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Old 02-03-2010, 12:17 PM   #1
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Default University IT courses, advice and pointing in the right direction?

Hey,
I'm 15, coming the end of my GCSE's, which I took Geography, History and Engineering.
At A-Level, I'm thinking of Computing, Maths, Physics and Geography (I enjoy it).
I'm looking at IT as a carrier, and don't really know what to do.
I'm always swapping between coding, game designing, and other stuff.
Right now, I'm liking Hardware Based IT, and coding as a hobby.
Have I chosen the right A-Levels? Anything I'm missing/should drop/advice
Any advice for University? I don't really know where to look ETC, so any ideas?
Sorry if this is the wrong section/forum, couldn't find any others
Thanks
Joseph Duffy
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Old 02-03-2010, 04:21 PM   #2
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Default Re: University IT courses, advice and pointing in the right direction?

Hi

Quote:
I'm 15, coming the end of my GCSE's, which I took Geography, History and Engineering.
At A-Level, I'm thinking of Computing, Maths, Physics and Geography (I enjoy it).
I'm looking at IT as a carrier, and don't really know what to do.
The A level subjects you've chosen there will be fine. If you're looking to do computer science at uni then the only requirement for many is maths - and even then a lot of universities don't enforce this requirement as much as you might think.

Computer science courses tend to revolve primarily around programming - I'm presuming this is what you're thinking of going into? You can take courses that don't do so much on the programming side, but for the most part if you're doing a straight CS degree this is what you'll focus on. What languages are you learning, either in computing A level or as a hobby? If there's one piece of advice I'd offer it's this - if you're going to learn a language, learn it properly. If you don't, you'll get into all sorts of bad habits which you'll just have to learn to undo later at uni and it'll make things harder rather than easier for you.

This is one of the main reasons universities don't in general require any previous computing qualifications. IT at GCSE is completely worthless and doesn't teach you anything useful, and programming taught at A level is often taught so badly it's useless to the universities anyway - they have to assume you know nothing and start from the ground up.

That said, if you can show them you've learnt a mainstream language (not VB) properly, they'll generally be impressed. Show them a load of awful VB code and they almost definitely won't be!

So yup - keep going with what you're doing, and keep enjoying what you're doing, but make sure you're not learning things the wrong way! And don't assume that just because you're taught it at school it's correct... I know a LOT of people that have come unstuck with programming this way.

Any specific questions on the programming front feel free to ask - I'm usually around fairly regularly in the programming section, as are others.

Oh and welcome!
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Old 02-03-2010, 04:34 PM   #3
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Default Re: University IT courses, advice and pointing in the right direction?

Thanks VERY much for that!
I'm still not 100% about Hardware or Programming, but I'm guessing now, there's no real difference if I choose something else.
I'm currently learning Cocoa Touch, iPhone Programming, and would put myself at the level 3.5/10, I can edit, but not really create from scratch and iPhone Application. I'm doing more now, as most of my exams have passed, so more time
Hopefully, by University time (2-4 years), I'll have App(s) released, that I can show
I'll remember it all, and just focus on my Cocoa Coding. I know A-Level is a joke, the past-exam I looked at was a joke, so it'll be a relax lesson xD
Thanks
Joseph Duffy
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Old 02-03-2010, 04:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: University IT courses, advice and pointing in the right direction?

Sounds good to me. Just a couple of pointers - creating applications for the iphone is all well and good but objective C isn't really the most used language around these days. You may be better off picking up another language such as Java as well - it'll be a bit more useful in the real world (developing for a few apple devices is about all objective C is really used for these days.) That said, if you've got some good apps you can show off that'll definitely be a plus when it comes to applying.

One other pointer:
Quote:
...would put myself at the level 3.5/10
There's no sliding scale like that I'm afraid Indeed it's often true to say the more you know about programming the more you realise you actually don't know!
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: University IT courses, advice and pointing in the right direction?

Joseph, welcome to the predicament.

im 15 (well 16 in like 3 weeks) and ive been mulling this over for quite some time.

im interested to see the outcome of your thread. I myself an going to most likely study ICT, Physics, chemistry and History at A-Level, then move on to a local computer college when im done with those. Hopefully go into a job in programming, IT support or developement.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: University IT courses, advice and pointing in the right direction?

I'm in a similar position to you, But I am one year ahead. I've taken Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry. From what I gather, all you really NEED to do Computer Science is a Maths or Physics A-Level, but Ideally you'll want both.

When you are looking for an actual university, then http://unistats.com is very helpful.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: University IT courses, advice and pointing in the right direction?

Quote:
From what I gather, all you really NEED to do Computer Science is a Maths or Physics A-Level, but Ideally you'll want both.
I wouldn't even put it as strongly as that - I don't know of any unis that were asking for both when I applied, most were just asking for maths. Despite that though, I know a few that even waived the maths requirement on interview. Not something to rely on though!

All in all, after my research a few years back I decided the best thing to do was to take maths and physics into 6th form (as well as computer science since it was offered) then head on for a straight computer science degree after that. I don't regret any of those choices - they've all served me well and I haven't looked back since.
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Old 02-09-2010, 11:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: University IT courses, advice and pointing in the right direction?

Thanks for the reply's...
I had a carriers meeting, and I learnt a bit...
To get into a small/not high achieving university (Such as my local one, Hull), you may need 200-250 UCAS points. To get into a top London university, it was A*AA, of which one A* MUST be in Maths, so it's incredibly varied.
I'd go for Maths, and Physics is a bonus. I'll get more info soon...
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Old 02-10-2010, 04:45 PM   #9
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Default Re: University IT courses, advice and pointing in the right direction?

HAve you thought about doing a btec/diploma or something at your local college? IF you are sure you want to choose IT as your career path then a computing course will give you more options if you want to work straight from college plus you get a bit of experience in coding/hardware/network etc
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