Preparing for Computer Science
I can’t imagine what it’s like to get to the end of year 13 a couple of months earlier than expected and suddenly not have any exams. Whether you’re relieved you no longer have to stress, annoyed and feeling you put all that hard work in for nothing, or still a bit shell-shocked that we’re all in this situation in the first place, life will keep moving forward and we will get through this.
The first thing I want to say is that not having exams in the coming months does not make the last 2 years pointless. You still learnt all that content which hopefully you found interesting and which will help you in the future. You might want to take a look at How school prepared me for a degree in Computer Science to see how subjects can tie into a CS degree in ways you might not expect!
But however you want to look at it, you’ve suddenly got the next 3-6 months looming ahead with no goals to aim for and nothing to do. So, whilst having a break is important, I wanted to give some ideas for things you can do in the coming months to fill your time and help prepare you for University.
Preparing for General University Life
Going to University means lots of changes are going to happen. You’re most likely moving away from home and will have to fend for yourself for the first time. By starting to prepare yourself now, you should have a much smoother transition.
1) Learn to cook – if you’re going to do anything, do this. By having a few recipes for meals that you can make, you’ll have a less stressful start to you independent living experience as you’ll know that you have a selection of healthy meals that you can eat and won’t be living off of takeaways and ready meals. This not only means you’ll eat healthier, but also that you’ll save money to spend on other things.
I’d start simple with meals like beans on toast (stereotypical I know) and pasta with pasta sauce. Once you’ve grasped those, pick a meal you like and try to make it. If there’s a meal your parents make that you’ll miss at Uni, why not learn how to make it so you can have it whenever you’re missing home?
There are lots of ways to learn to cook, ask your parents if you can help prepare dinner each evening and learn that way. Or find video’s and recipes online to follow. However you want to start, the best way to learn is practice, but trust me, you’ll thank me at the end of term 1 when you’re budget is slightly healthier than all your new friends who can’t cook!
2) Learn to do simple household tasks like clean, do the laundry and do the washing up. These may seem like simple tasks but having a basic idea of how to do them properly will save you no end of hassle come next year.
3) Learn to budget. Having a budget makes controlling your finances much easier as you have an idea before going to Uni where your money will go and how much you have to play with.
There’s no right or wrong way to make a budget but it can be difficult to know where to start. I wrote a blog on the topic of budgeting which you might want to look at as a starting point. Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert is also a really useful website to look at when it comes to thinking about managing your money. Finally, search the internet. There are loads of resources out there to help you make a budget and it’s a case of finding what works for you.
That’s a good place to start when it comes to general university life, but what about Computer Science in particular?
Preparing for Computer Science
- Start learning to code – you may already have some knowledge of coding but learning more is never a bad thing. I’d particularly recommend learning some basic Linux commands and Java, as they’re what you’ll use most in first year.
- Keep up with maths – probably my most boring suggestion in this list but I will still include it. There are 2 maths modules in the first year of Computer Science which focus on discrete and continuous maths respectively. Making sure you’re confident in skills such as differentiation, matrix manipulation and Boolean logic would be a great help.
Whatever you choose to do in the coming months, I would recommend setting yourself some goals to work towards. These goals may be in the form of working on a project, trying to form some new habits or just a small list of things that you want to do. Setting goals will give you a little bit of structure during this strange time.