Liberal Arts and a Computer Major
If you are thinking about studying computer science, you may be considering an institute of technology. However, we feel strongly that a liberal arts background is the best possible preparation you can get for a career in computer science or information science.
In our classes, we will teach you the latest technology. But, in ten or fifteen years, when you are still early your career, that technology will be obsolete. True, the fundamental principle we cover will not have changed, for the most part, but the software and hardware you will use on a daily basis will be unimaginably different from today’s technology.
That means that an education based on technology is doomed to fail. What kind of education can prepare you for the future? What will make you a valuable employee ten, fifteen, or twenty years after your graduate?
You will need to be able to:
- Learn new things (You need be able to keep up with new developments.)
- Think creatively and analytically (If you are can solve problems, you will always be in demand.)
- Work with people (In today’s world, that is a critical skill.)
- Speak and write extremely well (Within the first year after graduation, a job or a promotion will depend on a talk you give or something you write.)
- Understand people of other cultures and your place in history (This is an increasingly multicultural world we live in.)
- Have a sound understanding of science, nature, and the scientific method. (This is imperative in today’s world. You will be making the decisions on technology, large and small)
- Develop a love of the arts (The enjoyment they can bring is fantastic.)
If you look back at this list, it comprises a liberal arts education. In other words, a liberal arts education is precisely what you need to have a productive career as a computer scientist or information scientist.
“Computer programming is the single best professional opportunity in the world. We need more Americans in the field. Let’s go!”
– Steve Ballmer,
CEO, Microsoft Corporation
Our alumni have proved this over and over again. Without a superb liberal arts background, there is no way that computer science graduate Suzanne Thomas Winkler ’92 would have become a Vice President for Web Resources at the Bank of America fifteen years after she graduated from Hartwick.
There is another reason that a liberal arts education is superb training for a computer scientist or an information scientist. At root, you are a problem solver. Your tool may be computer software or computer hardware, but you are ultimately a problem solver. Really creative problem solving often proceeds by analogy and involves thinking outside the box. A liberal arts education gives you a broad and deep background rich with ideas to apply to your problems.
“Our policy at Facebook is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find. There just aren’t enough people who are trained and have these skills today.”
– Mark Zuckerberg,
The job market for computer and information science graduates continues to grow and recent graduates can earn salaries in the $60,000 range. In addition, our students have a tremendous track record of getting into top tier graduate schools and excelling once they are there.
Some of our alumni’s accomplishments include:
- Graduate programs at Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, RPI, and MIT
- Earning a PHD from Notre Dame and now working as a professor in Michigan
- The CEO of AMD Corporation
The Symantec Corporation in Albany hired two recent graduates directly after graduation. They were highly praised for their level of understanding and competence in the computer security field
- Software Engineers at Black River Software, a computer firm founded by software engineers from GE.
- Software developer at Yahoo!
- Data Analyst at Teach for America
- Systems Engineer at Cisco
- Systems Analyst at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
- Director of Product Development at Axiom Software
- Lead programmer for the State of New York
- Software developer with ESPN
- Data Scientist at Booz | Allen | Hamilton