Ask Brookelyn

Ask Brookelyn: September 27, 2017

I’m an engineer graduating soon, but it feels like it might have been better for me to pursue computer science. It’s too late for me to change my major, so what do I do?

Your major in college doesn’t have to define what you do for the rest of your life. Luckily for you, computer science is probably one of the best subjects to learn outside of the traditional setting. There are plenty of resources online; you just need to dedicate the time and work on projects that will force you to learn. Once you start to make some progress, your interest in computer science can be something you mention when looking for jobs. I know plenty of graduates who didn’t learn how to program until they were well into their careers. If it’s really something you care about, you’ll figure out something that works for you.

What if I find my professor attractive? Would it be appropriate to talk to them if they’re sending signals?

While these scenarios are often joked about, I think this is a huge decision that should not be taken lightly. It’s easy to romanticize a situation like this. Being wanted and pursued by a professor can be exhilarating. It feels good to know when anyone feels that way about you, let alone someone in a position of authority. However, I think that’s exactly the problem.

You have to think about why this person is choosing you. If this person is as good as they seem, why are they deciding to pursue a relationship that is strictly prohibited by the Rensselaer Handbook? Why are they willing to endanger their career for you? Do they not have any other options? Do they like to be in a position of power, and could this preference be an indicator of other unhealthy behaviors? Your relationship would have to be a secret; if they become abusive or if you feel unsafe cutting ties, you would have to think about the social and professional repercussions of getting the help if you need it. Those consequences could be enough to convince you that it’s easier to deal with everything alone, which is never something you should have to do.

Ultimately, this is your decision. If it’s something you decide to go through with, please be as safe as possible. Tell a group of people you trust. If you can, share your location with your friends whenever you meet with your professor. Constantly reflect on your relationship, and do your best to never make excuses for abusive, manipulative behavior.