13 Study Tips for Computer Science Students

Updated March 10, 2023

Finding the best way to study new material can involve learning about yourself. One way that some people narrow down their methods is to develop habits particular to their field of study. Computer science students often have many practical skills to work on and study, and using those skills can help them become successful and versatile students. In this article, we discuss 13 study tips for computer science students that you can use to develop your theoretical and practical skills.

Related: 15 Study Tips (Plus Steps for Studying Effectively)

13 computer science student study tips

You can use the 13 tips below to help you succeed as a computer science student:

1. Pursue knowledge outside of courses

While a fair amount of the knowledge you learn comes from classroom instruction, you can also pursue topics in your own time. For example, if you discover you enjoy a topic that only came up briefly during a class, you can use your own time to research that topic, learning more about computer science as you do so. You can also research computer science, information technology, aerospace and defense companies to understand what skills they currently need. Part of your research can include searching for internships, part-time and full-time jobs to understand the requirements that businesses have for potential careers.

2. Avoid last-minute studying

This is true for almost any subject, but particularly for computer science. Because a lot of computer science classes have practical exams, last-minute studying rarely works. This can help you avoid the stress of trying to learn new skills just before exams or other tests and allow you to be relaxed during a test because you're not worried about the last-minute subjects you tried to learn. For example, if you have a computer engineering class with an exam to fix a computer, studying the ways to do so at the last minute could create stress for you during the exam.

3. Develop theoretical computer skills

A majority of classes for computer science students are practical, but learning about theories can still be helpful. One way that you can do this is by studying the foremost computer design companies to see the directions that those companies take with their designs. Another way you can learn theoretical knowledge is by watching as new ideas for computers arise and which ideas people test and apply to the industry. Finally, you can read about historical theories in computer science and how they developed into the theories that the industry uses today in order to understand possible futures for computers.

4. Develop practical computer skills

Most of the practical computer skills you develop can be from the courses you take, but some of them you can develop on your own. For example, practicing creating small programs can help you learn a lot about programming that classes may not teach you. You can also practice rebuilding computer hardware and even designing and building your own computer to meet any needs you have. Other practical skills you can develop include learning mathematics that support the direction you want to develop as a computer scientist and learning how computer hardware has changed since the invention of modern computers.

5. Make connections with professors and other students

One challenge computer science students may face is that a lot of their studies are personal and prevent them from interacting with others. One way to overcome this challenge is to reach out to professors during their office hours, even when you don't need help with assignments and tests. Networking with them can help you keep in touch with changes in the field and some of the most recent research they have done. Speaking with your professors can also help you create lasting connections and aid in your future job search as you seek your first job in the industry.

Another way you can overcome the challenge is by communicating with other students in computer science and other fields. Speaking with other computer science students can help you learn better study habits, develop new ideas for projects, tests and assignments and create a sense of community within the industry. Talking to students in other areas like math can help you develop math skills beyond those of your computer science peers while talking to arts and humanities students can help you design creative solutions to challenges you may face in classes and help you develop a holistic network of future professionals.

6. Rest and relax

Resting and relaxing when you need to is a major component of studying for any student. Taking several courses with different topics and constantly working on assignments can contribute to fatigue and lead to higher burnout rates. Making time to relax can help you solve complex problems, design creative solutions and ensure that you are taking care of your basic need such as eating and sleeping. Resting when you're ill can help you recover more quickly, and understanding when you need to miss classes or work to take care of yourself can be a crucial component of your success.

7. Schedule time to study throughout a term

Because practical elements of computer science can take a long time to learn, it is important to create your own study schedule. Schools and universities may offer specific times to study, such as a reading day during final exams, but that's a day you can use to rest and relax before final exams. Creating a weekly day where you study can help you increase your productivity and remember information that is important for your exams. When you create your schedule, try to choose days and times where you can be free of distractions like sporting events and club activities.

8. Develop your math skills

Some parts of computer science require you to know the math behind how they work. Developing your math skills can help you be a more versatile computer science student and allow you to understand the material you use. You can develop your math skills by taking courses that are often encouraged by programs in computer science. You can also develop your maths skills by talking to math students and professors and researching how to do them using the internet. Finally, understand you only need to take math courses that support your focus on computer science and you can avoid others.

9. Learn how to write

Computer science students spend a lot of time learning how to write code and use programming languages, but being able to write in plain language can help you develop skills for a wider variety of careers. Writing in plain language can also help you understand how computer science, people and language are all related. Learning how to write has the potential to aid you in expressing your ideas and supporting theoretical and practical arguments through logical reasoning and rhetoric. Using writing to express yourself outside of academics can also help you rest and relax when you need a break.

Related: How To Free Write (With Tips and Prompts for Effective Professional Writing)

10. Use every available resource

Using every resource available to you can help you be a more versatile student. Many schools and universities offer their students several resources such as writing and tutoring centers, professors and other students. These resources are often knowledgeable in topics you need help with and can help you develop a wider knowledge of computer science. Universities and schools might also offer you a variety of student perks and discounts on programs you can use to develop your computer science skills. Using these can help you maximize your time during school and minimize personal costs you would otherwise have.

Other resources you can use include professionals and companies in the industry and the internet, all of which may provide insights into a variety of topics and areas that you may be unfamiliar with. Using every resource can also help you develop workplace readiness skills you can put on your resume and use for future employment opportunities you earn. Being able to use the internet in a reliable and trustworthy way can also help you find solutions to problems quickly, and develop a list of places you can go to learn about topics you're unfamiliar with.

11. Pursue internships

Pursuing internships while you're a student can be an excellent way to learn new skills and create time to study. Internships often give you real-world experience that classes cannot offer. They also allow you to practice any skills or knowledge you've earned and apply it to challenges and goals within a workplace. Internships can help you network with professionals in the field and determine what roles you want to pursue in the future. Finally, internships can help you create a robust schedule where you maximize the time you have to study, work and rest while taking care of your needs.

Related: A Complete Guide to Internships

12. Create a personal website

Creating a personal website and keeping it updated can help you use practical skills that you've learned as a student. Your website can hold several important artifacts, including your resume, projects you've developed or are working on, professionals you've networked with, links to other websites and many others. Using your personal website can show that you have the skills employers want and help you gain internships and even future full-time roles at computer science companies. Finally, a personal website may help others reach out to you with ideas and help you develop different ways to approach challenges in your field.

Related: 15 Computer Science Fields

13. Design and build an end-of-term project every term

Designing and building a computer science project every term allows you to build on skills you've learned in the past and apply new knowledge to your projects. Being able to work on a project can help you remember some of the most important and useful knowledge you have. Some of the best times to work on these projects are between school terms such as winter and summer breaks or long vacations from school. This can also make sure your skills are updated and well-practiced when you return for your next academic term, giving you an advantage over students who didn't.

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