Mid-Quarter Advice

Written by Julie Zelenski, with modifications by Nick Troccoli

Awesome work in CS107 so far! Now that we've completed the midterm exam, we've compiled some information and advice about looking ahead towards the rest of the quarter, including how to interpret your progress so far, and what you can do to finish the quarter off strong.

I'm spending a lot of time on this course, but feel like I'm not getting the results I want. What can I do?

That definitely sounds frustrating. You might feel the only path to better results means investing even more time, but we want to encourage you to make a reasonable time commitment and instead get a better results for it. Our advice is to break down what you're doing, reflect on which activities are benefitting you the most and which are not, and take steps to do more of the former and less of the latter. Here are some options to consider:

If I'm not satisfied with my performance in CS107, can I still succeed in CS?

Yes! Whether you are interested in studying more about computer systems, or studying in other areas, CS is a much, much larger discipline than any one class, including CS107.

I don't find CS107 as interesting to me. Are there other topics or areas I can learn more about?

Absolutely! CS107 covers systems, which is an area including topics such as lower-level languages, infrastructure, and underlying technologies like compilers, networks, security, operating systems, and more. But this is just one area to explore; if you're interested in higher-level languages, higher-level technologies, data science, machine learning, or other topics, we highly recommend exploring what interests you most. We hope that, regardless of your interest, CS107 will provide a foundation for you to better understand how underlying technologies work, and for you to more efficiently implement and debug programs.

How can I interpret my grades so far to know how I'm doing overall?

The way the coursework (assignments and labs) grade is calculated is by summing assignments and lab participation, and dividing by the total number of points possible. While not guaranteed to match the current quarter, the median performance on coursework in past quarters has been low 90s % (A-) from functionality scores averaging about 90% of possible, a few on-time bonus points, mostly [ok] code review, and 100% lab participation. While a half-credit outcome (or even a total zero) on one assignment can affect your grade, it is not necessarily a catastrophic situation. You can earn credit as well with the on-time bonus points.

In terms of course website information, Gradebook is the best way to get an overview of how you’re doing in the course so far. You can combine this with the following to get a better picture:

Should I change my grading basis from letter grade to CR/NC?

Some students choose CR/NC in order to pursue what they want from the course without the pressure to do things simply for grades; other students go this route to substitute a letter grade on their transcript with CR/NC. In either case, it relaxes the intensity and gives some latitude in picking and choosing what is worth your investment. The CR is a testament of passing performance but with vagueness about the exact letter grade. You earn units, but the CR does not figure into your GPA. Any course grade C- or better earns CR. The university deadline for changing grading basis is around the end of the 8th week (See registrar's academic calendar for this quarter's deadline).