From film major to computer science

September 6, 2012

During my two years of college, I've spent one year as a film major and one year as a computer science major. Computer science is without a doubt the one I’ve found to be easier and less time consuming.

Most people who hear this think I’m crazy. At my university, the school of communication (which includes film majors) is stereotypically the one where students get to slack off and have obnoxious amounts of free time. At the other end of the spectrum are engineering students (including computer science majors), who stereotypically spend most of their academic lives working on, well, academics. From my personal experience, I’ve found both of these stereotypes to be false.

Let me explain…

I like to divide being a film major into two parts: analysis and production.

The analysis part sounds simple enough. Just watch a bunch of movies and write about them. The problem is that I’ve never been particularly good at finding all the deep symbolism in every damn frame of the movie. After a while, watching movies became a chore and something I didn’t look forward to. Not so easy anymore.

Then there’s production. Actually making a movie. This part is fucking hard, and I have the utmost respect for people who can do it well. The schedules are grueling because you have to coordinate around everyone else’s busy schedule. There’s so much to keep track of at once, and there’s very little you can do to correct mistakes after it’s too late. In short, this just wasn’t the lifestyle for me.

So I switched to computer science.

It immediately clicked with me. Sure, there's a whole different set of challenges in this field. But I not only found these challenges to be much more interesting, but I enjoyed tackling them.

I was able to work at my own convenience rather than at everyone else’s. I procrastinated a lot less because I truly enjoyed what I was doing. I slept a lot more at night. I ended up with a lot more free time to invest in jobs and other interesting projects. After a while I found that I could succeed without even attending class.

Here’s some data to illustrate my point.

Spring 2011
75% communication classes
Hours spent in class in a typical week: 18
Term GPA: 3.43

Spring 2012
100% engineering classes
Hours spent in class in a typical week: 3
Term GPA: 3.68

In the engineering school, I cut my time spent in class down by 83%. I also spent less time outside of class doing academic work. And in doing so, I achieved better grades.

Maybe I’m an odd case, but I think it’s bullshit when people talk about how engineers have it so rough and film majors have it so easy. I don’t think you can realistically say that any major is “easier” or “harder” than any other. It all depends on the person, their interests, their lifestyle, and how they think.

Engineers just happen to complain a lot more.