You’ve finally done it. After every admissions test, interview and A-Level exam, your place is confirmed for Computer Science at Oxford or Cambridge. Of course, you need plenty of rest over the summer, but there’s also plenty of time to prepare for your Computer Science degree.
When you feel ready to face academic work again, take a look at this list of things you can do to prepare yourself for studying computer science at university:
Revisit Project Euler
Lots of the problems on Project Euler will put your mind back into the right frame for solving university style problems. The website is constantly being refreshed with new problems, so this is a good way to get your brain back in gear!
Practice programming, and maybe learn a language
Programming is an essential part of any university Computer Science course, so it’s a good idea to get some practice before arriving. It is not essential that you learn the programming language associated with your course before you arrive at university, as this will be covered from the foundations when starting your course. However, the technique of learning and manipulating a language is a crucial skill. A basic and easily accessible language like Python is a good place to start. You could also try the programming languages used by Oxford and Cambridge.
Revisit your A-Level Pure Mathematics content
It is important that you are confident and familiar with all of the A-Level Maths content, as this will be presupposed – maths is a big part of Computer Science at university! Further Maths, although not compulsory for either course, is highly recommended, and it’s worth having a look over any Further Maths content you may have covered. If you didn’t study Further Mathematics, it can be worth getting hold of some Further Core textbooks, and trying to understand some of the essential content from them.
Do any summer vacation work set by the university
It is likely that you will have some problem sheets assigned, to help you bridge the gap between school and university. Although these may get lost in your email inbox and become easily forgotten about – I’ve been there – it is so important to do these. These questions will cover the content your lecturers think it’s important you know, so indicate the topics you will be expected to understand and be familiar with from the outset of the course.
Read around the subject
It is likely that your interest may have waned over the gruelling and taxing A-Level period, so take some time to investigate further into the subject, and explore the topics that originally attracted you to it. Read news articles on AI, investigate areas of databases and technology that interest you, and watch YouTube videos on key computer science concepts (a good channel is computerphile.) If your excitement is dwindling, this will reignite your passion for the subject you’ve chosen to study at university. You could also take a look at our list of further reading for Computer Science!
The most important thing: get excited! You’ve worked very hard to get to this point, and you finally get to embark on the journey of your Computer Science degree. Congratulate yourself on getting an offer and meeting it, and start looking forward to university.