"Debugging skills may come in handy at yard sales."
Most advising happens in person and over email, but we do meet several times as a group.
Slides from CHOICES -- What is CS, job prospects, CS at JMU, student panel, curriculum.
1st Semester Modules -- A ton of information! Go back and check out all the links sometime.
Slides from Springboard -- Advisor/advisee roles, GenEd, catalog, college/dept websites, etc.
1787 Advising Session -- Modules review, time management, the syllabus, honor code Q&A.
It's never too early to start planning out the next four years. In fact, the sooner the better!
Sample Plans of Study -- Which courses you need each semester.
CS Prerequisites -- Make sure you take classes in the correct order.
Course Descriptions -- Refer to the official JMU undergrad catalog.
Academic Advising -- JMU's official website with lots of resources.
Here are some of the questions I have answered over email in the summer.
CS 101 is a new course that gives a broad overview of computer science, rather than focus solely on programming. It's designed to be as difficult as CS 139/149, but it concentrates more on fundamental concepts than technical skills. See the CS 101 website for more details. This course is currently an elective, but there are plans to make it required for all CS majors at some point. It's definitely worth taking.
CS 139 is essentially the same as CS 149, except that it meets for four days per week (250 minutes) instead of three days (150 minutes). Both courses arrive at the same point; it's just that CS 149 doesn't cover in great detail the basics that people may have already learned in high school classes and/or clubs. You can take CS 149 even if you don't have any prior experience.
About 2/3 of our incoming majors have no programming experience, and CS is only offered in about 25% of high schools nationwide. So we really don't expect students to have any background. There's nothing specific to prepare for CS 139/149, but I can give you a few pointers if you have some extra time this summer. The best place to start learning to program is Code.org.
Pretty much any laptop you can find will do. I finished my PhD on a $300 netbook with no problem. Now I have a Macbook Pro because I like the hardware. But it's more a question of personal preference than recommended specs. In my opinion, the most important aspect is how large/heavy it will be to carry around all day. 13-inch is popular among students and faculty. 15-inch has a nicer display but costs more.
The Macbook Pro is fairly top of the line but overpriced. If you plan to buy a Mac, wait until the next model comes out. They always keep the same prices and upgrade the hardware periodically. Keep an eye on MacRumors to know when to buy. And order via the Apple Store for Education to get the student discount. Or just get yourself a reasonable PC and install Linux Mint as a 2nd OS -- that's what we use in the CS labs.
Nope, pretty much everything we use is free and open source. Some students prefer to buy Microsoft Office (you can get the student price at the bookstore). But I recommend using LibreOffice instead, which not only is free but also superior in a number of ways. All the fancy development tools we use for doing computer science are freely available, developed by CS people for CS people. It's a great community to be a part of.
You should go ahead and buy/rent your books before the semester begins. Visit the JMU bookstore website to find out what you'll need for each course. I recommend shopping around online to find the best deals (e.g., Amazon, eBay, Bigwords). Since the first day of class is only a few weeks away, you'll want to order soon. Of course, you can always visit the bookstore when you get here if you need anything last minute.
Here are some of the questions I have answered over email in the fall.
The old CS 239 has been renamed to CS 159. We no longer offer CS 239, but it's still in the catalog and on several websites for historical reasons (e.g., transfer students sometimes get credit for 239). You need a B- or better in CS 139/149 in order to take CS 159.
CS 227 and MATH 227 are essentially the same class. The main difference is CS 227 is taught by a CS professor (e.g., Mata-Toledo) and MATH 227 is taught by a Math professor (e.g., Jones). Only CS majors take that class, so just pick whichever one fits your schedule.
No, unless your math placement score prevents you. CS majors typically take both 159 and 227 their 2nd semester (in addition to any other math courses like calculus or stats). Both 159 and 227 are required in order to move on to CS 240 next fall.
The CS department's override process is described here. If you have an unusual circumstance, then it might be possible to work things out. However please don't ask for an override just because you "really want" a specific section of a course.