My Future

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MSuesser
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Joined: Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:19 am UTC

My Future

Postby MSuesser » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:47 am UTC

Hello xkcd,

Lately I've been pondering how I'm going to be living my life a few years from now, and I've decided that I would like to pursue one of two paths. Now, let me state now that I am a freshman in high school and in no way have any intentions of making drastic decisions for the time being. However, I'd like some insight on your evaluations on my situation and perhaps some advice.

The two roads I was talking about are very different from each other. My first consideration is the going into the medical field (perhaps a pediatrician, I'm not too sure as to the specifics yet), while the other is pursuing a career in computer science.

The following are the pros and cons I have derived from reading and listening to experiences of others for each of the fields:
  • Medical
    • Pros:
      • Income
      • Rewarding
    • Cons:
      • Expensive schooling
      • Long, not very flexible work hours
      • Not positive if I'd enjoy diving into this field for the time being
    Computer Science
    • Pros:
      • Flexible work hours
      • Very intrigued by the field, have had a strong interest in this field for years
      • Many opportunities
      • Work from home
      • "Rising industry"
    • Cons:
      • Income is far inferior to many professions in the medical field
      • Work is not as rewarding, but I find myself having a passion for it at an early age

I find myself constantly working to learn more and more in the CS field on my own as time passes, but I feel this career path would be fairly risky and income could also be an issue. I have considered taking classes in both fields once I get to the college level, but I'd like some of your opinions on that topic beforehand as well.

What I'd like from you is:
  • Do you feel I'm undermining passion for income as I lean toward the medical field?
  • Which field would you recommend for a person in my situation?
  • Are there any classes you'd recommend I take during high school that would benefit me in the medical career choice? I'm taking Pre-IB Biology and will be moving into Pre-IB Chemistry next year, but the electives are not very focused on anything "medical." Are there any general science classes that would help me out in the long run?
  • Please, share personal experiences in either fields and let me know if I'm underrating the CS field. I'm sure there are many people on this board with great success in this field, but do you feel you'd have been better off taking a different field? Why or why not?

Any input is appreciated. Thanks! :mrgreen:

B.Good
Posts: 271
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:34 pm UTC
Location: Maryland

Re: My Future

Postby B.Good » Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:00 am UTC

I'd definitely say go for computer science. Not just because this is a science forum, having doctors is vital for any society. It seems that you wouldn't enjoy going to medical school, it's really fucking hard. My chemistry teacher told my class about how his sister is a doctor and she broke down more than once during medical school. It seems that right now you have a vague interest in medicine, you have to really want to do it to survive.
With regards to the issue about income, if you work hard at becoming a computer scientists, you will not be broke. You will certainly have enough money to, at least, support yourself. I also wouldn't undercut the satisfaction of being a computer scientist. If you go into the more math oriented kind of computer science, proving a difficult theorem is a fantastic feeling. Even if what you do is more based in programming, knowing that a program you wrote is successful is a great feeling (Hell, I was quite excited when I successful in writing a "Hello World!" program :lol: ).
So from my point of view, it seems that your circumstance points much more towards computer science.

sidek
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Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:44 am UTC

Re: My Future

Postby sidek » Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:59 pm UTC

I can't tell you how you feel, but I really do suggest you go with your strongest interest. That sounds like computer science, but it might turn out to be medicine. I suggest you go forwards trying out both of those things. Take some medicine classes, and then ask yourself : what do I want to do going forwards? You can have the extra wealth generated by being a paediatrician if you want, but CompSci professionals generally make enough that it is only a (relatively) small difference in income.

supermario
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:46 am UTC

Re: My Future

Postby supermario » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:07 pm UTC

I think you already realize this, but you're not going to have to make this choice for a loooong time. Just keep taking courses and exploring your academic interests. You could always go for computer science as an undergrad and go to med school. Then you'd have a lot of options.

douglasm
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:53 am UTC

Re: My Future

Postby douglasm » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:15 pm UTC

I think you're putting too much emphasis on the income difference. I majored in Computer Science in college, I just finished my second year in my entry-level no-experience-after-graduation job and, well, let's just say I'm not hurting for money. I am investing in my official retirement accounts, both a 401k and IRA, at the maximum legal rates (that's over $20,000 down the hole per year) and I still have money to spare. Now, I am living a fairly frugal lifestyle and I got lucky with a salary near the top end of the range for someone with my qualifications, but that's still a pretty hefty margin there and that's just with my beginning salary fresh from college. If I cared less about retirement saving, I could be eating at mid-range restaurants for every meal, watching movies at the theater multiple times per week, buying popcorn every time I go, driving a high quality modern car with lots of add-ons, and all sorts of other extravagances I don't bother with.

Will you be earning $100,000 as a CS major right off the bat? No. Will you be earning enough to live on quite comfortably? Almost certainly, assuming your skills are any good. Also, CS people don't have to worry about malpractice suits, insurance for them, and don't have to deal with anguish about the people their best efforts failed to save. Plus, they get to finish schooling and start at a real job years earlier, and in your case it sounds like you'd also enjoy your work much more.

Short version: go CS. You like it, and you'll earn enough to support yourself easily.

peter
Posts: 371
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:09 pm UTC

Re: My Future

Postby peter » Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:18 am UTC

Don't limit yourself to two majors. You have no idea in what you'll be interested in two years; take classes you enjoy and don't worry about it. You have time.

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ImTestingSleeping
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:46 am UTC

Re: My Future

Postby ImTestingSleeping » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:53 am UTC

As far as majors go, computer science seems like a very safe bet. I have been seriously considering going the same route. From what I've heard even on this forum, you may be able to go straight to work after undergrad and gain valuable work experience while getting paid. Work experience goes far in the world of CS, which I rather like. Consider the opportunity costs of going to medical school for all those years... yikes! Not to mention the stress!

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D.B.
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Re: My Future

Postby D.B. » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:16 pm UTC

Bear in mind that you can do medical things with computer science. There's lots of call to model complicated processes, or process big high-dimensional datasets efficiently, or develop faster/cheaper/novel/more accurate medical imaging technique. Even some fairly modest improvements might help thousands more people that you could ever treat directly as a pediatrician. And there's plenty of money to be made in making medical procedures better.

For more examples try checking out things like computational biology, which in the last year or two has just had most of a floor dedicated to it in my department and seems to be a real up and coming avenue.

OUTofPRINT
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Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:57 pm UTC

Re: My Future

Postby OUTofPRINT » Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:34 pm UTC

D.B. wrote:Bear in mind that you can do medical things with computer science. There's lots of call to model complicated processes, or process big high-dimensional datasets efficiently, or develop faster/cheaper/novel/more accurate medical imaging technique. Even some fairly modest improvements might help thousands more people that you could ever treat directly as a pediatrician. And there's plenty of money to be made in making medical procedures better.

For more examples try checking out things like computational biology, which in the last year or two has just had most of a floor dedicated to it in my department and seems to be a real up and coming avenue.


A CS and biomedical engineering double major might work too. Biomedical engineering is growing really fast. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the number of jobs is gonna grow 72% by 2018.

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Jahoclave
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Re: My Future

Postby Jahoclave » Sun Dec 19, 2010 8:12 am UTC

peter wrote:Don't limit yourself to two majors. You have no idea in what you'll be interested in two years; take classes you enjoy and don't worry about it. You have time.

Yeah, you could end up doing a masters in English Lit because you like basic hygiene way too much.

cv4
Posts: 138
Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2009 8:32 pm UTC

Re: My Future

Postby cv4 » Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:33 pm UTC

If I were you, I would get my undergrad in CS and then go for Med School.

That way, if you don't get in to Med School, you have a fallback plan. I know tons of people who came to university in Pre-Med, Bio, Kin, etc. that planned to go to Med School but realized they weren't smart enough and weren't happy with their major at that point.

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KestrelLowing
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Location: Michigan

Re: My Future

Postby KestrelLowing » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:34 pm UTC

cv4 wrote:If I were you, I would get my undergrad in CS and then go for Med School.

That way, if you don't get in to Med School, you have a fallback plan. I know tons of people who came to university in Pre-Med, Bio, Kin, etc. that planned to go to Med School but realized they weren't smart enough and weren't happy with their major at that point.


This is a pretty good idea - if you wanted to make sure that med schools saw that you really actually wanted to go into med school, you might consider adding on a minor in biology or biomedical engineering or something like that. Even if when you graduate college you decide you don't want to go into med school, having that minor certainly won't hurt anything, except for prolonging your stay at college for a semester or two.

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Internetmeme
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Location: South Carolina, USA

Re: My Future

Postby Internetmeme » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:58 am UTC

I had this same dilemna, and settled on Pharmacology (ie medical).

Basically, I'd rather have that higher income.
Also, what a lot of doctors do is work for 10 years when they get out of med school, putting away half their money into savings, and using the rest to do other things.
Assuming that you make 100k a year, that's 500k in the bank.
And then once that's there, your house and car paid off, you get to work part-time on this and have the same standard of living.
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