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Computing's Lost Allure

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the grass-somewhat-less-green dept.

Education 822

khendron writes "An article in the New York Times, describes how the number of students majoring in computer science in university has dropped off with the rest of the hi-tech economy. The bright side: the students who are enrolling are doing so because they love computers. Not like a few years ago when students were enrolling because they wanted to make a quick buck. I'll take quality over quantity."

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822 comments

first post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016092)

Time complexity: O(1), baby.

Preach it brother (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016095)

"I'll take quality over quantity."

Amen. When I graduated in 2000 there were more than a few people in the degree for the money. They were miserable and barely got through as it was. :)

Re:Preach it brother (5, Insightful)

Irishman (9604) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016212)

I have been waiting for this day to happen since the bubblr burst. When I started my CS degree, most of us were there because we loved computers. We spent all our free time (what little there was) teaching ourselves everything we could. By the end of my degree, most of the people entering the program could barely use a DOS prompt, let alone know what Unix was.

I hope that employers start getting the hint as well. It was very disheartening to see people who took a 1-year program to learn computers getting senior developers and architect jobs.

At my office, I have told our headhunters that unless someone has a CS degree and several years experience, we do not want to see them. I may get flamed for being prejudiced against self-taught people, but I have seen far more self-taught people who think they are a lot better than they are than people who actually have an apptitude.

Re:Preach it brother (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016295)

Would have to agree with this assessment from experience.
Complete inability to write in object oriented fashion, or even to avoid cut n paste coding.
The ones who know about pointers using them exclusively, even to index up, down, and around multi-level C structures, or pass by reference things that don't need to pass by reference.

I don't doubt people can be self-taught, heck, its a requirement in this career.
The advantage of CS degree is filtering out the idiots.

Re:Preach it brother (5, Insightful)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016326)

Uh duh, did you ever think that maybe the self-taught people actually know just as much as the CS grads because they love it enough to spend their time learning real-world practices instead of spending 4 years learning what some professor thinks is important? I've worked with CS grads before and I'd consider recommending them for writing documentation or being a liason between the real programmers and the customers, but the ones I've worked with suck at writing code.

Re:Preach it brother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016366)

Yes, I've run into some of those real-world practices.
Heck, I'm fixing some right now.

Re:Preach it brother (-1, Flamebait)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016252)

You mean the New York Times printed something with truth in it? I suppose that must occasionally happen by accident sometimes.

Re:Preach it brother (4, Insightful)

AlgUSF (238240) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016269)

You can tell who is in it for the money. They are the ones working on a programming assignment the night before it is due. One student in a programming course asked the professor how many points we got if a program compiled. The professor looked a little shocked, he said 0.

Re:Preach it brother (1)

kwiqsilver (585008) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016331)

0 points if your program compiled?
Was that a microsoft certification course?

Could you get partial credit if it compiled, but crashed randomly within 30 seconds of starting?

Re:Preach it brother (2, Informative)

xYoni69x (652510) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016363)

You can tell who is in it for the money. They are the ones working on a programming assignment the night before it is due.

Not completely true. When I was in the introductory course, the programming assignments took about 5-60 minutes each. Being somewhat of a procrastinator, I did most of them the night before they were due. This worked just fine, at least for me.

Then why is it... (5, Interesting)

notque (636838) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016105)

Every time I say that I work in computers, invariably someone states that they want to/are majoring in computers.

"Oh, So you like computers too?"

"Nope! Know nothing about them at all!" ....grr

Re:Then why is it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016314)

It reminds me of that cartoon where Dilbert is talking to Carol and she says something like "My son is failing all of his classes, I'm hoping he goes into computers." and Dilbert says "Carrying them?"

Re:Then why is it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016367)

"I don't have a girlfriend, but I do know a girl who would be upset if she heard me say that."
Back in the 70's, these were fuck friends

hopefully this will be for more than just uni's (5, Insightful)

Hunts (116340) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016126)

Hoefully this will also cut down on the number of people doing "can not fail" certification courses. I've always found these things insulting. Along with job ads that reuire MCSE's to even apply..for unix admin jobs, or janitors!

Never trust a computer proffesional that doesnt list computer as a hobby.

Re:hopefully this will be for more than just uni's (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016238)

Never trust a computer proffesional that doesnt list computer as a hobby

Never trust a professional who can't spell professional!

Re:hopefully this will be for more than just uni's (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016317)

Never trust a computer proffesional that doesnt list computer as a hobby.

This is bullshit. It's very sane to have hobbies that involve other things than your profession. It's called balance in your life. One can be a very good lawyer without spending hobby time reading books of law. One can be a very good salesmen without spending hobby time selling things. One can be a very good plumber without having plumbing has his hobby ... one can be a very good computer professional without spending hobby times on his computer.

Re:hopefully this will be for more than just uni's (3, Interesting)

TrekCycling (468080) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016360)

Totally. I did this for just under a decade. Work for 10+ hours, go home and learn some more. Read 1 giant computer book per month, reinstall constantly, tinker with OSes, try to learn every language I can. It almost drove me to early retirement. Balance is good. Having other hobbies is good. Pushing away from the computer is good. Being well rounded is good. Being a computer snob is just stupid.

Re:hopefully this will be for more than just uni's (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016333)

Never trust a computer proffesional that doesnt list computer as a hobby.
OTOH, hiring PhBs will see someone who likes computers as a direct threat to themselves.

Re:hopefully this will be for more than just uni's (2, Interesting)

olip (203119) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016374)


Never trust a computer proffesional that doesnt list computer as a hobby.

I strongly disagree.
From my own experience, my computing skills raise when I manage to let computers a little bit out of my life. For in this spare time :
- I can have life, and it makes me stronger to solve what computers are useful to (solving real-life problems)
- I can think about the difficult programming issues I could not solve sitting in front of the machine.

Quality (5, Interesting)

leeroybrown (624767) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016127)

The question is how do the interested learn anything from an education designed to carry the weak through? Looks like it's still a case of learning more in one week of spare time than a month of college.

Re:Quality (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016205)

that was a major reason that I left the CS program at BGSU [bgsu.edu]. I felt that it was behind the times and boring. Other people I knew who were going to schools like MIT and Bucknell were learning Java and Scheme (MIT obviously) and were doing interesting coding projects I was stuck writing "grading programs for 10 students in Ms. Smith's 8th Grade Math Class".

I saw the need to learn the fundamentals of C/C++ but I didn't think that boring projects were the way to accomplish that.

Nothing like being forced to learn a non-existant version of ASM that was created by BGSU for teaching purposes. It was SO out-dated and worthless that I couldn't take it anymore.

I have since graduated with an equally worthless degree in History. At least writing papers about things that happened 300+ years ago is useful ;)

Re:Quality (4, Funny)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016339)

I have since graduated with an equally worthless degree in History. At least writing papers about things that happened 300+ years ago is useful ;)

Sure it is. The point is to get people to stop making the same mistakes. You know the old saying: "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat the 11th grade".

babbling (5, Insightful)

sweeney37 (325921) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016133)

I was talking to someone yesterday and mentioned I was going back to school, he asked if I was going back to gain some extra computer knowledge. I told him I decided upon a job in computers because as I was growing up, I loved them, but now as I have a job in the computer field, I just don't have the love I used to.

In the past few months I've been rethinking my career path, and I've decided to go back to school. This time around I've decided to learn what I love, instead of what I thought I would love.

Mike

Re:babbling (1)

DanteKy (18566) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016177)

Amen to this. I know alot of people that are in this situation, myself included. The biggest problem is know what killed that love. For me, it was working tech support. Now, I'm stuck in tech support, not much love for computers and trying to pick up the pieces and figure out where to go next.

Death by work (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016284)

Computers are great, if your doing R&D.
I've found that I've started to rott away at work, I might as well be packing tins of beans.

Re:babbling (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016369)

i ended up doing computers not becuase I loved them (thats messed up),
or for the money (plumbers make the same as programmers).
I just honestly wasn't any good at anything else and programming was easy.
If I had been born a woman I would probably be a hooker. oh well.

Re:babbling (3, Insightful)

macrom (537566) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016370)

This is really good. If more of you out there would do soul searching and find that you really don't want to be here, and if more students would jump to the business school because "there's no longer any money in CS", then those of us left who a)love it and would rather die than not be around computers and b)know what the fuck we are doing will end up with better job security and better pay. All of these "rethinkers" and money hungry college students are doing those of us who are hardcore a huge-ass favor. Thank you non-techie wannabes!

Full Text of the NYTimes Article (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016135)

BERKELEY, Calif. -- ON a sunny May afternoon, Brian Harvey's introductory computer science class at the University of California convened for the last time before the final exam. By the time Dr. Harvey was full tilt into his lecture, reviewing recursive functions and binary search trees, the cavernous hall was lightly peppered with about 100 students, backpacks at their sides, a few legs slung over the backs of empty seats.
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Sparse attendance is, of course, an end-of-semester inevitability. Many students viewed the lecture by Webcast, if at all. But more significantly, just 350 students signed up for the course this spring, in striking contrast to enrollment in the fall of 2000, when the same lecture hall was engorged at the start of the semester with 700 students sitting and standing in every available pocket of space.

So full was the room the first few sessions that a fire marshal showed up to size up the situation as a potential hazard. "Even the corridors were jammed," recalled Dr. Harvey, who has taught the introductory course for 16 years. The following semester was little different, with 600 students hoping to enroll in the class.

Today, empty classroom seats, like the vacant offices once occupied by high-flying start-ups, are among the unmistakable repercussions of the dot-com bust.

At the height of the Internet boom in the late 90's, computer science talent was in such demand that recruiters offered signing bonuses to students who agreed to drop out of school. Now, spooked by layoffs and disabused of visions of overnight riches, many undergraduates are turning away from computer science as if it were somehow cursed.

"They overreacted to the boom, so why shouldn't they overreact to the bust?" said Anne Hunter, an administrator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who tracks application and enrollment figures.

Berkeley's experience is mirrored elsewhere. At Carnegie Mellon University, applications to the School of Computer Science for next fall are down 36 percent from their peak in 2001; applications to Virginia Tech's computer science department have declined 40 percent since 2001. At M.I.T., renowned for its computer science curriculum, 20 percent fewer freshmen declared electrical engineering and computer science as their central focus this spring than did in 2001 or 2002.

"People aren't seeing the glory in computer science that they used to," said Nirav Dave, 20, a senior and an electrical and computer engineering major at Carnegie Mellon who has seen the ranks of his fellow majors decline. "It used to be that you would do this and you would be a millionaire."

Shaun McCormick, 19, who will be a sophomore next fall at the University of Texas at Austin, started out in computer science but switched at midyear to communications and plans to focus on advertising.

Not only was he daunted by the difficulty of the coursework, Mr. McCormick said, but his job prospects also worried him.

"You have to be a very good programmer with lots of experience under your belt," he said. "Even if you have a good G.P.A., it's hard to get a good job."

If enrollment in the field remains sluggish, some computer scientists warn, technical progress could be jeopardized.

"Our department will be hurt," said J Strother Moore, chairman of the department of computer sciences at the University of Texas, where interest in the field has also diminished. "But more importantly, when the economy recovers, we're going to need computer programmers, and many more of them than we'll be producing at the current rate of input. It's a serious problem for the national economy."

Still, in the absence of a recovery, opportunities in the computer field are contracting. In 2000 Intel hired 2,378 recent college graduates. Last year it hired 566, one-fourth that number. The chilly job market has had a converse effect on graduate school enrollment: applications to computer science graduate departments have risen sharply over the last two years as discouraged students remain at school or try to return to it.

The number of graduate students entering Ph.D. programs in computer science rose 21 percent last year, according to the Taulbee Survey, an annual report compiled by the Computing Research Association, a nonprofit research group. M.I.T. officials said that the graduate program in computer science had received about 3,000 applications for next fall for 120 places, up from 2,000 applications four years ago.

To be sure, there are still many enthusiasts at the undergraduate level. Eugene Chung, a sophomore at Berkeley, is pursuing a double major in computer science and business. Although he worries about getting a job when he finishes, he is studying computer science because he enjoys it. "Personally I like it, whether there's a job or not," he said.

According to the Taulbee Survey, enrollment in computer science departments nearly doubled between 1995 and 2000. So great was the demand for programmers that many students enjoyed the luxury of not even having to prepare a résumé.
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"It used to be that even before students had graduated they had three job offers and by the time they had to make a decision, they had 10," said Gabby Silberman, program director for the Centers for Advanced Studies at I.B.M.'s T. J. Watson Research Center, who spends much of his time recruiting.

Undergraduates who might otherwise have chosen computer science appear to be fanning out to related yet more applied fields like business information technology, biotechnology and bioinformatics, which involves managing and manipulating databases of genetic information.

"Computer science was a very focused degree, and lots of people were entering the program because the hot jobs available were dot-coms and Internet jobs," said Stephen W. Director, dean of the engineering school at the University of Michigan.

Now, Dr. Director said, students seem to be migrating toward electrical engineering, a degree that gives them the know-how they need to enter a Silicon Valley software company yet a more general education that they can use for other fields, like biotechnology.

At the University of Texas, pharmacy appears to be a popular alternative, a phenomenon that mystifies Dr. Moore. "All these kids need a lot of chemistry courses, so it's put a real load on the chemistry department," he said. Many others have shifted to biology.

Dr. Moore suggests that students who reject computer science in favor of biotechnology are making some incorrect assumptions about the latter industry. "If you look at what happens in a biotech firm, you need a lot of database and specialty programming skills," he said. "The truth is, the people who have these programming skills will end up getting those jobs."

Dr. Silberman said that while the hiring frenzy of the boom years had disappeared, talented programmers were always in demand. "The craziness is over and it's back to business as usual," he said. "But to go from there to saying there are no jobs in the industry is just too much of a leap."

"Would you rather have a degree in computer science or English?" he continued. "You might not get the dream job that you wanted right off the bat, but you'll find a job that uses your skills."

Andries van Dam, a professor of computer science at Brown who has been teaching introductory computer science there since 1965, agreed. "When kids say, 'Is there going to be a job for me when I graduate?' I essentially have to laugh," he said. "That's like saying, 'When Maxwell discovered the rules of electromagnetism, was physics over?' "

For the undergraduates who do stick with computer science, some mental adjustments are necessary, not just about job prospects but about how to approach computer science as a discipline as well.

Jennifer Li, a junior at Carnegie Mellon who is majoring in computer science, said that more people in her field were choosing second majors to enhance their job prospects in other fields like graphic arts and bioinformatics. For her part, Ms. Li has chosen two minors: business administration and multimedia production.

Dr. van Dam said, "We are encouraging it because it is the kind of intellectual broadening, career broadening that will really help students."

Latika Kirtane, 18, a freshman at Carnegie Mellon, said she was thinking of combining computer science with graphic arts. She said that she and other freshmen she knew were trying not to dwell on job prospects.

"People are generally afraid, but since we are freshmen, we are not really thinking about the future," she said. "We just do it because we love it."

Mr. Dave echoed her view. "I would say that everyone who still loves the field is still there, but there aren't the people who were doing it just for the money," he said.

Randal Bryant, head of the computer science department within Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science, said that even though the school is receiving far fewer applications, gaining admission remains difficult. He said the motivation of students entering his department was a refreshing change from four years ago. "Many of the students we see coming in are very enthusiastic about computers," he said. "They aren't looking to become millionaires by age 25."
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Thomas H. Cormen, an associate professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, agreed that while the quantity has decreased, the quality has improved. "The advantage of this is that the students who are taking our courses, we have some confidence that they're taking the courses because they're genuinely interested," he said.

Dennis Gannon, chairman of the computer science department at Indiana University, where enrollment in computer science has dipped about 10 percent since last year, said most of the faculty members there felt somewhat relieved. "Prior to this drop we were under siege by students wanting in to our courses and the major," he said.

Still, concerned about what could happen if a downward trend continues, companies like I.B.M. are intensifying their programs to reach out to potential computer scientists, efforts that are aimed at children as young as elementary school age. Intel has spent $700 million on its outreach program, which is intended for students in kindergarten through high school.

Dr. Silberman of I.B.M., who is 49 and has been in the computing field for more than 25 years, said he was concerned about the enrollment decline. "I know what it takes to develop a technology and produce something that is usable, so people can count on it," he said. "We've seen how much all this progress we've made over the last five years depends on computing technology - when you go into a hospital and see all these machines or even an amusement park. All these things depend on computing technology."

Dr. van Dam argues that computer science is far from irrelevant. "We are just at the very beginning of the computer revolution," he said. "People should realize that not only is it not over, but it's scarcely begun."

Re:Full Text of the NYTimes Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016270)

Interest at UT Austin has also probably declined because they got their students relegated to those shitty Taylor and Painter hall buildings.

Clearly the university does not spend as much on it's bastardized CS program as it does on Business or Engineering programs.

Though the CS grad students did recently get a shiny new building. The undergrad students still get to work in shitholes.

Re:Full Text of the NYTimes Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016359)

Being an undergrad *is* a shithole. No money. Not a kid, but not an adult. Roommates. Slumlords. Performance pressure. Crappy facilities are only the tip of the iceberg.

LOST RICHES (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016142)

No one will ever get rich off linux, unless they perpetrate some kind of fraud. WinXP is just too good.

Obviously... (4, Funny)

xYoni69x (652510) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016143)

All us computer science students (yes, I'm one too) have realized that as soon as we get our degrees, the industry will be profitable again. =)

(To deduce whether I like computers or want to "make a quick buck", observe the fact that this is Slashdot.)

Re:Obviously... (1)

Xerithane (13482) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016225)

(To deduce whether I like computers or want to "make a quick buck", observe the fact that this is Slashdot.)

They aren't exclusive, you know? When I first was interested in computers, it was something you went to grad school for. If you wanted to get a good job, you had a Masters or PhD. By the time I actually got into college, that was changing and you only need a bachelors degree to get some really great jobs.

Why did I choose programming as a profession? I like it, and it pays very well. If I could make money doing pharmacutical research, I'd probably be doing that and programming on the side. It doesn't mean I'm less of a geek, it means that I'm intelligently weighing the decisions to allow me to have a comfortable life. I'm not saying do a job you don't like, but money is a factor when choosing your career.

Computers + Money = Great Job!
Research + Money = Pretty damn good job, that gives me money to buy computer equipment for hobby programming.

I'd probably be a lot more involved in open source development if I wasn't a programmer all the time.

Re:Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016305)

Oh please you people are so high on your pedistal it makes me sick. So common in the "computer field" are the egos.

So, if I get this right, the reason why computer people are paid soooo much is because of all of the morons who don't know what they're doing? Right? ahuh.

This industry is a sham the more I look into it. I'm a computer science student not because I love computers to death (I don't). It's the only industry I even remotely am interested in working in. And yes, if I happen to get a good paying job doing it, why not? You need money to feed yourself, by a house in a *safe* neighborhood (Californians take notice here), provide for your family, etc. so why all the downers on making money? I've been without money and let me tell you it sucks.

Let me tell you this, most companies don't give a flying rats ass about their employees, so when you can garnish good pay from them you may as well enjoy it while you can!

As for all the 'morons' in the industry, don't hire them! I'm wondering how they got a job in the first place!! Looking through the classifieds this weekend was sickening...In the technology section companies basically want you to have 10 years experience using each programming language and computer system that ever existed, and then have your Ph.d's to get hired! All for a $24k job! And you're supposed to love it and tell them you'll work there for the rest of your life!! (Although that last part goes for any job)

Interesting... (5, Insightful)

javelinco (652113) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016146)

But there are:

(a) Many people who like computers that suck at working with them;

(b) Many people who don't particularly like computers that don't suck at working with them;

(c) Still a hell of a lot of people who have no business looking at jobs in the IT industry that are working their ass off trying to get on.

Oh, the sad state of this world I live in...

i win (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016148)

you lose
why? cause you are an asshole. why? cause you are? why? cause i said so?

bye. dick face.

Interesting... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016157)

Hmm... I wonder if this will really change anything... Where I went to college, most people who tried to major in computer science for the money just didn't last... Science and Engineering can require alot more work than the standard liberal arts major, so someone has to be really motivated to keep up with the program... Usually money was not enough motivation to endure, and they'd eventually move on to "information sciences" which required less CS and more management classes.

Re:Interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016341)

> Science and Engineering can require alot more work than the standard liberal arts major

My ass.

Go write me a symphony, then come back and tell me how easy it is, retard.

K.
Berklee [berklee.edu], Composition [berklee.edu], '95

Of Course CS Ph.D.s are just the opposite (5, Interesting)

sig (9968) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016160)

The other side of the coin that Computer Science graduate admissions are inundated with applicants this year. Hordes of people, after getting a bachelor's degree a few years ago, went off to industry to get rich instead of persuing advanced degrees. Now that the market has cooled off, many of them are returning to graduate school. It sucks to be a recent graduate trying to get into CS grad school, because you have to compete with many more applicants for the same few slots.

Re:Of Course CS Ph.D.s are just the opposite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016193)

of course if you are competant and not a retard, then its not so bad.

Re:Of Course CS Ph.D.s are just the opposite (1)

Requiem (12551) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016336)

The trick is to do well in school. Don't blame others - after all, if you work hard, get an A- average, and generally show that you know your stuff, you're going to get into grad school. I know I did. Maybe not MIT, Stanford, etc., but there are many good schools out there.

Just because you like computers... (4, Insightful)

Kirby-meister (574952) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016162)

...doesn't mean you're gonna be a good programmer.

A friend of mine is in CS, because he loves computers and he loves programming. He isn't any good at it though, he's failed freshman intro classes, and not because he doesn't try. His eyes glaze over when he asks me for help and I start asking him why he's doing so-and-so when he could be doing this-and-that.

In short, people should do the things they love, but it doesn't mean quality when they do it.

Re:Just because you like computers... (3, Funny)

TrekCycling (468080) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016299)

Shhh.... You'll disrupt the weekly "I'm a REAL hax0r" circle-jerk taking place currently. They (geeks who think they're better than other geeks) have to go through these rantings regularly. Kind of like vulcans have to go through Pon Farr. I'm a still-employed programmer with an English degree who loves computers, but doesn't spend as much time on them as I used to. I guess I don't "deserve" to be in the industry any longer by virtue of that pedigree.

Re:Just because you like computers... (4, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016304)

I completely agree that love of computers != being a good programmer.

I myself am an excellent example. I've used computers forever, am extremely comfortable with them, yadda yadda yadda. But I hate programming -- how anyone sits staring at code 8+ hours a day is beyond me.

That said, being a programmer != all computer jobs. I have a history degree, but I work in the computing industry and make a fair amount of money doing so. How? Because I do what I do best: Make shit work. There has always been a huge need for people like me, and I suspect there always will be, and most CS grads don't have my skill set.

So it's all good.

both? (1)

jonnyfivealive (611482) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016168)

what if im in it for the money but i love computers and programming? ill never stop being a computer guy, but as soon as i can afford it (financially and experience-wise) im opening a hot rod shop. hopefully the two hobbies will cross somewhat... i hope to get into laptop controlled injection, etc.

Nothing to see here, move along (4, Interesting)

Red Warrior (637634) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016173)

Whatever is the trendy growth (even more than money) field when kids are juniors/seniors in high school, will then have a glut of kids taking a relevant major in college.
They never seem to think, for whatever reason, that the job situation won't be the same in 4-8 years..
That's one of the reasons teaching (I was married to a teacher, and have a number friends who are)degrees take such gigantic leaps from feast to famine and back. The news says "there's a shortage", and a few years later says "there's a glut"

The only thing new here is this is basically the FIRST time this cycle has taken place in the computer industry. The field has changed a lot, due to it's newness, but that also happens to every field going through it's infancy.

Thank God (4, Insightful)

Jaguar777 (189036) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016175)

Now we just need a dropoff in the amount of people that take 6 weeks worth of classes and think they are "certified".
Maybe then my resume won't get lost in the mile high stack of useless ones.

I definitely felt that way (1)

HoldmyCauls (239328) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016180)

That's part of the reason I left RIT. It seemed like no one there actually *cared* about what they were doing. I remember spending the summer after my freshman year reading Godel, Escher, Bach, and then finding out that none of the professors there had even heard of it.

The sad part is, most people anywhere don't seem to have a *real* love for much of anything, and so I've decided to become a writer: if I'm going to be in the minority, I may as well work alone with my passion for things.

Computer Science? (4, Funny)

Torinaga-Sama (189890) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016191)

I think the real reason the enrollment numbers are going down is because those of us with Liberal Arts Dergrees are snapping up all of the IT jobs.

I'm serious...why are you guys laughing?

Re:Computer Science? (1)

orange_6 (320700) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016302)

That's probably because the majority of CS departments out there are not progressing with the technology or current research, while the LA students are required to look at this stuff with a critical eye.

In my experience, as a recent grad, the CS department required us to not become innovative or even forward thinking in our coding techniques. I do believe more was learned about abstract methods and thoughts through my LA&S courses.

Plus, all those extra english class sure do help in making wordy documentation to make the instructors happy.

later
Josh

Re:Computer Science? (1)

Tyreth (523822) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016346)

Heck, I don't have any qualifications, art or otherwise, but I'm very good with computers (relatively speaking, of course).

Re:Computer Science? (1)

Shalome (566988) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016349)

I have a liberal arts degree, too.. and a damn good computer job that I love.

I went to university to learn things and study things I couldn't reasonably learn elsewhere... computers were what I did in my free time.

Now I'm working on getting those "useless meaningless certifications" since HR folk, who barely know how to turn their computers on, have decided that people without certs and/or CS or IT degrees aren't worth considering...

Hmm... (5, Insightful)

GreyOrange (458961) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016195)

Well the fact that they are passionate about computers is a good thing. The only thing I don't like is the emphasis on .net and soap, ect in schools. Just the other day I heard that the programers in my company are going to upgrade every piece of software to be .net compatable and all data entry software will be soap based. I slapped my self in the forehead! I certianly hope that some of those purebloods will go to some schools that don't push out microsoft robots.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016291)

nice troll

Universities teach computer science, theory and not so much practice, not how to program, no more than university english teaches you how to write in cursive.

You'll learn good algorithm techniques, critical thinking skills, etc, but not .net or how to use MS Word. Thats community college/cert course shit, not fodder for a degree.

Of course, it's probably different at the clown college you went to, but a real university degree will have you spend maybe 2% of your time learning the specifics of anything.

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016198)

fantastic news ! Was recently planning to go back to do masters in computer science although many around me think i am crazy to leave the job i have.

The downturn might actually turn out to be good.

Good (1)

Kref1 (320635) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016203)

Good, we dont need them. I graduated about 6 months ago and there were a lot of people who got into CS or Computer engineering for the money. They had no desire to tinker or just screw around with their computers. If you cant add a stick of RAM and dont know why your AOL crashes all the time, you probably shouldnt be here. Go be an English major.

Re:Good (1)

TrekCycling (468080) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016335)

The funny thing is, there are some of us who ARE English majors who know more than some computer geeks with CS degrees. Go figure. Funny how generalizations don't always work out. That's why I love these CS snobbery flameouts that happen periodically. Statements like the above show the foolishness of even worrying about the intents of others in the industry. If you enjoy the work/need the money what business is it of mine what you do? Seriously. Should it matter what your degree is in? Should it matter if you like to compile kernels in your free time? All that *should* matter is if you're good at what you do.

Computer Science is not for everyone (1)

DJ Rubbie (621940) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016215)

As an undergraduate student, I noticed two major groups of people, one that does it because they have the background, the other are the rest who have zero clue on what CS is all about. Those of the latter group would just drown themselves in the textbooks or lab manuals and memorize whatever methods the professors (or TA's) decides to use, which I find are very inadequate if they were applied in the real world. I am fortunate that I am part of the former group with few other friends who actually have real life experience in the relevant field (e-commerence webapps, application development, etc).

Anyway, even those who memorize the textbook find themselves failing the course, because the art of programming and computer science is definitely not for them. If they can't even relate a class (object) to a real world object, forget taking these courses.

If you don't love it, you'll be bad at it (5, Funny)

el-spectre (668104) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016217)

When I came out of school (2000) there were way too many people in it just for the money. The worst were: 1) A girl who, 2 months from graduation, couldn't code to save her life (BSA student's didn't have to, sadly), saying 'I Hate Computers' while in CIS... 2) A woman told me that she was graduating in web development. Since that's my field, I attempted to small talk, with 'so, what do you edit HTML with... homesite, notepad... pico?" She looked at me blankly and said "What's HTML?". I was so shocked that I just said 'uh... hope I interview against you...'

Re:If you don't love it, you'll be bad at it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016278)


A woman told me that she was graduating in web development. Since that's my field


You can get a degree in web development???!!!???

What's next? A masters degree in advanced handwriting?

Re:If you don't love it, you'll be bad at it (1)

el-spectre (668104) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016325)

Actually, it's a specialization in Computer Info Systems. And (not that I expect a reasonable answer from an AC) why not? There is more to web development than bolding, if you are any good you become an app developer in a different environment. Sadly, my school only taught ASP, but I am self taught in CGI (Perl, baby) and Java, which actually helped A LOT when fighting all the 'photoshop developers' out there for a job. (Disclaimer: Graphic artists need not fume, for I suck at that stuff. I just object to the folks who can barely build a site with Dreamweaver and PhotoShop, and call themselves developers)

I wouldn't recommend CS today... (4, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016219)

If my younger sister were still in CS, I'd be encouraging her to change majors. There was a time when a CS degree meant a good job and high earning potential. I'm pretty sure this time is over -- the US software development industy is being nailed into its coffin as we speak.

I don't see the current trend toward off-shoring programming jobs slowing down in the future -- rather, I foresee an acceleration as tools and processes for performing overseas work improve. Consider how poorly the American car, steel and manufacturing industries are doing, and remember that they (unlike software development) are at least protected by tariffs which level the playing field somewhat.

Sure, there will always be some development and QA jobs in the US if for nothing else than to avoid "all your base"-style situations. But that's going to provide a fraction of a percent of the jobs that even our currently depressed industry does.

If you *do* get a CS degree, you'd better plan on grad school. You're going to need an advanced degree or at least a double major to tread water (I imagine that business/CS will be in huge demand).

Re:I wouldn't recommend CS today... (2, Insightful)

that_guy (33618) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016292)

I don't think the situation is that bad. What we've done is weeded out a lot of the people who didn't have the skills to compete. I know some out of work programmers, but the ones that are actually good at what they do always seem to manage to find a job quickly.

The problem is that we had so many people jumping into the field because of the boom, and when the bubble naturally burst you are left with an over abundance of workers. I forsee the current situation ending up in an equilibrium where there are not an over abundance of jobs, but not a shortage either. IE just like any other field of work.

Absolutely (1)

jimmy_dean (463322) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016229)

I absolutely agree, quality over quantity. The general quality of software will probably increase as a result too.

Many People Don't Get Comp Sci (1)

MikeD83 (529104) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016240)

You will see a lot of people try the computer majors at a college. Quite a few of them are interested in the quick buck and a lot of them are just lame gamers who think computer science is a perfect major for them.
At my school (WIT in Boston) the equalizer is Computer Programming I using C. The college likes to hit kids with this course early in your freshman year. If you don't pass you're simply not cut out for computer science or engineering.

Ever Looked At the Current Job Requirements?? (5, Funny)

LordYUK (552359) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016241)

Its like, must have 5+ years of experience in C++, PHP, HTML, Cobol, Java, Unix, be MSCE certified, have customer service experience, be able to lift 70+ pounds, wear blue shoes, drive red car, be exactly 5' 7" tall, talk with a slight Jamaican accent, be willing to commute to India 3+ weeks a month, all for 18,500 a year.

Now, the REAL kicker is the first part, where 90% of the job listings want unrealistic years of experience.

If I was picking my major, and saw that, I'd be like, fsck that too...

Oops. [ot] (1)

FroMan (111520) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016253)

I accidently clicked a NYT article. Where was the usual warning that it was an NYT blah blah blah stuff? And for heavens sake, michael posted it without the std NYT blah blah blah warning. What is the world coming to?

Btw, I didn't read the article, but... I feel strangely compelled to comment since this is slashdot.

How do we get rid of all the folks who don't love computers now? Just recently someone I know left a programming position to go run his dad's hardware store. This was a good thing. He once brought a harddrive over my place (keep in mind he was a programmer for about 2-3 years before this) and said it was making this noise, and he wanted to see if I thought it might be bad. Well, I thought, no problem, I'll drop it in a machine and see what happens. Well, what happened was the most awful screech of heads upon the platter at roughly 5600 rpm. Folks in the next county could have told me that the drive was bad.

Well, anyways, the point being, he is only one of the many that need to be ejected from computers. He got in when the computers were good cash, but others like him have not left.

Quality? (5, Interesting)

DarkSarin (651985) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016254)

The assumption that because someone loves computers they will excel in working with them is false--somewhat like the idea that someone who loves poetry will excel in writing it is also false

The truth is that most people who have an aptitude for a field will at least dabble in it. But that doesn't mean they will care much for it.

An example of this is simple: In high school I was very good at Biology. It came naturally to me, and I made excellent grades in my Bio class. None of that changed the fact that I hated it. To me, Bio is not very interesting or even especially challenging. So I avoid it, even though when I have taken courses, I have always gotten an A in the class.

How does this apply to Computer Science? Well just the opposite is true. I love it, but that doesn't mean that I am particularly skilled. Sure I can do some limited web deisgn, and I understand hardware and software concepts fairly well, but I know that many of the people on this site are much better at all of that than I ever will be. Why? Because I am not really a much at calculus, which is necessary if you want to be really good at Computer Science.

This is why career counseling is so important. People need to get a grip on what they are both good at and enjoy, and concentrate there. This is one of the major failings of American Education--we focus so much on the idea of going to school to get a better job that we miss the point that if you are doing what you enjoy and are good at, you can almost always find a way to make money--if you put forth the effort to be the best.

That said, I would definitely see people that are going into a field because they enjoy it, not because they think it will make them money. Any field.

Back in 1989-1991 it was as it is now (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016261)

I loved being in CS classes back in the late 80's early 90's. after the 101 classes you had the people that were really interested and loved it.

It now sounds like it's getting back to those levels which is a VERY good thing. I have had the mis-fortune of working with the "I got a CS degree cuz you git rich doin' it." types, and it isn't fun.

If you love programming then by all means follow your love...

unfortunately I can't figure out my nephew... A Philosiphy major with an Ethics minor... Yay, he'll learn new ways to contemplate.... "You want fries with that?"

I'm more worried about lots of students taking the worthless career tracks like that.

"Students in computers" should be everyone (2, Insightful)

HMV (44906) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016263)

Knowing your way around a computer is such an essential business skill now.

Every kid in college, no matter his or her major, should know how to get around an Office suite, put into place a simple web site, and basic troubleshooting.

We're seeing the evolution of computer-technology-as-business-model into computer-technology-as-tool.

While it may be true that fewer kids are going into CS, what's also true is that the technology is penetrating deeper into the business school, journalism school, whererver where many things that were once the realm of CS or even MIS are now absorbed within a discipline that focuses on the application of that technology.

Unfortunately... (1)

Wavicle (181176) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016267)

Not like a few years ago when students were enrolling because they wanted to make a quick buck.

Unfortunately the industry is still fat with these people who don't truly appreciate the art and science of software design... and they are determined to make back all that time and money they invested in it during college. Only now they have a couple years of "seniority". It's very disheartening how many companies I see distressed over custom software development because they keep hiring "experts" who write bloated code that doesn't accomplish anything anyway...

I see these kinds of stories too often:

No really, OO is a great tool for rapid development... I don't care what the guy who failed that course tells you -- stop prototyping in purely procedural code! If you had encapsulated that data you could have protected access to it with a semaphore. Now that you need to scale up suddenly your whole application is breaking because your "expert" used simple global variables and you have multiple threads modifying them causing random crashes you can't track down.

Things Are Tough (1)

jetkust (596906) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016273)

Yea it's come to the point where instead of me admitting being a computer programmer, I tell everyone that i'm a smalltime potato farmer who doesn't even own a computer. Its just much easier that way.

I'm not a computer major (1)

McDrewbie (530348) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016274)

I'm not a CS major, I'm a biology major, but I seem to know more about or at least like computers more than some of the CS majors I know. I always wondered why they would major in a field that had no interest.

As a greying old duffer, I wonder... (4, Funny)

Embedded Geek (532893) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016276)

It would figure. Just when I'm considering quitting doing real work and going into management, this happens. It'll be bad enough trying to build an empire with a serf shortage, but competency makes it even tougher to rule with an iron fist!

My pointy hair is starting to hurt. I think I'll find someone to motivate before taking my afternoon nap.

Everyone should have known this (5, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016279)

If you chose an education, you should not choose what is trendy, but what you *like* or what you are *interested* in.

That's what I did, before the internet boom, and I graduated in the middle of the internet boom... *not* taking advantage of it and just looking for a stable job. Which I still have, right now.... (Just got a raise, so I am not to complain).

Yes, I chose Computer Science because I love computers, I love programming and I discovered that I loved the math and theory behind all of it. (Because, boys 'n girls.... Computer Science doesn't end at being a good coder)

Apart from that I have to quote the article:
People aren't seeing the glory in computer science that they used to.

I think that is false: there never has *been* glory in Computer Science. Not even in the dot-com boom. No, *technology* was glorified, not the science.

Anyways: do what you like. That's the only advice I can give. (Oh, and to my surprise I read in the article that there are more girls doing CS now! Damn, I wish I was younger and back at University *grin*)

Re:Everyone should have known this (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016338)

What if you dont know, or arent sure what you like? Most college/uni students are undecided on their major. Most dont know out of high shool what their "passion" is.

I was a CS major because I was into computers. I was never as super passionate as some, I mean I dont ejaculate in my pants when Linus enhances the linux kernel, or get all worked up about a new generation of CPUs.

I had easily a half dozen fields I was interested in. English? Music? Chemistry? Engineering? So I did eenie-meenie-miney-moe.

In retrospect, I chose well. I make good money (jobs are out there if you dont suck), and I like what I do.

I'd rather be a famous rock star touring around with a ton of groupies coked out of my head. I have the passion for music, but not the talent. But for me, it was more choosing what I was best at, not what I was most interested in.

Who forget to tell BC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016288)

Its well recognized that a passionate individual is a high performer; but a dollar-seeker is just biding time. I'm glad that CS grads will start to shift into the former category.

But, who forgot to tell government? The British Columbia (Canada) government has decided to double the student enrollment in CS, CE, and EE [gov.bc.ca].

Are any other countries, provinces, or states on equally dubious footing?

Me thinks (2, Insightful)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016294)

Me thinks. Its good for the future of technology.
Just as you don't want students opting for Medicine just because it pays well, (which it does no doubt), but rather because they are interested in human anatomy.

Same with any other field say architecture, engineering etc. Once the field has students , who are genuinely interested in the subject, there would be lot moro of innovative products and hopefully a lot less Service Packs :-)

People who don't love CS... (2, Insightful)

ssyladin (458003) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016297)

I knew a girl in my CS program who was double majoring between A&S Modern Feminist Studies and Engineering Computer Science. Why? Because her parents wouldn't help her financially with college unless she majored in "something that can get [her] a real job." She hated CS, but didn't want to shell out the $$$/get loans for a top 30 school private education. Ooops.

The "hi-tech economy" is in the same shape as the (4, Insightful)

ChaoticChaos (603248) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016306)

"...dropped off with the rest of the hi-tech economy"

Interesting the way that was worded. It's as if to say, something different happened to hi-tech than happened to the rest of the economy when the reality is that ALL segments of the economy have fallen off. No segment is hiring right now. None.

The WSJ just had an article last week about MBAs not getting offers at all right now.

This was to be expected (5, Interesting)

saintjab (668572) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016316)

Of course this would happen. Five years ago (give or take) being a doctor or lawyer was the most desired of all professions; and enrollment was high. I was reading just recently that both have declined in the last few years; much like CS. The reason? Money. When the market is flooded with opportunities to make money in a certain industry there will be an up turn in degree seekers for that field. Now that the 'bubble' has burst the field isn't so attractive to prospective new techies. This is not a bad thing it's just the result of the society changes and morphing. It's like the balloon theory; there may be less CS degree seekers, but there is probably more of some other field. It's very natural that this should happen and kinda cool for techies like myself who actually love what they do. I never looked at computers as a route to make money; rather something I enjoyed experimenting/playing with. It's a happy bi-product that I'm able to make a living with it.

I agree wholeheartedly (0)

Digital Dharma (673185) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016344)

We can thank the current army of paper MCSEs on the dot-com bubble. Fortunately for the dedicated hardcore techies, they're all disappearing as fast as the venture capital has. As a CIS major and self proclaimed UberGeek, I can always tell in my classes which students are there for the allure of money and which ones are there for the love of the machine. I've noticed a new trend this semester in that it seems that the hardcore techies have finally outnumbered the business-majors-turned-CIS-majors. Personally, I think this is great because it means the teachers can stop wasting their time with the money hounds and start focusing on those of us who are in it because we love what we do. Heh, maybe we'll give India a run for their money after all!

It's time... for a new major (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016347)

This post will probably be modded down into oblivion, but: I am the manager of the human resources department for a semi-small development company. Part of our jobs in HR is to screen many, many applicants... essentially pick out the top 5% to move on to further interviews. Believe it or not, we've actually had more luck hiring electrical and computer engineers than computer scientists or software engineers. What we've observed with the latter candidates is that they know the "science" of programming, such how fast a certain sort algorithm should run, but they are often poorly versed in the "application" of the algorithms. (The engineers are often just the opposite). I've found that engineers are people who are trained to work practically... they might not always come up with the absolute best solution, but the solution they do come up with is usually PDG (pretty darn good) and they come up with it quickly. They don't worry so much about squeezing every last bit of peformance out of an input prompt, or beautifying their code, like CS majors do. In general, our electrical and computer engineers are much more productive, and we've started turning more and more towards them to look for promising candidates. Which makes me wonder... is it time for a new major that deals with "practical" aspects of programming? Or do the CS and SE curricula need to gutted and re-done?

Just my two cents...

Demand for Engineers Increase (0)

follower_of_christ (626504) | more than 10 years ago | (#6016348)

unsigned short numGraduates = values::grads / values::year;
unsigned long int numJobs = values::someValue * 1000;
unsigned long double currentSalaries = values::soonToBeSixFigs;
unsigned int amtOfPartyingOfWootsHeardByCurrentEmployees = values::manyWoots;
unsigned int time = values::current_time;

if ( (++numJobs > --numGraduates) && ++time)
{
++currentSalaries;
++amtOfPartyingOfCurrentEmployees;
++amtOfWootsHeardByCurrentEmployees;
}

K... Determine your own values... And let out your own WOOT if yer a CS Major!

Wow I agree with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016351)

When I was in school (1996-2000) I was so utterly dissapointed by the number of people who were learning computers "To get rich".. a vast majority were this way, and there weren't many diehard techies like me.

Sort of sums it up... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6016368)

"When kids say, 'Is there going to be a job for me when I graduate?' I essentially have to laugh," he said. "That's like saying, 'When Maxwell discovered the rules of electromagnetism, was physics over?' " In other words... no, you won't have a job when you graduate.
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