The only college major that matters

If you want to work in venture capital focusing on internet/software companies, or start one of those companies, or work as an employee in any role at one of those companies, there is only one undergraduate major you should consider:  computer science.*

I’m not saying you need a computer science degree, but I am saying it’s incredibly helpful to know computer science.  Lots of great computer scientists are self taught. But almost all of them started coding in their teens.  If you are a coder already and want to spend your college years majoring in something else for the heck of it, great.  I spent my whole childhood coding, and worked during college as a programmer, so decided to major in Philosophy because I thought it was interesting.

Why is it so much better to learn computer science in college (or before)?  Because after college it’s very hard to find the time and discipline to teach yourself coding.  On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to pick up business skills, economics and all sorts of other skills on the job or in grad school.

Why is a computer science degree so important to VC and startups?  I would estimate in about half the conversations I have at my own startup, with tech founders, and with venture capitalists, there is a moment in the conversation when we start getting technical.  Sometimes someone will even ask “Are you technical?” before starting down a topic.  The non-technical people in the room just sit there like we are speaking Greek.

It’s a shame that student enrollment in computer science is in decline.  The thinking apparently is that computer programming is increasingly moving overseas.  What these students fail to realize is you don’t need to be a professional coder all your life to find computer science an incredibly valuable major.

* There is a whole separate world of VC and startups in energy and healthcare.  In those areas I’d recommend analogous technical undergraduate majors.