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Education Bit of career/education help needed

Discussion in 'General' started by Hoffs, 15 May 2010.

  1. Hoffs

    Hoffs Seek

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    Ok, I'm currently aged 17 in Year 12 at a decent Grammar school about to sit my Summer exams.

    I have very little idea about what I want to do at Uni but I definitely want to go.

    I've been looking into studying computing but have several things to ask about studying this.
    (The IT department in my school is useless!)

    Background knowledge

    11 GCSE's (8 A's 3 B's including ICT)

    Currently study Maths, Business Studies, P.E (Yes Nerds can play sport!) and Chemistry (Which I'll most probably drop next year) as well as already having AS Geography at Grade C

    I can probably predict myself around 3 B's at the end of A2


    I've been studying computers in depth for the past 2 years at a hobby level. I've been reading articles, looking at kit, researching the basics of a computer, troubleshooting and fixing my own and family and friend's computers and eventually built my own i5 system around September 2009.

    I've always wanted to know the clever bits behind computing as it is something that really interests me and teachers have always been banging on about studying a subject at Uni that you enjoy and have a passion for. Which I believe computers are.

    But here's the problem... I've only ever formally studied Half course GCSE ICT. I scored an A in this and found it a walk in the park but I'm wondering if this and A2 maths is sufficient enough to allow me to study this at uni. I have no experience whatsoever of programming or writing in different languages but something about learning how and what they do is something that just tickles my tastebuds.

    Some questions

    -Will they start you off at uni from an absolute beginners level in computing or will they assume that you know things already and look to expand on the knowledge supposedly gained in A2 Computing?
    -Would an AS level potentially picked up next year in ICT help me at all?
    -What background reading between now and September 2011 could you recommend me to read and learn etc?
    -Is Computing an enjoyable subject to study and not boring and tedious?

    I appreciate all suggestions you can give me, I know very little on this subject and I hope you know more than me.
     
  2. hitman012

    hitman012 Active Member

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    Your lack of computing-related courses isn't really a problem but for any scientific or engineering degree, the more technical subjects the better. For this reason I would advise against dropping Chemistry unless you really dislike it, as it's considered to be a solid A-level. ICT is arguably easier than Computing and is certainly less relevant to university computer science courses, so if you're going to take up another AS I'd recommend Computing or Further Maths.

    Can't really help you with the reading, but universities publish lists of recommended course texts. Might be worth looking through them and seeing if there's anything that piques your interest.

    I can't comment on compsci specifically, but I think if you have a natural curiosity about how these things work then you'll find it interesting. Expect it to be very theoretical - if you're the sort of person who prefers the practical aspects of computing then you might be disappointed. Sign up for as many university open days as possible. They'll give you an opportunity to go to the departments and chat to current students and staff about the courses there so you can see whether it's really for you or not.
     
    Last edited: 15 May 2010
  3. ShakeyJake

    ShakeyJake My name is actually 'Jack'.

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    I can't speak for universities other than the one I study at/work for, but at Newcastle we would offer you ABC/BBB from any three subjects at A2 to study Computing Science (G400) or BBC to read Information Systems (G500). We do not count General Studies in this. Both will require you (like ANY BSc course we offer) to have at least a C in GCSE Maths. In other words, your lack of previous computing study would not be an issue.

    Having said that (and whilst we do not specifically require any AS-levels) an AS in ICT would only help. I have no idea how much though, you'd have to ask the admissions secretary for that department. (PM me if you'd like some email addresses). The admissions secretary would also be able to advise on any recommended reading, that schools reading list is not available to me. I'm afraid I can't help you with your last question.

    Let me know if I can do anything for you.

    Jack Elliot
    Student Ambassador, Biology and Chemistry BSc Hons, Newcastle University.
     
  4. Ending Credits

    Ending Credits Bunned

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    DO NOT study ICT if you want to go into Computer Science; It's not relevant at all. I've actually heard it hinders you.

    And as far as I can tell even Oxbridge won't care if you'rea complete beginner, as long as you can show that you're passionate.
     
  5. Kylevdm

    Kylevdm The Mod Zoo Podcast Host

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    BING!

    I have a good friend in the Computer Science department in Edinburgh and they all suggest that you drop ICT/ Computing ASAP! It is only really helpful for coding however the University need to start at a beginners level as there will always be some people who have not taken any programming at all!

    The universities only really need you to have maths and nothing else.

    I would suggest you just stick around here and keep your interest in the subject burning then also start to learn the language the university you think you may want to go to is going to be learning. Most uni's teach, Java, Python and C as first languages.

    Also if find you do not enjoy the computing part there are soooo many different options from business to animation even medicine that you can go into from Computer Science!
     
  6. theevilelephant

    theevilelephant Well-Known Member

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    Most universities will assume little or no programming experience, in fact a fair few prefer if you don't have any experience as it's easy to pick up bad habits :)

    Personally I'd say no, I think it won't hurt per se but ICT != Computing really.

    You can usually get a reading list for a particular course fairly easily, as courses vary fairly dramatically between universities it's hard to recommend things.

    I love my degree (AI and Robotics)and pure comp sci looks ok here but something like software engineering wouldn't interest me in the slightest! It just comes down to which aspects of computing you enjoy learning about, luckily a fair few universities have common first years or will let you swap degree schemes so if you decide that a particular scheme isn't for you, you get another chance :)
     
  7. yatesy

    yatesy New Member

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    One of the best (receiving consistantly high grades) students in my year had never studied computers in any form before coming to Warwick to study Computer Science.

    I had studied both ICT and Computing before, and it helped me very little. I had a few more ideas about a number of concepts, but by the end of the first term everyone knew as much as I did, and maybe understood it more as since I thought I already knew it I paid less attention!

    Computer Science is an interesting course if thats what you enjoy. I love it that the articles that I was once reading about various technologies etc now make sense.
    But often I have found myself wondering why I am being made to take half the courses I have done in my 3 years. They seem to have little relevance, even to other courses taken after...

    If computers is what you enjoy then go for it.
     
  8. 1nsignia

    1nsignia New Member

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    I done Computer Science, and liked it. I done ICT at A-Levels, and Computer Science was very different.

    My little brother was very good in Maths and was somewhat interested in Computers, so I suggested he do Computing at College. He found it too easy (VB.NET using VS Express) and now says he doesn't want to do Computer Science at Uni, has instead decided to to Law next year (after resitting some of his A2s). If nothing else, Computing might persuade you to not do computer Science.
     
  9. Agamer

    Agamer Member

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    I know people who had loads of experience and people who had none. Neither where at a disadvantage. The first year is structured so to get every one up to the same level. And they do a very effective job at getting everyone up to the same level in that year.

    No, imo don't do an A level in ICT. An A Level in Computing would be more useful however is not preferential in any way and you're going to be better of making sure you've got Maths and Further maths in there first and then a science of some sort. After that if you are interested in doing computing it is quite interesting and fun and can be useful once you get to uni (In a limited sense) however you won't benefit much from doing it when it comes to uni entrance requirements.

    Other than recommended reading lists a good book to give you a very broad overview of CS is called
    "The new Turing Omnibus" It gives you a nice overview of the subject.

    I think you need to be a particular sort of person if you're going to go into CS. There is lots of hours looking at non functioning bit of code and to some people that would drive you insane. But I find it to be very fun and enjoyable. I would recommend trying some programming (Not that is all you do in CS) before you go not because you need to be prepared but it lets you see if you will like that sort of thing.


    Just for background I am currently studying CS so was in your situation not to long ago. And because I have to pimp my uni. Have a look at Bristol (Presuming you are in the UK) we have an amazing (imo) CS department with some very good lecturers. Feel free to ask any more questions.
     
  10. Ramble

    Ramble Ginger Nut

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    I might be biased but I'd say a background knowledge of physics would be useful too.
     
  11. Hoffs

    Hoffs Seek

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    Thanks for your responses. It's been of great help... Just a bit of feedback:

    1) What's the easiest way of trying out some basic programming? I just don't want to be thrown in completely cold and want a basic idea of what I'm doing

    2) There's no way I can continue with A2 chemistry... Just not my subject (Got an E in the Module in January) and it doesn't suit me too well.



    3) From your response, I probably won't take up ICT next year as an AS.

    4) From your response, I do feel that I will enjoy computer science. I find working out big problems quite fun and challenging but at the same time very rewarding.

    5) Also, what's the difference between CS and Software engineering and AI and Robotics?

    6) Also, will AS Further maths benefit me that much? Is it worth the time and confusion it will cause me ?


    I appreciate your comments, I love how bit-tech can guide my career :)
     
    Last edited: 17 May 2010
  12. haddow64

    haddow64 New Member

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    Best way to learn is to work thru some tutorials and just get stuck in, you can get a free copy of Visual Studio express edition here http://www.microsoft.com/express/Downloads/# that would let you get started, I personally recommend learning C++ as there isnt a lot you cant do with it (plus I'm biased as a games programmer) once you get to grips with your first language learning others becomes much easier. You can find some good online tutorials (one I used is: http://www.cplusplus.com/doc/tutorial/) and if you want to get a book I would recommend Accelerated C++ as it starts teaching object oriented techniques (important for most popular languages just now) right from the start.

    I started uni with no real programming knowledge (only VB, not even .net, which I think is a horrible language) and have been doing fine.


    This should help with the differences between the courses (well the standard ones that nearly every uni offers): http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_difference_between_computer_science_and_software_engineering

    Oh and yes the maths will be worth it, for almost any computing related course maths is a required element.
     
  13. Kylevdm

    Kylevdm The Mod Zoo Podcast Host

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    CS is the more AI and Robotics side of things where SE is pure Software...

    Do not worry about that for now! Chose CS and in 3rd year you can chose your modules!!!!

    As for Further Maths, YES take it! 1/3 of your course is going to be maths :)
     
  14. theevilelephant

    theevilelephant Well-Known Member

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    Computer Science is usually considered the "default" option (thats not to say its worse in any way), it will usually offer the most flexibility in how many/which modules you can choose. Both AI and Robotics and Software engineering will have modules that are considered relevant to that degree scheme made compulsory. Software engineering (here anyway) is more focused on good design, how to implement large projects, Q&A procedures etc etc. AI and Robotics will focus on AI techniques like various types of search, knowledge representation and on slightly more electronics-y low level things like microcontrollers, electronics, how sensors work.

    You're welcome to PM me if you want to know more :)
     

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