Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's About Time

I never really understood why the dot-com bust led to such a drastic drop in computer science enrollments. It's always seemed rather short-sighted to me to ignore the drastic increase in the use of computers in, well, everything just because dot-coms weren't going to keep being such a big thing. But I suppose I underestimate the appeal of get-rich-quick schemes. Apparently the financial crisis has made banking so unappealing, combined with the desire to actually be able to find a job, that computer science is seeing a turn-around:

For the first time in six years, enrollment in computer science programs in the United States increased last year, according to an annual report that tracks trends in the academic discipline.

Hopefully this means that computer science faculty searches won't be cut with the budget.

On the other hand, while this may eventually change diversity trends, it hasn't yet: "the fraction of bachelor’s degrees awarded to women remained steady at 11.8 percent in 2008."

(See the NY Times article.)


Alex McFerron said...

I often hear young people say they don't want to go into computer science because they don't want to sit at a computer all day. I try to tell them just about everyone sits at a computer all day.

John Moeller said...

Having had started my career as an engineer right before the dot-com bust, I can tell you truthfully that the "get-rich-quick" angle was a big part of the popularity of computer science.

There were a huge number of training programs dedicated to give you what were referred to as "alphabet soup," i.e., a lot of meaningless certificates. Regardless, there were still a lot of people who went into CS as an undergrad thinking that they'd get rich. Then the bubble burst and everyone started going into business programs.

I'm curious about what the "dream job" for a baccalaureate in CS is these days. Is it games?

@Alex: that's pretty funny. :-)