Tuesday, April 11th. Yes, I know yesterday was Tuesday, April 12th. However, I didn't find that out until after dinner, and all day I was thinking of it as Tuesday, April 11th - the day that would live in infamy.
Have you ever noticed that 'in infamy' is weird to type? It seems like too many i's and n's.
I'm going to give you a breakdown of a conversation that I had yesterday. I'm not going to tell you who it's with or why I was having it until afterwards. I'm sneaky like that.
me: I've given computer science everything I can. I literally don't know if I can do it. I'm not interested or able. unnamed person: Huh. Do you think you're not able because you aren't interested? me: It's not impossible, but I've done a lot to get interested. I've read all the research of the work that's being done at my school, as well as other local schools. I've put together several presentations for local high schools about all of the interesting things you can do with computer science, making sure to be well informed about each. Also, I've done a lot of independent work to increase my ability level, and I'm still not to where I need to be. unnamed person: Nothing inspired you to carry on? me: Not so far. unnamed person: Ok. me: So as I see it, I have three choices. 1) I continue with computer science and hope that either I start to like it or it starts to like me. At this point I'm not capable of doing the more advanced graduate coursework, because I'm seriously just not understanding it, so I'd have to take an undergrad course or two to catch up - I'm willing to do that, but since I am really not enjoying my CS courses, I'm not crazy about the idea. 2) I change my degree program to statistics, as I liked it in undergrad and am enjoying the comprehensive conceptual class I'm taking this semester. 3) I quit school all together. unnamed person: ...... me: I don't know what to do. I don't want to get a degree just because I'm already here and it seems like the thing to do, but I don't want to be a quitter either. Do you have any advice? unnamed person: Well, if you decide to drop out I'm sure the registrar has a form for you. If you decide to major in statistics, since you were already accepted, [the school] has to give you a degree if you complete the necessary coursework. me: Um, ok. What do you think? unnamed person: I think you have some thinking to do. me: Ok.... do you want me to tell you what I decide? unnamed person: That won't be necessary.
Are you ready to know who the unnamed person is? Are you so excited you can barely stand it?
It was my advisor. Who is also the head of both the computer science and statistics departments.
So someone who, even if she doesn't necessarily care about me, might have a vested interest in keeping me in school. Or, if I'm super embarrassing, in kicking me out, I guess.
Is it wrong that I went to her hoping for advice of some kind? I get that she let me in when I had minimal CS experience. I get that she's disappointed in me (a fact she made clear in parts of the conversation that I left out for brevity's sake). She thought she was bringing another member of a seriously-underrepresented group into the CS fold, and she's disappointed that I can't hack it.
I'm disappointed too, trust me.
But also? I'm not going to spend another year+ slogging through something I hate just so I don't disappoint someone I barely know.
Am I wrong, though, in hoping that she'd overcome her disappointment and try to help me, her advisee, with some advice?
Maybe I don't understand this whole advisor thing. I guess I hoped that she'd tell me that struggles like this have happened before. Maybe she'd point me to a PhD CS student who went through something similar and suggest that I find out how that student got through it. Maybe she'd say, yeah, it sounds like CS isn't a fit for you, but it'd be great to have you as a statistics student - let's get that paperwork started. Maybe she'd say, yeah, school and you don't seem to be agreeing right now. Hell, maybe she'd just say I'm sorry, that sounds tough - what can I do to help?
Instead she said 'I'm sure there's paperwork if you want to leave, and if you want to stay there's not a lot I can do about it - thanks for coming by and there's the door'.
I feel guilty.