4 answers

I want to major in computer science. What classes should I take?

Asked Las Vegas, Nevada

I want to do something like cyber security or write code for companys. #computer-science #programming #computer-engineering #computer-software

4 answers

Eric’s Answer

Updated Cambridge, Massachusetts

Hi!


I'm going to guess from your question that you are in high school. If you aren't, I apologize, this first part will be redundant.


So, while in high school, take math. Calculus if you can, but if not it's not too big a problem. English, in particular the writing portions, will serve you well later, when you need to write documentation to explain what your code does or is going to do. If you are able to take an AP Computer Science class, whether in person or online, then it will likely be helpful. Even if the class itself isn't too good, the more exposure you get to programming the better. This also means that after school activities that include programming, or your own self-driven work both are great, if you have the time and resources.


In college, there will likely be suggested classes for a Computer Science student. Start building your plans around those recommendations, for sure. But in general, you will want to start with an Introduction to Programming, and then move on to classes that teach particular programming concepts, and classes that teach specialized areas of programming, according to your interests.


Some concepts to look for are: Object Oriented programming, functional programming, Algorithms, Data Structures, distributed programming, Software Engineering, human-computer interactions (HCI), and ethics in computers


Some specializations to try out, depending on which interest you, are: Graphics, assembly code, systems programming, embedded programming, cryptography, machine learning, operating systems, Web programming, mobile programming, and game programming


If you can, round yourself out with some writing courses, following up on the advice about English classes above, and math. Any humanities that interest you will likely broaden your horizons and end up being useful in unexpected ways as you program more, too.


Good luck! There are a lot of possible paths, so find the one that works for you.

Ken’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

Computer Science is a very broad area with many different applications with each having its own set of course requirements. The important thing for you to do is to determine which one of the applications is best suited to match with your personality traits and then talk to people who are doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can see what they do, how they got there, and what suggestions and advice that they might have for you.


Getting to know yourself and how your personality traits relate to people involved in various career opportunities is very important in your decision making process. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I ran across too many students who had skipped this very important step and ended up in a job situation which for which they were not well suited. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. First you have to be properly fitted for the correct size, and then you need to try on and walk in the various shoe options to determine which is fits the best and is most comfortable for you to wear. Following are some important steps which I developed during my career which have been helpful to many .


Ken recommends the following next steps:

  • The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
  • Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
  • Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. You can locate them by asking your school academic advisor, favorite teachers, and the reference librarian at your local library. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
  • It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##

Eden’s Answer

Updated Seattle, Washington

Hi Gerardo,


  • I would say it depends on the school that you want to go to. My friends and I are all Senior Computer Science students here at University of Washington, but we all take different classes. Our school has three branches in noth, south and central Seattle. All three campuses have different curriculums for computer Science students. My friends who are going to North Campus took the whole calculus series in college before transfering to a four year college, and it turns out that their school doesn't need those credits. I on the other side was asked to complete more math classes than the calculus series and additional physics classes. So to say the least, it will vary from school to school.

Here are some of the things that I think you should do before taking any classes;


  • Choose where you want to get your degree from irrespective of it being a College or University.
  • Make an appointment with the academic advisors at that specific College/University.
  • Tell them that you want to major in Computer Science.
  • Ask them to give you the course list that you must take prior college inorder to get accepted to the major.
  • Tell them the classes that are offered at your school and ask which one of those classes will transfer. This will save you much time because you wont be wasting your time taking classes that will not count as University course credit.
  • It's always cheaper to take classes at a college than a University, so look at classes available at your college. That way you can take them at your college to minimize cost.
  • Last but not least, have your self mentally, physically, and emotionally ready for work loads that you are going to encounter in your college journey.


I wish you all the best Gerado !! I hope you will find it helpful.


Bonnie’s Answer

Updated San Diego, California

Udacity offers an online course called Introduction to Programming Nanodegree. This course promises once completed you will know which direction you want to go: Front end, back end web development, data analytics, Security etc.

Bonnie recommends the following next steps:

  • Visit www.udacity.com
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