Why Should all High Schoolers Learn How to Code?

Veena Mistry April 23, 2023 • 3 min read

Future-proof your career even if you don't intend to pursue a career in computer science.

Most high schoolers pursue coding outside the school curriculum, typically at a hobby level. Some have tried coding as early as middle school and either loved or hated it. While coding (or programming) is slowly finding its way into mainstream high school course catalogs, these classes stay more or less optional.

You can graduate high school without ever having to write a single line of code. While this may not seem like a big deal, especially if you are not pursuing any shade of computer science as a major, it can be a challenge.

What if you are striving to pursue a career in Chemistry, Medicine, or Psychology. Why, then, should you learn to code? Not just that, you tried coding once, and "you didn't enjoy it that much." So why should you give it a second chance?

Computer programming is like arithmetic

Computer programming is becoming more and more like arithmetic. While you have calculators to give you answers, you still need to learn arithmetic at a basic level no matter what your major (and, in the future - career) is. Coding is a new form of literacy - it permeates all professions.

Let's take a few examples of majors where knowledge of programming was traditionally not considered vital:

Hopefully, you can see a pattern — computers are everywhere, and learning to code has become a foundational skill. More so as the world heavily relies on computers processing vast amounts of data.

You build valuable problem-solving skills

Whether you want to build an airplane, send a rocket to space, or even host a cultural event, all of these have many steps to achieve a successful outcome. The common themes here are critical thinking, problem-solving, logical deduction, and teamwork. These skills are all foundational when it comes to programming.

If at any time you find yourself wondering how you will tackle a complex problem, use your programming concept (in parenthesis) to do the following:

  • Break the problem down into smaller problems (functions)
  • Compartmentalize each activity for them to run independently (libraries)
  • For each activity, create a sequence of steps to complete the activity (program)
  • Leverage or outsource well-defined tasks (delegation)
  • Collaborate with others for a faster outcome (modularization)
In essence, it brings out your creativity to tackle complex problems. Talk to a software developer, and they will break down complex problems into byte-size and systematic smaller tasks and activities. Every area in life can use this skill set.

Future-proof your career

While many careers are growing slowly or even shirking, computer science is a rapidly growing field. Even if you don't intend to pursue a career in computer science, knowing basic programming can remove the fear of diving in, whether within your career or switching to computer science. This dramatically expands the opportunities you can pursue, and you can adapt more easily as your career morphs with changing times over the decades.

You get a significant adrenaline rush

Not only is the quiet of working on a computer program therapeutic but the major adrenaline rush when you complete a program is like no other. While it can take years to yield a successful outcome in most STEM careers - e.g., a breakthrough in cancer research - programming is one area where you break down the problem into smaller problems and get a feeling of tremendous accomplishment every time you complete one program successfully.

So why learn how to code in high school?

While it is never too early or late to learn how to code, high school is a time to dive into this area. It sets you up for college courses that otherwise you would be fearful of – courses that require basic programming knowledge. It can also save you the frustration and embarrassment of learning this skill in later years.

In conclusion, pick up those Python books or join a Data Science course and get started.