Choices for the High School Graduate: A Survival Guide for the Information Age, 5th Edition

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I would argue that physics and software are polar opposites at times. Physics always seemed to me as we see the effects and want to understand the causes. Software appears quite the opposite. I mean they ARE a form of entertainment. Many American companies have reduced their demand for CS graduates as they have moved thousands of engineering jobs to low cost design centers. I would look at the total CS graduates worldwide and then look at the cost of a CS engineer in each country over time.

In that data you should see the ebb and flow of graduates and jobs. Going back, not sure if I would have double majored, but probably. People from other parts of the country who want to remain in their home communities may be less likely to choose an academic program leading to a career in a field that could require them to relocate.

I am pretty certain the AMA has nothing to do with regulating medical school graduation numbers. The ACGME may regulate the available number of residency and fellowship spots once these graduates move on though. The AMA heavily lobbies the government and every 2 years a group of doctors gets together to decide how many doctors are needed in each specialty. I am a long term computer programmer, many decades under my belt in various languages. After 5 years of so of amateur programming I went to college and got my diploma in it, during my free time I made a game similar to RType to use as part of my application for work.

I went to several interviews and they were all wanting me to have years of experience in their frameworks, although I assured them I could learn to use these frameworks in a reasonable amount of time they wanted years of experience in it before they would hire me. After six months of this or so I finally got tired of it and just started to work for myself. The industry is a problem to it self, those 56 positions will not get filled with new graduates, they will instead poach from one another since no one is willing to take in the new talent and allow them to train themselves.

I tried to contain myself not responding to Mr. Sean Matthews. But without giving some response a wrong impression will be left on readers. So, here the facts as I have understood: 1. Actual programming is, to a large extent, a difficult craft skill- Not true. Both mathematics and programming have incomplete assumptions which have to be first flushed for the students. This problem is ill defined and assumes the domain of business. That is, This problem looks very simple. Just subtract the cost from the sale price and the result is the profit. Typically, one can write this as:. These are: 1 What happens if the Sales amount is zero, Cost is zero; what is the largest amount of Sales, Costs, and Profit that is, the largest number of digits to represent the Sales, Cost and Profit such as 2 degits long, 6 digits long and so on ; does the Cost include the Sales Tax if any, or has no Sales Tax is involved; does the Sales and Cost amount represent a whole number integer or involves decimal places, if they have decimal palaces how many decimal places are assumed such as two decimal places, if the calculated Profit has decimal places should that be rounded up to the nearest higher value such as, So, all these missing information are presupposed but not explicitly clearly stated.

A student of Business management may know that, at least in the USA food items have no sales tax, but other items have sale tax rates and has to be calculated and subtracted from the gross Profit to get the final actual Profit. The second problem is how do we store the numerical value associated with the Cost, Sales and Profit that have variable number of digits. For example, if the Sales say, is six digit long such as, if you add 1 to it it will become seven digit, thus the largest six digit number would be , , what about the number of digits for Cost and Profit?

When do you add a digit to the result if the number of digit in the answer increases, and by how many digits? Addition increases the length of the number of digits by one and, one has to add a sign digit. Thus, addition increases the size of the result by two when it reaches the largest two digit value such as, 99 and so on.

Obviously, the given problem does not say anything about the increased size of the resulting value. So, here again one has to use a guess approach and the final result may be correct or not depends on the assumptions one makes. The third problem is writing a procedure that can be implemented in a programming language that executes on a computer. This is known as the algorithm and it has to make sure that it is complete, correct, terminates and so on when presented in a programming language.

Thus, even to solve a simple computer programming project one has to know or understand three separate parts of the computable problem and make assumptions. The reviewers had no clue as to why this book was unique- similar o Physics, Chemistry and other science books, even today there is no laboratory manual to teach programming.

I have several such books. Sean Mathews can show a couple of books, can he show statistically significant number of such high quality text books?. On the Computer Architecture there is the only best text book John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson, 5th edition, how many such books had been written still used?

I have Pd. D in Linguistics, Computer Science and several other fields masters degree which I learned to expand my knowledge base. I did five years of Basic Research and not just a Ph. I had made the speech synthesis and music synthesis via software simulation on a CDC System. So, both as a student and as a Professor I have first hand experience of handling about or more students and my views were the result of observation.

Can you make the programming interesting?. This is what I had done at the end of each chapter of the text book I had used. For example, we learned about 8 bit, 16 bit, 32 bit and 64 bit computers. I ask them to go to their company to find the details. Now the bulb lights that a company can not get the same cheap lap top or system for all the employees based on some bean counters optimization..

Thus, connecting the text material to real life is a challenge and that is what makes a course interesting and useful. Just teaching the syntax and coding turns of the students. Even in high school when we teach the center of gravity, does a text book ask the students to think about slanting a ladder for about and what happens if he leans backward? Just the theory and no real life application. So, what I wrote is the result of a huge survey I had taken and noted. I have no interest to publish them as the human brain hippocampus, processes political and religious region rebels to accept rationality, thus all these discussions raised here have no one correct answer.

Personal experiences vary but are not helpful to answer the question asked by the author. This is no way an attack on Dr. Major problem which most programming professionals face is the frequent layoffs. New companies are formed then they disappear, either sold to others or just go out of business leaving all the workers without a job for many months. HP survived by selling printer ink. All major companies are setting up off shore operations.

H1B will no longer be an issue because all the jobs will simply move overseas. Would I advice my kids to take up computer science? I would rather they go for MD or JD. Even Civil Engineering will be a better option. Here is hopefully a slightly different perspective. I tried to gauge what I might be good at based on my exposure. I noted that I was generally good at math and science and that two common paths for math and science grads were healthcare and engineering. As I was exposed to computer science in college, I considered maybe taking a course, but I had such a heavy load of physics, biology, and chemistry courses that it never seemed practical.

As an adult working in medicine, I often look back and wish that I had majored in something like physics or computer science. I feel like the experience in these majors would likely have been more useful, but it just never occurred to me. I think I likely would have still ultimately gone on to medical school, but I think computer science could have been a really useful tool for me at this stage in my life.

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I imagine we will see an influx of interest in these fields as more high schools add computer science to their curriculum. Your post had me thinking back to school. I entered college in as a physics major. I had a couple classes early on PCs programming physics problems and one on assembly language. Prior to that I had never used a PC in my life — so starting behind the curve was bit intimidating. It could be a huge time sink. I actually enjoyed programming and over summer worked on my own projects, but I lacked perspective I guess and was unable to extrapolate my programs at the time into a bigger view of what was possible.

I did enjoy it, although I was concerned about the amount of time and late nights it required — often on short notice — and in conflict with the other demands of my schedule. When I considered changing majors to computer science at one point, when I inquired I found out that I would be unable to transfer credits from my science classes it was a no-go. So yes, I agree with the post above that decisions of uninformed teenagers help determine the future human capital of the economy.

Computer science is only the academic peak. Programming is a method, not the content itself. Most of what people need is not all that difficult that you would have to study it in a classroom for several years. Calc I was a mandatory pre-req for comp sci They basically bundled math and comp sci, usually under the assumption that knowing math will help you in some aspects of comp sci.

Most of us are not really contemplating the question at hand: stagnation, and in some cases, the decline of CS Majors.


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Very intelligent and pioneering computer scientists, computer engineers, and electrical engineers have created technologies that now can be developed at scale and sold as a product or service. Another example is, it may be more a requirement to have this knowledge to work for ATT or Lockheed Martin rather than Amazon, depending on what you are working on, of course.

All they need now are software developers middlemen and code monkeys junior developers still learning their craft. To get a job, all you need is a portfolio and the ability and passion to solve problems within the specific domain and scope of the job, in most cases, not all. Can you be dangerous enough not to destroy the repository???? Any reasonable person would consider not taking the more rigorous path if I can get the same job and earnings going around it.

Mathematics, Management, Sociology, Psychology and even Information Systems are perceived as being more flexible. To sum it up, most will take the path of least resistance, if given almost the same result. Only those who want to be the best of the best will pursue this path of learning, either through a degree program, or self development over time. There also exists a small percentage who pursue the degree for fear of being shunned by a small number of CS Majors only snobs. Let me rephrase your wonderful observation.

CS is a field where one should be able to transfer the functional knowledge of one area to another. These are analogous to the blood flow, nervous systems etc. If you go deep into the dynamic part of the program or the system behavior, excepting for the syntactical differences, an arithmetic statement is still the same and so on. The problem is the data structure differs in several domains, thus one has to devise an algorithm to solve this new situation, like synchronization, communication, state verification etc.

This needs a reasonably good mathematical and statistical models which are not canned as most code monkeys would like to use rather than create. That frightens most people. Logical thinking, isolating the complexity into simple components and how to make them to communicate, are not trivial things. This is unfortunate and you see this in most CS major in the US. Strong background in Physics, Mathematics and a good dose of humanities and teaching problem solving skills for the Robatic and AI based economy is a must for survival whether you have a CS degree or not.

Computers are integral part of our life now. I would have loved to have a degree. But I came from a poor family with parents with very low education level : my father just did 3 years of school, my mother one year. Then, they immigrated into France. Mother did cleaning jobs, father worked for a car manufacturer. My father found someday a computer that someone had thrown in the trash : a ZX with programming book about basic.

Plugged that into the black and white TV and I started learning. My parents were intrigued. They came from a family where no one could read, no one went to school, farmers. In school, things went pretty badly. I only worked on stuff I liked, which was english, mathematics and physics. So I only got a basic degree and went out of school. That was almost 20 years ago and in the current computing field, none of this is available, not even as prototypes. After getting bored with cryptography I went to write code for weapons.

I wrote code for guidance systems for missiles, and it was fun and I absolutely loved it. I found out that my parents were extremely intelligent : they could learn anything very quickly, be it to speak a language, or any new technology. So what seems to be my own intelligence is just the result of their genes combination, and all I have comes from my parents genetic lineage. They would have been amazing scientists if they could have had access to education themselves….

They tried for a very long time to keep me there. What I liked is programming. All my fun is optimizing code and having very simple, elegant code. Today I mostly write Java code. Because it pays very, very, very well.

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Others, we push them away from production machines and programming. I think education is very fine and I miss it. Would have loved to have some to avoid spending 10 years of hard work to learn stuff they teach you in a few years… I would not be a better programmer today, but I surely would have become skilled years earlier with such precious knowledge. But the problem to me is not education. Everyone of us can learn to play guitar or bass or sing. To the level of being able to play in front of people in a band and do tours. They are made for it, they are, at their young age, already at that best level there is which it took you 10 to 20 years to reach.

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People like Jimmy Hendrix. They have that something from the beginning given to them, that you had to work to and learn with hard work. Some of us are made for it and we kick ass from the start and young age. There, you understand that those amazing people, whatever your education or work, will always be better than you.

We have to look for and find those Mozarts in every field and make sure they can get to the fields they will shine like stars. And please : keep the people that should not be programming out of the field. No education will give you the best programmers. The best programmers are the best because of their innate skills, and all education can do to them is make them reach the best level faster.

Everyone can learn it with work or even education. They just go around you doing circles, laughing and everything is so easy to them. They break anything, write amazing clever code, fast and easily. And you see all the educated people around realizing that education, hard work, is not enough. They will never reach that level of skill, ever. This is why I love the computing field. About law? Same about the lawyers, they are pretty much saving people right and left on each major TV network or streaming service.

Suits, Good Wife, lots and lots of others. And make money. Saving lives and making money is better than just making money right? Yes, maybe programmers are saving lives too… provided they work in a say medical field. So what? No one will ever know. Having said that, I majored in CS. However good the money. Give me my average programmer job any day. Maybe people in US are just more ambitious? Take India for example. And having done that much, you are already king. There is a wave of professors coming out of university to join industry, especially in machine learning.

Is it possible that the number of faculties are capping the enrollment? I also heard in UW it is very competitive to major in cs. My kids are a couple of years away from going to college and we have started looking at schools here on the west coast. Most schools have a huge pipeline problem. Too many students, especially foreign ones, competing for a few coveted spots. The demands for keeping up with the latest and greatest tools has been my hardest hurdle.

Shifting coding standards. New tools. Too many people this is simply not worth it especially if you want to raise a family. Competition from overseas is real and they are willing to work for less and harder at it than you so why bother? War stories are plentiful about people working 20 hour days for weeks at a time to get something to work.

We literally brag about it all the time. The stereo-type of the grizzled programmer living under his desk is ingrained in the culture. Really enjoyed reading this article. A key factor that should be considered is the lack of available computer science education opportunities in our compulsory education system and how it affects perceptions of incoming freshman.

One could quite easily see how this would dissuade someone from majoring in computer science simply due to their fear of an unknown subject. You also have to consider that a degree in Software Engineering qualifies you for most of the same jobs. But it may explain the difference in demand for skills vs CS degrees. On the margin, it might be a matter of cs having a lot of close substitutes like engineering, math, and physics that teach some applied coding skills while imparting knowledge of a subject area that will use those coding skills.

Some of these areas, especially engineering, pay higher starting salaries than cs. A CE degree is not a CS degree. A CS degree is deeply mathematical as opposed to being a trade school. These two degrees are very different.

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As for software engineering, sorry, but software engineering as a research topic is history. Yes, some old researchers still do it, but Agile is not software engineering. That job title should die. I believe this to be demonstrably false, anecdotally, but also as far as research goes.

The punch line: English and Music aptitude, independently, were better predictors of programming skill than Math. Math, Bio and physical sciences have all seen increases in women majors, although not as large as men, and in engineering the increase in women majors is even larger than in men. Thanks for doing this analysis. The research I have seen is that women are turning away from CS for rational reasons — why take on a career where you will be constantly marginalized? Get some data on how many students start CS and end up in something else, often math. CS is damn hard; many students switch out in their sophomore year, when they first have to deal with a data structures course involving serious large programming projects.

Succeeding then in a timely manner requires an unusual amount of mental organization and discipline. Work with computers encompasses many different activities that are often confused. CS is only one of them and is not what the overwhelming majority of the economy demands. It has been repeated that Programming is more of a craft at which some people naturally excel. The same for physicists or enginneers. Why this is so? Indeed, bootcamps do not teach people what to some seems indispensable basic knowledge like data structures, but then perhaps such knowledge is not necessary for what the majority of the computer work is all about, or perhaps in regard to what the industry demands.

These demands bring us back to the first paragraph. And finally there is a demand which is constantly being fed by the programmers themselves, which consists of mastering the last fashionable and in so many cases arguably unjustified or simply rediscovered new tech, that makes the contents of any computer major look like selected for extinction within a few years.

To sum up: perhaps any analysis should start by discriminating the different aspects of what is meant by working with computers. In this light, CS looks like too narrow a specialization. The crafty nature of development combined with the unsophisticated demand of the market and the fickleness of technologies within reach of a teen, make a strong case to follow another major and acquire software skills as a complement.

I graduated college in As a woman, I felt that my choices were to become a nurse or a teacher. I left with a degree in education. A hypothesis. The industries employing CS graduates have a lot of jobs to offer. The money is good. However a very small portion of those jobs involve creative thinking, design or such exciting stimulating work. A larger chunk of jobs are somewhat mundane. Perhaps American kids are not incluned to take those. Therefore they do not opt to take this major though it is high wage.

His salary is dollars. He writes tax software. Another one is in google testing. Yet another, quality assurance. Wondering if this is why they graduate from other disciplines not CS. Possible you can find the initial enrollment numbers of CS majors and compare those? Thoughts are that they either change or dropout and still work in the industry. I think that the boom-bust cycle is amplified in the both popular culture and by individual anecdote. The crack cocaine fury of the s ended when the neighborhood was full of 30 year old guys in wheelchairs reminiscing about their gangster days.

Look at Aeronautics and Astronautics in the s. It had been a hot field since the s, but after the big bust in the late s, no one wanted to major in it. Look at any review of any new Apple release. Maybe a handful of review sites like Ars Technica look at it from a software viewpoint even though Apple is a software company that sells hardware platforms to get its software out there.

This variation and invisibility leads to a lack of respect for the occupation, and the fact that it is good computer science that makes real applications work. No one thinks about consistency issues when paying by credit card or scaling issues when doing a search or buying a plane ticket. Most people think that software stops with throwing together a web page, so why build your career hopes on that. Add to that invisibility the usual problems of technical careers: the lack of a real career path without moving into management, being considered part of the problem not part of the solution, the age discrimination which is often blatant.

My niece got a CS degree from Stanford. Really, really great post — the problem is really acute worldwide, not just US. I think there is one more reason for not choosing a cs major, perhaps the most important one. Tech is a booming market for sure and bound to stay so for some more time, however it is very different from other industries in being very tooling focused. As a result, there is a huge shortage of talent for just doing things, but growth prospects within the industry are not as high as in others.

Executives in tech actually earn less than execs in finance or energy or healthcare. The starting compensation is higher, but the growth trajectory is flatter. Again, just because the shortage happens to be driven primarily by knowledge of tools. So not choosing CS actually makes a lot of sense. Lots of great opinion here. Part of it though is that Computing has outgrown Computer Science. It used to be that computing was a mathematics discipline and that computers were designed to assist with computational mathematics problems.

Now computing is fundamental to the data and communications efforts of every facet of human life. There are as many domains as there are things that interest us. It used to be that if you wanted to work with computers you studied computer science. Now there are an array of different education options and focusses that teach computing related skills within different domains. A genuine splintering of the subject into many relevant areas none of which capturing or even requirement the mathematical depth of computer science but all of which leveraging off of it to different degrees.

In this context Computer Science is becoming a specialisation. Sure innovations will come out of computer science but not every employee is required to be a cutting edge innovator. I think we are starting to see a move away from mass hiring of people with computer science degrees to do any computing work and instead hiring of graduates with computing degrees that have a business domain focus or technical application specialisation. The point behind the computer science degree was to professionalize computer programming.

It could have been a trade. As it now becomes a trade, less money will be made doing it. There were many different professional tracks in computer programming. The business track, the computer science track, and the EE track. Each of these produced different programmers with different approaches.

The microprocessor category is nearing its death. Phone and the cloud are indicators of this. We need new categories. And, while everyone can program, not everyone can program everything. The degreed programmers can expect continued employment, but a degree is not enough. Further, Open software killed the software industry. We still pretend to be in that industry, but we are really in the industry of our monetizations, aka ad serving.

Worse, management still thinks they are in the software industry. Some other factors: 1. No idea what to expect in CS since programming and algorithms are not taught in school like math. CS academic culture where you are required to learn everything on your own. If you are stuck on a math problem, the teacher solves the rest for you.

There is a specific approach that can be learned to solve math problems. CS has no specific approach, neither does the faculty believe in helping the student when stuck on code. Expectations to know and learn stuff beyond academics like new technologies and creating side projects on your own. There were actually five 5 majors you could study that were related to computers and software, and one was in the Math Dept.

I chose the latter. A few years later they actually merged the computer math classes and teachers with several from the EE Dept and formed an official Computer Science Dept. Their degree was everything I studied plus a couple of missing courses. The driving force in software today seems to be web-based applications. The web started out as simple pages displayed to visitors, with a little bit of customization.

Today, vendors want to replace desktop apps with web-based apps. The state of this technology today is about where it was when Windows 3 was introduced. Only the computers have gotten faster so the turnaround time has shifted from days and hours to seconds. Computers have gotten fast enough, and memory is cheap enough, that most of these are no longer of much concern for nominal programming activities.

That does not happen in any other engineering field! I have no reason to doubt you, so which route would you recommend these days? Sorry for any confusion. As far as your eyes rolling back in your head, you may not be cut out for ANY college degree! Most Comp Sci programs require two or possibly more semesters of Calculus. I hated calculus, and never used it after I left school. I happened to be very interested in some, but not all of them. There is an evolutionary history and some theories behind software, and it helps to understand some of it if you want to be a really great programmer.

Also, given the steady advance of hardware innovation, available memory space is growing faster than we can use it. Not so much any more.

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Just got 1 year of Java 7? Believe it or not, the tech schools today are far more attuned to the needs of businesses than most traditional CS programs. You can learn to code at code camp, but many employers know that those graduates are weak at data structures. CS degrees, any degree really, are about academia, not getting jobs. Yes, you can find work without a degree but is that the point? Yes, everyone is missing the point. And, everyone is just lucky if they get a job. They can code, but so what. From what I seen in my college. Initially a lot of people who really like computers and interested in programming join CS program.

Almost all of those people are capable of staying in the long run but they drop out and go into other programs halfway through because of the difficulty. Main reason is not because it is difficult but because the people teaching intro classes are mostly instructors who are really bad at teaching not worried about setting up a proper foundation for the students. Without walking you through showing you the right way they expect you learn from reading a book with vague partial sample codes.

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Because of this, graduation is treated as a change of placement under special education law, and parents are therefore entitled to receive notice of their right to dispute the award of a diploma and to use the due process system to try to prevent loss of services.

In one leading case, Stock v. Massachusetts Hospital School, Mass. This is not to say that, for example, a student with a mild learning disability, who requires only minor classroom modifications cannot be expected to earn the same credits toward graduation as a non-disabled peer and graduate upon completing those credits. But students with more severe disabilities typically need to be measured on a different scale. For such a student the TEAM needs to establish criteria for graduation that are based on IEP goals and objectives specific to that student.

Criteria for the delivery of a diploma, or the termination of special education services before the student "ages out," should in good sense be based on achievement of functional living skills and employability as well as meeting academic standards. What you can do. In your case, it sounds like your son may not have achieved sufficient skills to be employable.

The issue of graduation should be discussed within the TEAM process and criteria established that are appropriate for him. If not, you and your son may reject the IEP and use your state's special education due process system to contest the lack of appropriate graduation standards. If the school system insists on graduating him, the due process system can also be used to contest that decision. This is called "compensatory services. In at least one case, Puffer v. Raynolds, F.

Finally, as in any other case where parents prevail, the remedies would include the right to reimbursement for all, or a substantial part, of the attorneys' fees and related costs incurred in bringing the case. The age of In your case there is at least one more legal issue to address: Your son is 18 and, unless he has been adjudicated as legally incompetent and placed under your guardianship, he is the only person authorized to respond to a proposed IEP or to accept or contest the award of a diploma.

Depending on his cognitive abilities, his self-esteem, his self-awareness, and his social skills, he may be particularly vulnerable to the persuasion of school professionals who urge him to go ahead and graduate with his classmates. In that case you may need to work through a number of increasingly intense steps for his protection.


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