The most surprising thing about my freshman year was that I changed my major! Although this is a fairly common thing for college students to do, I just never thought I would need to. I came into USC as a Computer Science (Games) major. I took a semester of games-related classes, and I loved them! But when Spring semester rolled around, I realized that my academic interests were more diverse than I thought.
My course load for the spring included three requirements for my CS Games degree – two Computer Science classes and one Physics class. The class that I found the most fascinating that semester was my Advanced Physics class with Dr. Bickers. Dr. Bickers is an enthusiastic lecturer who really brings Physics to life. The class has tons of fun demos, including one at the end of the semester where he walks across burning hot coals! This amazing class experience made me realize that I wanted to keep studying Physics in college, so I decided to switch into the regular Computer Science program and add a second degree to my course plan – a B.S. in Physics.
This was a tough decision for me for many reasons. First, I was really disappointed at the thought of leaving Games behind. Luckily, majoring in Computer Science as opposed to CS Games doesn’t mean I have to abandon my interest in Games! There are plenty of electives in Games that are open to CS majors as well as extracurricular ways to get involved, such as the Makers of Entertaining Games Association (MEGA). Activities in MEGA range anywhere from enjoying a game night with friends to Game Jams, where students in teams spend a weekend developing and producing a video game. The second concern I had about adding a double major was time, both in the long- and short-term. The B.S. in Physics will add another year to my course plan, as well as require many more difficult classes that will consume my time on a day-to-day basis.
In the end, I decided to evaluate how much a Physics major would contribute to my Computer Science degree, since I consider myself first and foremost to be an engineer. Computer Science, like any engineering field, is all about problem solving. The most important skills that Physics has taught me so far is being comfortable with not knowing how to do something and then knowing how to figure it out, skills which are invaluable in Computer Science. Although the double major keeps me extremely busy, I consider myself lucky to have found two subjects that I am excited to study!Meet Ellen