EDITORIAL: Lack of computer science classes will be a disadvantage in college, beyond

Being able to code and program has become indispensable in many careers and very useful in others.

There was a time when having computer science knowledge in high school distinguished an individual. Now, it’s becoming common knowledge everywhere, it seems, except Country Day. St. Francis High School, Jesuit High School and Rio Americano High School all offer computer science classes.

In fact, St. Francis offers Computer Graphics, Web Design, Introduction to Computer Science, AP Computer Science and a liliPad Technology Internship. While Country Day prides itself on offering students the academic support they need to be well prepared for college, it’s obviously a step behind without a high-school class in computer science.

In past years, computer science classes were taught at Country Day, but not since 2008.

It’s not that students aren’t interested. In a recent Octagon poll, 52 percent of 114 polled students said they would be interested in a computer science class.

This clear interest in computer science should be supported by the school.

Many colleges assume that students coming into their engineering programs have prior knowledge of computer science.

Thus, SCDS students entering such a program are at a significant disadvantage.

At Santa Clara University, engineering students generally go straight into more advanced courses.

However, David Myers, ‘14, a freshman engineering student at Santa Clara, has to take beginner courses with students who aren’t really interested in engineering because he never had the chance to study computer science before college.

“I’m stuck at an introductory level, rather than with a class of other computer-passionate people,” Myers said.

In The Washington Post (“High school students are all about computers but get little instruction in computer science,” Jan. 23), Marie desJardins, a computer science professor at the University of Maryland, argued that computer science skills are now as important as algebra.

And learning programming and coding is not just applicable to students who want to program.

Whether students want to work in graphic design, business, finance, publishing, consulting or economics, they need to know computer science to be successful and move forward in their fields.

“Everybody in the country should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think,” Steve Jobs said.

Previously published in the print edition on Oct. 28, 2014.

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