#MyFirstYear in Western Computer Science
Hi all - This is Adam, one of the UI/UX Designers at LEAP responsible for helping build and maintain our wonderful website! I’m currently entering my internship year in the Computer Science (CS) program at Western University. Despite having lots to share about all of my years in the program, the element of focus for today's post will be about freshman year and what to expect. Your first year in CS at Western University is what one may call the “Calm before the Storm” as the program is generally not very challenging in the beginning but becomes more-so challenging in the following years. There are only about 4 courses which you will be required to take in your freshman year; two of which will be math courses, and the other two Computer Science. 😪
🔢 CALC1000 - Calculus I: The infamous CALC1000 is a course many freshman science students take at Western University! Yes, your success in this course will depend on you doing the homework questions and/or assignments, but the best advice I can equip you with is to buy the test bank booklet at the Western Bookstore for $20 in September! I can confidently recall about 80% of the midterm exam being questions copied straight off of the various past midterms, and about 60% of the final exam following the same trajectory. Lucky for you, this pattern has not changed over the years so chances are the trick will still apply when you enter your first year at Western. On another note, if you’re a pretty decent math student, this course will probably be a walk in the park as most of it is simply a review from Calculus (MCV4U) and Advanced Functions (MHF4U). Only the last week or two of the course deviates from the Ontario Grade 12 curriculum! 👍
🐍 CS1026 - Fundamentals of Computer Science: To put it bluntly, this is one of the few courses you will take in your undergrad at Western CS which will apply to modern day software engineering. Typically taught by the enthusiastic Prof. Beauchemin or Prof. Bauer, CS1026 will introduce you to programming fundamentals utilizing the incredibly robust Python programming language. I imagine most students entering CS at any university have done at least some coding prior to completing high school so if you fall into that camp, this course will be a breeze. If you don’t fall into that camp, the course will most likely still be very manageable. Just keep an eye out for the tweet sentiment analysis assignment,it's a tricky one!
📈 CALC1301 - Calculus 2 || MATH1600 - Linear Algebra || APPLMATH 1201 - Applied Math: There are three math courses you can choose from to take in the second semester. Avoid Calculus II (CALC 1301) if you can, just trust me. If you plan on minoring in Game Design, taking Artificial Intelligence courses, or simply want to do an Honours Specialization in Computer Science, then take Linear Algebra (MATH1600). And finally, If you want the easy way out like I did, take Applied Math 1201 with all the Medical Sciences kids!
🖥️ CS1027 - Data Structures I: This is another course which will be immensely helpful in your future as it teaches you the basic data structures and algorithms that most programmers use in their daily jobs, and more importantly, their job interviews! Solis-Oba is one of the most controversial professors in our program. He alternates between (jokingly) making scathing remarks about his students, but then gives them a 3 day extension on their assignment. He can give you a difficult exam one month, and then an effortless one the next. He certainly knows how to keep his students on edge which is important as this course will definitely be challenging at times. Be prepared for the endless debates within the CS community and your future friend groups about whether he is an angel or the devil in disguise.
Speaking of friend groups and communities, you’ll be glad to hear that CS is one of the more tight-knight programs at Western. It’s far too common to see peers in work-oriented university programs pit themselves against each other in the name of better grades or future internship placements, but this culture is simply not tolerated in the program.
You’ll find an assortment of group chats where students openly exchange crucial information regarding assignments, quizzes, and exams. I’ve also seen certain people offer one-on-one help and even job referrals! 😱 My current friends/study group were random people I decided to meet up with after chatting with them online during one of our first CS1027 assignments. Looking back, I’m very thankful for putting myself out there socially as I can’t imagine how things would have panned out otherwise. If you want to gain access to these awesome group chats a good starting point will be joining the UWO Must Knows Facebook group where the links are typically posted!
There’s so much more things I would love to share with you about my time in the program, but there’s also only so much I can write here! I really hope you took out something from this short article and if you require any type of help or need any questions answered regarding the program or the department in general, don’t hesitate to reach out
👨🏻💻 Adam Salaymeh
4th Year CS @ Western University
UI/UX Designer @ LEAP Canada
About the Author
Adam has been with LEAP since April 2021, and alongside the marketing team, has helped expand LEAP’s website to accommodate for the various successful programs created to help secondary school students figure out what goals and dreams they wish to accomplish in their future!