Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Be Advised! - Q&A w/ CS Advisor Barbara Sabath

10:01 PM

Earning a position in the future of STEM takes a lot - hours (and hours) and tuition, mostly. But if you know where to look, MCECS advisers are on standby to help you save the time and money you might otherwise lose to registration mistakes and lost opportunities. prototyped is spotlighting advising with this "Be Advised!" series of posts.

Computer Science advisor Barbara Sabath can be found in the CS Department Office, with drop-in advising 9-10am Monday-Friday and 1:30-2:30 Monday-Thursday. Not only does Barbara make your individual academic plan and options clear and doable, she is generous with her time and easy to talk to.

If you are a Computer Science student, GO SEE HER. NOW! Or at least email her.

Please see below the Q&A she was kind enough to give for prototyped:

Q: What are a few keys to a direct and successful path through the CS undergraduate program?

A: One key to a successful path through the CS program is following the blue sheet as closely as possible. This means taking classes in the order presented year by year and in the sequence presented. Another key is being sure to have passed the prerequisite course before taking the next one. It would be a good idea to also review the CS Department webpage on the undergraduate program and be familiar with the rules on grading, etc. For example, all classes except Jr. cluster classes must have a letter grade. Finally, ask me your adviser if you have any questions--not your fellow Engineering or CS students. And I welcome all questions--all are important to save time and money toward your degree.

Q: When are the most important times in the CS undergrad program for a student to come see you? What about for a transfer student (e.g. from a local Community College)?

A: The most important times for a student to see me is before they begin the program. For freshman this would be at orientation and also afterward if they did not get the classes they planned on. This is important so we can find another class that works. Seeing or emailing me before registering for next quarter's classes is important. Around the end of sophomore year it is recommended that students see me about applying for admission into the CS Department and also about two quarters before a student is planning to graduate. That way we can catch DARS errors and check all the requirements when there is still time to add classes, if necessary, so the student can graduate on time.

Transfer students are welcome to see me before they are even accepted into PSU so they can plan their courses at a community college correctly. I can review transcripts and make suggestions and recommendations.

Q: What are a few of the biggest mistakes students make when they fail to seek advising?

A: The biggest mistakes students make are taking classes out of sequence and continuing to re-take a course without passing its prerequisite first. Another major mistake is to work on finishing all the University Studies courses first instead of consistently taking math and CS courses every quarter. I see students trying to skip or postpone undesirable courses which can set one up for failure, especially because timing is very important in the CS major and every course is placed on the blue sheet in that particular order for good reason (timing and preparation).

Q: Which classes tend to be most difficult for CS students? Any tips for preparation or help?

A: The most difficult courses for a number of students seem to be CS 250, CS 311, and CS 321. These courses require a lot of time and good math preparation. I suggest consulting your professor and TA for help and study aids. Do this early so you don't fall behind. I recommend forming or joining a study group as well and planning big blocks of study time in advance for that quarter.

Q: How can a CS undergrad set themselves apart when it comes time to find a job?

A: CS students can set themselves apart by participating in an internship while in school. Volunteer work also counts. They can create an electronic portfolio of projects they have completed apart from schoolwork. This shows employers their actual skills and what they have created as well as demonstrating motivation and initiative. I recommend all students attend the Career Workshops in resume building and interviewing skills, etc. to be able to present oneself well. Contact Frank Goovaerts, Director of Student Career Success, at or 503-725-2876.

Q: What is new or exciting in the MCECS CS department?

A: The fact that our PCEP internship program is growing ever larger is good news! 12 companies now participate. Our faculty continue to offer opportunities for undergrads to do research with them. See what they are up to here. A number of our women students in CS just attended the Northwest Regional Conference for Women in Computing and got a chance to network with others in the computing field. Be sure to read your CS/MCECS email for these opportunities.
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