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Journal Pinball Wizard's Journal: CS no longer a popular major? 7

Back at UNM today, so here's the report. This semester I'm taking discrete math, non-imperative programming(eg Lisp, Scheme, functional, recursive programming), computer ethics, and a business class for my minor.

Discrete math is a required course for graduation in CS. Its usually taken in the sophomore year. There are upwards of 25,000 students at UNM. There was only one section open for this class.

I kid you not, there were less than 35 people there today. Prof. Luger said he was used to classes three times the size.

I haven't gone to my other CS class yet(its a MWF, school just started, and MLK day we had off.) But if this is the indication that means I'll graduate with less than 40 people - assumming everyone makes it. At one time CS was widely known to be a weed out program. Now I bet they're devising strategies to keep people in.

Is this the same for other CS students who frequent the journals? I wonder if the current economy has soured people from going into CS. Then again, I'm glad the people who are there are doing it because they like it, not because they heard it was the path to big bucks.

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CS no longer a popular major?

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  • I will not know until April when I return back to school, but I heard the incomming Freshman class was huge.

    I am at UC (Cincinnati, not California).
  • Back when the dot com bubble burst, I predicted that there would be a decline in the number of students in computer related majors (IST, CS, etc).

    As for weed-out courses, yeah, there are a lot of them. For my school (see notes below), it was both the second C++ course (spring quarter for freshman) and OOP (a second term soph. course).

    Two Discrete Math (ok, so CS270 is "Math Foundations of CS" and MATH221 is "Discrete Math") courses are required, and generally are for third-year students. They were easy, though looking back now I wish they were harder, as Algorithms I-II are heavy on the mathematics.

    Frankly, I think they should stay as a weed-out. Means higher quality students will enroll and stay in the program, leading to higher quality people entering the industry. So I'm all for a downsizing in the number of people in CS.

    Notes: Drexel follows a quarterly schedule, meaning 10 wks/term + 1 wk final, and most programs are 5-year, interweaving a co-op program for 2nd, 3rd, 4th year students. Those middle years students spend two terms in class, two on co-op.
    • Interesting. One of the signs that UNM is scaling back on the weed out mentality is they switched the main programming classes from C++ to Java. I have mixed feelings about that because although Java is a good language(as well as a very marketable skill), it's not as flexible and certainly not as hard to program as C++. There's a lot of pointer manipulation and memory management that you don't have to deal with that made the higher level classes pretty hairy. That, combined with required comp engineering classes and assembly/low level programming, meant that you learned everything that goes on under the hood, right down to the ones and zeros. I fear switching the main classes to Java has softened that aspect of the CS program a bit.

      However, CS is still a harder program to get in to than most, and you still have to work harder than most other degrees(engineering excepted.) So in my view the program shifted from being ridiculously hard to just "fairly hard".

      We also have the option of alternating coop semesters for the last two years, but its just an option, plus I think the students themselves are responsible for finding their own positions(not positive, as I still have a long way to go in terms of exploring the connections between UNM and local industry/research) Does Drexel set up the coop jobs for the students?

  • I have this feeling that the tech industry is going the way of the manufacturing industry from the 70s. More and more of the manual labor (coding) is being shipped overseas and those the stay will normally be responsible for either the R&D work or managing the offshore crew. This caused a lot of people I know to leave the field in search of something better.

    I know this semister at UWM, they had to cancel a section of some CS courses (theory of computation) due to lack of intrest. I found that the number of students enrolled in CS was very high until the second semister programming course, machine programming course or discrete math course. After that, you could fit most of the classes into a small SUV.
  • Engineering is always the weedout class. I started with well over 300 in CompE & EE (we always were matched together), and I graduated with like 50 CompE&EEs.

    But, as for computer industry/degrees, we're coming to a different time.
    It used to be, if you know how to use a computer, you're a shoe-in for CS/CompE. Otherwise, you go elsewhere. Now-a-days, most kids go through computer courses since 5th grade, so they only truely go into CS if they enjoy programming. Not many do.

    The whole deal with 'not finding jobs cause the IT industry took a major hit' is also something kids would look at.
  • At my school they've combined the Graduate & Under Graduate evening classes.
    The assembler and GUI classes I have currently are combo classes.
    The classes are the same for both. The only difference is that Grad's are graded to a higher standard.
    You're only allowed 2 C's in your Grad school program.
  • You'd think that we're still in an IT growth cycle the way these paper-MCSE programs are promoted. CS was immensely popular during the dot-com days, but now, without the immense number of jobs paying excessive amounts of money for doing intro-level programming/administration/etc.... things have cooled off.

    Which I think is a good thing; I saw too many people in the dot-com days who had a CS degree, no practical experience, and thought they could pull down $70k at their first job.

    And we have someone here who has a degree in "e-business"... a piece of paper that's almost worthless in his/her current position.

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