Wednesday, September 21, 2005

CS enrollment: no worries

As I've written about before, I think all the fuss about low enrollment in computer science is overplayed. Enrollment will pick up as the job market improves, and in fact it already seems to be improving, as the El Paso Times article linked from the title above states. Regardless of outsourcing and all the other worries, computing employment within the US will still grow robustly over the next several years. Like other engineering-related fields, CS goes through periodic booms where enrollment shoots up dramatically as the field becomes hot, then drops precipitously when the hype cools off. It always recovers because the field is integral to the development of new and improved products and processes. As long as such development is an important part of our economy, demand for computer professionals will remain strong (neglecting short-term fluctuations).

So what does this mean to you if you're thinking of a college degree? First of all, follow your interests. Who knows what the employment situation will be like in four years? Or, for that matter, ten or twenty years? But, hopefully, you will be around and be happy. Doing work you don't like is not a recipe for happiness. Second, right now is the best time to major in CS. Enrollment is bottoming out, so you'll be part of the smallest graduating class in a long time. By the time you graduate, most of the computing professionals who lost jobs will have found new ones (or moved on to other employment). Just like many other areas of life, it sometimes pays to be a contrarian.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. Don't follow the crowd blindly. Don't always jump on the hot stuff, not when you can afford to think long term, which you should do when choosing a degree.

    This complements one of my earlier posts.