Entering CSE with No Programming Experience

Entering CSE with No Programming Experience

If you're enrolled in CSE without a background in coding, you'll probably get it - it feels bad. Entering a degree which focuses heavily on a skill you’ve never tried can be extremely daunting.

Luckily this feeling couldn’t be further from the truth! The first programming course you’ll take at UNSW starts from zero. COMP1511 assumes you have no previous programming knowledge, and takes you through all the fundamental skills of coding in a hands-on and approachable way.

Even if some concepts can be more confusing than others (e.g. pointers), the team of tutors and other staff are always very patient and ready to help - make sure to utilise your available resources to the max, as they are all there to help you on your journey! Also, don’t be discouraged by some of the challenge exercises that will be thrown your way during the course, as not only are these optional, they are worth little to no marks in the grand scheme of things. Most importantly, spend the majority of your time on the easier exercises.

The one thing to watch out for...

...is not the course, but some of your peers. There’s a bit of “flex culture” in early level comp courses, where certain people like to show off their coding skill as loudly as possible. They humblebrag about how easy they found the latest challenge labs, how early in life they started coding, and how fast they finished the latest assignment using some obscure knowledge that you are definitely not learning in this course. The truth is these people are a vocal minority. Most of the people you meet are pushing themselves hard, just like you are - you’re not falling behind, so don’t compare yourself! Besides, this behaviour tends to disappear after the first year, and by the time you graduate the playing field will be far more levelled out. The only person you should compare yourself with, is you yourself in the past :D


Still feeling uncertain or out of place? Check out Caleb’s article on Imposter Syndrome for another perspective on the issue!

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