More freshmen than ever are choosing Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) as their first-choice major, according to a UW press release.
The number of incoming freshmen choosing CSE as their intended major increased by approximately 900 people this year, with 3,679 applicants total. Of those applicants, 2,264 were admitted to the UW for the 2015-16 academic year, making CSE the second-most popular major at UW behind business.
The UW set records this year by receiving 36,528 applicants, a 16% increase from last year. The number of applicants from California grew 30%, while in-state applicants rose 12%.
The UW also saw an increase in international student applicants. Applications from India increased 63%, the United Arab Emirates by 54%, Saudi Arabia by 48%, and Singapore by 46%.
Currently, fewer than one in three students who apply to the major can be accommodated, according to Ed Lazowska, the Bill and Melinda Gates chair in CSE. Last year, a total of 5,000 students enrolled in the two introductory courses for the major, CSE 142 and 143.
“That’s a ridiculous number,” he said. “We’re growing the undergraduate program as fast as we can get money to do it, but obviously that takes state funding and student tuition.”
Microsoft recently donated $10 million to the CSE department, but Lazowska said CSE needs 10 times that for a new building, which is necessary to accommodate the growing population.
Crystal Eney, CSE’s undergraduate program advisor, said it’s best if students have a back-up plan when applying to the major.
While applications to the CSE major are at an all-time high, many students don’t realize their interest in the subject until much later. For example, 58 percent of women who are CSE majors didn’t intend to enter the program upon enrolling at the UW. This means freshman intent underestimates the actual demand the CSE program should expect.
“I definitely didn’t have experience beforehand,” senior CSE major Stephanie Shi said. “I was very against [CSE] … but it turned out to be the complete opposite of what I expected.”
Lazowska said students in computer science often don’t discover their interest in it until they begin college.
“College is a time to discover what your real passion is, versus what your mom and dad told you to major in,” Lazowska said.