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US CompSci Enrollment Up For 4th Year Running 101

dcblogs writes "Interest in computer science continues to grow among undergrad students, who pushed enrollments up nearly 10% in the 2011-12 academic year, according to the Computing Research Association (CRA) of enrollment and graduation rates at Ph.D.-granting universities. This marks the fourth straight year of increases. Enrollments might have been even higher if not for enrollment caps at some schools that don't have enough faculty, equipment or classrooms to meet demand. Enrollments increased 10% last year as well, but overall enrollments remain below the peak reached during the dot.com bubble. Around 2002, each school had a department with an average enrollment of about 400 students; by 2006-07, that enrollment average had declined to about 200. Average enrollments per department are now nearing 300, according to the survey."
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US CompSci Enrollment Up For 4th Year Running

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  • for loops galore (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:11AM (#39630473)

    Get back to us after the fourth semester and let us know what % of the enrolled did not switch majors or drop out.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:13AM (#39630503)

    and how meany people are better off voc / tech school type training then 4 years + of CS?

    To many people are going to CS and not learning the skills needed to do real IT work.

    • by Xphile101361 ( 1017774 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:16AM (#39630537)
      Maybe that is because Computer Science isn't IT work?
      • by danbuter ( 2019760 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:18AM (#39630563)
        Tell that to people who actually hire CS grads right out of college.
        • I always hire math PhDs to do my taxes. Although their fee is astronomical it's really worth it. After all "math" is "math" right, the same as "reimaging a hard drive" and "python hacking" are the same as "computer science"? No?

      • by mx+b ( 2078162 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:23AM (#39630633)

        I think that's his point. Lots of people want IT-type jobs, and go for a CS degree because they mistakenly leave off the word "science" when they read "computer science". "Oh a degree in computers! That's what I want to do". You can get an associates learning networking and programming and the like, CS will make you do a lot more theory that isn't really the goal of many students in the program. They just don't understand the difference, or that several options exist depending on goals and interests.

        We really do a terrible job in the US of explaining to students the possibilities and letting them go with the best option. It's easier to funnel people into pet programs I suppose, than give any real academic advising.

        • My university, Imperial College London makes a distinction. The computing department offers two undergraduate degrees: Computing (MEng) and Joint Mathematics and Computer Science (MSci). I'm currently in my second year of Computing, and there's a lot of focus on practical things - most of the large projects are in groups of 3-4, we've written assemblers, emulators, compilers and parts of an operating system from scratch, learned to use svn, git, project management etc. Besides this we still have courses in
          • My university made the distinction as well. I studied Computer Science vs. Information Technology (which wasn't even under the school of science and technology, it was under the school of business). I learned math, development, and theory; the Information Technology curriculum was basically "this is how you install an OS, this is how you set up a Cisco network, this is how you set up an Oracle database, meet the Bourne shell, etc." Basically, the things in the IT curriculum were training/hand-holding for
        • I wish universities taught more of the fundamentals of IT and network administration. You have no idea how many boy-wonder-junior-vbscript-hackers I've have to deal with that don't even understand the basics of IP networking, but they all claim to be able to code entire systems to replace windows or unix or the internet from scratch in a matter of hours. A university Computer Science degree should be an addendum to basic IT skills, not a replacement for them. As such, that means that it should be the bur
          • by Shimdaddy ( 898354 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:55PM (#39634141) Homepage

            A university Computer Science degree should be an addendum to basic IT skills, not a replacement for them.

            Nope. A computer science education should be a computer science education. If you don't want fresh college grads, don't hire them. You don't hire physicists and complain they can't do "IP networking" -- you shouldn't hire computer scientists to do non-science. You especially shouldn't then turn around and tell everyone who is a computer scientist how they should teach their classes.

            • We're talking about computer science majors, not physics majors. Yes, I agree that you should hire computer scientists to do R&D, not routine system administration. However, you should always develop software with the greatest understanding of your users and the systems that your software will integrate with. In a majority of cases, your users are going to be either system adminstrators or package maintainers just as much as end users. Someone has to deploy your software to end users, and that's usu
        • This made me laugh for probably the wrong reason.. Companies don't know the difference either. The age old Jr web admin job posting requiring a computer science degree. An office IT LAN technician requiring a Computer science degree, I think alot of people as said all through the comments jump into computer science's not realizing what exactly it is. Because they want that IT job out of school, or because they want to be the next zero-cool. Heck, most IT people now-a-days don't have any comprehension o
        • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:29PM (#39633715)
          In my experience it ends up the other way around. Many people start out in CS because they want to program. Then they find they can't get through the math and more theoretical aspects, so they switch to MIS or similar IT programs. Then after they graduate they apply for programming jobs because they think they have the same skill set as those who made it through the CS program, but they don't.
          • Another problem is that the jobs for programming or design (hardware, software, firmware, systems) where a computer science degree really helps are very few relative to the number of jobs for basic computer maintenance or web site creation. But parents and other pressures keep pushing students towards those degrees. I think a lot of parents are more concerned about "any decent job after graduation" than "a job my child loves and will excel at". So someone graduates knowing advanced computer science but t

        • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

          You can get an associates learning networking and programming and the like, CS will make you do a lot more theory that isn't really the goal of many students in the program.

          I'd wager having the students in the school for 4 years rather than 2 years is definitely the goal of the school. It's not like a little thing like taking unnecessary classes matters to them, only that you are taking classes.

    • by na1led ( 1030470 )
      Having a 4 year degree certainly helped me, but what's equally important are certifications. There are too many amateur IT people flooding the market, and not enough highly skilled people. Best way to get experience and name recognition is to freelance a few years. You never know what opportunities you'll come across.
      • Is this 1998?
        • He doesn't mean freelance by building some geocities website or by fixing your neighbors computer. There are a ton of ways to freelance via work at home opportunities that can get your real experience and real money. Its almost become a form of apprenticeship. I got started out doing freelance web programming and really enjoyed it. I would still be doing it because it allows me to work from anywhere in the world. But I had to eventually move on to a real job in a boring office to support my family, but if I

          • by na1led ( 1030470 )
            Freelancing kept me afloat for a few years, until I landed a position as Systems Administrator for a Law Firm. You'd be surprised how many people need your services and willing to pay good money for it. But like you said, I couldn't pass up an opportunity for a full time position with benefits. Now I sit on my ass most of the day, waiting for some dire need of my skills.
      • Having a 4 year degree certainly helped me, but what's equally important are certifications. There are too many amateur IT people flooding the market, and not enough highly skilled people. Best way to get experience and name recognition is to freelance a few years. You never know what opportunities you'll come across.

        Certifications (with two exceptions -- CCIE and CISSP both for different reasons) aren't worth the paper they're printed on. I've met so many "certified professionals" who couldn't find their ass with both hands and a map.

        There's no substitute for experience. Period. Any certification that you can get by just studying the book and/or doing practice exams are worthless. The two exceptions I mentioned above don't fit into that category. The CCIE requires hands on problem solving and the CISSP requires at

        • The RHCE and RCSA are rather good.

          And as a CISSP myself who is well-grounded in the infosec field, I guarantee that most CISSPs don't get it, and that cert, while having merit in the past, is quickly becoming the MCSE of our time.

    • by Subratik ( 1747672 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:22AM (#39630617)

      I can't speak for all US universities but it would seem Information Systems and Technology degrees are suited toward practical programming jobs.. I don't really see IS*T majors doing research for comp sci specific fields but that's not to say they don't exist. In my program, I learned databases, java, c#, vb.net, and the agile development process which will basically get you a job in the US as a front-end or mid-tier developer.

      The problem is most people want to come to IST because they don't want to program but find out that they should have just majored in business or MIS. This is only for certain schools however.. I have met some programmers who were better at coding than comp sci people because they have a better sense of scope...

      Which brings me back to your point... Comp Sci from my experience gears you toward PHD or masters programs where you will be doing a lot of theoretical work. They don't teach them mandatory database classes or networking which is very important in today's coding world... they also don't teach you anything about how coding fits into the business world. That's not to say you couldn't get any programming job you want.. But honestly, if you live in the US, it doesn't really matter for most companies if you got a comp sci or IST degree so long as you can prove that you know what you are doing in the domain of what they need you for. It's basically just a formality now, they check you off whether or not you got a degree... I think they frown on Votech schools over conventional bachelor's programs, but if you can prove you're proficient, they will give you the chance regardless.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It sounds like you have limited knowledge about what schools offer. I have a CS degree and I was taught databases, c++, python, java, c#, and a number of different development processes. Additionally, i was also taught compilers, parsing, formal proofs, algorithms, graphs, and a bunch of other stuff that is only used tangentially where I work.
        The MIS majors where the ones who were taught just databases and a few Microsoft languages, like you.

        I do believe there is no standard, and you have to look for a scho

      • Computer Science departments (atleast the one I went to) don't teach "Cisco Networking".. they teach "Networking"... They don't teach "Windows", they teach "Operating Systems".. You might get an intro to programming in $language, but they'll choose any language for any particular course and figure you'll figure it out..

        If you're bright enough to do well in competent CS program, you can pick of the specifics of $solution you happen to be working on and you'll have an edge on keeping up in the long term ve
    • Don't worry, someone in India is not only learning it better, but willing to work for cheaper.

    • No, the people graduating with CS degrees are not part of that 85%. I graduated with a CS degree the week after that article was published. I've been working (in my field) ever since, living on my own, and I even bought a new car. There is only one person that has graduated from my school's CS program since I started there that isn't going to grad school(payed) or making a living in the field. And even that ONE GUY decided to work outside of the field out of personal preference. I'm currently looking t
  • At this point, being a developer is so well-established with so many tools and sources of documentation, that it's no longer cutting-edge. The question is whether we're steering these people into dead-end careers where they are (virtual) pencil pushers in cubicles, or whether we're advancing enough that they have something interesting to do.

    Making another version of a well-known type of web site, or well-known type of Android app, might be steady work but could also be so boring their brains will collapse a

    • by dohnut ( 189348 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @11:01AM (#39631157)

      I think there are plenty of interesting jobs out there, it's just that finding the boring ones are so much easier. I live in a midwestern town of less than 150K people. I've worked here for 17 years (2 different jobs) both doing embedded work, both small companies. There are also a few large engineering firms in the area, almost everyone goes to work for them because they are always hiring (and firing).

      Most people (especially newbies) that work for the large firms end up mainly doing (my idea of) grunt work: testing, database coding and documentation. With my employers everyone codes. And, in the embedded world, code is (almost) always interesting IMHO. And there are sooo many places that need embedded developers. Any manufacturer of any electronic device needs embedded developers -- and we are surrounded by electronic devices. Yes, most of that stuff is not made in America, but enough still is that it provides plenty of jobs even here in the states. Also, embedded code now-a-days is pretty much the same as coding for the desktop. It's not like you'll being doing everything in assembly. Most use Linux or a Windows variant (CE, XP embedded, etc).

      I guess my point is: Don't just apply to the big engineering/computer firms that everyone applies to. Look around in the nooks and crannies for software jobs. You'll have better odds of having much more job security, flexibility and satisfaction. And, the big firms are always your safety net if you can't find a job somewhere interesting.

      • It's tough getting an embedded job unless you already have experience with the specific processor and OS the company hiring uses. Which is ridiculous, but it's one way false shortages are created.

      • by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

        With appliances becoming more common, as well as trying to make more "smart" devices, embedded device programming is one of the few open frontiers left in programming.

        With Android features becoming part of the mainstream Linux kernel, it opens up a lot of possibilities. For example, one thing I have thought about building would be a system that would check an RV's functions, and alert the owner if something is amiss, be it house batteries running low on charge, unauthorized access to the coach or storage p

      • Amen! Because my timing and life circumstances were way off to get hired in the big firms I found smaller companies a little easier to work for and easier to get hired on. I would never work full time in a big firm if I can help it.
  • by dryriver ( 1010635 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:26AM (#39630657)
    It seems to me that Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook et al are currently so dominant in creating 2 - 3 year consumer market-trends, then collapsing them, and pushing yet another nouveau 2 - 3 year trend into the marketplace, that new computing science graduates will have a very, very difficult time "making their mark" in the computing world. I feel that the world of computing, a few years ago, was more open to individual CompSci artisans creating seriously interesting things, and these things growing wings if people liked what they created. Today, if it doesn't get pushed by AppGoogFaceMicrosoft, hardly anyone notices that it exists, or even possible. Good luck to our new CompSci graduates. The world you will be thrown into when you graduate won't be a garden of roses...
    • There are still lots of small companies around, and increasingly they're hiring people to work remotely. I've done a lot of interesting work for random small companies around the world over the last year.
    • by Cajun Hell ( 725246 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @11:22AM (#39631447) Homepage Journal

      Today, if it doesn't get pushed by AppGoogFaceMicrosoft, hardly anyone notices that it exists

      You are living in a subjective reality, a prison of your own construction. If you choose, the "hardly anyone" who you mention, can be everyone who matters.

      Think back to 20 years ago when Microsoft looked like the main barrier to progress. The market looked just as un-enterable to people living then too. And their discouraging words were met by fogies who spoke of IBM, saying the 1990s kids didn't know how good they had it. But of course things actually were happening; they just weren't in the headlines.

      You're right that there is a large market being played by AppGoogFaceMicrosoft and that little of interest is happening there, but doing uninteresting things is always how it is when you're trying to sell things to the mainstream where the big money is. This says nothing about things that are possible to work on and advance, except the sales volume itself.

      This isn't even a software phenomenon. Most creative endeavors are like this. Why learn to play music when so many people are giving their money to Nickelback? Why learn automotive design when people are just going to buy Chevy Silverados? Why work on solar power when people will just write monthly checks to their local utility who burns coal? Why carve furniture with an axe, when people will go to Ikea? Why brew beer in a nation who spends so much on Bud Light? Because you love doing things, that's why, and because even if most people buy lame shit, you're still not alone.

      • by cshay ( 79326 )

        Wish I had mod points -- what a great, and positive post.

      • Amen! There is always room for the CS stars if they know where to look. Look for the cracks or niches that few businesses fill. If something is hard to use make it easy to use. If something is clunky then make it better. Even if you suck at finding niches go make a solution and then go look for problem it solves.
    • If you have a bunch of talented, smart workers around with skills, there's no shortage of things to work on. The economy isn't a zero-sum game.

    • But Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook for the most part are just doing stuff in the "facade" of computing. Stuff that people can see on the web in other words. Despite all the hoopla that's really a minority of all computing out there. Most stuff happens out of sight or not on traditional peecees. Apple does more embedded stuff (or at least purchased companies that did it) with iPod and iPhone, Microsoft pretends to have an embedded solution, Google has Android and has played around superficially with

  • In my admittedly cynical experience with most wannabe young programmers, I've found that the vast majority only major in the field because they think it will make them money and provide steady work (or because they think *programming* video games is in any way analogous to *playing* them). But they have neither the heart nor mind for the field and so go one of two ways:

    a) They drop out before they finish their degree (wasting *their* money), or
    b) They graduate but make for really shitty programers (wasting

    • Bad advice. Nursing is one of those other fields where the rosy ideal is a far cry from the harsh reality. Quite a few nurses drop out disillusioned, or burn out.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The timing on this is funny... I literally just filled out an application to my school's undergrad CS program this morning. I graduated a couple years ago with a physics degree and have been doing research work here ever since. It's a nice job - the pay isn't great, but the benefits and hours are. So why am I going back to school? Because I realized that I spend most of my time writing code, and that's the part of the job I enjoy most. But also because the fundamental economics of science research are bleak

  • And I'm still having trouble hiring a CS professional in Baltimore. I was at a local admin users group recently, and there were 3 people hiring (including myself). 2 for development, and 1 security specialist.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Offer more money?

      I know what you're going to say, but the answer is, "Clearly not."

  • Higher Education is in a massive tuition bubble. Liberal arts, if properly taught, are very good things. But it's getting increasingly hard to justify getting a liberal arts degree for $100,000+ worth of debt. Heck, it's hard to justify any degree for that.

    My kids have some ways to go before they are ready for college, but this would be my advice. Consider getting an associates degree and transferring if you are going to go for a liberal arts degree. That may be a good idea in general.

    Instead of getting som

    • I could not agree more. I spent a year at tech school before transferring over to 4 year and saved thousands. I will also add that 100k worth of debt is ridiculous in most circumstances. Go to an in state school and you will not have anything remotely close to that. Sure, if you get into Harvard, then it might be justified, but most people with this kind of debt are simply not shopping around enough or taking advantage of in-state programs. In my state you could easily go to the best state school with 30k i
  • Looking at job postings for some big companies (few defense contractors, couple semiconductor companies), they're hiring a lot of software engineers. I keep thinking of the Mythical Man Month and how it is quite possible these companies think that throwing more programmers at a particular job will fix their problem faster. But this might not be true; there may legitimately be more software projects cropping up. It's tough when you are a graduating CE/ CS (dual) student and you want to do hardware, but your
  • No increase in demand for teacher and professors. For those of crazy and qualified enough to teach (because we are passionate about it), we can't. I begin to see why tenure isn't necessarily a great thing.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger