A literal pitfall.

Computer Science Pitfalls

…and how to avoid them.

Hey! So you’re doing computer science. Congratulations on picking one of the most demanding courses — but also congratulations on picking one of the most rewarding courses which provides you with the skills that the world demands.

In this article, I’ll go through some of the mistakes I’ve made during my first year of studies, and offer ways of not making these same mistakes. This isn’t a to-do list, or a strict regime to follow, by any means.

Use the freshers’ period as a chance to find out who you’re studying with.

You can also use these trips to scout out local coffee shops… they may be of use later in the year.

The saviour of project deadlines.

Maybe do a… little bit of background reading?

A word of warning though — hold up on buying textbooks until your first lecture for the course in question. You may find that a lot of the textbooks aren’t very helpful, and others you can just find online anyway. UCL’s library offers some books as eBooks as one example, and in another the professor provided two hundred pages of notes for the entire module.

Git good at git (and some other stuff)

You could even put this into practice by creating a basic personal website. GitHub (again, I know!) offer free website hosting with their github.io service. Create a website at the start of the year and slowly improve it and add to it as the year passes — it’s a simple way of learning HTML, CSS and possibly JavaScript alongside your studies. Mine’s available at mbell.me!

Change the colour scheme and font of your favourite text editor to look like a hacker.

Be open to interning during your summer

Look after yourself

Looking after yourself doesn’t end in the land of Nod either. Getting some exercise is a good move too — student union gyms tend to have dirt cheap membership prices, or you could even start running or cycling. You’ll be fitter, healthier and gives you something to Instagram about. Make sure you eat well as well! Save the terrible food and pizza for hackathons.

It’s 5AM and I feel fiiiiiiiine

Join your local Tech Society, and go to hackathons!

On top of that, tech societies are epicentres for events, socials, and projects. Some will be part of the computer science departments, whereas some are not (KCLTech, Imperial College’s DoCSoc, TechSoc). You’ll find them at your local freshers’ fair, with tonnes of swag and probably showing something cool.

Pssst. If you’re joining UCL, you can reach TechSoc on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Medium. Shameless plug completed.

Currently studying and thought of something I’ve missed? Send a response below and share your advice!

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