Computer Science Offers Students Advantages

It’s rare these days to walk into the library or tutorial center and not see students huddled around computers, furiously typing away at essays or watching YouTube videos. Our generation is the first to grow up alongside this exponential growth of technology and to experience its influence. It has been estimated that teenagers spend between two and four hours a day in front of the computer screen. Technology has become pervasive in everyone’s lives. For this reason, learning how computers work, and even more importantly how to make a computer work to one’s advantage, is important for our whole generation. This school year, an AP Computer Science course was added, and is available to all students who have completed Geometry and Algebra II. Despite the heavy workload for elective credit, this class has become extremely popular. The administration should encourage students to take the class because of its increasing “real world” applications, especially given the growing trend towards using technology in all types of jobs.

Some students, like junior Ryan Elson, believe that taking the course is important for their future in the work world.

“We are in Silicon Valley and this is the only [advanced] class that we have for learning about computers, which is very important,” Ryan said. “A lot of the information and gaming and new types of computers and all the processors involve programming … That is where a lot of jobs are located.”

AP Computer Science teacher Michael Richardson has said that the course focuses on learning to develop computer programs in order to solve given computer problems. Through these ideas students are able to touch on additional concepts involved in programing including the creation and use of data structures, analysis of algorithms and the study of standard applications and methods.
Richardson said that the course was created after students showed the administration significant interest in having a computer science -related class. Like many other courses at Los Altos, it was students who advocated for this opportunity. This was coupled with a greater interest from the community for students to get involved in Science, Technology Engineering, and Math (STEM) courses.

“Every time Google came to visit, they were unhappy we don’t have a computer science class,” Richardson said. “There have definitely been external pressures and pressure from the community to offer something.”

It’s no surprise that many students from this area go to college to study within the technology field. Especially for those who have grown up in Silicon Valley, students are surrounded by a community of people who are extremely passionate about technology. This vibe rubs off on students, allowing them to see the importance of in-depth computer skills in their real world surroundings. And, even beyond the effect of the Silicon Valley atmosphere, students also take the class because they are genuinely intrigued by the material.

“I signed up for the class because I’ve always been interested in computers and the programming behind a computer’s output,” junior Elena Beaulieu said.

Ryan said that he took the course because he was genuinely intrigued by its content. In the future, the school should add more sections of AP Computer Science classes and strongly recommend all students to enroll in them. For any profession in the workforce knowing the ins and outs of how a computer works is a far more valuable skill than simply understanding computers on a more superficial level, such as being able to type in a Microsoft Word document or create an Excel spreadsheet.

“It’s more of a kid’s choice [than an administrator’s],” Ryan said. “But I think it should be advised by people that they should take it, because it’s important to know.”

Of course, knowing how a computer works is not strictly required in the workforce. Computers aren’t the answer to everything at the moment, but even that concept is changing. The question isn’t where we are, but rather where we are going. Ten years from now the world’s workforce will likely rely even more on the use of technology. It is absolutely crucial that our generation is prepared and qualified to hold a job in this tech-savvy future, making AP Computer Science a must.