Asked 25th Jan, 2013

What are the reasons for drop-out of CS / IT studies (courses)?

From year to year the elementary knowledge of programming for first-year students and the enrollment into the computer science and / or information technology, is becoming less and less. Also abandonment (drop-out) of these studies is growing.
I'm interested in your experience with university drop-out of CS / IT studies, if any?

Most recent answer

3rd Apr, 2016
Jennifer A. Polack
University of Mary Washington
At my school the majority of people drop out of CS because they are not willing to put hard work into the major or get low grades and repeat courses when necessary.  It is one of the hardest majors and they tend to go towards majors that are easy and do not take a large portion of their time to complete assignments.  While some student are just not gifted programming and don't want to put in the time, I know from experience if they put in the work and extra time it can be learned.  I had a student who was a really poor programming, struggled and got a D in CS1.  She repeated our CS1 course, got a tutor and while she is not the best student she now understands how to program, what is means to be a computer scientist and this was all due to hard work and willing to repeat after doing poorly.  Many students today do not want to put in the work that is needed.  I do not believe it is due to the job market decreasing.  All of my students get well paid jobs and it really has nothing to do with the GPA once they graduate.

All Answers (17)

26th Jan, 2013
Giuseppe Scarpi
Università Telematica Internazionale UNINETTUNO
Hello, I belong to a different world, industry, but what you write is confirmed in my experience when, for example, I interview candidates. A few reasons for these dropouts could be:
1) increasing lack of interest towards disciplines that require practice. Computer Science may be one, Applied Electronics is another one.
2) strong competition from emerging countries (especially India) that offer skilled persons at a fraction of the local cost. Large programming activities are often outsourced abroad. This trend lasts since years and is well-known. So if you study C.S. you know that in most cases you will spend years doing low-level tasks such as data entry.
1 Recommendation
27th Jan, 2013
Milan Tair
Singidunum University
I was a CS student until a short time ago and I can tell you from my experience and observation that the most probable reason is that younger generations (younger than my generation) are less interested in anything that they have to spend a lot of time studying, practicing and using.
Most of my colleagues were optimistic about learning programming at first and saw great possibilities from knowing programming, but when they learned the basics and were told that they have to program things on daily basis, make bigger and more complex applications, they backed up and lost their enthusiasm, mostly because it would take up too much of their time.
Basically, because society is moving faster now, that leaves people (especially the young) with less time to complete ever more tasks every day. Also, the young prioritize things much differently than most would guess and do not spend much time on studying, but instead they spend time satisfying their social needs, which is not all that unexpected.
Personally, I believe that this can be “fixed” by motivating students and explaining to them what are the benefits of holding out and coming through with learning CS skills and explaining to them that having IT skills (which, for many young people, come almost naturally now) are not sufficient for someone who wishes to be an CS specialist, IT professional etc.
Also, encouraging teamwork and solving problems in a group via programming applications and designing information systems (for business informatics fields) could be a very good motivator.
Teams will create something new on their own, of course, with peer-review and help and would see the benefit of working hard and spending time on something that is a unique result. On the other hand, just completing a test, programming a predefined program is not motivational, because all students in the group, and sometimes all students in a few consecutive years are supposed to complete the same task and students don’t feel as if they are doing something original. This way of studying and evaluating programming knowledge is boring, demotivating and it makes them feel as if programming and computer science in whole is a field of work at pair with construction work.
I suggest organizing workshops, dividing students in smaller groups or teams and require them to select a topic (to let them chose on their own), approve of it, modify it a bit if necessary and give them a set of deadlines. Define three deadlines, for example. The first two are for progress reporting and project status review and the last one is when all projects will be presented in class and demonstrated, evaluated and rewarded (with points). One such project can replace one colloquium test or the final exam if you head of department or faculty’s Dean approves of this method.
2 Recommendations
28th Jan, 2013
Reghunadhan Rajesh
Central University of Kerala
According to Indian situation, students join CS/IT course with high expectation to have job which gives good income when compared to other jobs in India. But they don't analyze them self that "whether they have the mathematical and logical skills". Students who are good in mathematics and logical skills grasp the programming languages must faster and they adapt themselves to shift from one programming language to other. Certain students come and join based on the pressure from the parents to get high salaried job. That is why the drop-out happens. What I think is a good mathematics degree in Bachelors level and computer Science/ engineering in masters level will be the best choice since mathematics is the parent department of computer science.
3 Recommendations
30th Jan, 2013
Abiodun John
The aforementioned topic is very-very applicable to most C.S students in Africa, probably Nigeria as a whole. The rate at which "flamboyant programming Jobs" are being outsourced to other foreign countries abroad by Big companies located within the same geographical area are discouraging.
How do you expect a student to undergoes through complex professional career & later deny medium where he / she can POLISH & DEVELOP in order to maximize & compete with his / her Fellow in neighboring countries. Such a student having known this ahead, will prefer to have a change of course to avert future regression.
I refer to Mr. Giuseppe Scarpi above, My first appointment after graduating with Upper Credit In C.S, my Job responsibility is DATA ENTRY.
We need to come together and see how C.S can STAND TALL AMONG OTHER COURSES.
1 Recommendation
30th Jan, 2013
Swati V. Chande
International School of Informatics and Management
Though your question is about CS/IT, probably with CS and IT being used as synonyms, I would like to differentiate between the two, and then make an attempt to answer hw question.
I some graduate level course, CS and IT are offered as separate specializations, with little difference in the curricullum leaving the students confused with regard to the choice.
More than a matter of dropouts, B.E./B.Tech. CS and BE/B.Tech IT look to be one programme with two names, and hence double the seats as compared to other specializations, and hence the number of dropouts probably just looks to be larger than in other fields.
This observation is considering courses offered by some Indian Universities.
1 Recommendation
31st Jan, 2013
Milan Tair
Singidunum University
It could also be due to the way teaching is introduced.
In some IT faculties and schools, teachers still carried out teaching computer architecture and basics behind program execution via means such as designing operations with elementary logical components and Karnaugh maps etc. This approach was very well and reasonable in 70's and 80's when programming languages ware closer to the CPU.
Nowadays, computers are viewed in a much more abstracted way as well as programming languages, whole computer systems etc. which are much more complex and explaining all that with just logical gates is no longer possible or practical, in my opinion. This might be the reason students are less and less interested in IT once they begin learning, because they do not see how that any longer implies to contemporary IT professions (other then hardware design, which is a whole different field of engineering).
It would be logical to do more to motivate them and to
forestall boredom and growing lack of interest for students that have enrolled in a CS or IT course. Maybe, by using something more dynamic such as a computer simulators to enhance students learning and to enable them to skip the understanding computer architecture in a more easy way and to allow them better understand the process of program execution in order to make them develop a more analytic way of thinking that would prove to help them develop more optimized computer code, etc.
I am saying this from a perspective of a computer programmer, which is what most of my colleagues who enrol in CS and IT courses wish to follow through and learn, and I assume that this is the case at your University as well.
2 Recommendations
12th Jun, 2013
Joe Trubisz
Professional Computing
Two reasons (as an ex-college instructor):
1. The number of jobs (especially in the US) have significantly been reduced due to outsourcing.
2. What you need to know in the real world is significantly different than what many CS programs teach.
As an aside, I was part of a MS project some years ago. It was determined from those who responded, that after 5-years of employment, 90-95% of what they were using at the time was learned AFTER college graduation. That should say something.
3 Recommendations
13th Jun, 2013
Eric Steven Hall
United States Environmental Protection Agency
I agree with Milan Tair who provided the correct answer for this question. Younger students have grown up in a world where results from their efforts are nearly instantaneous (like video games) and does not require weeks or months to find the solution to a problem. Students are living in an environment that does not mention or acknowledge the fact that patience, and discipline, along with subject-area knowledge is required for CS/IT, engineering, mathematics, and science endeavors. Some people obtain great satisfaction from solving a problem after many months or years of working on it, but most people become frustrated easily and give up, seeing no use to continuing work until a solution is reached. To those people, the problem cannot be solved quickly and it is a 'waste of time' to continue (they get bored easily).
Also, critical thinking skills are required (which goes beyond rote memorization), which discourages most people from even attempting these subject areas. One thing I have learned is that every significant problem (especially programming-related problems) I have every solved in my career has taken me anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks of concentrated effort to complete, but I see this as an enjoyable challenge and a test of my knowledge, skills, and abilities, where others do not understand why I enjoy the challenge. We need to find and encourage those students who want to develop the patience and skill required to solve computer science problems.
3 Recommendations
11th Jun, 2014
Asmat Ali
PMAS - Arid Agriculture University
I have totally different opinion in the context of my country bit similar to as mentioned by @Reghunadhan Rajesh. IT has not been added in the recruitment policy of several organizations yet, although efforts are being made. To get approval for revised recruitment policy takes time which our new generation does not have. They want immediate results e.g. job surety even before getting admission in some cases. That's the reason from ground realities.
2 Recommendations
13th Nov, 2014
Ljubomir Jerinic
@For all Followers: What happens with "Project CS4EDU: Computer Science for Education". Namely, in 2008, the National Science Foundation (US) started the ambitious effort, project CS/10,000, which supports developing a new high school curriculum for computing, revising the computer science AP curriculum, and having computer science taught in 10,000 schools by 10,000 well-qualified teachers by 2015.
Does anyone know anything about this project?
1 Recommendation
16th Nov, 2014
Ljubomir Jacić
Technical College Požarevac
Dear @Ljubomir, here are some news about this project!
2 Recommendations
16th Nov, 2014
Sarwan Kumar Dubey
ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation (Earlier known as CSWCRTI)
May be because of less probability of getting good jobs with handsome salary as compared to other discipline. Thanks
1 Recommendation
16th Nov, 2014
Arturo Geigel
Independent Researcher Puerto Rico
I will echo Michael's answer In that students immediate reward syndrome. I think this is in parft due to how the industry is projecting itself. When students see a different reality that is not a lot of graphics but a routine of programming commands based on logic and amthematics, they realize it is hard work and just give up.
1 Recommendation

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