My First Summer Semester at Northeastern (Computer Science)
I recently finished my first summer semester at Northeastern University, which was all online and remote due to the current pandemic. At Northeastern University, the semester is divided into two parts, a summer I and summer II, where each part is half the length of a normal semester and you can only take up to two classes. It’s not required to take both and many only opt to take one summer semester. However, I decided to take both just because I had nothing better to do over the summer. Here’s what my transcript looked like:
CS 3500 — Object Oriented Design (OOD): I took OOD with all my friends in the same major since it’s a required class for all computer science majors. Despite it being all online, the course ran pretty smoothly and lectures were still synchronous. However, this is a programming-intensive course and I probably spent nearly 30 hours a week per homework. It didn’t help that homework was worth so much in the course, and the TA’s were quite inconsistent with the grading. I felt that the exam didn’t represent what we learned in class or homeworks, and office hours were insanely long. Despite all of that, it was easy to argue back some lost points in homework and exams, and there was a crazy extra credit assignment at the end of the semester that gave a lot of points; I was barely able to pull an A thanks to those extra points. Even though many of my peers and I struggled through this course, I still learned a lot from it, and it changed how I view programming. Looking back at my old code before I took this course, it’s quite crazy how little I knew about proper design. Since a lot of the material that we learned in this course is based on industry programming, it prepares us for when we work in the real world. I would highly recommend taking this class in the summer since I cannot imagine working this much for 12–14 weeks, compared to my 6–7 weeks. You also want to take this with a group of friends, otherwise you probably won’t have an easy time finding help since the office hours are both long and unhelpful.
PHIL 1260 — Apocalypticism in Film: I took this course in order to fulfill two of my NUPaths (Northeastern version of gen eds). I don’t understand why this class is under the philosophy category. This class was mainly just watching two movies a week, filling out a worksheet for each movie, participating in the online discussion, and showing up for the Zoom class. Most of the material that we learned was based of the religion definition of “Apocalypse”, so we watched a lot of movies based around religion (The Book of Eli, The Seventh Seal, Smoke Signals). However, we also watched movies around the Hollywood definition of “Apocalypse” and incorporated religious symbolism and meaning around those mainstream movies. Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed this class more if this course was taught in person since I signed up with a bunch of my friends and we planned on watching the movies together in class. We still watched the movies together online, but the feeling wasn’t the same. The worksheets in the class are super easy since the questions are mainly asking about things you see in the movie (no deeper level questions), and the discussions are super easy to bullshit. There are readings in the course, but I was able to get away with not reading any of it. There are two papers in the course, and I remember the first paper being due a week after the course started. However, she’s an extremely easy grader, and I was able to pull good grades on both of the essays without putting in any effort. I would highly recommend this class since it covers a lot of the requirements you need to graduate.
CS 3000 — Algorithms and Data: Another required course for all computer science majors at my school. This is like a complete 180 from OOD since the material taught in this course is all theoretical, and the homework lengths are much shorter (still took as much time as OOD however). Many of my peers from OOD decided not to take summer II, so I was alone for the most part in this course. It also didn’t help that the lectures in this course were all asynchronous, so it wasn’t much different from watching a YouTube video. However, the professor was always readily available, and we had access to his Microsoft teams. I was able to contact him whenever I needed help, and the office hours were also not busy (compared to OOD). The material itself can be challenging depending on the person. Personally, I didn’t think it was impossible but it also wasn’t easy. I still had to put in a lot of effort in the homework and exams, but I was rewarded with good grades (unlike OOD). I would highly not recommend taking this alone, since if you don’t have a professor like mine, this course will be really challenging. Since this is all theoretical, it’s almost impossible to pass without having someone to bounce off ideas with.
ENGL 3380 — Coded Content: With this course, I have officially finished all my NUPaths (gen eds). This course was supposed to be online before the pandemic happened, and it was pretty clear with the way it was taught. No lectures or office hours, just weekly readings and discussions, with the occasional paper every so often. This English course was all about algorithms applied in the real world. The material we learned was actually quite interesting, like how to manipulate the words you use online in order to get viral or if algorithms are inherently racist because it uses data of our society. There were two discussions a week and 3–4 different readings for each discussion. Honestly, I couldn’t get myself to read everything, so I either lightly skimmed one of the readings or read other people’s discussion posts to get an idea of what the readings are about. At this point in the summer, I was getting quite burnt out from school so my effort in this course was quite low. The first paper in the course was about collecting massive data about yourself on any online platform and writing about the algorithms that interact with you. I wrote mine about Reddit and what subreddits or posts prompt me to make a submission or write a comment. It’s actually on this Medium page, so you can check it out along with my other pieces. The second paper was about taking “field notes” on a public community in which users can see each others comments and categorizing how people interact with other people publicly. I wrote mine about the Facebook group “Subtle Asian Dating”, and it was about how people interacted with others when memes and dating is on the line. Overall, I did average in this course and I think I could have done much better if not for my academic burnout. I would recommend taking this course since it taught me a lot about technology and algorithms applied in the modern world, rather than the algorithms we learn about in school.