Computer Science ≠ Video Games!

I was talking with a friend of mine a few days ago regarding how their AS subjects were going and what they were considering to do at University.
Coincidentally they mentioned ‘Computer Science’. So I thought, bingo, my speciality.
I asked him what attracted him to the subject and warned him that Computer Science is much different to the AS Level he was doing in ICT. To my surprise, he was under the impression that ‘Computer Science was the posh name for ICT’ used at Universities. I made sure he knew how wrong he well and truly was.
He also said he spent a lot of his time using technological devices, be it a laptop for surfing the web or a computer to play video games. Therefore he felt he would be hitting two birds with one by learning ‘how to make video games’. So after putting that person in his place shall we say, it gave me an idea to write this blog post to give students more of an in depth look at what Computer Science is really about.

Firstly, it’s not all about making games. Don’t automatically assume you will love a course to do with computers because you like to play games on computers! I used to play a lot of games… now I barely know the meaning of the word because of the amount of work I have to do instead 🙂

Secondly, one thing you are guaranteed to be taught as a Computer Science student no matter what University you go to is some programming language. Sometimes you might learn two, three or four different languages.
To test yourself, try out the following sites:
– http://www.codecademy.com/
– http://code.org/
Do you enjoy what the sites are asking you to do? Have you completed the tasks successfully with ease?
If the answer is yes to both of the above statements, then teach yourself Java or C++.
– JAVA: http://www.learnjavaonline.org/ (recommended)
– C++: http://www.learncpp.com/
Don’t over complicate things. Remember, you will be taught everything in University from scratch! However it won’t hurt you to actually try and implement some of the basics taught to you in the above two links. You can go all out and do everything if you really want to, but just the basics will suffice. If you end up enjoying it and think you’ll be able to cope with potentially being up all night working on a small error to ensure your program compiles (baring in mind that if you get stuck on one hurdle, you can’t go onto the next like you might be able to do in an essay), good stuff. If you end up disliking it, then I hate to break it to you but you’ll probably end up hating your Computer Science programming infested course.

Thirdly, read about the ins and outs of the course you are applying for. Ask the University for a list of the modules and a short paragraph of what they will cover. Do the modules actually interest you? I find that once some people start to hate something, they become completely demoralised with it and end up losing motivation to continue. Sometimes it’s more important to choose to do something you know you’ll enjoy at University rather than doing something you are good at but know you will hate. After all, you’ll be spending 3-4 years (maybe more) of your life at University which could end up shaping your future.

That’s it for now guys.
Hopefully this blog post has helped some of you out there who are considering something Computer Science-ish for your degree.
Make sure you really know what you’re getting yourself into!

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Karam

About Karam

Karam has now retired from blogging. Hello everyone! My name is Karam and I'm a second year BSc Computing student here at the University of Leicester. I'm also this year's Computer Science sports secretary and possess a strong love for the beautiful game that is of course football. I can speak English, Arabic, HTML, PHP, SQL, VB.NET & Java…

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One response to “Computer Science ≠ Video Games!”

  1. Tim

    Hi Karam,

    Good advice! One other thing prospective computer science students might like to try is an introductory (free) MOOC such as that offered by edX – https://www.edx.org/course/mitx/mitx-6-00-1-x-introduction-computer-1498

    The next presentation is due to start on 19th February and uses the increasingly popular Python programming language.

    Tim.

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