My Journey From Bio Major to Computer Science Student

Hi everyone,

Allow me to introduce myself: My name's Rohini, I’m a freshman at the University of Washington. My intended majors are Computer Science and/or Informatics. But just two months ago my intended major was Interaction Design, and a few months before that it was Molecular Biology.

What on earth changed??

Here’s the thing—we all go into college applications as high schoolers who have certain interests and passions. But I won’t lie, it’s unrealistic for colleges to expect 17 year olds to know their intended career path at such a young age! Many of us have struggled with not knowing what we want to do as high schoolers, let alone as college kids!

As a senior, I genuinely enjoyed my biology classes, was good at it, and found topics of biomedical research fascinating. So naturally, I applied everywhere as a bio major, and got accepted to most colleges as a biology student. But something wasn't sitting right, despite these exciting acceptances. In a confused and unsure mindset, I chose to stay local for college because I had no idea what I wanted to do now that my original plan had lost its appeal.

And so a few months later college began. I was taking general classes, still with no idea what I wanted to major in. It sure as hell wasn't biology anymore. I didn't tell anyone I was having doubts - not my friends, not my family. I didn't want the pressure, I knew they were all going to fire at me for changing my mind, question me. I was scared people would pressure me into sticking with my original choice or aggressively ask what my new plan was, if not biomedical research. I didn't have the answer...I didn't know. In short, I was stressed all the time. I wasn't eating, wasn't sleeping, wasn't making much of an effort to socialize. I was lost.

I sat on it for months and months...

I finally admitted to myself that I didn't want to work in a lab, I didn't want to work on research projects where I waited months and months to see results, because I wanted to live at a faster pace than that. I’m a spontaneous person, I need to see progress, be in control of progress, make success for myself.

Pairing that with my passion for the arts, which I always treated as a hobby, I began to formulate this ideal where I would be able to perfect my hobbies and pursue them as a career. And so suddenly my interests switched to a more creative field: graphic design. I was excited to work on visually explosive projects, bridging the gap between people and technology, as a UX/UI Designer.

And yet, something still wasn’t sitting right. I couldn’t go to my parents and declare I wanted to be an arts major (it’s a first-generation nightmare). Now the issue wasn’t figuring out what I wanted to do, it was getting my parents’ approval which I knew I wouldn’t get. All my friends kept telling me to go with my gut, it’s my education not theirs, and yet, that really wasn’t an option. When someone is paying tens of thousands of dollars a year to fund your education, you can’t blindside them.

It was a tough conversation, but finally I was able to sit down with my family and eventually they convinced me of the disadvantages of specializing early. Majoring in Interaction Design wouldn’t give me the skills and knowledge I would need if I got into the design industry and realized I wanted to expand my work to cybersecurity, or data science. Finally we agreed that my end goal doesn’t need to change, I can still be a badass UX/UI designer, but I was going to get there in a way that opened as many doors as possible for a career in technology.

And that is the story of how I became an intended Computer Science and Informatics major.

I know it’s a long story, and I promise it isn’t to brag or boast about how “stable” I am now. It’s to show that whether you are a high schooler or a college student, if you are confused and lost it’s okay. Most of us don’t know exactly what we want to be doing ten years from now. It took me a full quarter of school to finally figure my plan out, it takes some people two years to figure it out, and some lucky individuals know what they want to do from the age of 16.

We are all different, but that’s okay. As a good friend once told me, “just because you’re different, doesn’t mean you’re less”. Take your time, figure yourself out, don’t panic, because in the end everything will be okay. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.