Reader Feedback: Is CompSci Education Failing?

My “Editor’s Note” column for MSDN July is getting strong reader feedback, and I wanted to share some of it with you. In general, the run of opinion is that U.S. colleges and universities aren’t getting the job done in terms of preparing the next generation of developers. It’s not a uniform feeling, but a strong trend in that direction. Here’s what some of you are saying. I’ll have more of these over the next week or so. Feel free to contribute your own comments below or by emailing me directly.

“I agree 100% with the lack of any substantial IT training in the local schools.  There is a lack of programming practices such as OOP.  I was appalled by the lack of basic knowledge of the three pillars of OOP during my interviews. 

It appears to me that the local universities are more practiced in writing technical resumes for their students and coaching them how to respond in an interview than teaching them programming, database, architecture, and general working concepts.  Aside from the universities and for-profit schools, the local technical training centers are no better. Many of their "instructors" have no real world experience and teach to the tests and certifications which do not always translate into practical experience. 

When I taught my programming classes I required a working program along with technical documentation and a user's guide.  Then, I would look at the program, comments, flow, technical documentation, etc. and give them a grade, I would also interject my work experience into my lectures when I found that it differed from the book.”

-- John Wright, Hooper, Utah

“What struck me was the sense that people expect college grads in computer science to be able to ‘hit the ground running’.  Why would anyone expect that?  Would you let a newly graduated civil engineer to be able to build a bridge on his first day?  How about a brand new aerospace engineer, going to give him the responsibility for wing design on that new fighter?  Of course not.  Yet, people expect a newly minted computer science degree grads to be able to spit out software using any language, in any business and within any discipline.  When I look for a new employee, I never hire a new grad for a position that requires immediate productivity and I would think it unreasonable to expect otherwise.”

-- Jim Cox, Franklin, TN

Medkinetics, LLC


More to come.

Keith Ward

MSDN Magazine

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