Computer science is becoming one of the most popular college majors, with high-paying jobs awaiting graduates. If you’re considering studying computer science in college, the courses you take in high school can give you a head start.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Take math courses through at least pre-calculus, AP Computer Science, and electives like robotics, web design, and programming languages.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over the best high school classes to take if you want to study computer science in college and be prepared for a career in tech.
Mathematics plays a crucial role in computer science, so it’s important for high school students interested in pursuing a career in this field to take a solid foundation of math courses. Here are some math courses that are highly recommended for aspiring computer scientists:
Algebra I and II
Algebra is the building block of higher-level math and is essential for understanding many concepts in computer science. Through algebra, students learn to solve equations, manipulate variables, and develop critical thinking skills.
Taking Algebra I and II will provide a strong mathematical foundation for computer science.
Geometry is another important math course for computer science. It involves studying shapes, angles, and spatial relationships. Geometry helps develop logical reasoning and problem-solving skills, which are essential for programming and algorithm development.
Pre-Calculus is a rigorous math course that prepares students for advanced calculus and other higher-level math courses. It covers topics such as trigonometry, functions, and logarithms. Pre-Calculus provides essential mathematical tools that are used in various areas of computer science, such as data analysis and optimization algorithms.
AP Calculus (if offered)
If your high school offers Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus, it is highly recommended to take this course. Calculus is the study of change and motion and is widely used in computer science, particularly in areas such as machine learning and algorithms.
AP Calculus can earn you college credit and demonstrate your proficiency in advanced mathematical concepts.
AP Statistics (optional but recommended)
While not mandatory, taking AP Statistics can be beneficial for students interested in computer science. Statistics is the science of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data, which is crucial for making informed decisions and drawing meaningful conclusions.
Understanding statistics can enhance your ability to work with large data sets and design experiments in computer science.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for computer and information research scientists is projected to grow by 15% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Having a strong foundation in math will help you excel in this growing field.
Biology is a fundamental science course that can greatly benefit students interested in pursuing computer science. Understanding the principles of biology can provide a strong foundation for topics such as bioinformatics, genetic algorithms, and computational biology.
By learning about the structure and function of living organisms, students can gain valuable insights into the complex systems that are often simulated or modeled in computer science.
Chemistry is another science course that complements computer science studies. It helps students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential in both fields. In computer science, knowledge of chemistry can be applied to areas such as chemical simulations, molecular modeling, and computational chemistry.
Additionally, understanding chemical reactions and bonding can provide insights into materials science and nanotechnology, which are emerging fields in computer science.
Physics is a crucial science course for students interested in computer science. It provides a solid foundation in the principles of motion, energy, and forces, which are fundamental concepts in computer simulations and modeling.
Understanding physics can be particularly beneficial for students interested in areas such as computer graphics, game development, and simulations. Furthermore, knowledge of physics can help students grasp concepts related to algorithms, optimization, and artificial intelligence.
It’s worth noting that while these science courses are not mandatory for a computer science career, they can greatly enhance a student’s understanding and application of computer science concepts. By combining knowledge from different disciplines, students can develop a well-rounded skill set that can open up a wider range of opportunities in the field of computer science.
Computer Science Courses
Computer science is a rapidly growing field that offers numerous career opportunities. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in this field, it’s important to start building a strong foundation in high school. Here are some of the best high school courses to take for computer science:
AP Computer Science Principles
The AP Computer Science Principles course is designed to introduce students to the foundational concepts of computer science. This course focuses on problem-solving, computational thinking, and the impact of computing in the real world.
Students will explore topics such as algorithms, programming, data analysis, and the societal implications of technology. By taking this course, students will gain a solid understanding of the fundamental principles of computer science.
AP Computer Science A
The AP Computer Science A course is more advanced and focuses on programming concepts and problem-solving using the Java programming language. Students will learn about data structures, algorithms, and object-oriented programming.
This course prepares students for the AP Computer Science A exam, which can earn them college credit and demonstrate their proficiency in computer science to potential colleges and employers.
Programming and Coding Electives
Many high schools offer programming and coding electives that allow students to explore different programming languages and develop their coding skills. These courses often cover topics such as web development, app development, game design, and robotics.
Taking these electives can provide hands-on experience and help students further develop their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
It’s worth noting that while these courses are highly recommended, there are other ways to learn computer science outside of a traditional classroom setting. Online resources, coding bootcamps, and internships can also provide valuable learning experiences in the field of computer science.
While computer science courses are essential for building a strong foundation in the field, there are also other elective courses that can greatly enhance your skills and knowledge. These electives can provide you with a well-rounded education and help you develop additional areas of expertise.
Here are some elective courses that are highly recommended for high school students interested in pursuing a career in computer science:
Web design is a valuable elective course that introduces students to the principles and techniques of creating visually appealing and user-friendly websites. In today’s digital age, having a strong understanding of web design is crucial for any computer science professional.
Robotics is an exciting elective course that combines computer science with engineering and allows students to delve into the world of designing, building, and programming robots. Through hands-on projects and experimentation, students will learn how to use programming languages such as Python or C++ to control robots and automate tasks.
This course not only teaches valuable programming skills but also fosters problem-solving abilities and critical thinking. Additionally, robotics competitions and challenges provide opportunities for students to showcase their skills and creativity.
Studying engineering as an elective course can greatly complement your computer science education. Engineering courses focus on designing and building physical structures and systems, which requires a strong understanding of math, physics, and problem-solving.
By taking courses in engineering, you will gain insight into the practical applications of computer science principles and concepts. Whether it’s electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or civil engineering, these courses will enhance your ability to think analytically and apply your computer science knowledge to real-world challenges.
Remember, the field of computer science is constantly evolving, and having a diverse skill set will make you a more well-rounded and competitive professional. So don’t be afraid to explore other elective courses that align with your interests and passion.
By taking advanced math and science courses and choosing computer science and tech-focused electives, you’ll gain both broad academic knowledge and specific technical skills needed to succeed in a computer science program.
With the right high school preparation, you’ll have a solid foundation to build upon in college and the versatility to explore different career paths in the dynamic technology industry.