Why You Shouldn’t Take that “Intro to CS” Course

Our scene opens on a charming coffee shop on the edge of the Boston commons.  It’s a crisp autumn day and I’m grabbing a midday pick-me-up with an aspiring entrepreneur friend, who has just informed me that she (or he) has enrolled in an intro to computer science course.

“Cool!” I’ll exclaim.  Then, with a raised brow, I’ll often inquire, “What are you hoping to get out of it?”

Invariably, my friend will patch together a response involving some combination of the following two reasons:

  1. I want to learn more about technology.
  2. I want to better manage or collaborate with engineers.

…I usually respond with a dejected sigh.  This is a scenario that I’ve experienced more times than I can count, and each time I’m two parts excited by my friend’s initiative and by the prospect of future CS-related banter, but one part concerned that my friend might not get what he (or she) wants out of the class.

The fact is, neither of the above responses are great reasons to enroll in an introductory computer science course (hereafter, “CS intro”), and here’s why…

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