IVCC Computer Science Program program: Is it in jeopardy?


Kyle Russell

Students James Berry-Smith (left), Luke Lowers, and Anthony Mikelson look over software in a computer class, taught by Gina Elias.

Due to a drop in enrollment, IVCC will be deciding on whether or not to offer certain courses within the computer sciences field in the coming 2015 fall semester.

Deborah Anderson, vice president for academic affairs, said, “We reviewed enrollment patterns carefully in order to determine if our offerings were sustainable.” After this review it was clear that the school was not seeing nearly as many enrollments into the computer sciences field courses as anticipated.

A key factor for enrollment being down is due to employers, such as State Farm Insurance, who are willing to train workers to gain the essential skills one would receive from a bachelor’s degree. Typically, companies only require an associate’s degree to be presented with this opportunity. Because of the willingness to teach these skills in house, employees outside of the field are learning to do their own programming and analysis for their specific jobs.

Gina Elias, a professor in the field at IVCC, said that not only is IVCC seeing a lack of enrollment, but consequently so are four year universities in surrounding areas. “They’re all seeing a huge drop in transfer computer science,” she said. “They used to have to turn people away and close off enrollment and that’s just not happening anymore.”

This large decrease in student enrollment has resulted in the anticipation to cut the amount of classes being offered for those going into the field. As for the future of students interested in this major and already working on obtaining a degree, Anderson said, “The courses in this program area will continue to be offered, and students will be able to continue their studies.”

If IVCC does run into more cuts, another option for students would be the less popular independent study; however, there is no guarantee that all students will be privileged with this convenience.

The college is looking into offering programs that will spark new interests. A newer idea that came up was the idea of cyber security programming as well as an app developing programming class due to changes in general public interest regarding technology. Elias said that colleges such as Heartland and Joliet Junior College have seen success after adding these new programs to the curriculum.

Elias also attends junior highs and high schools in the district to introduce game programming basics in order to inspire students. She also tries to relate the classes they are currently enrolled in, such as math and science, to the programming field to motivate the continuance of these studies, in order to build the necessary foundation for game programming.
At this time, IVCC only offers a transfer program for computer sciences. However, due to prior reasoning this program is in jeopardy.

With an ever-changing society, IVCC hopes to develop an associate’s degree curriculum to strengthen the potential for a bright future of this program.