Vanderbilt needs to improve its accessibility to computer science

When it comes educating students in Comp Sci, Vanderbilt’s resources have failed to keep up with the times

The study of computer science has seen astronomical growth in colleges across the country as students gravitate towards the discipline. Coding is becoming a necessary skill, resulting in a positive job outlook in an industry growing much faster than the national average. The pool of available jobs is larger than the pool of computer science students, and the jobs pay well, with a median annual salary of $100,000.

As an individual who intends on developing my skills in computer science without pursuing a CS major, I have found my options at Vanderbilt to be remarkably limiting. Because higher level classes are harder to enroll in as a non-CS major and as a younger student, I have since transitioned to learning coding and other skills through online programs outside of Vanderbilt. It’s apparent that the university simply doesn’t provide enough resources.

Furthermore, resources either through extracurricular organizations or noncredit classes, similar to how students are able to take art classes in Sarratt, could help solve this issues. Additionally, there are simply not enough teachers nor an adequate number of classes available to students who want to become exposed to computer science. During course registration, computer science courses quickly reached maximum capacity, with the waitlists filling up before time allows many students to even register for classes. The utter lack of spots shuts out students who are looking to further their experience in computer science, with students who are CS majors themselves even struggling to finish all their classes in time for graduation.  

When comparing CS majors at peer institutions such as Cornell, Vanderbilt’s options are restricted to computer science and computer engineering, with tangentially related subjects such as mathematics and a minor in scientific computing. However, Cornell boasts a much wider selection within CS, including information science, statistical science and more. Additionally, while A&S students are able to pursue a secondary A&S CS degree, the Vanderbilt University website and other resources fail to highlight this aspect of computer science education. For example, CS references are strictly limited to engineering sections of catalogs or handbooks.

As a university that boasts its diverse academic disciplines from Blair to the School of Engineering, Vanderbilt is lagging behind other elite universities in student involvement in computer science. If computer science majors can’t even enroll in their required classes, we can’t expect the general student body to pursue interests in this essential field.

Simply put, there needs to be a better allocation of classes, professors and resources towards computer science. Due to the versatility of CS, there should be CS courses for individuals in different majors and fields (e.g. CS for math majors, CS for peabody students, CS for A&S), like how statistics is offered in a variety of forms with classes like Econ Stats and Bio Stats. The damage is already starting to be done, as students are becoming increasingly ill-prepared to navigate a technological job market.  

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