What are the top brick-and-mortar and online colleges and universities for computer science?
According to the 2010 U.S. News & World Report rankings, the 4 best colleges for computer science are Carnegie Mellon University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley. All 4 of these universities received a perfect 5 in their computer science university ranking, which is based entirely on surveys sent to academics who rank each school’s program.
While there are several accredited online colleges for computer science, online computer science colleges generally rank lower than traditional brick-and-mortar colleges as they are newer and have not yet had the chance to establish themselves.
In addition, hands-on instruction is important in a field like computer science, and while many online computer science programs offer virtual labs, students at on-campus computer science universities have access to a wider range of hardware and software. These additional resources better prepare students for careers in the field. However, if you are a student earning a computer science bachelor degree online, you can gain similar experience through an internship or by working in a computer science related field, such as IT service or support, during your studies.
What extracurricular activities should I pursue when I am studying computer science in college?
The best extracurricular activities for students enrolled in a computer science college program include robotics and programming clubs. One national organization that has chapters at the best computer science universities and colleges is the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). ACM generally welcomes all students interested in computers and computer science, not just computer science majors, so it is a good way to meet students from all walks of life.
Female computer science students also have a chance to meet other women in the field by joining the Association for Women in Computing. These clubs and professional organizations can help students network and may even lead to future jobs.
If you are a student studying computer science online, you may not have access to on-campus extracurricular activities, but that does not mean you cannot join a local computer science organization in your town or city. Many of these local computer clubs get together to not only discuss trends in computer science but also build computers and robots or work on software projects. As a computer science student, you can make a valuable contribution to such a community.
What volunteer opportunities will I have at my brick-and-mortar or online computer science university?
While the top colleges for computer science may provide on-campus volunteer opportunities for computer science students, almost every student can find such opportunities in their community, even if they are studying online.
For example, computer science students can volunteer at just about any nonprofit organization that uses computers. Public libraries have many public computers but usually not enough staff to service them, so computer science students can volunteer their time by upgrading or servicing public computers.
You can even volunteer to upgrade the software or service the hardware used for keeping records at your local animal shelter or soup kitchen, or you could teach computer science basics to underprivileged children or teens. This experience not only looks good on your resume but also gives you the nice feeling that comes with using your knowledge for a good cause.
While larger nonprofit organizations may have their own IT departments, computer science students can still find volunteer opportunities by offering their IT services free of charge to existing departments or taking on IT services for a smaller nonprofit that may not have the resources for its own department. By working alongside IT professionals, even on a volunteer basis, you can gain valuable experience that will supplement your classroom or online education.