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What do I do to have a higher chance of getting in a computer science university?

I’m in the 11th grade, my grades are just a bit above average but I haven’t don’t any experience with computer science. I also don’t live in an area where I can easily make connections to work with computer science.

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Jeff’s Answer

Hi Sherry,

It's great that you are thinking about your options and your future!

First, I would suggest focusing and trying to improve your grades. You do have time to make a difference. I would also look into computer classes at your high school for your senior year.

Second, you should consider attending your local community college. If you do well there, they often have agreements with area universities so you may have an easier path to entry.

Lastly, most universities have a decent computer science degree program. Most of what you get out a computer degree is what you are willing to put into it. What I mean is that you will get the basics at any university. If you work hard and put in the effort, you can get a lot out of any CS program.

You should think about calling your local universities and asking to schedule an appointment with the department chair. You can sit down with them and ask about the degree program, what you need for acceptance, what their expectations are of the students and any other questions you might have or do it via email. Most professors are happy to discuss their program and classes so it's a good place to start!

Good luck and keep your eye on the future!
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Elicia’s Answer

Being at an age where you're surrounded by abundant resources is truly a wonderful stage to be in! Many others have echoed this sentiment, and I'm here to assure you that there's still plenty of time for you to figure things out.

Why not have a chat with your counselor? They might be able to guide you towards Dual Enrollment opportunities at a local Community College. This could be a fantastic way to elevate your grades, earn college credit, and discover new avenues for your future.

Don't forget, there's a world of online resources at your fingertips too. Websites like CodeAcademy, Udemy, W3.org, and even YouTube are packed with valuable knowledge.

Remember, fortune favors the bold! I hope this advice proves beneficial for you.
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Aditi’s Answer

The good thing about an interest in computer science is that you can explore online, regardless of physical resources in your area.

Websites like codeacademy teach coding to beginners. If you are a girl/non-binary, there are a TON of organizations online trying to bridge the gender gap in the CS space (search 'organizations to learn coding online girls/nonbinary')

Also, websites like khanacademy, coursera, edx offer tons of free courses by various universities for you to build up your personal skillset as well as your resume.
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Robert’s Answer

Aside from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and The California Institute of Technology (CalTech), there aren't that many "computer science" universities. Most (non-arts) universities offer either a Computer Science or Computer Programming (or both) majors these days, usually from their college of Science / Math / Engineering.

Speaking as someone who holds a BS in CSc, works in the industry, and who has sat on hiring panels, I can also tell you that the name of your university is usually not going to impress most people working in the industry. All accredited universities run pretty much the same programs. Yes, the quality of the instruction can vary, and the amount of hands-on learning available also varies from program to program. But, at the end of the day, a graduate holding a BA/BS in Computer Science / Programming is generally assumed to have the foundational training needed to work in the industry.

And none of that will matter right now in today's (2023) economy, and will not get you hired.

As I right this (December of 2023), the tech job market is in an odd condition. The pandemic caused a lot of experienced people who were at or near retirement age to go ahead and retire. And they took their knowledge and experience with them. That means, right now, most companies who hire engineers and programmers aren't hiring a lot of junior (fresh out of university) roles. They are trying to hire for mid-level and senior-level roles to plug the gaps left by the people who retired, which are currently being covered by the remaining junior, mid and senior people. That means companies who are hiring junior people right now are mostly going to skip over your education section on your resume, and instead look at your projects and experience section.

Why? Because they are looking for people who can fit into certain job roles and not need much in the way of training or mentoring, because they don't have a lot of people with a lot of spare time available to do that training and mentoring.

So, my advice to anyone who will be attending university soon, and plans to major in a STEM field major, is to pick the most affordable option, close to home, that you can get into, and get that degree with as little student debt as possible (seriously, READ those loan agreements, student debt is one of the only forms of debt you can't get rid of, even with a bankruptcy). While in university, work on outside projects similar to what you want to do post-college. Try to get hired as an intern. Get experience. Experience is what will get you hired. Not course work. Real work (either paid, intern, or on your own time).

Most of the hiring panels looking at resumes to fill a job roll are looking for people with experience. If you have straight-As from high school and university, but zero experience, your resume is likely to go into the garbage. If you have decent grades, and a lot of real-world experience, and projects with your name on them you can point to and say, "I did that," then you will likely go to the front of the line for the roll.

Don't worry about getting into university (it isn't that hard. Most state schools have an agreement with their local junior colleges to automatically accept anyone who completed their IGETC transfer requirements from the JC. So, as long as you do that, you will have one pretty much guaranteed way to get into at least a state school -- and that is all you need.) Worry instead about gaining the experience you will need to get hired post-college. Your college courses WILL NOT adequately prepare you to apply for most roles. You will need to intern or do your own projects on the side to get that experience.

Good luck.
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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Sherry !

I couldn't hesitate to respond to your inquiry because when I was your age, I too lived in a New York state area that had few opportunities, but I made the decision in my sophomore year of high school to relocate for college. I know it is most beautiful where you're living now and it may be hard to think about relocating for school, but one of my suggestions would be to consider exploring colleges and relocating.

First of all, do not worry about not having experience. We all have to begin at the starting line and it's perfectly okay to not have the background yet.

My first suggestion would be to look into Syracuse University, 70 miles away from you. They have Computer Science and a couple of other computer majors as well. I have left the link for their website below. For relocating, look at colleges in Oswego and Utica also.

You could also consider doing a Bachelors Degree in computer science remotely on line if you do not want to relocate for college. I have left a link below for a list of on line programs you can research if you want to go for your degree on line. In the meantime, take any computer classes at school and see if you can join a computer group at school. Like I said, we all have to begin somewhere and now is a perfect time for you.

If you want to obtain a job, my advice is to start out with a data entry job. This will most likely be a remote job since you are in a limited area for computer jobs. Since you don't have experience, I think that a data entry remote job will be good for some experience as well as some extra money for you. Go to the employment website Indeed and register there for data entry positions in Remote. You can also set up a Linked In account and sign up for data entry notifications, too.

To become familiar with various aspects of computers, watch videos on the subject at You Tube. Just put in a search there for whatever subject you want to become more familiar with.

I hope that this has been a help and I wish you all the best !

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY https://www.syracuse.edu/academics/programs/?level=undergraduate
ON LINE REMOTE STUDY FOR COMPUTER SCIENCE https://hackr.io/blog/best-online-computer-science-degree
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Andrew’s Answer

Computer science is a good choice of fields for future gainful employment.

To prepare for the rigor in this engineering field, it is prudent to strengthen your mathematical foundation. It would not hurt to take AP mathematics courses, preferably up to Calculus BC. College admission officers should consider your application a lot more seriously.
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Prabuddha’s Answer

Universities often prioritize GPA, so it's beneficial to strive for higher grades. Make sure to give extra attention to advanced math courses and consider exploring some computer classes too. Aim for the best grades you can achieve.

Remember, many universities typically accept transfer courses with a grade of "B" or higher, so set your sights on that target.

Especially if you're drawn to computer studies, there's a wealth of programming classes available on platforms like YouTube and Google. So, why wait? Start exploring these resources today!
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Indranil’s Answer

Computer Science is a hot ticket these days. I can't speak for New York, but in California, it's so popular that even students with impressive 4.0+ GPAs sometimes can't snag a spot in the Computer Science programs at the UCs or renowned CSUs like San Jose State or Calpoly, San Luis Obispo. They often have to look beyond state lines or consider private universities. So, if you're an average student and can handle the cost, private colleges might be a good choice. It really boils down to how competitive your state is. In California, thanks to its close ties with Silicon Valley, many high-achieving students are drawn to Computer Science. Other states might not have the same level of competition. So, it's a good idea to chat with a knowledgeable college advisor to explore your options.

Community College could be a great stepping stone for you if you don't land a spot at a top university straight out of high school. By taking Computer Science and advanced Math and Science classes, you could be well-positioned to transfer to a top-tier university in your state after two years at a Community College.

But here's my most crucial piece of advice: don't jump on the Computer Science bandwagon just because it's the "in" thing. Chat with a trusted career advisor to see if it's the right path for you, considering your unique abilities and passions. Remember, there are plenty of other fulfilling career paths that might be a perfect match for you too.
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