The difficulty of a course is generally an opinion-based question. However, the general opinion on the matter appears to be that it is a difficult course for a variety of reasons. Many of these reasons stem from the nature of the field itself. On average, the dropout rate for computer science majors is 9.8% according to a UK-based study back in 2016 – 2017.
Nevertheless, computer science is a very popular field. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports US institutions awarded somewhere around 88,633 bachelor’s degrees in 2018 – 2019. These large numbers can be a contributing factor to the perceived difficulty of the course.
It can not be said, however, that the difficulty is entirely perception. There are very clear reasons that can explain why this field is often viewed as so difficult. These reasons boil down to the following:
- Learning curve
- Constructive nature
- Time investment
One of the most prevalent reasons for the difficulty of this field, stems from the steep initial learning curve. There are multiple aspects of the course that contribute to this curve.Computer science, to little surprise, requires the study of programming languages.
Learning how to code and read these can be very difficult. It is especially true for individuals who may struggle with logic and analytical based thinking.
CSU Global and Lindenwood University, both claim that programming is a very intellectual skill that can take four to five courses for someone who is learning it for the first time to master. Many students and applicants tend to drop out during this initial period of difficulty because of how intimidating the material can appear in the beginning.
All of this is without mentioning that, often, computer science majors will be exposed to multiple programming languages. Coursera claims that learning the programming language Python can require anywhere between two to six months on average– to master the language usually takes years.
Outside of programming, computer science courses also heavily feature advanced mathematics. Much like programming, advanced mathematics can also have a steep learning curve for the uninitiated.
Two of the big components of computer science, mathematics and programming, also have another thing in common. This is the fact that both of these disciplines are constructive in nature.
When a subject is labeled as constructive, it means that the concepts and lessons build upon themselves and utilize each other as the topics get more and more complex. This brings with it a caveat that some students fail to realize. That is that falling to understand previous concepts can lead to more and more problems down the road.
These two subjects require a strong foundation of the fundamentals and the basics. From this foundation it then builds more and more topics that rely on an understanding mastery of the topics preceding them.
The issue arises when students fail to understand or skip concepts. This creates a domino effect that can be difficult to tackle and overcome as it becomes more daunting.
The last hurdle comes as an effect of the previous two. Computer science requires very good time management in order to study well. Many of the lessons need their own time to be studied outside the constraints of class time.
The organizations and platforms mentioned earlier all recommend investing several hours a week in maintaining a good grasp of your studies. Lindenwood recommends 10 – 20 hours per week of practice and study, and CSU Global recommends the same with the additional 2 hours of work per credit hour to study your subjects.
Being able to manage this time to fulfill requirements, understand and learn concepts, as well as to have extra time for leisure and one’s mental health and well-being is undoubtedly a large hurdle that contributes to the difficulty of computer science courses.
To get a tighter grasp on the courseload and other expectations prospective computer science students or even a free computer science degree online, read through our blogs at Go Degree today.