Second semester freshman year can be very different from first semester for many Computer Science or Computer Engineering majors. Not only will you be taking two big, major specific classes, most CS or CECS students choose to pair these with other stem courses, such as math or life sciences. This semester can be a little scary for anyone who is not really familiar with Computer Science, so I will try to break down this challenging semester here.
First of all, the two classes that will probably be your focus for the semester will be CSCI 170, Discrete Methods in Computer Science, and CSCI 104, Data Structures and Object-Oriented Design. Let’s take a look at the first one, CSCI 170.
CSCI 170 is, at its essence, a discrete math class. You use logic and puzzle solving techniques to write proofs for facts that you may sometimes take for granted. Even thought at to how you would prove an odd number is an odd number without using the fact that you intrinsically know that it is an odd number? Or how you could mathematically prove that a certain number does not exists within a set of number? CSCI 170 gives you all the tools to do things like that but under the lens of computer science. We use proofs to prove the validity of our algorithms and use different types of function analysis and code review to determine how fast a certain piece of code will run simply by just tracing through it. All of these skills can be directly applied to our other co-requisite class, CSCI 104.
CSCI 104, USC’s infamous data structures class, is a class that will foster your development as a computer scientist like no other. Assignments are challenging and time consuming, tests are chalk full of content, and lectures are a non=stop stream of new material. The class will come off as intimidating, but have no fear, instructors will not toss you over into the deep end without some preparation. The semester will always start by reviewing information from the tail end of your previous CS course, CS 103, and will progress smoothly from there. Nothing in 104 is impossible; everything is completely doable with the proper preparation and time.
So, in all honesty, second semester of freshman year for CS/CECS will be difficult, no doubt about it. However, with the proper preparation, study skill, and time management, you will be able to succeed no matter what the odds!