This article is part of our mentor tips series, where Edlyft mentors share tips about the course they mentored with Edlyft.
Author: Elena, UCLA ‘20, CS
PIC 10A is an introductory computer science course for students looking to learn how to do basic programming. No prior coding experience is required, but if you’re not confident in your abilities to use a computer, the math department recommends you take Pic 1 before taking Pic10A. This course will teach you programming essentials in C++.
“You’ll be able to [learn CS] without the intimidation of being in a curved class full of computer science majors.”
PIC 10A was recently created to provide students outside of the engineering school to learn how to program, so PIC 10A is an amazing opportunity for a variety of majors to learn how to program. The best thing about PIC 10A is that it teaches the same basics of C++ as computer science courses, but at a slower and more manageable pace. You will still learn everything necessary to be able to program, but you’ll be able to do it without the intimidation of being in a curved class full of computer science majors.
While PIC 10A is designed to be a more manageable version of it’s engineering equivalent courses, learning to code is always challenging just like learning any new language. C++ is quite different from the English language, so you not only need to learn the logic of how to get the computer to understand what you want it to do, but you also need to learn general language syntax.
“Computers are much more stupid than humans.”
If you were taking a foreign language course, you might speak with a native speaker and they may be able to infer some of the things you’re trying to say. Computers are much more stupid than humans, so the computer has no leeway when it comes to interpreting what you’re trying to say. If you miss one “;” or misspell a word in your code, the computer isn’t smart enough to figure out what you meant to say, so it is inherently difficult to learn programming languages.
“Code can easily look very intimidating, so make sure you aren’t expecting yourself to be an expert coder after a week.”
The most logical way to prepare for a course on C++ is to do some preliminary learning of C++ on your own. It’s important that if you decide to do this you are patient with yourself. Code can easily look very intimidating, so make sure you aren’t expecting yourself to be an expert coder after a week: there’s a reason the PIC 10A course gives you 11 weeks to learn the basics.
“No one was born knowing how to code.”
If you do not have time to try and familiarize yourself with some C++ code before your course starts, make sure you’re preparing yourself mentally. As long as you are willing to put in the effort, anyone can learn to code. Make sure you have a mentality going into the course where you believe in yourself and know that you can learn anything as long as you are willing to put in effort. No one was born knowing how to code, so even some of the best coders in the world had to work through the struggles of first learning how to code.