Computer science must be a flag requirement

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Photo Credit: Sheryl Long | Daily Texan Staff

In our increasingly online world, computer science skills are becoming sought after by employers. Studies have shown that having basic computer skills increases employment and decreases worker displacement. In a society where almost every job requires you to be on the computer, some basic coding and software programming experience can go a long way to help students excel in the workforce.

In order to best prepare students for employment and a technology-driven future, UT should adopt a flag requirement for computer science.

A computer science flag requirement, as opposed to a course requirement, would interweave computer science and coding basics into the curriculum of an existing class. This could be done in a variety of classes and thus most majors could receive the flag by taking other required courses. This way, students of all majors could have access to computer science experience without having precious time or money taken up. 

Government freshman Devon Whitsel said he would be interested in having computer science as a flag requirement, especially since it would allow him to choose a course based on what best aligned with his interests.

“I don't think anyone should be forced to take a class,” Whitsel said. “College is more about what you want to take and what you're interested in. I would be fine with (a flag) requirement. It would be a great idea.”

A flag requirement implemented by the university would teach students the computer skills needed for their future.

However, Jeanette Herman, assistant dean for academic initiatives in the School of Undergraduate Studies, said it would be hard to create a computer science flag due to lack of student demand.  

“In the college of Liberal Arts, there is a course with the goal of providing students with the (computer science) skills they are not in a place to get,” Herman said. “The courses that are available for non-CS majors are already pretty (under)subscribed. There is a supply and demand problem.”

However, as the workforce is now almost completely online, the student demand for computer skills is higher now more than ever.

Amelia Nickerson, a computer science and business honors freshman, said she thinks it would be a great idea to have a computer science flag. 

“I definitely think there's a benefit for every major and every field to take some kind of computer science course,” Nickerson said. “You can apply it to any industry and it's just another way for you to have a competitive advantage in any field.”

Texas mandates two institutionally regulated requirements –– an undergraduate studies course and a second science ––  and allows students to take a computer science course to fulfill the science requirement. However, this may not work for all students. 

“If there is not an option to apply computer science to your major, it would not be as beneficial as a generic computer science class,” Nickerson said. “So, I think a flag is a good idea.”

While a computer science flag may be seen as unnecessary, the prevalence of technology in the world is only increasing. To best prepare students for their future and give them the upper hand in the workforce, the University must adopt a computer science requirement. 

As they say, what starts here changes the world, but for that to be true, the University must prepare its students for that changing world.

Purchatzke is a biochemistry freshman from Boerne, Texas.