College Students Are Flocking to Computer Science Majors

Megalith

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Computer science programs are blowing up in popularity: figures from Boston, Dartmouth, and Stanford are showing that declared CS majors have quadrupled, or even quintupled, within the last decade. While enrollments will inevitably level off, academics suggest interest will remain high, which isn’t surprising, based on today’s tech-oriented climate and increasing demand for new grads who know their way around code, data analytics, and so on.

The bursting of the dot.com bubble in 2000 prompted students to reject computer science programs. Enrollments plummeted with the crash. But colleges are now scrambling to keep up with the major’s year-after-year enrollment growth. Take Stanford University. In the 2007-08 academic year, Stanford had 87 declared undergraduate computer science majors. That was near the trough of the great decline in computer science enrollments. But since then, the number of declared majors at Stanford has grown in each year and by the 2016-17 academic year, Stanford counted 353 majors. This is now the school's top undergraduate major.
 

gxp500

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I'll bet you majority of those students are males too, and you wonder why so many silicon valley companies have a "skewed" male/female ratio.
What's the hiring manager supposed to do in this case? Miss you took some programming classes in high school right? Good enough, you're hired!
 

Cyraxx

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87 to 353 is "blowing up"? Call me when the numbers at a typical state university instead of ivy league schools are "blowing up".
 

viper_0307

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It's a crowded major, the question will be what makes you stand out compared to the other person next to you? Remember what happened with certification in the mid-90s, everyone had one.
 

OutOfPhase

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I still find very few can pass a non-fluff interview, probably 10-15%.
 

fuzzylogik

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And what isn't mentioned is how many remain CS Majors by the time they get to Junior or even Senior year... Or even how many even graduate. Lol, my class started with nearly 300 students, but by the end there was barely 25 left that even tried to graduate. (By Junior year I believe the number of CS students in my class was less than 50?) I remember talking with the chair of the department and it was mentioned that the University was a bit "unhappy" with how many students were dropping out of the degree. But in reality the vast majority of the students interested in the major had no idea how difficult it was going to be past the introductory classes... :p
 

gordon152

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I jumped departments myself a year ago. With every company looking to automate and improve literally everything to compete and reduce costs, programmers are becoming ever more needed. It's a good choice and it doesn't seem to be abating anytime soon.

I would suggest they also minor in additional fields, like information systems. Good to be well rounded and have a diverse background.
 

davethehedgehog

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I still find very few can pass a non-fluff interview, probably 10-15%.

I speak as someone with a 4 year Honours Computer Science degree and 19 years experience in the industry, and as someone who also interviews. The academic departments teaching this stuff are so far behind industry that what they teach is pretty much worthless. Heck, the stuff they learned in year one is out of date by the end of year 3 or 4. Thing is, people with these degrees come out of uni thinking they're the shitz, and where's their 80k jobs they've heard about online. I'd take someone who's spent 3 years in the field or working in a DC any day of the week. I'd also take any CCNP level or MCSE level person with nothing more than high-school diplomas over a degree too. This industry is a practical one. I honestly feel bad for them, and I wish I could have gone back and done something useful.

Computer Science degree... complete waste of time. They'd be better off studying maths.

When I was a kid, my Dad used to work in a factory for a while on a machine. There was a job on the floor which was commonly known as "fitter". I don't know what the title would be these days. This guy was basically someone pulled from the shop floor who had demonstrated capabilities very early on. They were typically apprenticed. Their job was to fix the machines when they broke, whatever it took. They were resourceful and would manufacture parts from the tools they had in the fitters-shop to get the machines running again. They were well paid, and a good fitter was worth their weight in gold since they could turn a million pound an hour stoppage into a minutes long inconvenience

That's what good techies are these days, the modern-day equivalent of fitters. I genuinely believe apprenticeships are the best way to get good techies into the industry.
 
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oldmanbal

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guaranteed jobs and paychecks anywhere on the planet, it's the new business major.
 

shaggy77

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I speak as someone with a 4 year Honours Computer Science degree and 19 years experience in the industry, and as someone who also interviews. The academic departments teaching this stuff are so far behind industry that what they teach is pretty much worthless. Heck, the stuff they learned in year one is out of date by the end of year 3 or 4. Thing is, people with these degrees come out of uni thinking they're the shitz, and where's their 80k jobs they've heard about online. I'd take someone who's spent 3 years in the field or working in a DC any day of the week. I'd also take any CCNP level or MCSE level person with nothing more than high-school diplomas over a degree too. This industry is a practical one. I honestly feel bad for them, and I wish I could have gone back and done something useful.

Computer Science degree... complete waste of time. They'd be better off studying maths.

When I was a kid, my Dad used to work in a factory for a while on a machine. There was a job on the floor which was commonly known as "fitter". I don't know what the title would be these days. This guy was basically someone pulled from the shop floor who had demonstrated capabilities very early on. They were typically apprenticed. Their job was to fix the machines when they broke, whatever it took. They were resourceful and would manufacture parts from the tools they had in the fitters-shop to get the machines running again. They were well paid, and a good fitter was worth their weight in gold since they could turn a million pound an hour stoppage into a minutes long inconvenience

That's what good techies are these days, the modern-day equivalent of fitters. I genuinely believe apprenticeships are the best way to get good techies into the industry.


Great point! Gave you some reps for this thought. The first thing I thought when I read this is the fact the college system is trying to once again cash in. My boss who handles all of our IT needs at the company. He is literally self taught and knows how to works within server environments, databases, E mail back end, web servers, and everything in between. It gets pretty entertaining when we enter a company with an IT dept and he knows more than the IT pro that is suppose to help us set up the It side of the programs and such. There was one case in which the IT pro didn't know how to find which IP addresses were in use! Major company too!

I too think practical does trump certs but only to a certain extent. I believe Certs show you have achieved a certain level of knowledge. My boss disagrees with me but when you post to your resume you know X, Y and Z you have a cert to back it up. However, an apprenticeships are good for any business. Whether it is skilled labor or IT, it provides a better bridge to the work force. Most skilled trades and IT are not going to go away like many other types of skills sets.
 

nutzo

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I speak as someone with a 4 year Honours Computer Science degree and 19 years experience in the industry, and as someone who also interviews. The academic departments teaching this stuff are so far behind industry that what they teach is pretty much worthless. Heck, the stuff they learned in year one is out of date by the end of year 3 or 4. Thing is, people with these degrees come out of uni thinking they're the shitz, and where's their 80k jobs they've heard about online. I'd take someone who's spent 3 years in the field or working in a DC any day of the week. I'd also take any CCNP level or MCSE level person with nothing more than high-school diplomas over a degree too. This industry is a practical one. I honestly feel bad for them, and I wish I could have gone back and done something useful.

Computer Science degree... complete waste of time. They'd be better off studying maths.

When I was a kid, my Dad used to work in a factory for a while on a machine. There was a job on the floor which was commonly known as "fitter". I don't know what the title would be these days. This guy was basically someone pulled from the shop floor who had demonstrated capabilities very early on. They were typically apprenticed. Their job was to fix the machines when they broke, whatever it took. They were resourceful and would manufacture parts from the tools they had in the fitters-shop to get the machines running again. They were well paid, and a good fitter was worth their weight in gold since they could turn a million pound an hour stoppage into a minutes long inconvenience

That's what good techies are these days, the modern-day equivalent of fitters. I genuinely believe apprenticeships are the best way to get good techies into the industry.

I only have a 2 year degree in electronics, but I currently have 35 years in the industry (started with fixing Apple II's and the original IBM PC).
After the dot com bubble burst, couldn't find a job anywhere, in spite of my years of experience. Most companies wouldn't bother looking at your resume unless you had a 4 year degree and/or certifications.

So, I bought a set of books (study guides) for the MCSE tests. Spend 2 weeks on each test. I would read the book, take some sample tests, and then go take the Microsoft test.
Passed each one on the 1st try. Then spend 4 weeks reading through the Cisco book, and took the Cisco test, and of course passed.
I was spending my own money on the tests, and I didn't want to waste it by taking the tests more than once.

Found a job less than a month after getting the Cisco certification. Not because I knew anything new, but because I had some pieces of paper with my name on them. :rolleyes:

In my current job I not only support & install everything from laptops, desktops, servers, Exchange, SQL, printers & phones, I also buy everything and even deal with the vendors providing out internet and phone service.
I think they would have a hard time finding even 2 people to replace me. :eek:
 

nutzo

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It gets pretty entertaining when we enter a company with an IT dept and he knows more than the IT pro that is suppose to help us set up the It side of the programs and such. There was one case in which the IT pro didn't know how to find which IP addresses were in use! Major company too!

I work for a software company, so I sometimes get pull into to help figure out a customer problem.
Sometimes I wonder how these companies are able to function when their IT people are so clueless about even basic stuff.
 

Derangel

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There is still a lot of growth expected in these fields so this isn't a bad thing. I saw a statistic stating that by 2024 there will be 1.1 million new computing-related jobs opening in the United States. If that proves even close to true there is going to be a lot of demand for people in the next few years.
 
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This is why I picked computer engineering. Much more rigorous, and you get hardware experience. CS would have been a breeze... no Calc, no diff eq, no digital circuits. And CoE majors are designed to flush out the weak. I think we flushed 30% after freshman year. And many more after that.
 

Dalexx

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I'm going to say numbers are up, because kids are finding out the Humanities degrees are quickly dropping in value. Unless one plans to be a professional youtuber, complaining about white privilege and the patriarchy. But that market is pretty full at the moment as well, one is better off with something something computers
 

carnageX

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This is why I picked computer engineering. Much more rigorous, and you get hardware experience. CS would have been a breeze... no Calc, no diff eq, no digital circuits. And CoE majors are designed to flush out the weak. I think we flushed 30% after freshman year. And many more after that.

Sounds like you're thinking of a Software Engineering degree. CS does require those things at most universities, minus diff eq, tho it was an option; through Calc 2 was a requirement for us. Particularly ones that are ABET accredited, IIRC. Most CS majors at the school I went to ended up with a math minor as well (I decided to skip that since I dislike math classes); we were also required to take a digital circuits class from the Electrical Engineers college.
 

TheOne5

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I still hate companies requiring computer science degrees for IT jobs. I think that's a big reason you get so many people that apply for the degree initially but drop out. Seriously, why do you need calculus 2, probability and stats and linear algebra in order to reset passwords or configure eigrp routes? Mind you, for example, most networking stuff you could easily learn by reading a Todd Lammle book.
 

DejaWiz

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Sounds like you're thinking of a Software Engineering degree. CS does require those things at most universities, minus diff eq, tho it was an option; through Calc 2 was a requirement for us. Particularly ones that are ABET accredited, IIRC. Most CS majors at the school I went to ended up with a math minor as well (I decided to skip that since I dislike math classes); we were also required to take a digital circuits class from the Electrical Engineers college.

Same for me. Took Digital circuitry, Boolean algebra, PLCs, Lasers, AC and DC circuitry, and a host of others when I was in EE college. And that was just for the 2 year program...
 

atp1916

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This is why I picked computer engineering. Much more rigorous, and you get hardware experience. CS would have been a breeze... no Calc, no diff eq, no digital circuits. And CoE majors are designed to flush out the weak. I think we flushed 30% after freshman year. And many more after that.

My SE degree required calculus 1+2, physics 1,2 (calc based), linear algebra, probStats + discrete math 1,2. You may be thinking of a bachelor of arts CS degree - on of my dev coworkers has one. Mine is a bachelors of science.


As for the whole job growth thing - the DWF, Texas area alone has 7k software dev gigs, according to LinkedIn's job seeking search. So.... yeah.


Friendly PSA for all: IT !== software developement / CS / SE.
 
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KarsusTG

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Sounds like you're thinking of a Software Engineering degree. CS does require those things at most universities, minus diff eq, tho it was an option; through Calc 2 was a requirement for us. Particularly ones that are ABET accredited, IIRC. Most CS majors at the school I went to ended up with a math minor as well (I decided to skip that since I dislike math classes); we were also required to take a digital circuits class from the Electrical Engineers college.

It's pretty much the same with my school. Software Engineer is exclusively software and project management. Computer Engineering is Software Engineering + several of the EE courses. They treat a vanilla computer science as just a code monkey, which probably isn't as terrible as it sounds considering you still get taught how the compilers work and how to effectively code with others and learn languages.
 

carnageX

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It's pretty much the same with my school. Software Engineer is exclusively software and project management. Computer Engineering is Software Engineering + several of the EE courses. They treat a vanilla computer science as just a code monkey, which probably isn't as terrible as it sounds considering you still get taught how the compilers work and how to effectively code with others and learn languages.

Pretty much; in my CS courses, we had to build both a compiler and linker/loader to simulate what happens when source code is assembled & loaded into memory. Got real good at hex conversions during that class.. We started out with C/C++, and weren't allowed to use any libraries besides the standard library (had to build our own lists/queues/stacks/etc.) so that we understood how they worked under the hood. Wasn't until our 3rd year we could switch to a different language of our choice - which is when I switched to C#.
 

Biznatch

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This is why I picked computer engineering. Much more rigorous, and you get hardware experience. CS would have been a breeze... no Calc, no diff eq, no digital circuits. And CoE majors are designed to flush out the weak. I think we flushed 30% after freshman year. And many more after that.


LOL wut? I had to be in calc 1 just to start the lower CS classes, and went through calc 3 and had diff equations and a few other stupid high level math classes. The CS degree is 2- 400 level math classes from a minor in math... No hardware experience though, it was all programming (including assembly language...) and math.

But I would say over half the people trying for a CS degree were almost completely incompetent with computers... They just heard it paid a lot and thought it would be easy.
 

KarsusTG

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I honestly have to question if dropping the money on a CS degree is worth it when we are pushing so hard for outsourcing every possible IT job. I do not know anyone that works in IT that has not been effected by IT outsourcing to India and China for both coding and general support. It is to the point where it has really started to/has been suppressing wages across the entire industry.

So the entire time you are pushing for this degree in college the back of your mind is screaming "Is the job market I am training for even going to be there in 2030?"

What is worse is, the majority of the people seeking these degrees are 17-22 year old kids that have never really been in the labor market and generally do not have the foresight to think about these things. Like many people here have said, they just see "I like video games and these guys make lots of money so lets do that!" without thinking it though. They don't have the experience to realize that most board room level executives and staff consider the IT department as a whole a parasitic relationship.

I honestly think the best degree to get right now is Math or Physics, but typically only the top % of IQ will do that, the majority will be left out in the cold.
 

Jagger100

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I honestly have to question if dropping the money on a CS degree is worth it when we are pushing so hard for outsourcing every possible IT job. I do not know anyone that works in IT that has not been effected by IT outsourcing to India and China for both coding and general support. It is to the point where it has really started to/has been suppressing wages across the entire industry.

So the entire time you are pushing for this degree in college the back of your mind is screaming "Is the job market I am training for even going to be there in 2030?"

What is worse is, the majority of the people seeking these degrees are 17-22 year old kids that have never really been in the labor market and generally do not have the foresight to think about these things. Like many people here have said, they just see "I like video games and these guys make lots of money so lets do that!" without thinking it though. They don't have the experience to realize that most board room level executives and staff consider the IT department as a whole a parasitic relationship.

I honestly think the best degree to get right now is Math or Physics, but typically only the top % of IQ will do that, the majority will be left out in the cold.
Yes, more STEM programs, ... Basically the past 10 years of STEM initiatives has been pushed by corporations (that's not the right term but close enough) to flood the job market knowing full well the outsourcing and insourcing is still happening. It's about flooding the job market to create unemployment in your sector to push your wages down. That's why the GOP does it. Unemployment and lower wages swells the Democrat voter base and that's why they do it. One of those rare reach across the isle issues.
 

nutzo

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I honestly have to question if dropping the money on a CS degree is worth it when we are pushing so hard for outsourcing every possible IT job. I do not know anyone that works in IT that has not been effected by IT outsourcing to India and China for both coding and general support. It is to the point where it has really started to/has been suppressing wages across the entire industry.

Just like large companies (GE, Disney, etc.) have outsourced their IT to another company, that in turn hires people on H1B Visas.
Eventually these companies will be hurt by their poor IT support, but in such large companies, the employees will suffer for years before management maybe figures it out.

I have a relative who works at a large aerospace company, and he constantly complains about their IT people (especially the desktop support).
This relative is not an engineer or a computer person, he just uses computers in his job.
He often knows more that the techs they send out to work on their systems, and ends up doing as much of the work as he can, rather than letting the tech mess the system up. I've taught him well. :D

Lucky I found a job as a small software company that's not afraid to spend money where it's needed.
Pay's only ok, but I have flexible hours, and control over most the equipment. If a department needs something new, they get financial ok from management and IT ok from me. If I don't approve it, then I don't support it. :eek:
 

sleepeeg3

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Bioinformatics - even better. You learn two interesting fields, make yourself applicable at both and also have exclusive access to a rapidly growing niche.

Of course, all of you guys are old (like me), so I'm probably wasting my breathe. Tell your kids. ;)
 
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LOL wut? I had to be in calc 1 just to start the lower CS classes, and went through calc 3 and had diff equations and a few other stupid high level math classes. The CS degree is 2- 400 level math classes from a minor in math... No hardware experience though, it was all programming (including assembly language...) and math.

But I would say over half the people trying for a CS degree were almost completely incompetent with computers... They just heard it paid a lot and thought it would be easy.

That's interesting. I was pretty sure the CS at my school didn't go much past calc 1, and I think it was business calc, not engineering calc. I did up to calc 4 with diff eq and linear algebra and all that jazz, with stats etc. Lots of heavy hardware stuff such as circuit analysis and design, 2nd level physics (electricity and magnetism), in addition to programming classes, web dev class, algorithms, networking etc blah blah.
 

carnageX

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That's interesting. I was pretty sure the CS at my school didn't go much past calc 1, and I think it was business calc, not engineering calc. I did up to calc 4 with diff eq and linear algebra and all that jazz, with stats etc. Lots of heavy hardware stuff such as circuit analysis and design, 2nd level physics (electricity and magnetism), in addition to programming classes, web dev class, algorithms, networking etc blah blah.
The the CS course at your school probably wasn't ABET accredited or anything like that. Probably just rebranding of Software Engineering to Computer Science.
 

TheBuzzer

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i realized lot of cs people can just talk the talk but could not walk the walk in programming.
 

Biznatch

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i realized lot of cs people can just talk the talk but could not walk the walk in programming.

More than half my class couldn't even talk the talk..... I had to help some of the students going for a CS degree fix their laptops.... And a good chunk of them actually graduated, which I still don't understand how. At least it makes me less concerned about losing my job....

Previous job was at a software development company, and we must have gone through 50+ developers over ~3 years that were complete garbage. Highly paid, but couldn't write any code that was usable. Most of them were canned in ~1-2 months, and for good reason.
 

deton8

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I still hate companies requiring computer science degrees for IT jobs. I think that's a big reason you get so many people that apply for the degree initially but drop out. Seriously, why do you need calculus 2, probability and stats and linear algebra in order to reset passwords or configure eigrp routes? Mind you, for example, most networking stuff you could easily learn by reading a Todd Lammle book.
One might say this story is yet another sign of degree inflation. Requiring 4 year degrees as proof of something most people with aptitude can teach themselves (and will be required to do on the job anyway).

There are definitely jobs that demand a more rigorous understanding than knowing X language or possessing Y certification. But I'd like to see the breakdown of those versus something like developing AI (for which you probably need a Masters or PHD anyway)
 

King of Heroes

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i realized lot of cs people can just talk the talk but could not walk the walk in programming.

That's not surprising. Computer Science doesn't teach conventional programming. You're expected to learn that on your own. I say that as an MSc grad in Computer Science.
 

carnageX

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Holy crap, who would have known! Go Computer Engineering! I know that the CoE degree was significantly more rigorous than the CS program.

At your school maybe :p. Sounds like your CE degree is the same as my CS degree in regards to classes, since they're both ABET accredited.
 
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