How to prepare for studying computer science at university

If you think computer science is the right subject for you, here’s how to prep for university and beyond

If you are looking for a career that has a bright future and is unlikely to become obsolete any time soon then you would be hard pressed to find a better subject than computer science. But getting a place on one of the best courses at a reputable university is easier said than done.

To help you plan ahead and give yourself the best chance of being selected at your chosen institution, here are a few bits of advice on making you stand out from the crowd.

Check whether the subject is right for you by enrolling on a summer programme

A two-week summer school programme gives you the chance to work out whether computer science is definitely the right course for you. Cambridge Immerse is one of the best summer schools in the UK and allows you to get to grips with the subject and get a head start in time for university. What’s more, you’ll be showing admissions teams that you are prepared to put the work in to get yourself ahead of the competition and already understand what it takes to prosper in a university environment.

Choose a course with employability at its heart

Unless you plan on following a more academic career path, you should aim to choose a computer science course with a focus on employability. Look for course modules that place emphasis on practical and applied approaches to learning, which you can take into the working environment. Practical projects will stand you in good stead for the workplace (and are often more interesting than theory work).

Complete placements before or during your study

A bit of hands-on experience can put you in a great position for your future employment, and your degree. Many computer science courses will offer you the chance to complete a placement where you can get some experience of what it’s like to work in the field of computer science. You can even get some placement experience before university by looking for local opportunities to volunteer. This will give you something different to boast about on your university application.

Get a strong foundation before gaining specialist knowledge

You might already have a very clear idea of what kind of employment role you want to get when you finish university, and that’s great, but bear in mind that your feelings can change throughout your course and finding your dream job straight after university is no easy feat. Instead of jumping straight into studying the specific area you’re interested in, read around the various aspects of computer science and prepare yourself for a first year at university that may look broadly at the field of study. Once you have this, you have the flexibility to learn more specific information.

Consider entering competitions

As well as completing placements, work experience and summer schools, you should also consider entering competitions as a way of showing off your skills and having fun. This is a great way to add even more impressive material to your CV and put the theory you learn into practice. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you win these events or not; simply showing your willingness to enter a competition and put yourself forward will give admissions team a sense of your commitment to your chosen field of study. Plus, the more competitions you enter the better you’ll become – and the better you become, the more likely to are to actually win.

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