How to Study Computer Science

For anyone thinking of enrolling in a computer science degree, whether Bachelor’s or Master’s, the goal, ideally, is to become a proficient student who is constantly advancing their computing skills. If we can put it in black and white, however, computer science degrees, irrespective of specialization, can be a headache.

Yes, that goes for tech buffs too, or anyone passionate about things technology.

That doesn’t mean the course is out of limits. With a few aces up your sleeve, you can become a successful computer science student, probably the crème de la crème in your class. Now, wouldn’t that be something?

Check out these basic tricks on how to study computer science that will give you an edge in your studies.

Computer Science Classes are more Practical than Theory

Most computer science and information technology courses tend to be more practical than many other degrees. They do have a theory side to them, but even in these cases, the approach leans more towards practical than theory. It is not what you would find in courses such as economics or sociology, for example (nothing against these two, it’s just an example).

This, however, does not mean you will be absolved from working on essays in toto. This will still be very much part of the curriculum, although essays tend to be more logical in the approach. Understanding this expectation will help you better picture what you’ll be in for, and determining if this really is a course that would appeal to your passions.

Speaking of passion, perhaps it’s also good to point out that computer science as a field is vast and allows you to specialize in various sub-fields. Examples include IT security, information systems, cloud computing, data science and video games.

“Trans-nighting” won’t cut it

To trans-night is to wait until the last minute to start studying for your exams, putting in extra hours at night in a bid to catch up on the semester’s coursework. It’s burning the midnight oil basically.

While this is a strategy that may work in some courses, it is a little bit hard for it to bear fruit in computer science. Avoid last minute dashes by getting your assignments done on time, ideally a week in advance. This will afford you the time to work on things like code (which does require time, mind you) and gain fresh insights as to why some things are not working.

stack of books study

Don’t misinterpret this to mean you have to be a bookworm of sorts. Rather, it implies the learning progress needs to be constant across the academic year. You will fare much better this way compared to adopting sporadic study patterns.

Courses will not Teach you Everything

That’s right. One thing most computer science students come to realize down the line is that the coursework does not impart one with all the skills required in the job market. You may learn a few programming languages with the aim of ending in software development, only to later realize that you’ll need to beef up your knowledge of the same, or worse still, learn a language from scratch.

library books programming

This is not to mean you will be half-baked when you leave school. What the computer science coursework does is to give you a solid foundation from which you can build on. That in mind, you might want to invest some time exploring the requirements asked of you in the job market.

Knowing in advance what is expected allows you to align your skills with the requirements of the industry, particularly if you intend to specialize in a certain field. This will boost your chances of breaking ground when you eventually go out there.

Teamwork does Work

Working solo and motivating yourself independently is a great thing. All the same, teamwork in a field like computer science allows you to find peers whom you can form study groups with, as well as work on interesting projects and share ideas.

study group people

Besides, this is just the classic route to innovation: a few genius minds congregating and working on a problem until it becomes the next big thing.


A course in computer science can be demanding, there is no question about it. Regardless, don’t be sucked into it to the extent you forget to live your life. You could engage in some other student activities outside of coursework, meet up with friends, catch a drink every now and then, travel some place for the weekend and so on.

Studies are no doubt a good thing, but they should not be the only thing in your life. Don’t forget that.

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