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I'm a high school senior, and I'm applying for various colleges. Among them, Stony Brook, which I understand has a very good CS program. My grades are good, so I'm not concerned about getting into college; however, I do want to get into Computer Science Honors. The Honors courses are smaller, and the core sequence is two courses rather than three (though since I'm in AP Computer Science, which I find to be a joke, I don't really benefit from the compressed lessons).

However, they want a 93 GPA (amongst some great SAT scores that I already have), and I'm at a 93.24. I want to maintain this so I can get into the program and enjoy the smaller class sizes. Great, except that the studying I do in high school (three AP courses, including CS) eats heavily into the time I'd like to spend programming. If I had zero homework after school, or even no school, then I would jump on my computer immediately and continue this one program I'm working on, which is ironically something that outputs the courses I want to take in college in a neat and formatted HTML file. That's why I can't wait to get to college. I did the math, and on average I'd be in class much less in college than in high school, freeing me up to program (which I'd be doing a lot of anyway).

Of course, I do make time in the evenings to relax so I can maintain sanity and sleep; but by then, it's close to bedtime, and I'm not as "on the ball" as I'd like to be, especially since I try to get to bed by 11 (maybe midnight). Weekends seem to be a theoretically good time to program, if I don't have homework, but why limit myself to two days of the week? I might also be good for mornings, but if I'm sitting through a Forensic Science lecture then how will I know?

I do have around six months of independent C++ studying under my belt, as well as some Processing. You can see a bit more, plus two projects, on my site; obviously, I give a damn about making cool things, that's not the issue. Yes, I do want to make games, thanks for guessing, but that will come later on once I have some experience under my belt.

I also have a study hall in school, but this may not actually be the best time for me to program; my school actually gives computers to its students, but does not allow them to bring their own from home. My development environment is there, but not here, and shifting code back and forth really breaks the flow and makes things difficult, in my opinion. Also, Code::Blocks doesn't seem to work on my school computer, which really blows. (I spent today's study hall writing this sob story up.)

Ultimately, what I ask here is, what advice can you guys offer in setting aside time to program? I'm something of a perfectionist, which I really hope won't be my downfall. I'm currently at a point where I have to compromise to get my coursework done; I'm behind on some calculus, for instance, and didn't study very much for my test today because I spent last night reading The Communist Manifesto and a chapter about Russia from my AP Comparative Government textbook.

Oh, and I own an Arduino if that inspires any solutions.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 9 '11 at 15:40

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

closed as off topic by Morons, Yannis Rizos, Dan Ray, Anna Lear Dec 9 '11 at 16:23

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This site is for solving problems related to programming, not helping you time-manage yourself. –  Moo-Juice Dec 9 '11 at 15:38
There is simply no answer to this question. –  psynnott Dec 9 '11 at 15:40
Stop programming - you sound a little bit obsessed. Get out of the house, do something interesting and fun. Programming is not about writing code, it's (mostly) about solving problems. Everything you learn and every experience you get counts towards your problem solving skills (The Communist Manifesto included). –  Yannis Rizos Dec 9 '11 at 15:55
Get your priorities straight: Get a good education! –  user1249 Dec 9 '11 at 16:12
I'm sorry your question got migrated here unnecessarily, but it is also off-topic here. If you're trying to work out time management issues, you can try asking on our sister site, Personal Productivity, although they might already have questions that cover making time for personal projects/hobbies in a busy lifestyle. –  Anna Lear Dec 9 '11 at 16:25

3 Answers 3

I would say that you shouldn't be so uptight.

There is little reason to try to get as much programming experiance under your belt as possible. You'll have plenty of time later.

A few tips:

(1) ssh into linux box during study hall.

I do have a solution for you to maximize your time in study hall.
Do you have internet access while at school? (It seems you do.)

If so, setup a Linux box and then ssh into it. You can do all your development on this box and you'll get valuable Linux experience as well.

Further, Linux experience is extremely useful for any developer and it's not taught at university.

(2) Do as much of your studying in school as possible

When I was in high school, I almost never studied outside of school. If your high school is anything like mine, you'll have 50% 'hard' classes and 50% 'complete waste of time' classes. (I didn't have a 4.0 though, 3.89)

You should be able to do all of your 'hard' class homework/studying during the other classes. Further, why aren't you using study hall to do the homework you're apparently so busy with instead of goofing of on stackexchange?

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-1 for "ssh into linux box during study hall". –  user1249 Dec 9 '11 at 16:13
@ThorbjørnRavnAndersen elaborate? if he's going to be goofing off in study hall anyway, what's wrong with sshing? See at the end where I did suggest he study in there instead. –  user606723 Dec 9 '11 at 16:16
We used Linux nearly exclusively. Even had a Linux user group for advanced stuff.. so I would say it depends on your university. –  Dylan Yaga Dec 9 '11 at 16:17
@DylanYaga, Same here, but even if my university didn't use it, my job does now. It's really a good thing to have during a job interview. –  user606723 Dec 9 '11 at 16:18
@user606723 I agree, Linux is a major plus, if even for just diversifying your OS experiences. –  Dylan Yaga Dec 9 '11 at 16:22

So this question will probably be closed or migrated (perhaps to PM.SE), because there's nothing really about software development here, but let me clear up a few misconceptions.

The Honors courses are smaller, and the core sequence is two courses rather than three (though since I'm in AP Computer Science, which I find to be a joke, I don't really benefit from the compressed lessons).

AP Comp Sci is very different from legit Computer Science. Learning iteration will not make you a CS god. I looked at the Stony Brook curriculum, and the theory sequence (CSE150, CSE350) has almost nothing to do with what you learn in APCS.

In college you have many other extracurricular commitments. I have less free time in college than I did in high school, yet I code much, much more (ignoring coursework of course). Don't see college as a magic escape, because you'll be disappointed.

It seems like you've also found lots of ways to have a problem. You propose alternatives x,y, and z, then you say why they don't work. I hate to sound rude, but in the real world, nobody cares about problems - they want solutions. So here are some solutions:

  1. Wake up an hour earlier, and code.
  2. Work weekends regardless. 2 days > 0 days.
  3. Work on different projects during study hall. There are many browser based IDE's/editors, and you can use Dropbox or email to keep your source stuff intact. It's not the best alternative, but it's better than nothing.

Also, the minimum requirements for Stonybrook Honors CS are a 93 average. Doesn't mean you're guaranteed to get in. Best of luck anyways though! Even if you don't, you can transfer into that later on.

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Don't get ahead of yourself. You should focus on where you are at. If I'm not mistaken you have a full week off from school coming up.

1 week off = free time = programming time.

It is possible that if you focus on your classwork without worrying about your next chance to program, you will finish work more quickly and find yourself with opportunities to finish your pet project.

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