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Resources for High School Students to Learn Computer Science

Computer science is a complex subject that deals with the theories about what computers can do, and can cover a wide range of topics. Some are more concrete, like which are the most efficient algorithms to make a specific program or system run properly.

Others lean toward more theoretical concepts, like coming up with potential applications for new technologies and software programs. 

A successful career in computer science requires proficiency in a multitude of skills like coding/programming languages, an understanding of software development, and strong mathematics and statistical skills. If you’re a high schooler and these ideas sound interesting to you, why not start now? There are many resources out there for young people to begin their computer science journey, and there are plenty of advantages to learning these skills at a young age.

Books and Other Resources

While books can’t teach you everything you need to know about computer science, they are an effective and inexpensive way to get started. Keeping notes in your books helps enable you to refer back to a particular subject quickly and is always good to have around as a refresher of basic concepts. Here are some ideas to start building your collection:

  1. Effective Java, 3rd Edition by Joshua Bloch: This book typically appeals to visual learners most, since it combines vivid imagery and illustrations with exercises to help you practice and make sure the material is understood before moving on to more complex concepts. 
  2. Computer Science Illuminated 7th Edition by Nell Dale and John Lewis: Computer scientists need to be familiar with multiple programming languages to be successful. This book offers introductory lessons in JavaScript, Python, C++, and more.
  3. Introduction to Computer Science by Perry Donham: This book details the history of computer science, then moves on to discuss hardware, software, and cybersecurity. It is targeted toward high schoolers who have no technological knowledge.
  4. Hacking: The Art of Exploitation by Jon Erickson: Exploring potential vulnerabilities in your programming is a key component of success in computer science; being able to see potential weak spots before they happen will make you a much more efficient worker.
  5. The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide by John Sonmez: This book assumes a basic familiarity with the Java language, but it is still suitable for relative beginners. It explores different methods of software development and explains why different approaches work for different ideas.

High school students who are interested in computer science can also get an early start by taking the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science course. The exam that is taken at the end of this course is the only College Board accredited test where students write a computer program from scratch. The exam exclusively tests students in Java and is unlikely to change or add programming languages soon. 

Once you become proficient in coding, you may be interested in the USA Computing Olympiad. It is held multiple times a year and students are encouraged to enter as often as they’d like to take advantage of the additional practice. If you’re curious about what the competition entails, you can check out some problems from past USACO competitions to see what it’s like. 

Learn Computer Science in NextGen’s Summer Classes

If you’re interested in computer science classes that are specifically designed for high schoolers, check out NextGen Bootcamp’s computer science classes for high school students. Students can attend in-person computer science courses at their location in New York City, or attend a live online computer science class remotely from their home. Both classroom options include expert instructors and small class sizes so students are sure to get the support they need with such complex material. NextGen also allows students to retake courses for up to one year after the original course date. 

The Computer Science Summer Program can be completed in-person or live online. Both of these cover computer science and programming basics, as well as data science concepts that are highly in-demand in today’s job market. These classes are ideal for high school students with a limited understanding of computer science concepts. As long as you can use your Mac or PC proficiently, you can take a course with NextGen Bootcamp. 

Career Paths with Computer Science

Computer scientists are highly sought after in today’s job market, and this is only going to continue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 11% job growth in this field in the next decade. Computer science is a broad term, and most people who work in this field have a specialty area that they work within. Below, you’ll find some of the most common computer science career paths to give you an idea of what your post-graduate career might look like.

Cybersecurity is one common area where computer scientists can find employment. These professionals help companies protect sensitive information. They also frequently communicate with more non-technical employees to describe the dangers of phishing attacks and inform them about other issues that will help keep the company safe. Because hackers are consistently growing more sophisticated in their attacks, careers in this area are predicted to grow at an astounding 32% in the next decade! The median pay for security professionals is close to $100,000 per year.

Artificial intelligence is another specialty where computer scientists frequently put their skills to use. These careers are becoming more necessary as demands increase in complexity and are no longer able to efficiently be done by humans. For example, AI is being used in the Department of Defense to identify potential threats for both civilians and in cyberspace. A human simply could not analyze such a large amount of data at once, but AI does not have the same limitations. Artificial Intelligence Engineers are offered a wide range of salaries, but they typically average over $100,000 annually. 

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