Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

CS Degrees Low in 2007 But Bouncing Back

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the watch-the-curve dept.

United States 265

An anonymous reader writes "The number of undergraduate computer science degrees awarded last year hit a new low with the Class of 2007. The degrees awarded, 8,000, as tracked by the Computing Research Association, is only half of what it was five years ago. In 2003-04 — the high point of this decade — 14,185 students were awarded bachelors degrees in computer science from the 170 PhD granting universities tracked by the CRA. That said, after a decade of severe declines, the number of students at top universities declaring themselves as computer science majors is finally seeing an increase. Though it's only a small increase, it's an increase nonetheless. Experts attribute the shift to changes in job market, and also to changes in curriculum and the marketing of comp sci programs."

cancel ×

265 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

FTA: (5, Funny)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 6 years ago | (#22655924)

Our students are getting sexy jobs. Computer science is the new sexy.

How did this not make it in to the summary?

Re:FTA: (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22655952)

Because then it would be false advertising? There's only one computer-related job I'd classify as sexy.

Re:FTA: (1)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656254)

Because then it would be false advertising?
You know I have to question this. It took a decade but gaming became cool. With how important and integrated computers are in our daily life then I think that being cool and being a geek will no longer be thought of as mutually exclusive. To take it a step further I think that if you CAN'T use a computer in this day and age your not cool.

Re:FTA: (3, Funny)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656476)

There's a difference between "use a computer" and "strip a computer down to the bare hardware, rebuild it, install three obscure operating systems in a multi-boot scheme, and interface it to your toaster"......

People with a CS degree tend to fall into the second category.....which still isn't sexy. (But it sure is fun).

Layne

Re:FTA: (3, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656034)

> > Our students are getting sexy jobs. Computer science is the new sexy.
>
> How did this not make it in to the summary?

Truth in Advertising laws. Consider this billboard [livejournal.com] , for example. Much more accurate!

Re:FTA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656214)

I see a new Slashdot meme in the making: "X is the new sexy."

Re:FTA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656494)

Memes are the new sexy.

Re:FTA: (1)

jimbojw (1010949) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656720)

Clearly these kids need to see Office Space.

Frankly.... (5, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22655926)

That's not exactly bad news.

I started computer science in 1994, when the boom was not yet there. Most people then were passionate about computers, maths and programming. When I graduated, a friend of mine stayed as a PhD candidate. The classes enlistment had then quintupled compared to our class, and one thing was clear: those that were there, were not passionate about the subject. They were there because it promised a golden career. They had also really trouble getting people to actually pass the first year.

So, I hope that computer science graduation is down because those that belong there are attending. Not those that just want to make big bucks because it's an "in profession".

Completely agree (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656056)

Do we really need quantity? I'd rather have quality. Ten fuckwits easily negate the positive impact of one good programmer/cs guy.

Re:Completely agree (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656156)

Exactly! What many people forget is that computer scientists have extreme versatility. One day we code a library, the next we put the foundations of a corporate architecture. It's a stupid example, but I've been doing Java for pretty much the last 10 years. Last month someone needed a C coder (plain C99, not C++) and nobody of the "regular Java programmers" would even dare to take the project. I did.... Two days later, I felt 100% at home with my couple of terms vi, make and valgrind. Coding test-units to be sure my libs are correct. It's just wonderful! (I was truly tired of Java, but is just a small project, I'll have to go back in a few weeks... *sigh*)

Alas, when applying for a job, they only look at your(professional) experience... Anything done at home in your spare time doesn't count. It's sad :-(

Re:Completely agree (5, Insightful)

blackcoot (124938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656332)

nitpicking, i know, but really what you've described are the virtues of a good software engineer, not so much a good computer scientist.

i see software engineering as an answer to "build the solution" whereas computer science is more about answering "what is the solution". then again, i have a fairly old school "c.s. is a combination of applied applied math and applied discrete math" world view.

Re:Completely agree (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656510)

Yeah, you're right... But alas, there aren't much computer scientist jobs out there.... I'll do my best to be a second rate computer-engineer, okay?

Where I live, you're better of being a business programmer than a computer scientist.... Even though the former will take a bubble sort, and the latter will pull his hair out if he sees him doing it. Explains why I lost so much hair the last ten years.

Re:Completely agree (2, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656512)

If you want that, then get the CS programs the fuck out of the college of engineering and into the math college. I'm not going to insult pure CS, we need CS research and researchers and quite possibly the most useful courses I took at school were the theory ones. But CS is not, and should not be theory only- it needs to instill solid engineering methodology as well as the theory behind CS. I'm not talking the "Here's how to install a Cisco router" cert crap, I mean unit testing, code reviews, problem solving, etc. The fact is almost no one gets a degree in CS to become a researcher- they get it to become a programmer. That means theory and practice need to be taught.

Re:Completely agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656556)

Being a Govt contractor a couple of years ago I would have to agree with you on that. Contract would call for 10 programmers with degrees. 8 out of the 10 couldn't do shit leaving all the work to be done by 2. Meanwhile the contracting firm brought in the money for 10 programming contracts. Good times

Re:Completely agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656594)

Working at a Uni, in their Computing department somewhere in the UK, I can say that the low numbers of students isn't leading to a smaller group of more dedicated students. Rather, anything with a pulse (And I swear, a few without) are being eased through the course. Is coding too difficult? No problem, we'll promote more "Information Systems" work. Kind of like that "How to make computer science more appealing to females" study, that concluded the best way was to take the difficult parts out (I wouldn't of liked to have been a comp sci female under-grad at the time, ouch) - but it's true; if too few will pass, simply lower the requirements.

Jobs = Students passing degrees. If few students take comp sci, or pass comp sci, jobs get lost. Therefore make it so that even a chipmunk could graduate. Easy.

Re:Completely agree (0, Offtopic)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656624)

Agreed. It always infuriated me whenever I'd see CS majors in the computer lab wondering why their workstation was doing something stupid at staring at it dumbstruck.

Things I have actually said to EECS students:

1) "The keyboard doesn't work because it isn't plugged in."
2) "This is how you mount and NFS share."
3) "What do you mean you don't know how to send that to the printer?"
4) "I hope your write cache wasn't on" (said to student switching off a mounted USB hard drive)
5) ssh ecs-linuxws-029; yes "turn down your bad emo music" | write username
6) "What? You need Administror/root privileges? I can help you with that..."

Re:Completely agree (1)

ronin510 (1113835) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656810)

That sounds more IT than Computer Science. "It always infuriated me whenever I'd see" people classify knowledge of how to operate a machine with Computer Science. The general public has now taken the term/major Computer Science as:
  1. Being able to operate a computer
  2. Maintaining computers for others
  3. Managing hardware/software in an office environment
  4. Knowing how to program
I'm only 24 years old and haven't had the "pleasure" of learning what Computer Science majors know without the use of computers, but many older people than I have ranted (and I've finally acknowledged) that Computer Science in their day could be accomplished without a machine we call a computer.

Re:Frankly.... (2, Interesting)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656086)

So, I hope that computer science graduation is down because those that belong there are attending. Not those that just want to make big bucks because it's an "in profession".
I believe I'm not alone here in saying that this applies to the majority of people earning Bachelors' Degrees. The Bachelors' is the new highschool diploma, while the Masters' is the new Bachelors'. Fortunately, the PhD. is still the PhD.

Seriously, though; when I look through my economics courses, I wonder how half of the people managed to get in to the university. I also wonder how half of the people left (1/4 of the total, for those of you who are in the 1/2 that shouldn't be in the University) are in the Senior level courses. Then I pay attention to what the professor is saying and realize that what these courses cover is rediculously easy. For the first exam this semester for my senior-level econ course, I studied approx. 2-3 hours. I got 92%. About 10% of the class scored just as well as I did or better. In my senior-level econ course last semester, I studied more (probably ~5-10 hours per exam) and got ~73% for each exam, which curved to be a comfortable A (I don't recall anyone getting more than 80% on a single exam, the highest score I recall was a 78), which again put me in the top 10%. The only difference between these two courses was that one had about 25 people in it, the other has about 120. Neither involves any significant math skills; the most advanced math I've had to use was partial derivatives for an intermediate micro course.

Re:Frankly.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656306)

Where do you go to school? Perhaps you should have applied and gone somewhere that was a challenge to you. Certainly you wouldn't be saying this if you took Econ at Priceton, UC, Stanford, etc?

True, more and more people are going on to college. But realistically, the same percentage are actually getting educated as always.

You saying that the BS is the new high school diploma ignores the vast variability in WHERE that BS came from. That matters, a lot, whether we like to admit it or not. Your school may be one such that a BS is a high school diploma. So why are you at that school?

what these courses cover is rediculously easy.

I now see why...

Re:Frankly.... (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656706)

Where do you go to school? Perhaps you should have applied and gone somewhere that was a challenge to you. Certainly you wouldn't be saying this if you took Econ at Priceton, UC, Stanford, etc?

True, more and more people are going on to college. But realistically, the same percentage are actually getting educated as always.

You saying that the BS is the new high school diploma ignores the vast variability in WHERE that BS came from. That matters, a lot, whether we like to admit it or not. Your school may be one such that a BS is a high school diploma. So why are you at that school?

what these courses cover is rediculously easy.

I now see why...
Normally I never respond to AC posts, but here I'll bite.

I'm going to the most prestegious school I can afford. It's also the most competative out of the universities I applied to (which were limited to universities I could afford to attend.) I go to UW-Madison. Widely regarded (although the accuracy of which is debatable) as one of the public Ivy's. It may not be as prestigious as Princeton or Stanford, but it doesn't have a bad reputation by any means. In other words, not supposed to be a schmuck school. I could've gone to the University of Minnesota had I wanted to. I'm originally from Minnesota, and so it was no surprise that my parents and brother (who went to the U) pressured me to go to UofM. However, I chose UW-Madison, am enrolled as a business student, and am graduating this semester from my 3-year stint while double-majoring in Finance, Investment & Banking as well as Economics. I could have done Economics - Math Emphasis if I wanted to, but then I would've had to stay for a 7th semester. If I had actually studied for my econ courses and put a little more effort math and statistics (I should have put more in,) I have no doubts that I could've taken graduate-level economics courses. Taking Econometrics, however, would've been over-the-top, as it would have essentially required taking two advanced-calculus classes, and I the last math course I've taken was Intermediate Calc 3 (Intro to Multivariate Calculus,) so I would have had to take 4 or 5 additional math classes just to take Econometrics. To give the department some credit, its statistics courses are challenging. They're significantly more difficult than the statistics courses taught in the business school.

If I had wanted to be challenged for Economics, I would have tacked on majoring in Math. However, there is no reason why the economics department is so lax with regards to math. Despite their philosophy, understanding the concepts is only a start; it's not good enough.

Re:Frankly.... (4, Insightful)

blackcoot (124938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656196)

i think you're right.

i graduated with my first c.s. degree during the peak 2003-2004 and i can tell you that about half the people that i graduated with have since burned out and moved on to new careers. i would estimate that an overwhelming majority of the people that i started out with thought that majoring in c.s. would help them earn lots of money. something like 80% of the people that started in c.s. at the same time i did switched majors because they realized that c.s. wasn't for them. about half the people that were left were people that realized, too late, that c.s. wasn't for them but they were so far down the road that switching majors wasn't an option. most of them ended up having to take the upper division theory classes a few times before barely earning a passing grade, and then got out as fast as they could. they were uniformly miserable.

i stuck around to work on a m.s. in c.s. and i noticed a similar, although less severe pattern there --- again, about half the people that were in my grad foundation sequence classes (compilers, operating systems, algorithms, and a.i.) washed out before they managed to finish the sequence. an informal survey of people in my o/s class showed that about 60% of them were there for the money. just like undergrad, the people who washed out were miserable.

by way of comparison, the people who survived to take the "fun" grad level classes (computer vision, intro robotics, image processing, etc.) were a lot more fun to be with and generally a lot more excited about what was going on. classes went from enrollments of 45-60 to 10-20, professors were markedly more relaxed, and i felt that, in general, i got a lot more out of those classes than i did anything else in my education.

in the long term, i think that c.s., like most of the math / science / engineering disciplines, is extraordinarily demanding and unless it's something that a person really enjoys doing, i don't seem them surviving in a c.s. related career for very long.

Re:Frankly.... (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656264)

Hear, hear!

First year classes for IT studies in high school and college are always crammed with students. The second year more than half of those have failed. Why? Because most of them thought they were capable because they can use a computer decently like most people their age. Or they thought they would be playing video games. I'm not kidding.

Re:Frankly.... (3, Interesting)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656450)

Because most of them thought they were capable because they can use a computer decently like most people their age.

However, that's just a phenomenon from the last five years or so (when computers started to be cheap and graphical user interfaces were stable). I say five years, because Windows 95 came out in (duh) late 1995 and people needed to grew up with it to think "they could operate a computer". Someone going to college in 1995, having computer experience would know the pre-95 days. I remember a girl (!) in my first year. She had never turned on a computer in her whole life, but was mathematically inclined and interested in computers. She graduated the same year I did (means: without failing) and she did that magna cum laude. That was possible back then. (It's just too bad, I never noticed that she had cast an eye on me...)

Now, I hear adults (+40yo) say their kids "understand computers" and I get batshit mad about that. They don't understand anything, their computers are infested with spyware, they don't understand the difference between RAM and harddisk, they just know how to install World of Warcraft and God help them if someone disabled Autorun. I've been a highschool "computer science" teacher. It's disheartening.

Re:Frankly.... (1)

TClevenger (252206) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656540)

It doesn't help that some CS-granting universities are now pushing the "everybody who joins the Air Force can be a pilot" mentality.

At my community college, representatives from California State University, Fullerton and Microsoft came into my C++ programming class to talk about their exciting new Bachelor's in Computer Science degree with the Game Design "specialization." Apparently this new sub-field is revolutionizing their degree program by attracting the same people who think going to DeVry is going to allow them to design robots like the people in the commercials.

During the "demonstration", the Microsoft rep showed us how we could use their revolutionary new Visual Studio 2008 to "build the game of Pong in under 15 minutes." Yeah, he built it in 15 minutes all right--by copying and pasting the code out of Notepad.

Meanwhile, my questions about the other degree tracks I was interested in, such as Scientific Computing, we basically glossed over.

It is down for a reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656294)

Universities are a fraud.

Many universities treat you like a statistic, unless you have a shitload of cash you can't keep going to these universities. Many of them have billions in the bank, and yet squeeze the taint of every student for more and more $$$$. The university president makes millions while the students can't pay the bills. Reminds me of Wall street and greedy CEOs.

Anyhow if you have a passion for somthing it can be self taught through a manual, through examples, and through books. (yes you can buy a book and learn it yourself!! that is what instructors tell you to do anyways.)

To me the university system is a huge ripoff, does'nt really produce real world results, and sadly it is only way to land a good job usually.

Re:It is down for a reason (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656548)

Ehm.... Whatever you say, but I went to University in Europe and I paid 500€/year or so.... That was it... No debt required.

Re:Frankly.... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656586)

i think i have to agree with you, i actually dropped out of my CS degree because i got a really good job offer and i felt i wasn't learning anything and just wasting my money. 8 years later i'm successful and making great money, and i only wish i hadn't wasted my fucking money on uni. university isn't the place of learn it used to be, now it's all about tailoring subjects to suit employers which is a BAD thing.

Computer Science in HS (1)

buyvalve (1152115) | more than 6 years ago | (#22655966)

I'm not sure how it is in other areas, but my local high school in NJ has cut most of its computer science courses from the cirriculum two years in a row. It prevented me from taking the AP course. I can only hope it didn't discourage anyone from a career path.

Re:Computer Science in HS (0, Flamebait)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656058)

Including Big-O notation? Datastructures (linked-lists, hashtables, b-trees, 2-3 trees)? Database design with practical SQL? Turing machines? Church thesis?

That's just the first year computer science.... You highschool offered exactly what of those? If you say VB/Java/C(++)/Pascal, you're not even entering in the realm of computer science.

Re:Computer Science in HS (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656162)

Now you're just being rude. What you're saying is that future mathematicians should start out with number theory rather than addition. Let him learn his programming 101 in high school, and after he can successfully edit, compile, link and run "hello world" from memory, then we'll start in about DFAs and Lambda Calculus.

Re:Computer Science in HS (2, Insightful)

mevets (322601) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656208)

I don't know if your new here, but usually "+1 Insightful" is how you indicate rudeness :)

Re:Computer Science in HS (3, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656288)

I'm not rude, but I have serious objections with calling "programming" the equivalent of "computer science". I had the sad experience of being a high school teacher and they called "computer science" (or at least the equivalent of that in my language) courses that covered Word, Excel and Access.

Besides, programming is not computer science. Computer science can be learned entirely with pen and paper. Programming is going to be a tad harder to learn without actually trying what you wrote. (1,2,3....Cue in the guy who wrote programs in the fifties when computer time was extremely expensive.)

Re:Computer Science in HS (3, Funny)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656452)

Back in my day we programmed on grid paper and were glad to have it! It was an upgrade from the wax tablets of the previous version. Kids these days and their fancy screen editors and automated compilers.

Re:Computer Science in HS (2, Funny)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656580)

I knew you'd be out there :-)

Re:Computer Science in HS (1)

avronius (689343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656392)

Whoah down - we're talking about high school, not trade school, right?

Now it's a while back now, but from what I can recall, computer science in high school has more to do with the history of computing, some introductory programming, basic debugging and problem solving, and some introduction to the flashy cutting edge stuff via presentations from industry. It is an introduction to the idea of computer programming, not a replacement for the education that a trade school, techincal college or university can provide.

Without the "primer" courses that high-schools offer, many gifted problem solvers never venture into computer science, as they don't see how their special talents might translate without that initial frame of reference.

Re:Computer Science in HS (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656470)

I've never heard of database theory or computation theory as first year courses in CS. As far as I know, they mostly teach introduction to programming, algorithms, and data structures in the first year. That's what Computer Science AP [collegeboard.com] classes teach, also.

Re:Computer Science in HS (2, Interesting)

MechaBlue (1068636) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656210)

In my uni, there was a 70% drop out rate in first year CS when I started in 1997. The reason seemed to be that, approximately, 70% of the class had no background in programming or, in some cases, basic operation of a computer. It was during the dot com boom and it seemed that most of the people were there because they thought it would be a lucrative career.

While there is far more to CS than programming, being comfortable in operating a computer and basic programming should be pre-requisites. Without these fundamental skills, jumping into a CS program is akin to jumping into a Math degree without high school math. In order to prepare students for success in CS, the students need to be exposed to the basic concepts and skills used in that field. This is no different than any other subject.

I think that the reason that this has been allowed to go on for so long is because CS is still considered new and it's fairly expensive. Teachers and administrators don't understand the value of making computer courses available and, if they do, they often can't afford to outfit and maintain a lab of PCs. Staffing could also be a major issue; how many teachers know enough about programming to teach it?

I know that the CS program at my uni was allowed to have a dropout rate that was much higher than the other programs; they knew that the students coming out of high school were ill prepared and let them figure it out the hard way. If other schools are still having this failure rate, it means the issue hasn't been addressed.

Re:Computer Science in HS (1)

holmedog (1130941) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656682)

While there is far more to CS than programming, being comfortable in operating a computer and basic programming should be pre-requisites

I kind of agree with you, however, I want to point out that the most basic pre-req you need for computer science isn't computers; it's math. You should have taken at least pre-cal in highschool.

People drop out of a lot of different degrees after they learn that the degree is hard; and the expectant jobs aren't going to instantly land them out of poverty. A lot of these kids going to college are just doing it because it is the next "step" in their lives. They have been taught from day 1 that you go to school, then college, then get a career. I was the same way, but luckily learned early on in college that it really was what I wanted to do.

Re:Computer Science in HS (1)

businessnerd (1009815) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656228)

Actually, taking computer science in my NJ high school DISCOURAGED me from pursuing a career in computer science. Although this is a good thing. At that point, I knew I wanted to work with computers, but the only career I knew about was Computer Science. Luckily, I realized early that coding was not for me, and after talking to people already in the IT field, I discovered that there was more to the field that writing code.

This is not to mean that CS in high school is worthless. In fact I'm saying it should be available as an option. Best to find out early, before you waste a lot of time and money in a college CS program. Although I'll agree with another poster, high school CS is nothing like college or "real" CS. Friends of mine who went on to CS or computer engineering in college had to relearn how to code.

Link to CRA bulletin (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22655974)

Graduants more important that declations (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22655986)

Because declaring a major (thankfully) does not bind you to it for better or worse. A lot of students don't like all the theory and others don't like all the coding -- not sure what some come in expecting.

Re:Graduants more important that declations (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656268)

Some people come in expecting that building software like Crysis or MS Office or whatever is going to be more complicated but essentially the same as building a website with Frontpage. There's also an unfortunate number of people who come into it because many (most?) IT jobs ask for a degree in computer science, when they really should be asking for something like MIS or a vocational program / certification. Too many HR departments don't realize that a CS degree has as much relevance to running cable or fixing hardware as a mechanical engineering degree has to detailing a car or changing the oil.

Re:Graduants more important that declations (1)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656518)

The attrition rate tends to be even worse in my major, Computer Engineering. My school has a really low retention rate in that program for two reasons; the first is that it's just a tough subject. The second is that, being a conglomeration of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, a lot of people find that they really don't care for one or the other, and end up switching to the subject they do like.

What is the point of a CS degree? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22655996)

What is the point of a CS degree? So when out, you can either get $35k a year as a sysadmin, and on call 24/7, then replaced the second the company finds someone cheaper or you make a mistake, or end up as yet another code monkey who is told to make module "X" and code 10k lines a day, and if its not 100% bug free, you are out a job, and the blokes in India will make the module for 1/10 the price and 1/10 the bug count?

What a choice. Choose CS and work 80-100 hours a week to hopefully finance a used Geo Metro, or be an attorney and work 9-5, driving home in a brand spanking new BMW 7 series.

CS has one use. As a prerequisite for law school. A law degree and bar membership will ensure you a job, as its impossible for an attorney to ever be unemployed unless he or she gets disbarred.

CS is a profession similar to textiles, something that was good before but has no relevance now. It used to be lucrative, but businesses would be dumb to pay someone $65k a year for code they can pick up for $2k with guaranteed quality from an offshore company.

Re:What is the point of a CS degree? (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656444)

I guess I went from a CS major first year to applying to law schools this year, so maybe you're onto something. However, I'm not going to blow money on a hugely expensive, crappy car that says "BMW" on it.

It's the non-CS courses causing drops (5, Insightful)

katterjohn (726348) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656014)

The programming courses are so simple, but you have to take courses like Calculus IV and Physics II.

I'm doing fine in my math and science, but I'm betting not everybody is. I'm not quite sure why you need all of this excessive math and science (except when the Computer Science is in the School of Engineering--but not all colleges are like this).

I've been programming for years--with code in many Open Source projects like Nmap, Metasploit and the Linux Kernel--but I did this without the courses at my college. Other people are probably realizing they can do the same and picking different majors to avoid the higher-level math and science.

But, hey, I'm just a CS major bored in my classes.

Re:It's the non-CS courses causing drops (2, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656102)

The programming courses are so simple, but you have to take courses like Calculus IV and Physics II.

People drop out of CS programs because of programming courses too. The first thing that gets people is recursion. The next big thing is pointers. Some people just aren't prepared for those concepts, and it's too much for them.

Sure, Calc takes out some students too, but in a good CS program the programming courses aren't "easy" for everyone either.

Re:It's the non-CS courses causing drops (1)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656572)

People drop out of CS programs because of programming courses too. The first thing that gets people is recursion. The next big thing is pointers. Some people just aren't prepared for those concepts, and it's too much for them.


And thank heavens they do move on. I sound like the elitist prick I am, but having a masters in CS and AI I know too many people who graduate and still fumble on these basic principles. Lots of hacks out in the field too, who don't know their basics and churn out crappy code.

Move on to psy or law or something. I can't understand that some people just muddle on and work in a field they barely grasp and on work they don't enjoy, only making it more difficult for the rest of us.

Re:It's the non-CS courses causing drops (2, Insightful)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656598)

I wish my uni. didn't start students out with Java for CS 1, 2, and 3. We didn't hit pointers until CS 4, and it was pretty tough for a lot of people. Learning them from the start would be nice. Luckily, as a Comp. Engineer, I've had several more classes in C and I'm currently writing C for my job, so I've figured it out since then, but I know quite a few CS/SE people who don't know what pointers are all about.

Re:It's the non-CS courses causing drops (5, Insightful)

werdnam (1008591) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656134)

I'm not quite sure why you need all of this excessive math and science (except when the Computer Science is in the School of Engineering--but not all colleges are like this).

Because it's computer science, i.e. the science of computing. A CS degree, for better or worse, is not a programming apprenticeship.

Re:It's the non-CS courses causing drops (1)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656342)

Much agreed. Computer science and set theory, for example, are joined at both hips.

Re:It's the non-CS courses causing drops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656154)

I agree that there are too many 'extra' classes that distract the student from playing around with different programming languages and causing them to pull all-nighters instead of focusing on their major. Maybe freshman year it can be general, but there are too many things to learn in CS/CE, that is why it took me 5 years ;) .

Re:It's the non-CS courses causing drops (1)

RedHelix (882676) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656248)

That's pretty much what I did. I've been doing dev-related work on the side for several years, and started out in college as a computer science major. During my junior year I pretty much hit a brick wall with the heavy math and science courses and found that it was not worth the effort and subsequent risk of having to retake courses. Pair that up with the fact that these courses bore no relevance to the major, and I basically decided to kiss CS goodbye. I switched over to Networking & IS, and I'll have my degree in August. I took a lot of flak from my former CS colleagues, but I feel that the major I've switched into offers a course load that is more relevant to the major itself. All of the heavy math and science courses on my horizon have been replaced with networking seminars, Cisco classes and database management projects. Now I am interviewing for sysadmin jobs and I already have 2 employers asking me to come aboard. Meanwhile, my CS major friends are stuck doing software rollouts. I could not be happier with my decision.

Re:It's the non-CS courses causing drops (2, Insightful)

linguae (763922) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656344)

I'm doing fine in my math and science, but I'm betting not everybody is. I'm not quite sure why you need all of this excessive math and science (except when the Computer Science is in the School of Engineering--but not all colleges are like this).

As a 3rd year undergraduate computer science student, here is my best answer:

  1. Undergraduate education is about "well-roundedness." They want everybody to at least familiarize themselves with at least one topic in every major area of academia. Computer science students are required to do science courses for this reason, partly.
  2. Computer science is much more than just programming. Learning math and the other sciences exposes you to the reasoning and problem-solving skills that are also important in computer science, and also forces you to deal with the problem of learning a new area that you don't have much exposure or prior interest (something that will occur in graduate school or on the job).
  3. I can't say much about the sciences, but mathematics is heavily used in computer science, especially discrete math and combinatorics. Certain applications of computer science, such as computer graphics, use linear algebra and physics heavily. There are many interesting interdisciplinary fields that combine a science with the applications of computer science (e.g., bioinformatics). In my favorite area of computer science (information retrieval, which is also highly interdisciplinary), statistics is heavily used.

An undergraduate education is about exposing you to new things in a wide range of disciplines, while providing a detailed (but not too narrow) view of your major. You might not like your physics courses (it's sad for me to say, but I didn't), but at least you were exposed to it, learned something from it, and lived to tell the tale XD. Specialization within your major is what graduate school and starting your career is for.

Re:It's the non-CS courses causing drops (4, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656346)

Saying CS grads don't need "excessive" math and science is sort of like saying doctors don't need "excessive" biology and chemistry. After all, doctors have dosing guidelines, medications approved to treat conditions are all indexed, and the labs do the blood/urine/other analysis and red flag measured traits out of bounds.

Personally, I think the science needs to stay in Computer Science not because of what you're going to do today, but what you're going to do tomorrow. Higher maths and hard (as opposed to soft) sciences mercilessly teach problem solving and deduction, shake the foundations of any man foolish enough to ignore simplification, and demand understanding not so much of HOW things are done but WHY things are done in that way.

I'm not saying someone without that experience can't code well, not at all. Some people are just naturally gifted at thinking through problems and algorithms and following the natural order of things. Others, plain and simple, struggle. Hard corequisites force the sort of muscle memory one needs to properly apply the science to the practice.

I know I'd much prefer to drive an engineered car than one plodged together by a mechanic.

I've heard this before and it didn't make sense (2, Insightful)

keineobachtubersie (1244154) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656776)

And it doesn't make sense now.

"Higher maths and hard (as opposed to soft) sciences mercilessly teach problem solving and deduction"

The teach problem solving and deduction. There's simply no way you or anyone else can correctly claim "higher math" is necessary for those skills, a well constructed logic course can teach them without any higher math.

If you want someone to have certain skills, you teach those skills, you DON'T throw them in a class comprised of some stuff they'll need and a bunch of stuff they won't.

I think the reality is, the people teaching CS suffer the same failures as other instructors. ER docs have to work ridiculous hours for no reason than everyone else did it. CS profs are the same, I did the math so you will too, and who cares if you need it.

That's simply not good enough.

Re:It's the non-CS courses causing drops (2, Insightful)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656614)

The need for excessive math and science that you mention will become clear when you bind it with a class like Numerical Analysis. The level of math involved in things like raytracing, encryption algorithms, and pathfinding are impressive. Hell, even in your Metasploit project there is an insane amount of math involved in making sure each exploit runs at an optimum efficiency. Studied big O'h notation yet?

The programming classes should bore you out of your gord if algorithm analysis doesn't tickle your fancy though. CS doesn't teach you how to program, it teaches you how to think computationally. I am a sys admin now and I use my CS knowledge as much as any developer would or a hardware engineer would.

That being said, back to your math comment, I would say that CS is probably a lot more about math than programming. Programming is just a tool to show how to use the computational Sciences work on mechanical devices today.

And now for the obligatory quote that needs to be restated every time there is a CS article on /. "Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.-" E. W. Dijkstra

Take that into consideration and enjoy your CS classes in a new light, if not, change colleges and go for a dev degree or an MIS, it might help you more (Honestly) than a CS degree will in your Professional career.

Re:It's the non-CS courses causing drops (1)

nintendo_is_a_cereal (891137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656816)

And herein lies the problem with a lot of CS majors. They think CS is all about being a "programmer" and don't realize that the degree teaches you how to be something of a theoretical scientist instead.

Anyone who bitches about not learning recent technologies from their main CS classes is missing the point or at a bad university. The theories and thinking/learning skills you get should enable you to learn programming language X or API Y without too many problems.

CS Bachelors devalued? (1)

Degreeless (1250850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656016)

Are these numbers perhaps misleading as being representative of all universities? Certainly there may be reductions of numbers at the ivy leagues, but on my college campus the place seems to be awash with CS majors (that and sociology). Perhaps the percieved decline in numbers may be indicative of the CS bubble bursting. There was a time when computer science seemed like the ticket to a decent job, but increasingly it seems devalued by the gamut of lesser IT certifications which seem to be of equal value in the eyes of less tech-savvy employers.

Certainly I speak only from what I myself have seen and might be speaking from the depths of my ignorance.

Bad Math? (1)

Percent Man (756972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656024)

8,000... is only half of what it was five years ago.

This seems to imply that five years ago [2002-2003], there were twice as many as 8,000 [16,000].

In 2003-04 -- the high point of this decade -- 14,185 students were awarded bachelors degrees in computer science...

This on the other hand seems to imply that four years ago, ~14,000 was the highest figure in the last ten years.

Huh?

Re:Bad Math? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656096)

Thats why there are fewer graduates, "half" the people who started CS couldn't multiply and divide.

Because formal education is a sham (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656028)

I will be graduating this semester with my Masters in Computer Science. Personally, if industry didn't judge one's pay or career advancement by what sheepskin they had I probably would not have ever gone to school. I am a self learner and would have had the self discipline to buy the books and teach myself. With the Internet the free resources are endless. In retrospect, I feel as though I have learned little other than to turn in assignments on time and make the grade. It is a shame that the world places such high value on the "degree."

Re:Because formal education is a sham (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656124)

It is a shame that the world places such high value on the "degree."
The world should place high value on degrees. Whether the industry should is another matter, and your real complaint.

Wikipedia doesn't count!!! (0, Offtopic)

Besna (1175279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656130)

Please remember this.

Why only Ph.D-Granting Departments? (1)

MarkPNeyer (729607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656050)

My undergrad did a fine job of teaching me, but they don't grant Ph.D's - why don't I count?

Only "PhD granting universities" were counted (1)

makellan (550215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656064)

There are plenty of good colleges that don't grant PhDs that graduate Bachelors and Masters of CSc.

Re:Only "PhD granting universities" were counted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656406)

The entire California State University system comes to mind readily.

Re:Only "PhD granting universities" were counted (1)

makellan (550215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656844)

Exactly what I was thinking.

My $.02 as one of the ~8000... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656094)

My own personal observations, as a member of the class of 2007 who graduated with a BS in CS:

I don't see this a necessarily a bad thing. My freshman class was roughly three times as large as my graduating class. A good number of the people who made up the class were there "because my dad told me I could make a lot of money in computer science." This was in 2003, several years after the initial dot-com bust.

Something like 40% of my class dropped out that first semester, after the first serious project in our Intro to OO course. Mostly they went into various Business related courses.

In my view, the diminishing number of students majoring in CS reflects the core students who are attracted to the study of computing and computing-related endeavors for its own merits, and not simply lured by the promise of a lucrative paycheck.

Is anonymous reader one of the new grads? (0, Flamebait)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656098)

8,000 is not half of 14,185.

And how can we be at the end of "a decade of severe declines" when the high point was five years ago? A decade of decline does not necessarily mean a strictly decreasing sequence, but if the number of degrees granted in 2003-2004 was higher than the numbers for 2000-2001, 2001-2002, and 2002-2003--sounds like five years of decline, not a decade.

And maybe I'm just a cynic, but "changes in curriculum and the marketing of comp sci programs" sounds like "we're turning science programs into vo-tech training for engineers and programmers."

This story will probably just spur another dozen threads of whining about all the math required for any decent comp sci program.

Now get off my lawn.

Re:Is anonymous reader one of the new grads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656238)

8,000 is not half of 14,185.
Nice work spotting that one. We all know that 8000/14185 = 0.

CS and the Game Of Life (5, Insightful)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656114)

For the majority of prospective students, a CS degree is no longer a smart choice in the game of life. Those who want long-term stability in a profession will likely choose another field.

- you may have a high salary but when you divide it by how many hours you work, you could be making more money per hour and having fun doing something else

- companies send the jobs to somewhere in the world where employees are cheap, executives who do the cutting get gigantic bonuses on top of gigantic salaries

- companies talk about hiring "superstar" programmers when what they really need are good processes and tools to help people communicate and design good products; few organizations invest in people, many waste time trying to find Code Messiahs

- hiring good managers is much more than just promoting "technical" people into management

- open-source is cool and changing the way people think, but unless your a member of a certain kind of company, you'll need a day-job too (o:

Re:CS and the Game Of Life (1)

nexuspal (720736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656616)

My thoughts exactly. The CS stuff can be outsourced, jobs that can only be done here can not be. So this is why i did a degree in finance and economics and minored in CS. Just too much of a chance of having an employee in India take my prospective position because of advances in communications technologies and relative lack of skill here compared to our Indian counterparts.

Architects... (5, Insightful)

DarkDust (239124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656200)

I have no idea why we would need so many Computer Scientists... at least the company I work for needs developers, and writing good software is NOT what you learn at a university. That's not the focus of a university degree: the focus is to create scientiest or maybe managers, but not "workers". But you just can't run a business with 10 managers and 1 worker.

I don't want to say a CS degrees is worthless, au contraire. But I think the focus should shift more to other means of computer education. Most companies don't need people who know all the math theory you can find in The Art Of Computer Programming, but people who can write solid code for the small everyday software development tasks that make up the majority of a software project. They must know their tools (softwares and APIs) and need to know the common mechanisms (e.g. what's a linked list and how does it work, what's a singleton pattern, etc. pp.). For most of this stuff you really don't need to study to understand them, IMHO :-) When you build a house you need one or a few architects but you need a lot more construction workers that actually implement the architect's vision. And I think in the software industry we don't have enough of these (trained) construction workers as the focus seems to be almost exclusivly on the architects.

Re:Architects... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656402)

Being good at math does not make a CS major a good developer.

But - being bad at or dismissive of math is almost a sure sign (i.e. highly predictive) of a bad developer.

The math acts as an filter for people who can't handle abstraction; if you can't handle abstraction, you
are not likely to be a good developer, or a happy one.

There are exceptions, but the exceptions are sufficiently rare that they prove the rule.

Re:Architects... (1)

chiger_bite (801427) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656408)

I agree with this synopsis for the most part. I work for a medium sized University in the Midwest. Here, interest in a Computer Science degree has remained fairly consistent (and low) for several years. On the other hand, Computer Information Systems and some (newer) specialized degrees (e.g. Computer Networking Technology) have been gaining some traction. I'm not going to try to speculate why it is this way. Perhaps a census such as the one presented by the CRA might be a bit more useful pertaining to the direction of IT education if they expand their subject matter.... then again .... maybe that conflicts with their goal.

Re:Architects... (1)

TheGrapeApe (833505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656474)

"and writing good software is NOT what you learn at a university."

Actually, if you are in a half-decent program, that is *all* you learn. I know there are some half-assed CS programs out that just focus on the language du-jour, but the really good programs (like the one I went to at Ohio State) pretty much *just* focus on how you write "good software"; Fulfilling requires/ensures contracts, testing until you can't test anymore, how to properly organize and compartmentalize your code through object-orientation, etc.

For any half-decent programmer, getting a hang of all the ins-and-outs of the language du-jour is something you should and can do on your own time...

Re:Architects... (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656532)

Actually, I think the problem is much much worse than you suggest. Continuing the Construction Workers and Architect's motif, too many Construction Workers think because they've seen a Architects drawing, and can build a house / building, that it makes them an Architect.

Additionally, Many Architects have no clue how to actually build anything, and design really nice looking buildings that aren't structurally sound or lack important features. The building I'm in, has cracks all around it, and it is less than 14 years old. But what the heck, it looks neat. And forget about adding another row of computer stations, behind the current one, while there's plenty of room, the logistics suck, and it would cost a minor fortune to complete the refit.

No, the problem is too many think they're qualified as Architects because they've seen something somewhere or because they graduated from a college of design with a degree in Architecture. I only wish that Architects spent two or three years actually building stuff before they designed their first building.

Re:Architects... (4, Insightful)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656740)

When you build a house you need one or a few architects but you need a lot more construction workers that actually implement the architect's vision.
They're called compilers. Your metaphor is busted. Engineers come up with the plans, and then workers construct it. Within software, it's trivially possible to construct from a well done plan, but nearly impossible to find the right plan. A more appropriate metaphor might be found somewhere closer to engineering, like EE or ME. Where you have teams of people working, prototyping and constructing a final plan to pass off to some poor factory to implement. Sure, you have a Principal Engineer, ultimately responsible for the project, but it's not so clear that they alone design the plans.

Public Schools (1)

foldingstock (945985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656212)

As a CS major myself, I blame our poor education system for the decrease in CS majors.

Our current public school system is not doing its job of educating young people. Public schools have spoon-fed students all their lives and continue to pass students that should very well fail. This leads to a very lazy mind set. As a result, you have a large amount of college-age adults who are too lazy to pursue something that requires work, like a CS degree. These lazy students would rather get a general IT certification and call it a day.

Re:Public Schools (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656736)

As a CS major myself, I blame our poor education system for the decrease in CS majors.
Surely, if one is really interested in learning, one would find ways to learn. Blaming the education system makes about as much sense as blaming violent video games for violence in school.

less competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656242)

I'm just glad that the number is still low. The job market for IT people sucks in my area (a friend in HR reports that a recent entry-level Technician posting got 120 applicants), so the fewer CS grads I have to compete with, the better it is for me.

FTA: Bill Gates (5, Insightful)

proc_tarry (704097) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656316)

...but the general enrollment trend is often cited as an argument for increasing the H-1B visa cap, which is used by skilled workers. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has cited declines in computer science enrollment as a reason for opening up the U.S. to more skilled workers and will likely make that argument when he appears March 12 before the U.S. House Science and Technology Committee.

Pure Truthiness. Bilbo has it backwards. H1-B's are causing the decline in CS enrollment. Lifting the cap will cause further decline.

He must still be bitten by the entire anti-trust fiasco, and now uses the gov't as his tool, after ignoring and being dumped on by it.

Re:FTA: Bill Gates (4, Insightful)

Specter (11099) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656702)

Based on my recent recruiting experiences I'd have to say that H1-B visa limits are _not_ responsible for the decline in enrollment. In fact, if anything, at most of the universities I visited students on an H1B or F1 visa are all you can find in the CS department.

Most of them can't get hired after they graduate because companies are increasingly unwilling to sponsor visas, but it's sure not keeping them from coming to school here.

If you're looking for the reason for the drop in enrollment you don't really have to look any farther than the .com boom. Notice that the peak of enrollment is just about 4 years off of the peak of the .com boom. I certainly saw a lot of students in that time period who thought that a CS degree was an easy way to get on the gravy train.

Education is key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656326)

Yesterday in the local news, the tow headlines were:

1. Californa State budget issue will impact schools by cancelling some classes.
2. Oakland is seeking to hire more policemen

This country is running on the head. We spend more and more money to prison and police and less and less for school. US has the highest number of prisoner per habitant, with China. One young black american over 10 is in prison. There are more black american in prison than in college.

Education is the key. Our streets will be safer and our economy happier if we produce more graduates.

About the CS, in my company we are 18 developers, only 6 are americans.

Being one of those.... (3, Informative)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656336)

I came from a class of 3 that graduated last year.

Honestly, the courses were too easy or too hard. I think it was just that Math or business was just easier to work with, since your pencil and paper never require manipulating executive files and messing with header files.

I think that perhaps, it's not that it is too low or that students aren't hearing about the major, but rather not many like having to beat their heads over learning Dijkstra, Euler, and what the Big O's of the typical data structures or whatever weed out subjects are.

What I think would be more interesting is seeing how many minors are being sought by other disciplines for CS and what CS majors are taking for a minor

Either way, I was put on contract before graduating then another one a few months later. I'm pretty happy so far, but wonder if I'll be content once I look for a bit more permanent job (if such things still exist)

Math, Bad Teachers, and Outdated Corriculum (3, Insightful)

DigitalisAkujin (846133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656386)

(This is gonna go all over the place but bear with me.)

A big problem I see today is not a lack of students attempting to get into the industry but a lack of qualified teachers who know not only the topic but also how to convey the ideas and thinking required to push people to really understand what their being tought as opposed to simply studying for the test or doing the labs till they are done.

The biggest problem I see myself at the University I attend (Temple University, Philadelphia) is that the math while pretty important in a CS degree is pretty much useless in an IS&T degree, yet we are still required to take Calculus, Statistics, and Logic. Because of this inconsistency we have a high abandonment percentage from CS to IS&T. Further compounding the problem is a lack of teachers who can actually teach well. Many of them can't even speak English well enough for the majority of students to understand. Now I'm an immigrant to the US myself (came from Ukraine when I was 6 yrs old), I speak fluent Russian, but if my teacher is teaching in English and he can't speak well enough he should not be teaching.

An top of all of this, the technologies being tought resemble the tech industry in the late 90's, not the late 00's. Almost all of the faculty leans towards Linux but when it comes to the actual curriculum, ASP.NET, Visual Basic, Java, and MS-SQL. All tools in the programmer's toolbox have their place, including Microsoft ones but can we please have some diversity and common sense? Teach whatever is most in demand in the industry. Not simply what has always been in the curriculum. I'm glad to say that some of the faculty is listening and I'll be teaching a seminar on PHP & AJAX w/ Prototype in April. ;)

What does all this essentially mean?
I see the talented and smart professionals in our industry continually go out of school and move on giving nothing back to the educational community. This essentially means a brain drain in our universities being caused by talent simply being hired off and who teaches the next generation? The same old mid-range people.

Granted I'm talking about a pretty weak university in the grand scheme of things but it's the middle and bottom universities that form the bulk of the work industry in the world. Not the Harvards, MITs, and Stanfords.

Big Business + Computer Skills = $$$ (2, Interesting)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656400)

I work for a decent sized multi-national and our office handles most of the procurement. People with CS degrees or who are just good with computers often work their way up the chain much quicker.

I know there's always talk about programming jobs being outsourced. Get a degree in business and maybe minor in CS (or vice versa) and you will be an extremely marketable person. We hired on a contract programmer a couple years ago into our group. He has the same responsibilities as the rest of us (although his specific area isn't as difficult as others) and he also programs many small applications for us to make the tedious work managable.

Prove that you can work with MS Access or MS Excel or write small applications and you will become an office hero.

I've done pretty well for myself since graduating almost 4 years ago, but if I had to do it over again I would've taken some CS related classes.

Re:Big Business + Computer Skills = $$$ (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656524)

Prove that you can work with MS Access or MS Excel or write small applications and you will become an office hero.

I know very few people who spent tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars going to school, earning a CS degree ... who would then be happy coding VBA add-ons to Excel.

Theory: Bad Intro To CS For Many Students (1)

Ma3oxuct (900711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656464)

I think that many potential CS students are discouraged by that Introductory course. I think an introductory course should not teach Java as the first language, but a scripting language such as Perl or Python. Scripting languages allow people to get "feedback" from their programs much faster, not to mention that they are easier to learn and that an interpreter is much easier to conceptualize vs. a compiler (Intro students cannot be assumed to know or have to learn what machine code is; let the Architecture course take care of that).


I was one such potential CS student a few years ago. I majored in something else, but got back into CS quickly after discovering Perl. Perl got me inspired to take a bunch of CS of courses such as Computer Architecture, Compilers, and Operating Systems. I'm now entering the work force as a Computer Scientist after graduating this May thanks to the lack of graduating CS students :).

Re:Theory: Bad Intro To CS For Many Students (1)

Specter (11099) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656860)

Actually, if you want to teach CS then I'd vote for going back to Pascal. It was designed to be a teaching language and as such it's powerful enough to solve interesting problems but not nearly so dangerous to the user as C or any of its descendants.

I don't have any experience with Python, but I can confidently say that Perl is the _last_ thing you'd want to put in front of a delicate little CS newbie. Don't get me wrong, Perl is sinfully delicious but let's be honest, as a programming language it's just a mess.

My Advice To Those Thinking About It (4, Insightful)

xutopia (469129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656496)

Things to consider:

- the IT field is one of the hardest hit in case of a recession; this means that when things go bad they go really bad
- if it isn't a passion of your you will not enjoy it; it's long hours and crunch time exists almost always
- most programmers I've seen in my 12 years of programming have burned out and done other stuff instead. They would have been better off studying in a field they liked because now it's too late for them to tackle their true career of choice
- money isn't all it's cracked up to be in the IT field but it varies more than with many other jobs. For example someone passionate with great talent can get paid twice what another senior gets. In some parts of North America the salary is as low as 35k/year.
- if you want to hit the higher salaries you have to specialize into something and become a well known expert. This means blogging about your skill and doing presentations at conferences.
- your brain deteriorates with time and you can't code as fast as you could when you were 10 years younger. Getting old in our field is worse than it is in others. Even venture capitalists expect to invest in young talent. This means your window of opportunity is small.

You must answer a resounding yes to the following questions:

Do you code one week ends? Do you write software for fun? Do you enjoy sitting down and thinking really hard for long periods of time?

If that suits you then take the blue pill.

Re:My Advice To Those Thinking About It (2, Interesting)

xoundmind (932373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656868)

- the IT field is one of the hardest hit in case of a recession; this means that when things go bad they go really bad

Which is why, I think, many smart folks pursue IT careers in a non-IT field. For example, I work in systems and programming, but I also happen to be a librarian.
(Which from an education standpoint, means I have an "advanced" degree that was about as challenging as my 8th-grade Social Studies curriculum.)
That extra 12-credits of school has enabled me to forge an interesting, reasonably well-paying and very stable career as a hybrid-librarian. Though there are more and more of us, getting a job in "library systems" is pretty easy and offers a lot well-rested nights in the LT. I am not worried about the bottom following out because my company went for broke and went to market with a doomed AJAX app.

Don't Come Back (4, Insightful)

Blackknight (25168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656620)

Am I the only one that wishes that it WOULDN'T bounce back? Less CS graduates means less competition for the rest of us.

Science yuk. Give me play. (4, Insightful)

jago25_98 (566531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656666)

I didn't take `Computer Science` because I couldn't see a course in the entire world that I found interesting. I found what was on offer too theoretical, and programming everywhere. I didn't want to study computers, I wanted to have fun using them.

So I took Geology.

Science = The collective discipline of study or learning acquired through the scientific method; the sum of knowledge gained from such methods and discipline. A small and specialized subject.

I hope something comes out where I can play. Because play is natural learning.

CS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656696)

Why the f**k don't they take computer engineering degrees into consideration? We do all of that CS bullshit, then some.

YUO FAIL iT?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22656748)

house... pathetic. But many find 1t Result of a quarrel

Interest in Web 2.0 vs Web 1.0 (3, Interesting)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656846)

The prospect of a career migrating web scripts between Python, Ruby, & J2EE definitely doesn't have the appeal that 1st generation dot coms offered. It's not the student interest as much as the fact that Web 2.0 isn't the completely new territory that Web 1.0 was.

There might be new interest from the latest surge of robotics, but that's mainly done in Europe & once Dubya is gone, there won't be any more military robots h.e.r.e...

Silicon Valley is slow & stodgy about new territory. It's going to be Web scripts for a long time.

PhD-granting universities (3, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22656874)

That ignores all the second-tier schools that only offer bachelor's and master's degrees. I hold a BSc in CS from such an institution, and not including these schools is pretty poor statistics.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>