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What steps should I take in high school to prepare for a Computer Science major in college?

Hi! I'm interested in majoring in Comp Sci once I enter college, and I'd really love to get started on preparing for that journey as soon as possible. As a high school junior, I'd like to know if there are any steps I should take now to be prepared for college, specifically as a Computer Science major. For example, are there any recommended summer programs or online courses I should be taking? Should I start networking, and how? #college #computer-science #technology #computer-engineering

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Thomas’s Answer

Harvard actually has a course that they offer (for free!) for computer science which is CS50: Introduction to Computer Science. I highly recommend that you take this course BEFORE you definitely make that decision if you can. I say this because a lot of individuals think Computer Science is one thing and in reality it's something completely different. However, this course will give you exposure to several programming languages if nothing else. I'm not sure when enrollment for it is, it may not be until January but it's well worth taking.


Past that, someone also mentioned mathematics. Take every course you can get near. Algorithms are very important as well but unlikely you'll find courses at the high school level that will teach those. But you can learn a lot of algorithms online. Discrete Mathematics is also very important.

Networking is really a different activity altogether. I'd recommend looking for programming user groups in your area. That's a good start. Meeting as many professionals as you can will help you. Never too soon to start a LinkedIn account as well. That usually how professionals link and network with each other these days.

Good luck!

That's fantastic! I'll definitely check it out this summer. I was planning on using Coursera, too. Also, could you please clarify ¨programming user groups?¨ I'd love to network, but is there any good way to start, especially in the computer science field? Thu N.

Your area should have some "user groups" depending on the programming languages your interested in. (or computers in general). There's a site called meetup.com that should help but going to your local computer store you may also find some information on the bulletin boards there. Or... start your own! You'd be surprised who would show up for a couple of donuts and a soft drink. :) Thomas Campbell

Wow, awesome! I'll look into it for sure. Thanks for the quick reply! Thu N.

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Brian’s Answer

If you haven't already, start learning how to write code. If your school doesn't offer any courses, there are plenty of online courses. Check out stackoverflow.com for help when you get stuck. You'll probably figure out pretty quickly whether you (a) like writing code, and (b) have a knack for it. If you're already writing code, try experimenting with different languages.

Math is important as well, because it trains you to think in a way that will benefit you in a computer science program in college.

Computer Science is much more than writing code, but if you discover that you don't like writing code, or it just doesn't "click" with you, it may not be a great experience.

Thanks so much! I'll be sure to check that website out this summer. Considering that my school might not offer a course in computer science, I'm sure it'd be a helpful tool! Thu N.

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Jenny’s Answer

Take as much high-level math in high school as you can. It'll help you prepare for the math courses you'll need to take. I'd also recommend taking a few programming courses, but the math is definitely more important. As it comes to summer programs- I'd look to see if the schools you're interested in offer any math or science related summer workshops or camps- talk to some admissions counselors, who will likely have all the information you'll need. That'll give you the opportunity to get an inside look at some colleges and do some networking as well.

You can definitely start building your network now. Look for meetups in your area that tie into your areas of interest, go to company recruiting events and career fairs, just start talking to people who do what you think you might want to be doing in 5 or 10 years. You can start laying the groundwork for finding internships or summer positions. You might find yourself well positioned for your career once you finish your degree!

Your response was very helpful! I'll be sure to make the most of my high school career. Thank you very much! Thu N.

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