There are many aspects that make Computer Science a great choice for aspiring undergrad students. For students in high school, already burdened with exams, assignments, sports or leadership responsibilities, choosing a subject for their undergrad studies can be overwhelming and intimidating. It applies much more to students preparing for a career in the science and technology sector, for whom it can be a daunting task to select a particular branch for pursuing higher studies in the university.
- As a Computer Scientist, you will need to master areas like computational theory and computational systems design. For this, you need to focus on key academic areas such as Mathematics and Physics in high school. While each university in the US has its own specific requirements, as per CS@Harvard, the most useful mathematical background for Computer Science includes linear algebra, probability/statistics, and discrete mathematics. Some areas such as optimization and machine learning also use multivariate calculus. Each university has its own unique requirements, which may include SAT Mathematics Level 2 Subject Test score, in addition to the SAT Level 1 performance, to assess your mathematical abilities. Topics on the test typically include number and operations, algebra and functions, geometry and measurement (coordinate, three-dimensional, and trigonometry), data analysis, statistics, and probability.
- Additionally, it is also important to learn the application of Physics concepts and reasoning skills through lab experimentation to solve specific problems. Performing well in the SAT Physics Subject Test is a great way to demonstrate your scholastic ability to apply knowledge of Physics to higher learning in the Computer Science field. Topics such as mechanics, electricity and magnetism, waves and optics, heat and thermodynamics, modern physics (including quantum phenomena, atomic and nuclear physics, and relativity) and miscellaneous areas such as astrophysics, superconductivity, and chaos theory form part of the course content for this test.
- Pursuing and scoring well in AP courses related to the Computer Science major, such as AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC and the various AP Physics courses like AP Physics 1, 2 and C, will further strengthen your credentials for college admissions.
Develop the logical and problem-solving ability
- For Computer Science aspirants, it is equally vital to figure out how to challenge ideas and critically examine information. You need to cultivate skills and personality traits inherent to problem-solving, namely comprehension, reasoning, logical ability, and collaboration.
Design and implementation of computer programs is a fundamental part of a computer scientist’s area of work. Since the computer is a machine that requires unambiguous and precise instructions to carry out tasks, a computer scientist is required to identify a problem, define the series of steps involved in solving the problem (algorithms) and finally encode it into a specific programming language so that it can be executed by the computer.
- Thus, before you can set about finding a solution, it is important to understand the underlying problem first. There are several ways to approach a problem. For example, if you want to create a function that will recognize multiples of 5 from a given data set, you can instruct the computer to divide each number into the data set by 5, such that the remainder is 0. Alternatively, you can instruct the computer to identify numbers ending with 5 or 0 and return that data set as an answer. The challenge is to find the solution which is the fastest and the most cost-effective.
- Now, think about the technology embedded in a prosthetic arm. It has to incorporate the exact commands that can enable it to accurately mimic all the functions of a biological human arm, down to the little finger. This will give you an idea of how generating solutions to real-life problems is an even more complex and creative process.
- Henceforth, as a Computer Science hopeful, it’s essential for you to drive yourself to use each chance to sharpen your critical thinking capacity. Learn to read with focus, in order to improve your comprehension. Concentrate on the logic and steps involved in practical problem-solving. Participate in national and international competitions and Olympiads, and lookout for internship opportunities, as such experiences are hugely beneficial in garnering an exposure to the latest developments in this field.
To conclude, invest time and energy nurturing and developing your passion for Computer Science domain, and aim for a university that encourages a diverse environment, has strong industry partnerships, and offers integrated studies with project-based learning.