Why Computer Science Should Be a High School Graduation Requirement
Computing is an integral part of every aspect of our lives, from how we connect with each other to the way we do our jobs and get around. Computing is the number one source of all new wages in the U.S. economy and there are currently 500,000 open computing jobs across the country.
Yet, according to a Code.org report, only 15 states require all high schools to offer computer science. Many parents, educators, and education institutions are calling for computer science to be a high school graduation requirement. As one commentator pointed out: Schools teach math to students regardless of whether they want to become mathematicians because it is foundational. The same is true of computer science. There are a number of benefits to taking computer science in high school.
- Develop analytical thinking skills
Computing requires logic, algorithmic thinking and practices problem-solving skills, all of which develop analytical thinking, a skill that is useful in life and any career. Analytical skills are in high demand in the job market by many industries. Once a student has developed analytical thinking skills, these skills can be applied to investigate and solve complex issues in any field.
- Increased earning potential
Being a growth industry, a qualification in computer science offers higher earning potential. Certified coders earn 20 – 40 % more than the median salaries in other professions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for computer and information research scientists was $118,370 in May 2018.
- Increased job opportunities
Because of the rise of technology, the demand for technical professionals is increasing. Software developers are needed to respond to an increased demand for computer software. In fact, the role of a software developer is the reigning “best job” in the U.S. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of software developers is projected to grow 24 % from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
- Diverse options
Computing is integral to all jobs today. Computing is not just about sitting in front of a PC writing code. A computer science background can lead to a range of career options, including programming, database management, cybersecurity and more. Computing skills can be applied in a truly diverse range of fields, anything a student is interested in, from nanotechnology to robotics.
- A chance to change the world
With knowledge of computer coding, students put themselves in a position to change the world. Think about Mark Zuckerberg who started his road to fame as a sophomore at Harvard, working quietly away on a program called “Facemash”. Look where he and Facebook are today. Think about Uber. Uber is just a software tool. No car ownership is involved, yet Uber has become the biggest taxi company in the world.
- Close the diversity gap
Underrepresented groups in computer science degrees and jobs include women, Blacks, and Hispanics. If computer science becomes a high school graduation requirement, more teens will be exposed to the discipline, including girls who often don’t opt to take computer classes. This might lead to a more diverse group of people going on to study computer science and closing the diversity gap in the workplace.
With new technologies emerging constantly, the future of computer science holds a lot of promise. The subject is key to solving many of the world’s most pressing problems. Training in computer science can give an individual the power to contribute to solutions and help shape the future.