Did I Choose the Right Core Course?

I’m gonna start this off by saying: yes, I did. But I would be lying if I said this question had never crossed my mind.

I am currently enrolled in the Computer Science core course Game Development: Programming and Practice. We study not only the coding and programming side of creating computer games, but also the logic, math, and philosophy that goes into it.

I’m a media studies major with a (hopefully, once I declare it) minor in computer science. I adore animation, and that path is my ultimate, ideal life goal. That’s why I decided to choose this core course – games and animation go together hand in hand (and we’re covering graphics later in the semester), video games are an important medium in today’s culture, and at my home school, the video game-based course is counted under the media studies umbrella as well as computer science.

Here’s the kicker, though: I am literally the only person in my class who isn’t a computer science (or related) major.

It didn’t take long for me to take note of this. The looks on people’s faces on the first day when I said I wasn’t a CS major, fellow students asking “But do you know how to code? Will this be hard for you?”, and my own insecurities about my coding abilities all merged together into one big bundle of doubt.

So do I actually belong in this core course? Should I have gone with the one that all other media/communication majors take?

While there’s more to studying here than just your core course, your choice of core course does define a lot of your academic life here at DIS. You choose one at the time of application, the only way to change it once you register requires paying a fine, you travel with that class, and it’s the first question most people ask you when you meet them: “What’s your core course?”

So you can understand why there’s a LOT of pressure to feel confident about your choice. And suddenly, I wasn’t.

Suddenly, I was The Non-CS Major. The Artist. The One Who’s Bad At Coding. The One Who Doesn’t Understand. (At least, I was all of these things in my head. I have not asked my classmates for what they call me.)

I write this just as I imported some of my group’s work on our group project, a 2D game. I imported it, and suddenly none of my code scripts are recognized within the engine. And, naturally, I assume that I’m the idiot for something that’s probably just a bug in the Unity game engine.

Basically, there’s a LOT of imposter syndrome happening in my head right now. BUT – there’s a silver lining.

I am right in the core course that I’m supposed to be in.

Over core course week, we visited an animation studio. We learned about how developing games requires countless specialties, not just coders – artists, business people, marketing, etc.

Then, when we started this 2D game group project, I was able to put my label as The Artist to use. I drew original drawings for an intro cut scene story for our game, and our professor walked by and said “It’s always a benefit to have an artist on the team.” I suddenly became an asset, not a detractor.

And, I wrote a successful piece of code! It worked!!!

This is all to say that it’s perfectly normal to doubt yourself in terms of your core course. It’s a big decision that impacts a lot of your DIS experience! But I promise you, no matter what your inner voice tells you, you belong. No core course has a Perfect Student that must be the ideal each person works towards. We all bring our own strengths and ideas and personality to the group, and that’s what makes the close-knit community of the core course so so special.

And if you’re absolutely miserable, it IS possible to change your core course. And you will find a place where you belong and thrive and learn what you need to learn.

So take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and know that you’re in the right place doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.

*Also, the featured image is of Stockholm and has nothing to do with this. But look at that sun!!!!*

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