Should I learn coding before going into a Computer Science degree?Watch this thread
Growing up I focused on Academics rather than pursuing coding. It's something I kind of regret. I've been interested in the integration of Neuroscience/Bioinformatics and Artificial Intelligence for a while now and so decided to apply for a Computer Science degree at university. I have a decent stretch of time avaliable to me now that I have finished my alevels, and so should I attempt to learn coding before I start my course? I'm applying for Warwick and I believe they focus on Java. Apparently they teach you this from the ground up. Would my time be better spent reading around the subject or doing coding? Thanks =)
I have some bioinformatics experience, and computational biology, so I’ll speak from my own perspective here!
The first coding language you learn is always the most difficult. It took me a bit of time to understand how to write so a computer would understand it, to find the places that generally have the answers. So if you teach yourself, even if you’re not an expert in the language you teach yourself, or you’re not learning the same skills or tasks that you will in your course, that’s still a huge advantage!
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of working through java (because of how the language works, you have to do a lot more typing than in other languages, so for me that means a lot more typos!) but you can choose to start with that if it’s what your course uses most.
It is a good idea to start with a very popular language (like java and python) simply because there are so many more video tutorials, online help pages, and answers to common problems for these.
What I would recommend is finding a good course online that can guide you through the starting steps. LinkedIn learning has many of these, including java, which I have free access to through my uni (Cranfield). If you can get a free trial for this, I think they were great, but I’m sure youtube has many video series that are just as good!
What EVERYONE needs is stack overflow!
This is the best place to look if you have problems, errors, or just can’t make sense of things (which happens to everyone at some point). Trust me when I say this will be your best friend through your degree, and as long as you keep coding after that!
As for if this is necessary, it shouldn’t be. If the course website says they will teach you from the basics, then they should. However, as you have an interest in this, if you have a free few hours, on a weekend or in the evenings, it will greatly help you at the start of your course (when you might prefer to grab a drink and get to know your classmates rather than going home to practice your coding). But if you have a job, family, other responsibilities, and can’t spare that time, don’t sweat it!
Good luck with your degree!
2nd year Agrifood PhD student
Cranfield Student Ambassador