If you’re a computer science student, you’re bound to have heard of the infamous CSCI 104: Data Structures and Algorithms class. And when hearing about this class, I’m sure you’ve often heard it related to ‘free-time killing’ and ‘life ruining’, but is it really that difficult?
Going into my second semester at USC, I was quite nervous. Throughout my first semester, whilst taking CSCI 103 & 109, I had constantly heard people say “just wait for 104, that’s where the real ‘fun’ begins”. As a result, I was a bit anxious starting the famously difficult class as I worried that I was in for a semester full of busy work and long nights. However, after making it through the ‘free-time killing’ class, it’s safe to say that my first impressions weren’t exactly true.
Now, CS 104 is definitely a lot of work. While it isn’t the 25 hours a week that some people claim it to be, there are definitely some late nights spent working on assignments. What I never realized before taking the class, however, is while there are definitely long hours spent working, this work translates into invaluable education.
The goal of education is to form a foundation of skills and principles within a student which he/she may use to grow. Looking back on my past two semesters, I realize that my learning hasn’t come directly from the lectures or exams, but rather from the late nights spent learning difficult concepts and finishing lengthy assignments. As a result, I feel that my computer science foundation has grown immensely in the past semester and would argue that CS 104 is one of the most beneficial classes I have ever taken, and will remain so as I move into the future.
Therefore, as you look toward any difficult classes you may take in the future, I encourage you to not only take the workload into account but also to look at the foundation you have the potential to gain. At the end of the day, the real learning is done on those late nights – working on that homework assignment or finishing that last chapter of studying – as you truly build the foundation for the rest of your life.