Title: request of a new curriculum

Students without any pre-college programming experience are more likely to struggle with their future college programming classes, and high school can solve this program by requiring students to take the class in high school.

Audience: My high school principal Mr. Leigh

Name: Ruoxi Wang

Date: June 5th, 2015

Word count: 1050 words

Dear Mr. Leigh,

I am Ruoxi Wang, and I graduated from Nanjing Foreign Language School A-level Center in 2013. Over the past few years, our A-level center achieved great success. Prestigious institutions all over the world admitted many graduates from our high school. However, once they got access to computer programming class in college, they started to struggle with it as they did not have too much experience in it before. Thus, I am writing this letter to try to raise the awareness that computer programming class is vital for our high school students as it can help students to develop the skills that benefit their future education and career.

Even though we have a computer class in high school, few students take that class seriously. First of all, some students do not have any passion for computer science as they have no background knowledge about it. They believe if they try very hard to learn programming, they will not be as good as who is naturally good at it and has passion for it. In other words, without deeply understanding how programming works, they are afraid to take the risks and challenge themselves. Furthermore, the course we have is an elective. When a course is an elective, it will not receive the same attention and resources that core courses do. In the last two years in high school, everyone’s attention is centered on the A-level examination and SAT preparation. Majority of students believe that spending time on standardized tests is much more worthwhile than taking computer class. In addition, some might think computer science is not a fundamental part of their future education and career path, so they do not need to take the class until they are required to do so. For instance, some of my classmates, who major in Business or Economics, had never thought of the importance of programming for their college study before. They told me that only accounting, business studies and management are extremely crucial for them. However, in reality ,it is not a true story. Data collection and data analysis are the key ingredients of Economics studies. Without any programming knowledge, they are unable to make a marketing decision because they fail to handle and analyze the data. In the future, when they are applying for the same position with others, they do not have the same competence as the person who masters the programming skill.

Furthermore, the computer course in high school is an introductory course. In the past, the instructor only showed us how to do a web design and how to use Microsoft as well as PowerPoint. This is not enough for our college requirement and even for today’s job requirement. For instance, this quarter, I am taking ECM6, which is an introductory programming course for chemical engineers. Even though it is an elementary course, it still intimidated most people, including me, at the beginning. Without any prior experience, I had spent much more time than others working on my homework and projects by reading outside resources and watching extra tutorials to help me clarify the meaning of each command my teacher had typed on the screen. Additionally, compared to people who could complete a task within one hour, as a programming beginner, I had to spend a few more hours on the same simple task. Although I have already surmounted these obstacles, looking back on this quarter, it was truly a tough time for me. If I could have learned programming ahead of entering college, I would perform much better on my ECM6 class. So it is quite necessary for our high school students to learning coding as early as possible. The earlier they prepare, the better they are in college programming classes and the more successful they are likely to be in the future as they are armed with the skills that no one can take away.

Therefore, I am proposing that the high school curriculum should be modified to implement a clearly defined computer science curriculum. If it is possible, the current computer course should integrate some elementary college programming, which helps students better prepare for their future education. Additionally, this class should be counted toward our high school graduation requirements. Therefore, students will be pushed to learn programming and take the course seriously.

Because we live in an era where modern technology dominates all else, computer science class should be mandatory in high school. Therefore, we have to master some basic technological skills to compete with others in the future job market. The earlier we prepare, the more successful we are in the future. Without any pre-college programming experience, students might feel stress when taking their first college computer science class, just as like me. Additionally, the stress is likely to cause students to become less confident about their majors although they might do well in other science classes. The less confidence they have, the more likely they are to become anxious with their college life.

There is an another reason why our high school should introduce programming class early. In high school, students have no background about any subject, such as chemistry, physics, biology and other natural science. In other words, students are starting their subject learning as blank slates. Teachers are more likely to teach students starting from very basic stuff. Take programming as an example, teachers might start off the class with the basic terms and ask them to work on a very simple coding in order to help students deeply understand the logic behind each command. Without doubt, such an introductory programming course will aid students to build a concrete foundation for their future college study. Therefore, the students are less likely to struggle in college, and they might gradually have passion for programming.

The twenty-first century is run by software and computers. That is the reason computer science is a fundamental part of our education and career regardless of what we will do in the future. To help students better prepare for the future, Nanjing Foreign Language School can modify the current curriculum and set the new computer science class as a required course. Otherwise, without any pre-college programming experience, students are more likely to struggle with college programming study later on. Hopefully, my suggestion can help with this problem in the coming years.


Ruoxi Wang

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