Best Advice for Incoming Computer Science Majors

If you are considering a major in computer science, there’s no need to click here. You are probably well aware that the discipline consists of a rigorous study of computer systems and software, including how these systems function alongside humanity. Consequently, much of the coursework concerns programming and software design.

This is an extremely fascinating and innovative field, and it’s also the college major that could potentially yield the highest financial returns when compared with any other major. But don’t take my word for it: Glassdoor lists the median base salary for Computer Science majors (five years out of college) at $70,000 annually. If that doesn’t convince you, or maybe you don’t need convincing, read on–here’s the best advice for incoming computer science majors.

Enroll to Learn

This tip should be a given, but you would be surprised how many people ignore it. Make sure you are taking classes that are teaching you something rather than their level of difficulty. If you are confronted with the choice between a difficult course and an easy A, you should absolutely go with the former. Ideally, you should be gaining new knowledge of the field with every lesson rather than worrying solely about your grade, anything less is a disservice to both yourself and the discipline.

Connect the Dots

In computer science, everything is connected. You should have no problem synthesizing information from one class to another, as the concepts will all interconnect. You will want to pay attention to this, as it may help you stay alert at the outset, rather than forming connections and bridging gaps after you have already received a grade. As you get in the habit of connecting information from one class to another, your knowledge will grow, the “big picture” will form, and your studies will become easier.

Theory and Practice

No matter the discipline, no matter whether you’re attending Florida State University or Washington State, there is a constant antagonism between theory and practice. This tension is explicitly noticeable in computer science. However, just because the two learning styles seem divergent and occasionally take swipes at one another is no reason to avoid one or the other. In fact, both are extremely necessary to both a well-rounded computer science education and contributing something interesting to the field further down the line in your career.

Focus on Your Computer Science Courses

If your goal is to work in the industry, keep that in perspective. It doesn’t matter if you do not have straight A’s and your GPA is a little lower than it actually should be. Focusing all of your effort on your computer science studies should be your primary concern, as it will benefit your work in the industry much more than your English 220 class.

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