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Is Beginning to Learn How to Code in College Too Late? (how to become a computer programmer)

Computer Science is increasingly competitive with a low retention rate in colleges.

October 28, 2021
Angela Qu
Is Beginning to Learn How to Code in College Too Late? (how to become a computer programmer)

[Photo by freestocks on Unsplash]

This week during our product meetings for, we were looking at how our coding platform can help enhance K-12 curriculums. We were surprised to find out how much K-12 education resources in computer science have advanced in the past few years. Research into education/textbook publishing houses made us realize the wide array of options for kids to be exposed to computer science/programming knowledge as early as elementary school. There’s coding camps, hackathons, and specialized subject areas that make the stereotypical science fair project of an exploding baking soda volcano seem childish and technologically inept. Therefore, for potential middle/high-schoolers who wish to pursue a college degree in STEM, particularly computer science and engineering courses — is learning how to code in college too late to ensure success in this fast-growing and competitive field?

Most people know that kids can easily pick up languages at a young age without an accent or learning difficulty since they have early-stage cognitive advantages. A child’s “brain’s elasticity and rapid neural formation” allows them to pick up languages and the logic behind them a lot faster than adults that have more rigid “neural pathways that are regularly used”. Coding itself can be regarded as an array of different languages. Every developer/programmer’s code reveals unique syntax and style just like how every person speaks with their own filler words and style. Therefore, being introduced to coding for the first time in college may be too late in today’s landscape of avid learners in this field.

If I could go back to high school and pick up a focus-area subject, I would pick computer science. The reason being that technology has advanced exponentially in the past three decades. If you click into any LinkedIn job posting right now — chances are, no matter the industry, there’s some requirement of knowing specific software related to the job. If you’re in sales, you have to know CRM software. If you’re in HR, chances are you need some knowledge in SAP Successfactors or Oracle Peoplesoft. Not everyone needs to be a programmer/coder — but we’re beginning to see a need for a more specialized understanding of specific technologies in many professional fields and industries.

With kids today being introduced to programming at a young age, current high schoolers considering a career as a developer need to start preparing themselves better for college. Although a Computer Science degree is increasingly popular with software engineers and developers graduating college and easily obtaining 6-figure salaries, university-level Computer Science classes have a high barrier to entry leading to high drop-out rates and low retention compared to other degrees. Typically the courses are structured with a few entry-level classes that weed out those who cannot keep up with the steep learning curve.

There is a common misconception that Computer Science is all about being good at programming — however, it relates to much broader fields of science, math, and theoretic thinking. Therefore, it’s not to say that it is too late to start learning computer science in college — but rather, a lot of people have and realized it is not what they think it is. By starting to learn computer science before college, you can save a lot of time and effort in trying to figure it out while paying expensive tuition fees in college.


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Angela Qu
Angela Qu
October 28, 2021

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