The Top 10 Reasons to Major in Computer Science

Professor of Computer Sciences, Mathematical Sciences Department Chair, Otterbein University

Computing and computer technology are part of just about everything touching our lives today, from the cars we drive to the movies we watch to the many ways we all interact with each other (not to mention with businesses and government).

Understanding the many facets of computing is a necessary skill for any educated person in the 21st century. Whether you want to create the next hot application or simply want to map your next big idea for the boss, studying computing will give you a competitive edge, the ability to solve complex problems, and a career that will never be obsolete.

To keep your career on the cutting edge and marketable in any business environment, consider the following reasons why majoring in computer science is a sound investment:

1. Improved hiring prospects

Computer science students do well in terms of getting full-time employment upon graduation. In 2015, a national survey found that computer science majors were 35% more likely to have full-time jobs one year after graduation than graduates overall and 22% more likely than STEM graduates overall. They also had the highest starting salaries of all majors, with an average of $66,161 and some exceeding $100,000.

2. Nearly recession-proof jobs

Companies are eager—if not desperate—for talent in all areas of computing. There are actually more computing jobs available than there are qualified people to fill them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects computing and information technology jobs will grow between 12%–37% through 2022. If you take into consideration this expected high growth rate, it’s easy to see that companies simply need more talent. That future talent comes from today’s computer science students. 

3. Opportunities for true creativity and innovation

If you thought computer science was devoid of creativity, think again. Computer science is about much more than programming; it is about inventing and building solutions. A computer science major is an artist whose canvas may be a smartphone or PC display and whose paints and brushes are programming languages and development environments. The Internet had been in existence for almost 20 years. What was once mainly used by university and military researchers has become the most disruptive technological innovation of our time: the protocols and software of the World Wide Web. And it was all largely due to one person with a revolutionary vision. Can’t imagine a world without Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or Twitter? All were created by two to four individuals—some as college students—on the software platform provided by the Web. With a major in computer science, you’re limited only by your imagination.

4. An essential part of a well-rounded academic education

Having a computing background will provide you with a foundation of knowledge, problem-solving skills, and logical thinking that will serve as an advantage to you in your career in whatever field you choose. Beyond the vast applicability of a computer science degree, it’s also seen by an increasing number of universities and employers as a sign of academic well roundedness.

5. Limitless future opportunities

It’s the computing major who will help transform what the Internet will be like in the next 20 years. Like the rest of infrastructure, the Internet will eventually seem to disappear by becoming ubiquitous. Developing the Internet of Things will require specialized skills and computing expertise. By 2020, so many everyday items, appliances, and vehicles will be online that their numbers will far exceed the Earth’s population. And of course, making these networks of devices sufficiently robust and resilient will be a challenge for current and future computer science majors.

6. Making a positive difference in the world

Computing drives innovation in the sciences, such as major advances in the study of the human genome, tracking important AIDS vaccine research, and monitoring and protecting the environment—just to mention a few. If you want to make a positive difference in work and in the world, study computing.

7. Collaborative work and individual effort

Though you might imagine a lone hacker toiling away at their computer, computing is often about being part of a collaborative team that requires people with many different kinds of skills. But there is also plenty of space for individual flair and imagination.

8. Civil liberty protection

As the Internet grows, privacy will come at a premium. Enormous quantities of data about our daily affairs will flow across the Internet, and while this generally makes our lives easier, it also increases our vulnerability to hacking. Despite our penchant for giving up some privacy in exchange for convenience, our experiences online may make us yearn for the anonymity of the past. Who will have access to our medical records and our financial data? These will be some of the many digital issues computing experts will help confront and solve.

9. Strengthening your primary career choice

Want to follow your dream of working in the arts or health care or education? You can and still major (or minor or have a concentration) in computer science, particularly if you bolster your degree with supplemental learning opportunities like internships, extracurriculars, and graduate school. In any case, computer science will give you a broad foundation of skills that can be applied to a variety of careers and will serve as a competitive advantage in a crowded job market.

10. Frontline warriors in the battle against cybercriminals

Encryption algorithms—aka the mathematical rules by which secret codes are made and broken—have been at the center of a simmering spy vs. nerd war since the early 1990s. Cybercrime is big business, as conspiratorial smugglers and hackers infuse our computers with virus attacks to steal our identities and financial data. Majoring in computer science will give you a leg up in making the world as well as your neighborhood a safer place to live, work, and play.

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