The first semester (at least in the college I went to) is a scare tactic. Don’t fall for it.

Typically professors will speed ahead knowing full well that 98% of the class cannot possibly be keeping up. I’m not sure why they do this. Perhaps they want to make clear that college is not high school and that at the end of the day YOU are responsible to get things done.

One psychological tip for surviving this first semester: Talk to your classmates!
This will help you realize that you are all in the same boat.

pretty flower (I don’t have a designer handy)

If you are not in a college but rather working through this material on your own have no fear it is for YOU that this guide was created.

Let’s jump into it.

Calculus 1(AC): If there is one thing that all colleges have in common it’s that their Calc 1 course will be nearly identical.

After obsessively searching around, the book I ended up using is Thomas’ CALCULUS. It is not the prettiest but it is extremely thorough and has many examples.

The book is 13 chapters long with a first semester in college typically covering the first 7 chapters. To gain maximum benefit from this book work through the examples before looking at the solutions.

At the risk of sounding repetitive Khan Academy is a great resource for Calc 1. Here you go.

Linear Algebra 1 (AC):
At the risk of sounding repetitive Khan Academy is a great resource for Linear Algebra 1. Here you go.

Digital Systems (AC):


Digital Systems. All you need to know. (not really, but almost)

Don’t worry if you don’t understand this GIF. You will, real soon.

This course is essential for a deep understanding of what makes computers tick. It touches on alternate number systems such as the binary and hexadecimal systems as well as the very core of what allows human beings to create and program computers.

The best book by far that I found on the subject was this one by Mano. It is very thorough, extremely clear, and easy to follow.


You can expect to be able to do this upon course completion

Physics (AC):

This course may be necessary if you plan on going into Video Game or other Graphics intensive areas of programming but even there it’s unlikely that you won’t just be relying on the code of the greats who came before you.

Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday and Resnick is a pleasure to read. You will figuratively feel your mind expanding with each paragraph. It is one of the best textbooks I have ever come across.

If you don’t mind old websites I’d also encourage you to check out the companion website for the 6th edition of the book (They are now on the 10th edition). They have guided walk through’s of problems and you can really get the hang of how to approach stuff.

There is also a wiki-book project with the goal of creating a similar kind of book with far greater quality. It doesn’t seem to be doing that well though. Hey, maybe it can be your path to fame.

Intro to CS (BC): Finally, some computer time!

This course is exactly what it sounds like. Learn how to code some basic stuff. Every college chooses what language to give this course in. I will point you to some resources for working with C++ but you can easily find replacements on the web if you would rather learn a different language.

In order to give this course the honor it deserves my next post will be dedicated to it.


this is an image

Thanks for reading!

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