Sophomore Bruna Ricciardi had just switched majors to computer science when the department officially transitioned to admissions in the spring of 2022.
“It was kind of a bit of a tease a few years ago.” rice field.
This semester marks the first standard admissions cycle for the department when applications open on February 15th. It’s hard to say how competitive it will be, said Chris Jordan, a professor in his computer science department and now director of its admissions program.
“At the end of the day, I think there are 300 seats that we can support and concede,” he said. “And whatever the denominator is, that’s the numerator.”
How we got here
Undergraduate computer science student numbers quickly outstripped teaching capacity as the demand for the major subject increased exponentially over the past decade. By spring 2022, he had over 1800 declared computer science majors at the UNC, compared to about 250 in 2012.
“Even the most aggressive recruiting efforts cannot keep up with the pace of interest in computer science,” said Ketan Mayer-Patel, dean of the department. “It is impossible.”
In 2018, an external review of the department pointed out registration issues and recommended that the admission process be carried out. Faculty professor Kevin Jeffey, who served as chair until last fall, said the faculty tried to avoid it.
But when the two professors who held 25% of the senior class seats in the department retired in 2021, the move became inevitable.
“We basically held on as long as humanly possible,” Jeffey said. “What the department always wanted was for it to grow. And for various reasons, it never did.”
When the department tried to announce the move to spring 2021 enrollment, students panicked, Mayer-Patel said. The liberal arts department was forced to suspend its plans, delaying the change by another year.
“Frankly, if we had the ability to implement it like we did last year, we would be in a much better place and we wouldn’t be behind anyone,” Jordan said. Same plan, same results, but it was a year behind, and during that year there was a good backup of students waiting to get into the next course they needed.”
According to Jordan, if growth had continued without the admissions process, most of the students would have delayed taking introductory computer science classes until they were unable to complete their degrees.
For example, predictions predict that next year’s freshmen won’t be able to take COMP 210 until the fall of junior year at the earliest. Still, only a fraction of the interested students were able to get into classes that semester, and all others would not have been able to complete the major in her four years.
The first two rounds of admissions, in spring and fall 2022, were somewhat formal.
Meyer-Patel said the Spring 2022 cycle was aimed at up-and-coming juniors to help them complete the majors on time. The 2022 fall cycle was primarily for his sophomore year, where he was enrolled in COMP 210, the first class of majors.
Mayer-Patel said the department accepted all students with “minimum qualifications” during these admission cycles. This primarily means that she has the ability to earn her C or above in prerequisite courses like COMP 110 and complete her degree on time.
However, students applying for that first semester in Spring 2022 were not necessarily aware of this.
Junior Jonathan Weaver switched to computer science just before the official announcement about admissions. He said he spent a lot of time registering for that semester because he had limited time left to complete his new major.
“My immediate thought was, ‘What am I going to do if I don’t get in?'” he said.
In Spring 2022, the department finally accepted all 72 up-and-coming juniors for their degrees. The following semester, she enrolled all 308 of her sophomores who met the minimum admission standards.
“The fact that it’s an admissions process—the possibility of not being admitted—gives people the perception that they want to stay away,” Jordan said. I consider myself an admissions maximalist.Since I came here, our goal has been to offer as many CS majors as we believe we can graduate in four years.”
Admission process in progress
Jonathan Nwokeji, a first-year student who plans to apply to his major this semester, said he was unaware that UNC had moved to enroll in computer science when he paid the deposit. But he said he wouldn’t have changed his mind about coming to college.
“There are some other schools I was applying to where I had to apply for computer science,” he said. “So other colleges I was thinking of had that problem.”
Among comparable colleges nationwide, UNC was one of the only colleges that did not process computer science admissions either through admission to the college itself or admission to a specific program, Jeffay said. increase.
Jordan said UNC’s application process is as holistic as admission to UNC. He also stressed that he doesn’t need any programming experience.
“Coming from rural North Carolina, my high school didn’t have a programming class when I got to UNC,” he said. “Sadly, that’s still the case with many of the high schools our students go to, so we had a strong desire to give way to everyone in Carolina who showed the potential to succeed.”
Ricciardi, who switched to the department just before moving on to admissions, said the application process was disorganized and chaotic, but ultimately beneficial to the department’s future.
“Unfortunately, I think it was something the comp department had to do,” she said. “The quality of education was inevitably declining. And as a future programmer, I don’t want to go out into the world of work.
Applications for the program will open on February 15th.
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