8 answers

If I don't know as much as my high school peers about tech, will I be behind in college?

Asked East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

The high school I currently attend doesn't have tech classes that delve into the topics of cyber security (or what cyber even is, for that matter), computer programming, or the basic fundamentals of how computers are built. Over the summer, I was chosen as a participant for the GenCyber Program at Norwich University, where I learned things that fellow participants knew but I was hearing of for the first time.. does this mean I'm behind? #computer-science #computer-programming #computer-security #cyber

8 answers

Michael’s Answer

Updated Reston, Virginia

In my experience I'd say no because first year college courses mostly assume you know very little to start out. That said one recommendation i have that will help you is encourage you become familiar now with linux and dabble in scripting or programming language before school starts. One programming skill that is good to have in Cyber is Python but choose the language you like and practice to keep yourself progressing. To start I'd recommend you choose a Linux flavor to become familiar like Ubuntu or CentOS or Mint and use this more then your windows pc. Best advise is relax and enjoy the learning opportunities at college and look for a good internship.

Leon’s Answer

Updated Fort Worth, Texas


I know East Stroudsburg PA very well. My son graduated from East Stroudsburg and played soccer for the school. I drove to see his games around PA. I even have an East Stroudsburg hat. I looked at the school's website and there are a number of Computer Science degrees . Since this is a state school and you are a state resident the cost will be lower than other schools.

These are the courses available for Computer Security degree.


Now to answer you question about being behind.

I am now retired after 40 + years working in the IT industry. I received a 4 year college degree and continued to learn about computer science until I retired. Actually, I have Linux desktops setup in my office and I am still learning more about computers. The Internet has more information than you could possible digest. You can learn a computer language for free, etc. I would start with Python a language widely used in industry and easy to learn.

To learn more about computers hands-on, you could buy an inexpensive reconditioned desktop computer for under $100, Linux O/S DVD for $5.85 (I use Linux Mint), a WiFi connection to the Internet Belkin N300 for $7.30 , and all of the software is open source and free.

Leon recommends the following next steps:

  • Start using the Internet to learn more about computer science.
  • Learn a programming language.

Bernard’s Answer

Hello Sara,

Short answer: No.

Long answer:

I tutored many students who did not start their Computer Science path until their sophomore year of college and are now software engineers in prominent companies like Twitch, IBM, etc.

My focus in college with information security (and I was really good) and like before, tutored students who didn't know much until their sophomore year of college. Now they would wipe the floor with me in info sec.

The beautiful part of Computer Science is that it doesn't matter when you start. The only thing that matter is your passion to learn and your grit.

Don't give up. There is always someone 'better', just make sure that someone is you compared to who you were before.

Daniel’s Answer

Updated Seattle, Washington

I didn't know how to program until Uni. You may be behind peers initially, but that's fine. There's a lot of time to learn. That said, you do need to learn a lot. Pay attention, if you're confused ask for clarification, try to understand things and make figure it out later if you didn't get something. Don't neglect math/logic foundation either.

Don't worry about being behind, worry about learning for yourself.

Most people in the professional industry also don't know much about security, so on that specific note I wouldn't sweat it.

Cyber is an overloaded term that can mean anything vaguely computer or internet related.

Okay - thank you!

Neeraj’s Answer

Updated Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

You literally have the best possible resource for learning about technology right at your fingertips. In this day and age, you do not / should not need to depend on anyone or any institution for knowledge. Get out there on the web, pull out a notepad, write down what you what to know and search away. If you're genuinely interested in learning about tech, youll realize that youll end up spending waaay more time than you anticipated, by digging deeper and deeper into the domain. This is the sign you're doing what you want to do.

Danielle’s Answer



Don't fret. You may find that by virtue of your age and having grown up with computers and phones that you're starting off without as large a deficit as you may think. I currently work in telecommunications and spend much of my day-to-day troubleshooting and fixing devices. The knowledge I brought through experience gained from being around technology as a young adult was very helpful. Additionally, there are plentiful resources available on the internet where you can take free or paid-for classes to fill in areas of particular interest or areas in which you feel you may benefit by decreasing a perceived deficit in understanding. Udacity.com is one of my favorites, along with the podcast Code Newbie. But again, there are plentiful resources out there.

Megan’s Answer

Updated Farmington, Connecticut

My high school didn't offer any sort of CS classes, so I didn't start taking computer science courses until my Sophomore year in college. The introduction classes usually do not expect students to have any prior knowledge, so for at least the first semester, you should be on the same level as your classmates.

If you are concerned and want to get a head start, you can always self teach a coding language by finding a good tutorial or two online. (eg: https://www.codecademy.com/)

Joanne’s Answer

Updated Montclair, New Jersey

You're not behind ... you'll just be hungrier when the topics are presented to you.

In my experience, that first semester of college can be a refresher course for many. The second semester is where you start to prove yourself and your ability to learn.

The beauty of a computer career is that you can follow the trends via the web.