The computer science (CS) industry is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the US. CBS News reports that there are 46,080 job openings per year with 30% annual growth through 2018. With medium annual income earned between $67 – 71K depending on the job, it’s clear why many people want to go into CS.

However, on countless college life forums, I’ve been seeing a trend that I find troubling. Namely, the amount of posts computer science students write about how they are either at risk of failing out of their program or have already been ejected from their programs. Failing a program or not completing a program can negatively impact the rest of your life. Yet, there are ways you can prevent failure from happening to you. Read on.

Deep Learning Specialization on Coursera

Why do CS Students Fail?

I spoke to some students who’ve either failed or are at risk of failing, and the main message they want to get out is that they lacked the preparation to succeed in CS. This has not only hurt their academic standing — the worst part is getting out into the field and finding out how much value employers put into high GPAs and strong academic credentials.

According to Python engineer and trainer David Blaikie, “Some computer science professors don’t appreciate that learning to code can require a radical shift in students’ thinking and in their approach to problem-solving. They discuss coding features and demonstrate working code, but neglect to address the coder’s mindset and thought process. As a result, many beginners feel lost.” Blaikie is an Adjunct Instructor at NYU School of Professional studies and maintains a YouTube channel where he posts recordings of his Introductory and Advanced Python classes.

One thing you can do to prepare yourself for a degree in computer science is to take short courses that give you an overview of the content that you will be working with ahead of time. There are countless resources where you can get college level instruction on all CS topics. One of the most popular ways to get familiar with computer science is to take some courses on Coursera. Starting here gives you the opportunity to step into the classroom at a much lower cost than college tuition. The instructors on Coursera come from top universities from all around the world, and you can even earn credentials through Coursera to boost your resume.

Python 728x90

What is Coursera?

Coursera is a world leader in the massive open online course (MOOC) approach to education. It offers over 2,000 fully online courses and offers financial aid to individuals with demonstrated needs. Some of the courses require textbooks for the best outcomes, so if you decide to take a course, make sure to refer to my post on how to get college textbooks cheap.

I’ve used Coursera since it was just starting out. While all their courses are no longer free as they once were, it comes with additional benefits of ending with a verifiable certificate and programs surrounding specific career goals. Also, I love that you can download lectures and watch them on the go.

Basically, by trying Coursera, you can gauge how well you do with CS and predict your level of success with in a college setting. You can also rely on Coursera to enrich your CS studies, or help you study for a test. However, more and more people are relying solely on Coursera to launch their career and so can you.

Worried if you won’t like it? Coursera offers a 7-day free trial to see if you like the courses you sign up for. After that, you only pay $79 a month (way cheaper than paying full tuition).

Want to know the statistics for your chosen major? Check out the next section on Labor Statistics.

Learn More about Labor Statistics

Still deciding on a major? Learn more about the industry you want to enter by studying labor statistics. There are two main resources you should bookmark as you weigh the pros and cons of the job market.

The first resource is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS is managed by the US Department of Labor and has a website where it provides job and employment information (employment trends, worker characteristics, etc) for the US workforce. Secondly, Occupational Information Network (O*NET) offers similar resources. If you are having second thoughts about your degree/ major, see what the stats are for your future career on either of these websites.

By utilizing these two resources, you can figure out the skillset required for any job you can fathom. You’ll also see expected salaries, credentials required, and so on. Bookmark them for future reference.


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College Mamma would love to hear your college experience. If you are failing out of a program, talk to us! We will not only share advice but also post your story (without posting any private info) and help others in the same situation. For general college-related advice, write to us at [email protected]

If you think you might have a disability, check out my recent post on disabilities in college. You might be surprised to find how easy it is to get a letter of accommodation.



Author: College Mamma

College Mamma is a professor who blogs for students. She is also a mother of two and a lover of coffee.