Today a kid in college told me he was debating whether to major in CS or not. How would you settle that debate?

Airplane friends! I love making airplane friends. I just got off a plane, where I had a nice chat with a young man who said he knows he wants to work in software development someday, but he’s getting to that point where you have to choose a major and is receiving mixed messages about following a fixed path of computer science study.

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As a humanities major, I am wholly unqualified to advise on this, so I could only tell him what I’ve witnessed. Several of my friends who currently work in programming did not specialize in it at university, or even go at all. Some are entirely self-taught to an advanced level, and others parlayed basic skills into learning on the job. And I have a few friends who went through coding bootcamps at a later stage in life and swapped careers entirely. I don’t think they could have conceived of their current jobs when they were 19.

On the other hand, I know some people who studied CS and they are still in the field and haven’t regretted that choice. I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Is there any advantage to a formalized major, or are programs mired in the past? Does it give students a head start to take computer science classes, or is it okay to major in something else that interests them but seems less practical career-wise? What advice would you give to the youth?

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