Frequently Asked Questions on Computer Science
1. Do I need to have my own computer to take computer science courses? Some classes, like Computational Thinking and (usually) Computer Science I are taught in a computer lab. We also have several computers in the Math/CS lounge area. Courses beyond CS1 may require that students have a laptop they can bring to class. We don’t want anyone to not study CS because they do not have a laptop so please come talk to us if this is the case.
Computer science is going to look primarily at fundamentals of computing, which remain fairly constant across different computing hardware and operating systems. Any computer manufactured in the past few years should be adequate for studying computer science as long as it is mechanically in good repair.
A laptop would be convenient for taking to class and group work; we would suggest a laptop computer over a desktop computer for that reason. Virtual machines (VMs) can be useful in some classes; we would recommend a laptop (not a Chromebook) with an Intel or AMD processor to support running a VM (if you have a laptop that does not support virtualization that would be ok and we would make reasonable accommodations).
2. Which class should I take first? More information on this can be found here.
3. I want to take a class somewhere else and have it count towards my CS degree requirements or count as a pre-requisite for a CC CS course—how do I do that? Colorado College's Registrar handles the approval of transfer credit. Before taking classes off campus, make sure they will be transferred correctly through the Registrar. If you want a transferred class to count specifically toward the CS major or minor or as a pre-requisite for another CS course, then the course needs to be approved by the CS faculty. This requires providing them with a syllabus (a course catalog description is insufficient). This should be done before taking the course since there is no guarantee the substitution will be accepted.
4. I am majoring in CS but haven’t declared and been assigned a major advisor—who should I talk to about choosing classes? If you know you want to major you should consider officially changing advisors to one of the CS professors. You do not need to wait to declare the major to do this.
5. What programming languages will I learn? Computational Thinking is usually taught in Python and CS1/CS2/Design are usually taught in Java and Computer Organization introduces the basics of C. Electives may use different languages. Once someone has become proficient in the basic CS concepts they should be able to pick up new languages relatively easily.
6. How do I find out about talks/job opportunities/etc.? The CS department has a mailing list maintained by the paraprofs. There is also a Facebook page.
7. How many points do I need to get into ________? The registrar’s website has a list of points required in the past (find it under Preregistration) but demand for CS keeps increasing every year so keep that in mind when bidding. Most electives are not offered every year and may be taught by visiting experts in the area so you might only have one chance.
8. How do I get to do research with a faculty member? Research opportunities are offered to students who have shown that they are motivated and hardworking (usually by doing well in their CS classes or having done interesting side projects) and who are interested in the faculty mentor’s research area. Many universities run “REU” programs over the summer, which are a great way for students from small colleges like CC to get research experience.
9. How can I take an independent study block? Independent study blocks are typically offered for advanced topics that are not offered in the regular curriculum. In particular, CS faculty rarely agree to teach an independent study version of a normal course simply because a student is unable to take the course when it is regularly scheduled. Independent study blocks are not a way to get college credit for working on personal projects or building computer games. You must discuss your independent study topic idea with a CS professor and get approval prior to enrolling. Because of the high ratio of students to faculty currently in the CS program, very few requests for independent study blocks can be accommodated.
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