Justine Bateman goes from Family Ties to for loops

The former 80’s sitcom star has gone back to college full time to study computer science

justine_bateman-600x450_0.jpgImage credit: Justine Bateman
It sure looks like Justine Bateman is enjoying being a UCLA student

To fans of classic 80’s sitcoms, the thought of ditzy Mallory Keaton from Family Ties, played by Justine Bateman, going to college to study computer science would’ve been laughable. No doubt, if it were a storyline on the show, her older brother, the brainy Alex P. Keaton (played by Michael J. Fox), would have scoffed derisively at the notion of Mallory tackling such a tough subject. Yet, 24 years after the show ended, that’s exactly what Bateman has decided to do in her real life.

Last fall, Bateman (the real life older sister of Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman) enrolled full time as a freshman at UCLA. Though she is officially an “undeclared humanities” major, her goal is to transfer to the engineering school to major in computer science. Bateman is chronicling her life as a full time student through an entertaining blog on Tumblr.

In her first post, she wrote about her path from actress to writer/producer to college freshman.

Acting had been very good to me, but I’d been loving working as a writer/producer for about 6 years, mainly in the digital space, and speaking on panels at digital conferences. Unfortunately though, I was burned out on trying to convince people to do the interesting projects (IMO) that I’ve written and for which I’ve created proposals for the digital space. I knew that the bottom line was that I love to work, period, so I start trolling Monster.com and no matter the key words I input, half the jobs are for computer programmers/developers.

After retaking the SAT’s and spending a year auditing computer science courses at the school, Bateman was accepted as a full time student. In order to officially switch her major to computer science she’ll have to get A’s in two calculus and two science classes as a freshman. So far, she hasn’t quite cleared that bar, but she’s not giving up. This summer she’ll be interning at Symantec.

As to whether she’ll eventually get that CS degree, and what she’d do with it, that’s still up in the air. But what comes through loud and clear in her writing is her passion to learn programming. 

...for the next four years, the only thing I want to do is learn is everything I can about coding, machine-level language, artificial intelligence, algorithms, and anything else in the “Matrix” of our digital life in 2013 and beyond. 

She posts snippets of her code, so you can evaluate for yourself her promise as a programmer.

It’s hard to think of two more opposite careers, in some ways, than acting and programming. Let’s compare some of the differences between the career choice of software developer vs. actor:

Given all this, it’s easy to see why Bateman has set her sights on software development. I, for one, am impressed by her decision and passion and wish her luck. I think, after a little scoffing, even Alex P. Keaton would be impressed.

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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