What You Need to Know About CSCI-135 (CS 1) at Howard

This article is part of our mentor tips series, where Edlyft mentors share tips about the course they mentored with Edlyft.

CSCI-135 Mentor

Computer Science I: The Intro to Something Great

“CSCI 135 (CS 1) the real gateway to doing interesting things with your code.” — CS Major

You may have gone through rigorous python training in Intro to Computer Science, but at Howard Computer Science I is the real gateway to doing interesting things with your code. Computer Science I (“Comp Sci I ”) is a mandatory class for all computer science majors and minors, usually being taken in the second semester of freshman year.

This year (2021), it is being split into two sections: a C++ section and a Python section. The two sections will be covering the same concepts, all focused on improving your skill at coding and learning how to develop efficient programs.

What to Expect from CSCI-135 (CS I)

CS 135 (CS 1) has a strong emphasis on problem solving to develop a robust program. Many labs will be situational; you will be tasked with creating a program that effectively does what is requested and more.

Example Problem: You are given the last three orders of 10 random Amazon customers. Develop a program that can sort each order based on the requested information. Each customer’s data includes: Last Name, First Name, Phone Number, Order Price, Delivery Date, Address. Your program should print out the sorted results in the terminal, with each result being given its own line. It should take an input (“What would you like to sort this data by?”)

“The goal is to solve the problem given, regardless of the inputs.”

In CS 135 (CS 1) , the goal is to solve the problem given, regardless of the inputs. As such, your objective shouldn’t be to just make the program work with what you’re given, but to also check if it works with inputs you haven’t been given. This can make Computer Science I a challenging class if you aren’t sure where to start, but that’s okay! That’s why this article is here for you.

What makes CSCI 135 (CS 1) Fun?

Computer Science I is the class that really helps develop you as a computer scientist. Even though it can be hard at times, you really learn to utilize your chosen language in a very cohesive way.

“From struggling week one to learning how to complete a lab in CSCSI 135 (CS 1) on your own at the end is a very proud feeling of accomplishment. ” — CS Major

With CS1 at Howard, you are learning to write and create entire programs on your own, and along with that making use of debugging your code, analyzing problems, and designing solutions. From struggling week one to learning how to complete a lab in CSCSI 135 (CS 1) on your own at the end is a very proud feeling of accomplishment.

How To Best Prepare


Practicing coding problems on sites below can help get you comfortable with the idea of developing “holistic code” (code that works regardless of inputs) as well as providing interview preparation:

  • Leetcode
  • HackerRank
  • TopCoder

Participating in (private) hackathons (coding events) will also provide a similar environment. For those who feel stuck on problem solving, these options will allow you to practice in a stress-free grade-less environment.

Tactical Tips to Ace CS at Howard in General

If you’re unsure of your coding abilities, while the above works as well, reviewing coding concepts can help you feel more comfortable in this class.

  • Create a notebook solely for coding, and go over things you’re sure of and unsure of. This can be anything from variables to functions and classes.
  • Utilize online websites or old textbooks (if possible) to see how something works out or should be done.
  • When you finish reviewing a concept, try to implement it in an IDE without referencing (it’s okay to do that if you need to, though.)  Feel free to add onto this notebook over the semester! You can come back to it as a reference for when an assignment seems tough or if you’re not sure what computer science concept can help you do well in a lab.

Ways to Find More Support

Edlyft intends to make this experience a lot less intimidating, by providing a mentor that will be available to you throughout the entirety of the semester, a cohort of other students taking the class, and sessions to help you fully grasp the concepts. If you find yourself needing a little extra help, or just want a small community of other CS1 students, sign up here :)

In addition to these resources, Edlyft offers concept reviews and exam prep that allows students to become more comfortable when approaching different problems revolving around a concept. You can learn more about how to be a part of an Edlyft cohort by clicking below ⤵️

Get Support in CSCI 135


CSCI-135 Mentor

Aster is a Computer Science major graduating in 2023 from Howard