How to get into computer science if your matric wasn’t what you wanted
All the news last week was about the annual matric results and what better pass rates actually mean. Now that the fuss has died down a little, we wanted to offer a little advice to those who wanted a career in IT but didn’t get the results they needed or couldn’t find a place at university. Lehlogonolo Sathekge, of student tech organisation Geekulcha, wrote this guest post on the subject for us explaining some of the options open to you.
To a lot of pupils who have passed their matric with low to moderate marks, the dream of pursuing a career in computer science might seem a bit far fetched. Don’t worry: whatever you’re feeling right now that is just a perception you can overcome. We’re here to let you know that it is not impossible to branch into this field of study, regardless of your marks.
So what exactly is “Computer Science” and what’s it all about? According to Wikipedia, “Computer science (abbreviated CS or CompSci) is the scientific and practical approach to computation and its applications”. Its sub-fields can be divided into a variety of theoretical and practical disciplines which include programming, artificial intelligence, computer and network security, and so on. These options will of course vary depending on the institution you enroll in.
Now let’s break some of the myths behind this career (and others that relate closely to it).
Firstly, although it has its advantages, you don’t necessarily need to get into a university and get a Bsc to follow the career path. I’d however advise those with the financial means and intellectual capacity to go that route. To the rest of you, consider the option of enrolling at a University of Technology. Not only is it cheaper, but the academic requirements to get in aren’t too high. Its a fair deal, considering the world of options you will have and the quality of education.
Meditate on the option of getting into a private college if your concern is more towards your matric results than money. The strength with private colleges lies in the fact that they aren’t as crowded as public tertiary institutions, which makes the environment for learning more conducive, as the style of presentation is more towards intensive teaching than lecturing.
What most learners aren’t awakened to are the various opportunities that don’t require you to be registered at an academic institution. There are quite a few free learnerships that are focused on specific Computer Science careers and lead to immediate job placement. If you can, follow accounts or like pages that regularly give out information on how to go about applying for such as well as information on the latest bursaries and internships.
The reality however, is that for most of these options to be accessible to you and for you to be capable of finishing these courses, you will need to at least pass maths and English. Mull over taking 6 months off to upgrade your mathematics and English grades to levels between satisfactory and excellent. You know your abilities, so no pressure.
Now to the important facts. Classroom and lecture hall learning is not enough. You will need to constantly sharpen your skills to stay current. Read books, do online research and attend tech events. Moreover, you will need to push extra hard to get ahead of your peers. Don’t be put off working for free if you have to to gain experience, as there is much to learn and experience to gain in return.
Finally – and I may be a bit biased on this one – if you happen to be a serious geek and a tech head, join Geekulcha.
We’re a small organisation that gathers some of the most talented, skilled and ambitious tech students to help them learn and connect with industry leaders while putting some of their skills to work. Visit us at http://www.geekulcha.com/ more. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or Instagram.