“Major” indecision

(…sorry for the pun.)

Right now I’m not sure what I want to do with my major(s) at CSU. I came here knowing my three big interests: Music, Computers, and Spanish. I’m pursuing all three in some way or another, and possibly will be getting degrees in two of them (I don’t want to be a music major).

Right now I’m a Business Administration major with a concentration in Computer Information Systems. I will graduate with a diploma that has no mention of computers. The program consists of 34 credits of general business courses, including many that I don’t care one bit about: Business Law, Managerial Accounting, and Supply Chain Management, to name a few. The business college is a completely different world when compared to the rest of campus: everyone acts as if they’re in a simulation, preparing for the “real world”. It’s not uncommon to see people wearing suits or at least dressing in business casual to go to class. I kind of like it- I’ve been making up my own home businesses since about second grade or so- but at the same time, it just seems so fake. I don’t want to be some guy in a suit who masks communication with his customers in formal reports and letters.
The CIS concentration is 27 credits. That means 34 credits of classes that I essentially don’t care about, and 27 of classes that I’m strongly interested in. I don’t like having more classes that I don’t like.

I wrestled with myself a while back over whether or not I should just be a straight-up Computer Science major. It’s 60 credits of programming. It’s also lots of theory and math and things that I’m generally not good at. But it’s also probably better preparation for what I’m interested in; most of the interesting jobs and internships I’ve looked at want CS majors. Unfortunately, CS prepares you for a job that can easily be done in India, and it’s really showing these days. Essentially, CS teaches you how to sit in a box all day and program. That’s the appeal of the business major- I learn the programming, and I learn skills that make me hard to replace- skills that can’t be outsourced.

Enter the Applied Computing Technology major.  It’s about 35 credits of Computer Science, plus 12 credits of business and 12 credits of classes in any computing department on campus (CS, CIS, Electrical Computer Engineering, more…) It looks appealing. But one of my bosses at work is a CS major, and he says that employers don’t like the ACT major. Meh. I like it.

If I do switch my major to ACT, it won’t be until next year. Part of that is because the business college is really hard to get into, so I should stay until I’m sure that I want to bail. Another part is that I haven’t gotten into any of the programming in the CIS major yet (BD210 is still quizzing me on easy hardware stuff… I have one tomorrow on CDs and DVDs. Ugh.) so I don’t know if 27 is not enough, or if it’s too oriented on business applications.
But probably the biggest reason is that business majors get free copies of Windows and Office, and I don’t want to give that up until after Windows Vista comes out 😀


  1. I’d recommend the computer science major. Although it is something that can be outsourced only approximately 8-10% of job are actually outsourced. (I have some magazine lying around here with the exact number) And there has been an increased trend in bringing things back from overseas over the last few years and a realization that just because the wages are lower, doesn’t necessarily mean that the work/output is better.

    The latest trend is in having more of a global workforce and having work “follow the sun” around the globe. It might start in India, then go to Korea, then go to the US, and then EMEA (Europe & Middle East). That way companies can leverage the global talent pool and also take advantage of the time differences to maximize productivity. It’s the newest approach to work allocation that uses the best of the outsourcing world with the best of the in-house world. (And I can’t believe that I even know this…I read way too much) But a lot of the latest business literature focuses on this kind of approach.

    Additionally, as an employer, I would also agree that the Applied Computing Technology degree is look on as less favorably. Typically those degrees just cover basis computer knowledge and don’t get into the depths of programming that a regular CS program would. Regardless of whether or not the course content does cover programming, the perception of the program is that it’s more for business types who don’t know how to use a computer.

    Spanish as a major or minor typically doesn’t make much of a difference. (And it’s often only a couple of classes difference) So I would do that as a minor just to finish quicker.

    And although this is a bit of a secret, there are a lot of employer who think that Business undergrad degrees are totally useless and that the kids that come out of the programs are ill-equiped to handle actually working. They typically have poor writing skills and poor analytical skills. Many employers actually prefer liberal arts degrees over business degrees because liberal arts degrees are viewed as being more challenging and require individuals to acquire a large amount of data, synthesize it down into salient points, and then make recommendations based on that body of knowedge. I have to admit that I have not been impressed with candidates that I have seen that have a business degree. I think that a business degree is considered valuable at the MBA level. If you plan on getting an MBA then it’s worth it to get a Business degree (because typically you can waive 1 year of classes) but otherwise, I don’t think it’s very useful in the grand scheme of things.

    But that’s just my $.02

  2. Hmm… That’s a lot to chew. Insider advice is always appreciated 🙂
    I’ve been avoiding CS, mainly because I’m lazy and don’t like math classes. But business totally isn’t my thing…. Grr. Registration is coming up for next semester, maybe I’ll take a CS class or two to try it on for size.

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