for me.

2) I read a lot (non-fiction and fiction), enjoy writing a lot, and I tend to look at literature analyses for fun. The prospect of spending my college years writing, reading, analyzing stories, and sharing stories sounds like a good time.

3) Philosophy and writing are my "intellectual passions; I'm naturally inclined towards these and hold them in higher regard than CS. To me, CS is more of a "career-capital" thing and a way to pay the bills.

4)I don't believe a major is always tied to one's future career. This is especially prevalent in the tech industry, where you're bound to find engineers with no CS degree.

5) Some of the schools have rigorous pre-reqs such as multivariable calc, differential eqs, a year of calc-based physics, etc. I genuinely felt miserable during those classes and still feel like that whenever I'm in Linear Algebra. I would loathe having to sit in another math or science class.

6) It's heavily impacted and much more competitive major to get into across the board (as a major and through the engineering department). No matter what, its an uphill battle.

For the sake of discussion, assume these premises are true:
1) I'm an autodidact; I have no problem learning things on my own (this is how I learned web dev actually, I'll be releasing my first "real-world" project within the next two weeks). Thus, I can teach myself the higher-level CS subjects need be (if I can't get into CS classes or get the CS minor).

2) Therefore, it can be believed that I am capable of landing an entry-level job without a formal CS degree (if an A.S. is not enough) and working my way up from there.


Extra stuff:
GPA: 3.9
Dropped Calc III and Physics II. I dropped the former because I was probably going to end up with a C. The latter was just boring. However, both of these courses weren't necessary to complete my A.S. but this also means I haven't completed the pre-reqs for the engineering department at some schools.
Schools I want to apply to: USC, Cornell, UCLA, UCSB, UCSB, Rutgers NB, TCNJ.

Question:
Given these reasons, should I make the transition, and if so, how do I explain it in my application? Are there things I'm not considering here? Any extra input is appreciated.

TL;DR:
I feel as though I would get much more personal value and enjoyment out of college if I were to pursue a philosophy or creative writing major as opposed to CS despite the fact that I want a career in the tech industry and my ECs are CS-centric. Should I make the change and if so, how do I explain in my application the discrepancy between wanting to major in Philo or C.E. despite my ECs and goals?


4 replies
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Replies to: CS to liberal arts?

  • MWolfMWolf 2203 replies14 threads Senior Member
    If you do make the transition, I would recommend creative writing. A creative writing BA + CS AS is highly employable, IMO. Philosophy + CS, less so.
    how do I explain in my application the discrepancy between wanting to major in Philo or C.E. despite my ECs and goals?

    I think that #2 and #3 on your first list is what you should write. For you own sake, do not use #5 or #6, and avoid #1 and #1 on the second list.

    However, If I were you, I would focus on colleges with stronger writing programs than Cornell or USC. If you are not a CA resident, forget about the UCs - they are as expensive as any private college for OOS students, and their financial aid is worse. If yoy are in CA, look at UCI for creative writing. Rutgers and TCNJ are also not the best places for a creative writing undergraduate.

    Look at this list: https://theadroitjournal.org/2019/04/18/best-creative-writing-colleges/

    Pick reaches, matches, and safeties from these 13 and the additional ones below.

    Now is the warning: creative writing is not easy. In fact it is extremely difficult. What background do you have in creative writing, other than writing for your own pleasure at home? Have you ever had your writing critiqued by actual writers or creative writing professors/teachers?

    Have you taken or been part of a writer's workshop? If not, you should see whether these are available to you, and do so. See if your Community College has any.


    PS. "Liberal Arts" include the natural sciences and mathematics...
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  • monydadmonydad 7940 replies160 threads Senior Member
    Re #1: D2 told me that the best courses she took in college were her creative writing courses at Cornell. They had a well-regarded MFA program and the same faculty taught the undergraduate courses. She thought they were great.

    https://english.cornell.edu/creative-writing-program
    https://english.cornell.edu/creative-writing-resources

    Not current, but FWIW these are links I retreived from previous CC posts:
    https://www.pw.org/files/topfifty_secured.pdf
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/08/the-best-of-the-best/306049/
    http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2007/08/creative-writing-program-named-among-top-10-nation
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Cornell_University_alumni#Literature

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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 81057 replies728 threads Senior Member
    cumerr wrote: »
    4)I don't believe a major is always tied to one's future career. This is especially prevalent in the tech industry, where you're bound to find engineers with no CS degree.

    However, such people tend to be self-educated in the needed areas of CS to do the work. In other words, they tend to have a higher level of ability and motivation than those who need the structure of a school and courses, and the aid of instructors, to learn what they need. In other words, the following claim about yourself needs to be true.
    cumerr wrote: »
    For the sake of discussion, assume these premises are true:
    1) I'm an autodidact; I have no problem learning things on my own (this is how I learned web dev actually, I'll be releasing my first "real-world" project within the next two weeks). Thus, I can teach myself the higher-level CS subjects need be (if I can't get into CS classes or get the CS minor).

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  • cumerrcumerr 1 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks for clarifying the CS and liberal arts thing lol.

    Although I'm aware that those schools I listed may have a subpar creative writing programs (Cornell being an exception apparently), my main criteria for choosing schools is: 1) strength of CS department, 2) location (proximity to tech hub), and 3) access to resources e.g. incubators, internships, etc.

    I have 0 background in CW, just have docs sitting on my computer and read a lot. As for the classes, they're available but they're not usually transferable to OOS schools so I didn't take them.

    I've had a hard think yesterday and I think its best that I say "fuggit" and apply as a CS major (maybe tack on creative writing minor), makes my application easier. I'll leave Creative Writing as a second choice and try to get a CS minor if I can.
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