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How do I decide what avenue of computer science I want to pursue?

I am a high school senior planning on majoring in computer science in college. However, there are an overwhelming amount of different computer science paths to take. If I am unsure about my computer science path will there be enough time in college for me to switch between computer science focuses and choose the one I enjoy most? #computer-science

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Shikha’s Answer

I would suggest you to go ahead and get your hands dirty and try to do some real work on the avenues you are interested in. The more you read up and study, you will start developing interests and the choice will be clearer.
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isaias’s Answer

Hey Charles, I was on the same boat as you when I figured out that I wanted to be in this field. This answer is going to come the same way most pick their careers trial and error, now luckily most if not all colleges are going to show you a mixture of all the paths to help better chose what field in computer science you would like to know. Overall experiment with side-projects and keep trying to learn as much as you can then you'll find that one field you can never get enough of. Hope this helps!
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Steve’s Answer

Yes, not a problem. Contact the academic counseling office at the schools you are interested in and talk to them about which major to start out with. Choosing the most general option in their computer science program (e.g. "Computer Science") will probably allow you plenty of options to change majors to a more specific one (e.g. "Software Engineering", "AI", "Data Science", etc.) during your first or second year because the most of the foundation classes in programming, math, etc. will be the same.

Then, use your first years to explore options by trying some of the next steps below. As you take classes and get more involved in the program, you'll start to find that you are developing stronger interests in certain topics and then you can map that to one of the majors available.

Choosing a college with a broad Computer Science program with many options might be helpful. One great school in this area is the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Check them out at: https://www.ics.uci.edu/

Good luck!

Steve recommends the following next steps:

Reach out to college academic counselors and talk about what options are available at their school, and which major might be the best starting point.
Talk to people (family, friends, neighbors, mentors, etc.) who work in IT and learn about what area they focus on.
Get involved in student groups with a technology career focus at your high school, and then at your chosen college.
Review college websites and learn about the different computer science related majors.
Look for opportunities to do a job shadow or informational interview with people who work in different areas of IT.
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Daniel’s Answer

From personal experience, University is very flexible in terms of switching around majors. With your worry specifically, how it will most likely work is that you can choose Computer Science as a major and choose electives in the future that you find interesting in the field.

Basically, as long as you're completing your major required courses, you will have four years (technically three because first year classes are usually very general with no strict focuses) to experiment with what areas you liked or didn't like while still completing your degree.

I would also suggest joining fun clubs related to computer science (eg. Video Game Development), as these can also provide learning, networking, and leadership opportunities.


If you are still worried or confused, it is totally understandable to feel this way. College can seem daunting, but you will find that it is a community filled with great people who want to help each other succeed. If there is still anything you're unsure about, don't be afraid to speak to an advisor for the CS department of the college you plan on attending. You can do this in person or through E-mail (E-mails can be found with a search on google). This is something they deal with everyday, and they should understand the ins and outs of their specific Major program to help you accomplish your goals.


If you have any more questions, you could also contact me and I would be glad to help.

Daniel recommends the following next steps:

Join clubs related to Computer Science to help discover fields you may not have even considered before
Speak to college advisors in your Computer Science Department and ask any questions you have about the degree. Ask them to help you plan out your next four years.
Research CS electives via course catalogs to learn about classes you may be interested in
Pursue Computer Science Degree
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