Computer Science Woes

At many colleges and universities, the Computer Science major is impacted, that is the major continually gets more eligible applicants than it can accommodate. This is a problem that has existed for several years and appears only to be getting worse. At the Cal State University campuses “impacted” is also a designation that allows the Computer Science department to require a higher GPA or specific major preparation as a way to reduce the pool of applicants to those who are best prepared to enter the major.

If you or your student wants to major in Computer Science, you will want to read these three articles to better understand the situation:

  • Here’s what happened with Computer Science majors at Haverford, Princeton, Bryn Mawr, Stanford, Pomona, and San Francisco State in 2018.
  • Here’s an analysis of the Computer Science teaching shortage from 2019 that appeared in the Communications of the ACM, the monthly journal of the Association for Computing Machinery. It also explains how different colleges including RIT, UT Austin, Pitt, UIUC and RPI have tried to address the teaching shortage.
  • Maybe you think I am just talking about the past. Here is a piece from June 2022 on the demand for the Computer Science major at the University of Washington and the reasons for their inability to meet that demand.
University of Washington

7 Surprising College Application Essay Prompts

With the 2019-2020 application season winding down, here are seven surprising and thought-provoking college application essay or short answer prompts (in random order):

  1. “What is the most compelling thing you have ever read, and how has it changed you or inspired you to take action now, in the past, or in the future? This could be an entire book, a passage or chapter, a poem, an article, graffiti- anything written.” George Mason University Honors prompt 
  2.  Seattle has a rich musical history and SU students love discovering new Seattle music. Tell us: what five songs would be the soundtrack to your perfect college experience? (two to three sentences for each song is appropriate)” Seattle University prompt
  3.  “At USC Viterbi, we endeavor to engineer a better world for all humanity. This vision goes hand-in-hand with the objectives of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and their 14 Grand Challenges. Engineers and Computer Scientists are challenged to solve these problems in order to improve life on the planet. Learn more about the NAE Grand Challenges at http://engineeringchallenges.org and tell us which challenge is most important to you, and why.” University of Southern California prompt
  4. “There are approximately 171,476 words in the English dictionary. Pick your favorite word and tell us why you picked it.” Brandeis University prompt
  5. What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed?” Stanford University prompt
  6. “Who does Sally sell her seashells to? How much wood can a woodchuck really chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Pick a favorite tongue twister (either originally in English or translated from another language) and consider a resolution to its conundrum using the method of your choice. Math, philosophy, linguistics… it’s all up to you (or your woodchuck).—Inspired by Blessing Nnate, Class of 2024” University of Chicago prompt 
  7. Yale’s residential colleges regularly host conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What question would you ask?” Yale University prompt 

Which of these prompts do you think is the most challenging? The most creative?

What prompt did you encounter that you consider thought-provoking?