Intro classes aren’t providing enough

By Sriram Karumbunathan, Columnist

Computer science is the most interesting subject I’ve ever studied. Although I understand what makes my major so great, a lot of people clearly have no idea what I study and work on when I tell them what my major is. They are unaware of how it is far more advanced than simply just “knowing about computers.”

The intro class in computer science is adequate at introducing students to the major, but it’s more for laying foundations than showing students the interesting side of computer science. If you showed students just a fraction of some of the fields within computer science, people would see the variety of career paths students in my major have open to us.

The introductory classes shouldn’t really be around learning programming itself because these students will probably never write another line of code again. Rather, they should be focused on simply giving students a brief overview of everything in the field. While they would have to go over some basics and fundamentals, it doesn’t need to be a thorough understanding.

This rule of thumb does not just apply to computer science or even engineering fields. There are plenty of other majors in which I have no idea what students spend four years studying. Even talking to grad students in other majors, I got such a better understanding of how their specific majors function.

For example, when talking to a law student, I understood a lot more of what a typical path looks like from undergrad to full-time lawyer. For these majors, having similar introductory classes would help raise awareness for what they do and get students excited about a possible future in law.

Normally, general education requirements don’t provide much awareness to the major. If these classes gave insight, then this would also promote working between majors, since people would have a better understanding of other subjects. This allows them to think about how their major would interact with other fields.

When these students go full-time, their majors will not be isolated from each other. For example, computer science is a field that affects almost every other major. By having some knowledge of what other fields are doing, a student may be able to come up with an idea that specifically affects another field, allowing both the fields to progress.

Overall, I just want people to understand why it is so easy for me to be passionate about computer science. I’m sure other people feel the same way about their majors. This is something I chose to study in college, and I want other people to see the reasons beyond that. It’s important to provide classes that not only teach the fundamentals of a major, but also inspire students to actually be interested in them.

Sriram is a junior in Engineering.

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