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Advice from CSCI 1200 Data Structures Students, Spring 2014
Prior programming experience, knowing C++
"CSCI 1100 was definitely helpful coming into this! But other than
that, I had no computer experience and I learned a lot!"
"I was not familiar with C++ beforehand and did fine, though taking
CS1 first rather than skipping it and going directly to Data
Structures was a good choice."
"You don't need any prior experience with C++ programming (I
certainly didn't have any). But at the same time, if you don't have
any, don't expect to cruise through this class."
"Experience in Java is helpful, as the syntax between Java and C++
is very similar."
"Familiarize yourself with C++ before the class."
"There are many online tutorials that can help teach you the basics
of C++. Even just learning the syntax and the process of compiling
will go a long way."
Who should take this course
"I would say that anyone who has taken Computer Science I and
enjoyed it should take this course."
"I would definitely recommend that EVERYBODY I know take this
course. I don't think I've ever learned more from a class and I am
a senior graduating with two majors so that's not for lack of taking
courses. No prerequisites are necessary in my opinion, just spare
time and some self-driven motivation."
"Make sure you have a keen interest in computer science before
taking this course."
"Don't take it if it's not a requirement for your major or you're
not interested in programming."
"If you're interested in stuff this advanced, you're probably
already a CS major."
"Be prepared to spend 10-12 hours a week on homework. If you know
what you're doing, it will take significantly less time than that."
"Take the course. As an engineer the workload is pretty
typical. Everyone complains about it, but that is mostly because
they aren't used to RPI workload yet."
"This course is a big step up from CSCI 1100."
"Don't be involved with too many social activities."
"Don't take Intro to Bio at the same time. They don't mix."
"I strongly suggest taking 16 credits or less when taking Data
"Allocate a ton of time for homework. You really don't need anything
prior to taking this class, but the less experience you have, the
more time you should allow for working on homework."
"Do not underestimate the amount of time assignments will
take. Start reading the as soon as they are posted. Do not assume
you will not run into issues even when you think you are almost
"Make sure that you put the necessary amount of time into the class
and do not be afraid to ask for help from any of the different
resources. The concepts take time to understand and the homeworks
take a lot of time to do, so allot your weekly time wisely."
"Do the work and put in the time and you'll be fine."
"Find a study group."
"Make friends in the class, make friends with people who have taken
the class before. You cannot do this class by yourself."
"Be committed to learning."
"Create good study habits."
"Be consistent with your programming practice. I was successful
through continual hard work in the course along with a desire to
learn and a refusal to fail."
"One of the most important keys to success in this course is your
own determination. Even if you did not get an A in CS1, you have
to believe that you are capable of doing well in this course."
"Look at the first homework, and if you think you could do it using
C++ or any other language, you're probably good to go."
"Do not be discouraged by the first test/hw."
"Keep physically and mentally healthy."
"You have to go to all the lectures if you want to understand -- do
not miss any!"
"No laptops in class."
"Take notes and participate in class to finish the in-class exercises."
"Go to lectures and try your best to pay attention. Also answer
questions and write down every example... you don't know when those
will come in handy."
"Start the lab checkpoints before lab, that way you can get full
credit for the labs"
"Take full advantage of labs to get your questions answered."
Homework advice, starting early
"Start the homework early, at least by Sunday."
"My advice would be to not procrastinate homework."
"Start the homeworks the weekend they are assigned so you are at
least thinking about them the entire week."
"Start the HW on Thursday. YES, I am talking about the second you
submit the previous HW."
"Always start it at least four days in advance, and do not be
afraid to go to office hours if you're stuck."
"Start the homework a week before it is due. Don't panic."
"I would start it on Monday and still have trouble getting it done
ahead of time."
"Start the homeworks on Saturday. Call it Data-rday, get a group of
friends together, get snacks, celebrate it, and then come in with
questions on Monday for the TAs because Office Hours on any day
besides Monday are horrendous."
"Don't push your homework to the last day it is due."
"I would recommend doing the programming assignments over a longer
period of time, not in one or two nights, so you have adequate
opportunity to ask questions if need be."
Homework advice, late days
"Late days should only be used in emergencies or on particularly
"Don't anticipate using a late day."
"Don't use your late days early in the semester."
"Don't blow all your late days on the first few assignments."
General homework advice
"You will learn alot if you do all the homeworks."
"Writing pseudocode or breaking down an assignment into little notes
"Don't be discouraged if the solution to the assignment does not
come instantly. These assignments are designed to make you think
hard about a problem."
"Drawing a visual of the data structure helps immensely."
"Watch for corner cases."
"If you feel homework is too easy, then work on improving the time
efficiency of algorithm."
"Be prepared for late nights and frustratingly hard work."
"Think happy thoughts and stay positive when debugging. Don't
let those mountains of errors get the best of you!"
"Go to ALAC, tutors are much nicer than TAs/Mentors, more patience
and more helpful."
"I would also advise them to never be afraid of going to ALAC or to
TA Office Hours for help."
"You will not know everything. Ask for help."
"Go to office hours."
"If you go to office hours, go early and often. They were almost
"I know it is cold out, and windy, and it is late and it is far
away...but go to ALAC. Go to office hours. It will save you so much
strife. And go early, go on Monday and you will have a happy
"The biggest advice I would give is to attend as many office hours
as you can. Even if you understand the assignment, office hours is
a great place to get your homework done, and if you do end up
getting stuck, you can immediately resolve your problem as opposed
to spending hours debugging."
"Go to TA office hours, ALAC tutoring, and never give up. Use online
resources to figure out syntax and don't be afraid to ask questions
"Have patience with the office hours help queue."
"Go to office hours if you have problems, the TA's are great."
"Do more small problems, handwritten, than you are given. That way
you'll be faster in solving and writing out test problems."
"Be a very fast and neat writer."
"You'll have a very hard time on the test if you don't get a good
amount of practice writing code on paper."
"Write down the lecture exercises, they're great for reference on
the page of notes allowed for tests."
What resources did you find most helpful in learning the course material? (130 total responses)
online resources, e.g., stackoverflow.com, cplusplus.com, and google (53)
TAs / TA office hours (50)
lectures and/or lecture notes (29)
students from prior term (17)
current data structures students (16)
instructor office hours (4)
practicing coding (2)
back tests (2)
posted homework solutions (1)
private tutor (1)
Advice from Fall 2011 CSCI 1200 Data Structures students