Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

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#1 Java Student  Icon User is offline

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Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 25 August 2011 - 06:10 PM

I'm starting university of the 6th and i want to know if anyone has any advice for me
about Computer Science in university or just in general. Im not living in residence although
that would be fun.

I also have a question, my highschool cs teacher told me not to take the AP cs credit because
you want to do amazing in your first computer science class so the prof can pick you out, is this true?

There is still time to change but currently im not using my credit because his reasoning made sense, theres 209 students in my cs class and my prof for the class teaches mostly graduate courses.

Im taking 5 classes (15 credit hours) most of which are boring classes that require alot of time like math and stat.

1.) CS110 - Prog & Problem Solving
2.) ENG100 - Critical Reading and Writing I
3.) MATH110 - Calculus I
4.) MATH122 - Linear Algebra I
5.) STAT160 - Introductory Statistics

Thanks! :bigsmile:

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Replies To: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

#2 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 25 August 2011 - 06:18 PM

How comfortable are you with Java? Do you feel you could succeed in a Data Structures I course (the next one in the sequence)? If you feel shaky on Java, taking the intro course in college can't hurt. If you feel really good about OOP though, I'd take the credit. And the CS professors that teach the 3000 and 4000 level classes are the ones you want to have a good rapport with. Often times though not always, Ph.D students and TA's teach the low-level intro classes.
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#3 Java Student  Icon User is offline

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 25 August 2011 - 06:24 PM

Well achually this intro course and every other cs coruse at my school is teaching C++, not my forte but another reason why i should stick with the intro course. And like you said its good to be in good standing with the graduate profs. Thanks Macos!

This post has been edited by Java Student: 25 August 2011 - 06:25 PM

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#4 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 25 August 2011 - 06:29 PM

What I'm saying is the people who teach the 1000-level intro courses usually aren't the same people teaching the 3000 and 4000 level courses. They have way different qualifications, and the professors for the upper-level classes are the ones that you want a rapport with. No harm in taking a C++ primer in an easy setting. Since you've had some programming experience, that should be a good GPA booster. :)
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#5 elgose  Icon User is offline

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 25 August 2011 - 08:34 PM

*
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View Postmacosxnerd101, on 25 August 2011 - 07:29 PM, said:

What I'm saying is the people who teach the 1000-level intro courses usually aren't the same people teaching the 3000 and 4000 level courses. They have way different qualifications, and the professors for the upper-level classes are the ones that you want a rapport with. No harm in taking a C++ primer in an easy setting. Since you've had some programming experience, that should be a good GPA booster. :)

This is very school specific, but definitely something to watch out for. It would suck for you to take a course to try and get cozy with a prof you'll want on your side later, only to find you'll only ever interact with a TA. From what I've experienced at my school, I've only had TA's cover lab sections and fill in when the professor had to be absent. My brother, on the other hand (and at a different school), has lectured the entire semester for math classes and programming classes as a TA. So ask around.

In general, the CS courses will move much faster than you probably experienced in HS, so if you're that worried you might want to take the first course just so you've already got your groove going on by the time you get into the harder classes.

Oh, and macosxnerd101 got it right with the GPA booster... you never know how much you might struggle later on, so if this is a guaranteed 4.0, then take it while you can!

For tips: if you feel you're going in ahead of the game, don't get so cocky that you're struggling at the end. So, if the first few assignments are things you can do without ever touching the book, then do it in an interesting way so you learn something out of it. I learned a LOT in my first intro class, but because I pushed myself far beyond the scope of the class in the assignments.
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#6 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 28 August 2011 - 04:29 AM

One thing I like to do is to finish my problem set as early as I can. Then, after we cover the topics from the problem set in class, I go back and refactor my code to see if I can make any notable changes (something that doubles the speed of the code, for instance). Also, make sure to go above and beyond the requirements of the exercises as elgose mentioned. Do this to learn and better your skills, not to suck up to your professor.

Also, I feel that I should point out that you should never take a course to buddy-up with a professor. If you want to meet a professor then send them an email and tell them that you're interested in their research and that you'd like to meet for a coffee some time and talk.
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#7 Topher84  Icon User is offline

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 28 August 2011 - 10:28 AM

If you are good enough to skip the first few classes, you'll get noticed anyways so I don't see a reason to NOT take the AP credit. If you're sitting in a first year class bored to death you'll most likely stop going and THAT will make you look bad (depending on the class size) and there may be an attendance policy. Also, why would you want to get noticed? I don't see the benefit in an academic environment. I promise you, if you have 209 people in your class, and this professor teaches every semester, NOTHING you will show him will surprise him.

The best thing you can do is get a hobby that isn't class related. For example, my hobby in grad school became mobile programming on Android and iOS devices. Let's face it, you most likely aren't going to produce anything in your classes that will be impressive enough to help land you a job. If you can show someone that you can do something that requires USING the knowledge you gained in school, you'll be much better off.
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#8 Java Student  Icon User is offline

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 28 August 2011 - 06:17 PM

Thanks for the advice everyone i feel a lot more prepared now. Much appreciated :smile2:
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#9 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 29 August 2011 - 12:32 AM

View PostTopher84, on 28 August 2011 - 02:58 PM, said:

I promise you, if you have 209 people in your class, and this professor teaches every semester, NOTHING you will show him will surprise him.


There's a professor at my university that alternates between MATH 1090 (Algebra & Trig) and MATH 1000 (Calc I). In the Fall he teaches the large 1090 section (~300 students) along with a 1000 section (~100 students), in the Winter he reverses this. He's been doing this for 20 years.

If this guy doesn't know everything there is to know about these classes, then god help the rest of us.
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#10 NeoTifa  Icon User is offline

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 30 August 2011 - 05:59 AM

I would try as hard as humanly possible to avoid procrastination. Also, double triple quadruple check your work, test every case, and try to break it as hard as possible. Posting your code on DIC and having us try to break it for you goes a long ways too. I do it all the time. And try to get as many GPA boosters as possible. Once you fuck up your GPA, you're screwed. I did really, really bad my first year, and have been steadily getting better, but I calculated that if I got straight A's from this quarter to graduation (not gonna happen) that I will only have a 3.3/4.0. Straight A's for 2.5 years will only bump my GPA up by 0.9. Keep that in mind. It took me 3 years to get my 1.4 up to a 2.4. DO NOT FUCK UP! VIDEO GAMES ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT! ACTUALLY GO TO CLASS! DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

This post has been edited by NeoTifa: 30 August 2011 - 08:58 AM

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#11 elgose  Icon User is offline

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 30 August 2011 - 01:01 PM

View PostNeoTifa, on 30 August 2011 - 06:59 AM, said:

DO NOT FUCK UP! VIDEO GAMES ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT! ACTUALLY GO TO CLASS! DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

This. I've (sadly) given up on video games while school is in session so I can give an appropriate focus to school and work. It's really tough, but I hope when I graduate I'll be happy about it (and when I graduate, you can expect me to partake in a month long non-stop gamefest).
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#12 chrisH  Icon User is offline

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 06 September 2011 - 03:48 PM

I'm surprised this hasn't been said yet.

Don't cheat. Don't cheat. Don't cheat.

Don't let anyone copy off you and don't copy off anyone else. You will seriously only ruin yourself. I know someone who was expelled from university because they copied code on one (yes ONE) project. What made it worse was it was their last quarter and it was the last project. They had already taken the final and done reasonably well. The professor caught him after the quarter ended (at this school they usually wait until the end of the quarter before running the similarity checker) and he did not receive his diploma. They wouldn't let him retake the course in the fall either. If he had just turned in his unfinished assignment, he still would have still passed the class.

Be aware that there are people that will do anything to see your code. Help them out, sure, but don't let them see your actual code.
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#13 NeoTifa  Icon User is offline

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 07 September 2011 - 05:43 AM

I post on here all the time. In fact, I had to make a text editor/buffer thingy and posted it on here for testing purposes, and I got an email about 3 days later saying mine and another girl's code were eerily similar, and that was the first thing I thought of. Turns out she just has a similar way to thinking. Meh.
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#14 chrisH  Icon User is offline

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 07 September 2011 - 10:57 AM

Yeah I've been called in as well on suspicion of cheating. The professor performed a diff on the two projects and it was a 98% match. The other hoebag student didn't change identifiers, function names, nothing. He didn't even change the comment I include at the top of my source files where I write my name and date & time of the submission.

I was appalled because I had never shown ANYONE my code.
The other student ended up confessing a couple days later that he broke into the submission server and copied my code out.

Be as careful as you possibly can. In my case, there was nothing I could have done about it. But there are preventive measures such as to always carry your laptop with you. Don't leave it anyway, and if you do (ie: with trusted friends), at least lock the machine. If you're using the school's machine and you need to step out for a moment, lock the machine. My school kicks you off after 30 minutes (or so they say, I've never seen that happen) and that is plenty enough time for a bathroom break and/or food break.

But not everyone is out to get you :P. Enjoy college my friend!
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#15 J-e-L-L-o  Icon User is offline

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Re: Tips or advice for 1st year cs student

Posted 14 September 2011 - 10:47 PM

View PostchrisH, on 07 September 2011 - 10:57 AM, said:

Yeah I've been called in as well on suspicion of cheating. The professor performed a diff on the two projects and it was a 98% match. The other hoebag student didn't change identifiers, function names, nothing. He didn't even change the comment I include at the top of my source files where I write my name and date & time of the submission.

I was appalled because I had never shown ANYONE my code.
The other student ended up confessing a couple days later that he broke into the submission server and copied my code out.

Be as careful as you possibly can. In my case, there was nothing I could have done about it. But there are preventive measures such as to always carry your laptop with you. Don't leave it anyway, and if you do (ie: with trusted friends), at least lock the machine. If you're using the school's machine and you need to step out for a moment, lock the machine. My school kicks you off after 30 minutes (or so they say, I've never seen that happen) and that is plenty enough time for a bathroom break and/or food break.

But not everyone is out to get you :P. Enjoy college my friend!


I prob would have passed that student for getting past the school's firewall....

Here is a survival tip....Coffee....REALLY strong coffee lol.
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