Welcome Class of 2024! The faculty and students of the Department of Computer Science can’t wait for your arrival. We know that you will bring a level of enthusiasm and excitement to the program that will propel us forward.
Undoubtedly you are feeling some anxiety as you transition into this exciting phase of your life. It’s normal to be apprehensive with any life change — it is especially normal to be apprehensive in this very strange year that is 2020. The best way to deal with that anxiety is to ask questions. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Department Chair, Dr. Will Suchan, with any questions or concerns. Some typical concerns about Classes and Computers are addressed below.
There will be plenty of guidance available to you about how to develop your eight-semester plan once you arrive on campus. But how do you make sure you are enrolled in the appropriate courses before the semester begins in the fall? The simple answer is this: as a new Computer Science major, make sure you are enrolled in the first programming course, CSC-1710, and make sure you are enrolled in a math course.
A typical schedule for a freshman Computer Science major is shown below, and yours should look somewhat similar. Your math class may or may not be Calculus I — that is determined as part of the math placement process. If you have questions about that, or if you think that because of AP credit or other experience you should be in a different programming course, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Suchan. If you have a question about your First Year Seminar or one of your other General Education courses (English, History, Foreign Language, etc.), contact your Success Coach.
You can review the four-year curriculum plans for a BA in Computer Science, BS in Computer Science, and a BS in Computer Science with a concentration in Cybersecurity. All three degree programs start out exactly the same. Note that the BA degree is designed primarily for those who are double majors. Most incoming students CS should be in a BS program.
While classroom and lab computers are always available for student use, students may prefer to have their own laptop. In the COVID-19 era, knowing that you are the only person touching your keyboard may provide some level of assurance. If you already have a serviceable laptop, don’t feel like you need to run out and purchase a new one. Check the recommendations below to see if your current computer will do the job. Note that tablets and other lightweight, bare-bones types of computers might be great for taking notes, but they may not be sufficient for actually doing your classwork.
Laptop computer recommendations:
• Operating System: macOS10.13 or newer, or Windows 10 (but not RT or S versions)
• Processor: Intel Core i5 Processor or higher
• Memory: 8-16 GB of RAM
• Storage: 256 GB or larger
• Network: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking
• Other: Internal or external webcam, carrying case, headphones, microphone
An industry-standard Antivirus program is highly recommended (at least a starter subscription is typically included with a new computer). All students have access to Microsoft Office 365 and 1TB of online storage through the university, and networked printers are widely available, so don’t feel compelled to spend on lots of extra hardware/software.
Again, if you have questions, please ask! Note that the university provides links to some manufacturer’s sites for student discounts. If interested, feel free to visit www.highpoint.edu/welcomeweek/computer-purchases.
Parents of Incoming Freshman
Parents…Congratulations! For the past two decades you have invested your time and energy into your child, and it’s now time to be rewarded for all your great parenting. Your child is off to HPU and will be studying a field that is in high demand — Computer Science.
You can expect that your student will be fully engaged in a demanding discipline, but you know that all their effort will all be worth it in the end. Your child is very bright and has always done well in school, and you are confident that their success will continue as they head off to college.
Unfortunately, you may soon find that conversations with your son or daughter are a little harder to interpret than usual. Here is a short primer on what you might hear, and how you may want to respond.
What you hear: I never have any homework!
The real story: Courses are designed to have two hours of out-of-class work for every hour in class. If your child has a typical schedule with 16 credit hours per semester, they should expect to have more than 30 hours of out-of-class work per week. Those 30+ hours will include specific homework assignments, but there is implicit work that they should be doing as well, such as reviewing class notes, practicing newly-learned skills, reading course material, and preparing for the next class.
A question to ask your student: Are you sure you are doing everything necessary to prepare for classes before you walk in, and to review class sessions after they are finished?
What you hear: It’s not a big deal if I miss a class or two!
The real story: Only one-third of the time allocated for a course is in the classroom, and every minute of that class time is precious. While a good deal of learning should be happening outside the classroom, professors use class time to tie concepts together, to provide real world context to course material, and to prepare students for upcoming lessons. None of that happens when the student isn’t there. Class time is used to clear up any misconceptions students may have about the material. Students who miss class carry those misconceptions with them into the exams, which is when the criticality of those missed lessons comes back to haunt them. Keep in mind that the good student isn’t the one who comes to class and understands everything. The good student is the one who comes to class and asks questions, allowing all students in the class to reap the benefits of the answers.
A question to ask your student: Do you ask at least one question, and answer at least one question, in every class?
What you hear: This class is too hard!
The real story: If classes were easy, everybody would be a Computer Science major, and CS graduates would not be in such high demand. While some classes are definitely harder than others, students can master any class if they have the right study habits. Unfortunately, many bright teenagers who did well in high school never had to develop good study habits. Fortunately, there is no need for those students to spin their wheels. In this department, every professor wants to help their students learn to succeed, every professor has many years of experience in doing just that, and every professor has office hours each day. There is no reason for any student with a desire to improve themselves to be unsuccessful.
A question to ask your student: Have you gone to see your professor during their office hours?
Rest assured that a great education is there for the taking, but make no mistake about it — your student must be an active participant in that process. Reading the textbook is necessary, but not sufficient. Showing up for class is necessary, but not sufficient. Education is not a spectator sport; there are no prizes for just showing up. You have probably told your child that you can only get out of something what you put into it. That is absolutely true when it comes to their education.
We have many graduates who started out as struggling freshmen, but learned how to persevere, learned how to learn, and have gone on to be highly successful in their fields. They realized that success is available to everybody, but it doesn’t come to you. You must actively pursue it.