Entering CSE with No Coding Experience

Entering CSE with No Coding Experience

Stepping into CSE without a background in coding will feel bad and that's normal. Entering a degree that focuses heavily on a skill you’ve never tried can be extremely daunting.

Luckily you're not alone, not everyone started coding when they were eight! The first programming course (most likely COMP1511) you’ll take at UNSW starts from zero. COMP1511 assumes you have no previous programming knowledge, and walks you through all the fundamental skills of coding in a hands-on and approachable way, ensuring you get the skills you need to take later courses so fear no more!

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! On top of your tutorial-labs, there are multiple HELP sessions run both in person and online to provide additional assistance. CSESoc holds COMP1511 revision sessions and has several articles to help you with your smooth transition into becoming a good programmer.

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. Instead, spend the majority of your time on the easier exercises and focus on understanding them. Another note is in CS assignments, you will most likely be unable to finish all of it. This is completely normal, most of the time completing half of it will guarantee you a decent mark.

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. There is a big cohort in CSE and failing courses is more than common. Most people are pushing themselves hard, just like you are - you’re not falling behind, so don’t compare yourself! It is more important for you to understand the course content and material regardless of others. The only person you should compare yourself with is yourself from the past :D 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.

it's ok to cry and take a break!!!

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

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