By: Peter Shultz
While stock market indexes have hit all-time highs in recent weeks, many economists have made clear the fact that the American economy is still not entirely fixed. While businesses have begun to let their cash reserves loose—and in the process making the stock market look golden—unemployment remains at 7.7%.
For high school and college graduates, the number is startling. The idea that one could attain a college degree, surmount substantial debt, and still live with Mom and Dad strikes fear in anyone. Yet the solution has been out there for years: computer science.
Computer science remains a gold mine of academia and industry for countless reasons, yet the greatest reason lies in demand. By 2020, it is estimated that job demand for computer science graduates will reach 1.4 million. By this same time, the number of actual CS grads will only reach 400,000. The National Science Foundation estimates that this translates into a $500 billion pie that anyone with a CS degree can help themselves to a piece of.
Of course, there will still be those who remain unconvinced that CS is right for them. Most care less about job security as they do about two other things: job satisfaction, and pay. CS still remains the perfect solution. Indeed, CS is among the highest paid college degrees, and the perks of CS jobs remain unbeatable. Google offers its programmers free breakfast, lunch, and dinner, recreational activities during work hours, and the increasingly-popular nap pod. Yes, with computer science you can sleep on the job and still get paid for it. Such perks are visible industry-wide—meaning with a CS degree, chances are you’d be enjoying your job quite a bit. Perhaps that is why software developer remains among the lists of “10 Best Jobs” year after year.
It is understandable why so few dabble in CS while in high school. For one, it isn’t around; 9 in 10 schools do not offer programming courses. Even so, there is a stigma. Computer Scientists or programmers are considered to be geeky, introverted, acne-covered, and lacking social graces. Programming itself is assumed to be mind-numbing, let alone socially unacceptable. Some of the best beg to differ. Besides the obvious billionaires created by CS—namely Zuckerberg, Gates, and Whitman—some surprising names have a wholehearted and devout support of CS. Chris Bosh of NBA fame, as well as artist will.i.am and Ashton Kutcher.
So while you consider your course selection at your university of choice, consider taking a single programming class. If still in high school, sign up for computer science as your elective. If not offered, request it. If your school cannot satiate your desire to code, go online to websites such as code.org to learn any number of programming languages. The worst that could happen is you end up not enjoying it. Or you may learn, excel, change the world, and become a billionaire—and become one step closer to having Ashton Kutcher like you.