Throughout high school, I was certain I would major in English and become an editor or teacher. At a family friend’s suggestion, I began reading about coding and wrote my first program. As I began to write code more, I found that many of the things I enjoyed about my English classes—the emphasis on precision, figuring out the effect of each small part on the function of the whole—were present in the process of programming. Plus, being able to create something from nothing with only a computer was tantalizing. I became hooked, and resolved to major in computer science in college.
This was much more difficult than I had expected. In addition to the dramatic increase in workload, complex new social dynamics, and challenges of time management, I was in class with people who had been programming for years. I constantly felt behind my peers, and considered dropping out of computer science—but often when I doubted myself, I would take some time to write a small, fun program, and remind myself why I chose the major in the first place.
What I love most about programming is the boundless potential it offers: with enough time and effort, you can create nearly anything you’d like. If you’re interested in video games, you can make one. If you’re interested in psychology, you can make a social simulation. If you’re interested in English, you can computationally model conversation. I’ve worked on these projects in small ways, and I hope to continue working on them, and others, in the future.
I think that everyone should try out programming. If you enjoy it but find yourself struggling in your courses, you don’t have to switch majors. Having people to talk to about your courses, struggles, and triumphs makes it easier to stay in the major you love. Consider joining the community of RTC!
-Hannah Morrison, 2018 RTC Fellow
‘Rewriting the Code—Empowering College Women in Tech’