We asked some of our current first year students the following question: “A high school senior asks you about your UW experience so far and advice for next year. What do you tell them?” Below are their unedited answers.
I was very anxious going into the program, since I had the perception that it would be very competitive and isolating. However, I found out quickly that wasn’t the case: the Allen School really cares about their students and provides a lot of support. They not only provide academic support, but they really want to help you as a person. And there are a lot of opportunities within the school and community to meet and get to know other students, so you can create a small community within the larger CSE community. It’s not only easy to get along with and create connections with people in your year, but it’s very easy to network with a lot of upperclassmen and the staff. A lot of the classes can be difficult, so you just need to exert yourself more and put in more effort. But I don’t feel like there’s an incessant pressure to have perfect grades, like a lot of us felt in high school. If I’ve really grasped anything here, it’s that learning in college is for the purpose of building up your skill set for your future career. So, I feel my experience so far at UW and in the Allen School has led me to see my learning in a more wholesome and meaningful way.
I would say that they are about to enter an incredibly unique time in their lives that most adults would love to revisit or get a second chance at. They should attack their college experience in a way that leaves them with no regrets when it's over. This means they should realize that the Allen School and the UW have so many opportunities and resources available that they can take advantage of. Being a direct admit gives a lot of freedom and relief from stress about getting into their major. This allows for incoming freshman to begin ventures that can potentially last throughout their four years at the UW and even longer. I would say that my experience so far has given me an excellent idea of what I want to be doing when I'm older and has also given me a fresh outlook on the world. The Allen School has certainly lived up to its reputation as a top CS school and I'm glad I made the decision to attend the UW.
I would tell the senior how I’ve made great friends through the Allen community and emphasize the abundant career and networking resources that are available. Many of the other direct admits take similar classes, so I’d recommend to form study groups because you constantly see familiar faces. Some of my best friends I’ve made this year are direct admits too. I’d advise utilizing the CSE IPL when taking the intro computing courses because there are TAs that can help you overcome challenges in the weekly hw assignments. I’d also encourage going to events hosted by the Allen School, such as career fairs, office hours with Microsoft, resume workshops, and more, because it is a great chance to network with people from industry. Even as a freshman, going to the career fair helped me gain confidence talking to recruiters. By going to the ACM research night, I was able to land a research position winter quarter of my freshman year, so definitely going to Allen School events as a freshman is worth it. I’d also emphasize how the computer science workload is manageable to balance extra curriculars: personally I’m involved in a sorority, ASUW, UW Steminist, UW SWE, and a research position, and I’m still able to succeed in my CSE courses. Overall, I’d strongly recommend to attend UW’s Allen School because you cultivate meaningful friendships, take challenging courses, and still find time to manage a social life.
If a future University of Washington and Allen School student asked me for advice for next year, the main thing that I would tell them would be to take advantage of all the resources that are provided to them. I would tell that despite UW being such a large school, the Allen School and the DA group provides a nice community where students can fit in and succeed. I would tell them about all the opportunities and resources the school provides such as all the company tech talks, the new building, the new computer labs, and the easily accessible advising. I would tell them that there aren't many schools out there that have such a high-quality Computer Science program and as many opportunities as the UW provides being in the center of one of the Computer Science capitals of the world.
I would first tell them congratulations on getting into the Allen School, and that all of their hard work from high school has paid off. I would make sure they know how proud they should feel and how significant of a step this is. The Allen School is such a resourceful community and they’re going to feel so supported and valued. I would give them advice of making a slow yet steady transition into the UW by being cautious with the classes they choose in their first quarters. The classes are far more difficult than they were in high school, especially CS classes, but as long as they try their hardest, that’s all that matters. Focusing on the knowledge you gain in a course is more significant than the grade. It is crucial to reach out for help as well because TAs and professors are the best resources and they are there for you to take advantage of. Also, I would tell them not to be too hard on themselves and allot time for self care. I would ensure that they know to never sell themselves short and that they are so deserving of this opportunity.
UW, especially in the Allen School, is extremely different from high school. It's difficult and it's stressful. There will times when you don't feel like you belong but don't give up because everyone here is super supportive and helpful. There are so many things you can do and you will definitely find people who have similar interests as you. Opportunities are endless and this program is amazing so don't be scared and just explore everything you can in college. Early Fall Start is a great way of easing into college, and definitely go for the DA Startup class, highly recommended!
First, I would tell them that I am so happy that I chose UW, and that they have a fantastic year ahead of them. I’d talk about how many exciting classes, fun RSOs, and interesting activities are offered at UW and in the Allen School. Being in CS has been a ton of fun so far, and is in a lot of ways the best of both worlds – having all of the opportunities that come with being at a large research university, but having the small, close-knit community from the Allen School that’s one of the characteristic benefits of a small college.
As far as advice, the first thing I would say is to try out different activities and get involved. At a large school like UW, it is very important to build connections with other students. College is an extremely exciting time, and it flies by in the blink of an eye. As a result, you should try and take advantage of as many opportunities as you can. Take classes that are interesting, even if they aren’t direct requirements. Try going to lots of club meetings, or events. There are a great number of amazing, and usually free, activities on campus such as Dawg Daze events and enlightening lecture series. If you’re living on campus, make friends with the people on your floor, even if they’re not other CS students – one of my best friends I made freshman year is a political science major who lives down the hall. Talk to the people in your classes, and join study groups – it’s both helpful for your classes, and a nice way to make friends.
Also, make sure to take time to take care of yourself. You’re in the Allen School at UW, so you are an incredibly smart, talented, and hard-working person. But it’s very easy to bury yourself in your work, and never socialize. It’s okay to not get perfect grades on everything – no one does, and they are not nearly as important as your grades in high school were. Along the same line, it’s important to not judge and compare yourself too harshly to your fellow DAs. Everyone, myself included, has the tendency to look at their own accomplishments as nothing significant, while overly glorifying those of other people. You’re a great person, and you deserve to be here. You are going to love it here at UW and the Allen School.
I would encourage them to get out of their comfort zone. Whether that be taking classes that they otherwise wouldn’t take, encouraging them to join clubs around campus, or join the Greek system. I would encourage them to do things that they hadn’t experienced in high school to help them not only become a more well-rounded student that gives back to the university, but a holistic person in general.