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Many first-year students enter college with an idea of what interests them, but often experience hesitation when deciding on a major. For those interested in a computer-based specialty, but aren’t sure what discipline to pursue, Quinnipiac University, located in Hamden, CT, recently launched a new program to guide students in finding the right career path for them. 

Program Origin

Developed in spring 2021 and newly-launched this fall, the Exploring Computing program was formed to help students navigate the various computing disciplines at Quinnipiac University. Special advisors assist first-year students in finding a specific computer-based discipline that matches their long-term interests and goals.

The Exploring Computing program includes courses in Computer Science/Software Engineering, Game Design and Development, Computer Information Systems, and Data Science.

“Many first-year students want to explore careers in computing but don’t understand the (sometimes nuanced) differences between these programs,” Professor Blake said. “It is not uncommon for students to come in thinking they want one program but find themselves changing their major to a different program under this umbrella.”

According to Blake, students who are unsure of the computing field they want to pursue sometimes arrive as general undeclared students, which does not provide them with enough focused support to help them decide on a discipline. 

“Rather than developing a new ‘undeclared’ category, we have developed a first-year program designed to expose students to the various majors available under the computing umbrella in a way that will help them to figure out what they want to select as their major,” Blake said. “We are excited to offer the Exploring Computing program at Quinnipiac University. We feel that it is unique and will provide students unsure of their ultimate career choice under the computing umbrella a path towards a more informed and timely decision.”

The program’s curriculum includes standard first-year courses in English, mathematics, and First Year Seminar and is rounded out with existing introductory courses in the participating disciplines. A seminar, which discusses different computing careers, is one of the courses planned for the program.

Participating in the Program

Any student can sign up to participate in the Exploring Computing program. Although the coursework is concentrated in the four participating disciplines—Computer Science/Software Engineering, Game Design and Development, Computer Information Systems, and Data Science—all students are welcome to join the curriculum to learn more about computing degrees and careers.

“Our hope is to provide a pathway to computing degrees/careers for students generally interested in them, but who might not have the information/tools to make informed decisions as they enter college,” Blake said. “It is not uncommon for students to change majors in the computing space after taking introductory courses in one of the disciplines, and we expect this new program will reduce this.”

According to Blake, the program’s main goal is for students to develop an understanding of the various computing-related programs offered at Quinnipiac University and how they lead to a wide variety of jobs in the marketplace. 

“Understanding the wealth of opportunities available to them as they consider their long-term goals will help them to find the best program to major in,” Blake said. “Because students in this program take introductory courses in several computing majors, they will have a better understanding of the computing space, be better candidates for employment in their preferred area, and will possibly discover new interests that could lead to additional areas of study. This could include adding a minor, or even a second major.”

Students who join the program will be provided with a dedicated academic advisor who will help them sign up for courses during their first year to help them decide on the most appropriate major and career path.

A Positive Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computing jobs such as computer scientists, system analysts, data scientists, and software engineers, are consistently included among the top jobs for open positions, growth, satisfaction, and median salary. 

“This data is broken out by specific careers in the computing space, and our Exploring Computing program will help students understand these careers, so they can make informed choices about their degree options,” Blake said. 

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To learn more about undergraduate and graduate degrees offered by Quinnipiac, visit their website.

About the Professor

Professor Jonathan Blake has a PhD in Computer Science from Northwestern University. He is a Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering in the School of Engineering at Quinnipiac University and serves as the Program Director for the BA in Computer Science and the BS in Software Engineering.