Study Computer Science part 3

A high school student wrote to me: “People tell me that Computer Science (CS) is difficult, Students who study it often quit. They advise me not to choose CS in college. Is there a reason why CS is so difficult? Why so many people study CS quit? I am confused whether to enroll in CS or not? Please advise.”

Answer: According to the U.S. education report, the number of college students who enroll in Computer Science has increased by 32% in the past 3 years. Currently, CS is one of the “Hottest” fields in college with 98% of CS graduates have a job offer, several have more than one job offers. I do not know where do you get the information that students who study CS often quit? Is that a fact or a rumor? What is the reason that they advise you NOT to study CS?

When students go to college, regardless of what they study, they must be prepared because college study is different from high school. Students only have a short time – 4 years to complete their education to prepare for a career. You cannot go to college without a direction else you will get lost. That is why every student needs to have a career plan to help them to focus on learning specific knowledge and skills. There are many false rumors about certain subjects or field of study in social media so it is important to distinguish real information from the fake ones. For example, a few years ago, a student told me about a rumor among high school students to study CS, students must be very good at Math. I explained: “Math can help students to understand the logic of computational thinking but does not prevent anyone from studying computer science. Students with a strong math foundation may learn some concepts faster than others but I never see anyone fail Computer Science because they are not good in math. Actually, I had many students who were not good at math when they were in high school, but they all do well in my computer science courses and graduated without any problem.

When students study Computer Science, they must learn specific terminologies. I think the reason people think it is difficult because they confuse by these terminologies as CS has many new terminologies that they must learn in order to go further. But some students who do not read much when they are in high school and have a limited vocabulary when they see “strange words” they are afraid and think Computer Science is difficult. Anyone who learns a foreign language like English, Japanese or Chinese know that they must learn new vocabularies to understand what the words mean so they can use them. The same also applies to Computer Science as students must understand these new terminologies to apply them. Most new terminologies and concepts are often taught in the “Introduction to Computer Systems” course for students to understand them precisely. However, many students often skip this course and jump into the programming course and that may be the reason why they often confuse because they do not know these terminologies well.

My advice: “Do not listen to rumor, enroll in Computer Science and build a good career.”


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University
Don't forget to follow us on Facebook!