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My Advice To New Computer Science Students Starting College/University

naim profile image Naim Ahmed ・4 min read

These are some of my tips on which I think would help incoming Computer science students who are about to start or may have just started their Computer Science degree. As a recent graduate these will be based on my opinion and some of the tips and advice I wish I had got before starting my degree. Now, let's begin.

Be Curious

I feel like curiosity breeds good Computer Science students who go onto be great developers. A field as broad as CS is constantly changing. New technologies, new frameworks are coming out nearly every week. You need to be constantly updating and improving on your skills to match the needs of the industries to put yourself in the best position. Try to learn about developments in different areas and keep up to date with recent events in technology as a whole.

Ask For Help

This is a big one. You may be coming from a background nothing to do with Computer Science or may only have a bit of knowledge. There may be students in your class that are picking up things quicker than you and you find yourself in a slump and may even tell yourself you're useless at it because you can't pick it up as quickly as others. This is normal and you'll find many people who had no prior experience in CS suddenly seem like experts. You will make mistakes and that is the point. We all learn at a different pace. It is okay not being able to understand something. What you do need to be doing is asking your lecturer or even classmates questions and getting help. Maybe have them go over it or explain to you a concept you are not understanding. What you must not do is simply get the code from them as you are not learning anything that way. Continue asking a lot of questions and do not be afraid to even ask simple questions even if they may sound stupid to you. It is completely fine and you'll even find people in the same boat as you.

Implement What You Learn

In a CS degree, you will come across many different concepts, some may just be an introduction others you may use throughout your whole degree. What I found is if you are taught something then try to find ways of implementing what you have been taught. It may be a simple program that only requires a few lines of code. You may have an introductory unit on web development that introduces you basic HTML, CSS and Javascript. You can then take that an expand on it. Maybe you want to build your own website. Take what you have learned and try to build your own site. Learn about how you can host it, what front end is, what backend is? This way you will continue to expand on your skill sets then you can hone in on a specific area later on.

Do Projects!

It is great to be able to have your own projects. This is really important to future employers as well as they'll want to see what you do outside of your degree. They want to see someone who is actually passionate about what they are learning about and not just simply doing a degree. Your projects are your portfolios which you showcase to employers. It's something you can use to showcase your skills. Build a variety of different programs and applications. Examples could include, a portfolio website, an Android application, iOS application, Chrome/Firefox extension and Alexa application. There are many other ideas you can make but it is really good to have a variety to your projects to really be able to show off what skills you have. You may not necessarily even finish building your project but as long as you have some sort of prototype or code to explain and showcase that will be great for you.

Go To Hackathons

This is something which I regret not doing enough. Hackathons are a big part of Computer Science. It's a great way to introduce yourself to new technologies and build things quickly. It is also a great way of making friends, working with a group, building your soft skills like communication. It allows you to come up with cool ideas and see what other people are building that can also inspire you to work on your own projects. It's a really fun environment that isn't just about coding for 24 hours but actually playing games and just generally having fun with other people.

Embrace The Culture

This is a degree where you will meet people of different skin colours, genders, beliefs and this is a place which is accepting of everyone. More and more women and POC are entering this degree and be welcoming of everyone coming into this degree. Make friends with people who are different from you, they may have a different nationality to you or a different belief and you need to be respectful of them. When people of different backgrounds all come together with different minds this enables everyone to think of different ways to approach problems and you will get to see what people are passionate about and you may also become interested.

To Conclude

Enjoy these 3 or 4 years. Make the most of them. University is what you make of it. This is a great time to be going into Computer Science and the industry is looking for brilliant minds from all different backgrounds to help solve today's problems. Build, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and continue on building. These were just some of the things that I would say to myself if I was doing my degree all over again. These are just my opinions and you may want to add something and by all means please do give any advice you may have.

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