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Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences

Resources to Make The Most of Your School Breaks

By Stephanie Quick

During school breaks, it’s always important to destress and take some time to relax after a long semester full of tests and coursework. However! After a full month of lounging around the house and not using your brain, the return to university is going to be harder to use those skills you learned the previous semester. Especially relating to computer science and engineering materials, these majors require prior knowledge for higher level courses.

As we’ve all been told by many professors and mentors, programming and other scientific skills needs to be continuously used or these skills will deteriorate. Winter and summer breaks are an easy way to let these skills disappear, but thankfully we have many online resources to help us stay sharp!

If you’re interested in learning new programming languages or want to enhance your skills for free, check out The Odin Project! This platform offers several free courses including Web Development 101, JavaScript, Ruby Programming, and a few other courses that are aimed at beginners.

If you want to simply make your own portfolio website or build a startup, this platform will help you succeed along the way. The overall curriculum of the course is designed to not just show you the beginning of these topics, but help you master them as well. 

Within each individual course, there are coursework videos, lessons, and projects to help you understand the material and start building your portfolio. One of the greatest things that The Odin Project does is that it utilizes GitHub in all their courses which is a necessity if you want to be successful in this work field. 

This is the only learning platform that is actually new to me that I have done research on. And even though I haven’t completed an entire course yet, I honestly love The Odin Project. The website is extremely easy to navigate and sleek. The lessons are detailed, but don’t give irrelevant information. The main advantage of using this platform over some others is how helpful the projects are. 

While I’m not a beginner in web development or JavaScript, the Ruby on Rails course appeals to me because of how popular it is currently and it’ll look great to add to my portfolio. The Odin Project is aimed for beginners, but I believe it’s also great for people who might be familiar with these languages or need a refresher. Taking a look to see how the projects are and if there’s any important concepts they need help with is useful for people of any skill level. 

Another great learning platform to strengthen your programming skills is FreeCodeCamp. As you can see by the name, this is another free learning tool (Yay!) and it’s actually one of the best interactive tools that can be used for programming. This non-profit organization has over 6,000+ tutorials and each course has 300 hours worth of materials.

There are also coding certifications you can receive by completing courses. FreeCodeCamp offers certifications for HTML & CSS, JavaScript, DevTools, Node.js, React, and more. 

To help with the learning of the course material, FreeCodeCamp also has chat rooms and online forums for students to ask questions or to post the errors they’re receiving in their code. Alongside the helpful community within this platform, the interactive, hands-on lessons allow students to practice the concepts they’re learning about in the moment.

For those who have not used an interactive tool before, while reading the lesson there is a separate section to write the code and it lets you preview the outcome. 

Lastly, if you’re really struggling with a concept or lesson, there are help videos on each of these lessons and you can also receive a hint if you would like to challenge yourself more. 

Udemy is an online learning platform that allows students to explore and master new skills. With a library of over 55,000 courses and new content being added every day, the choices are limitless. The categories range from software development, business and sales, marketing, and network security. These are just some of the many topics you can choose from.

You do have to buy these courses on Udemy, however, Udemy courses are constantly on sale with insane discounts that are usually 50% off or higher. Most of these courses have lessons that total up to over ten hours of content, some even twenty hours or more. If you get one of these courses on sale for $10 dollars, it’s definitely worth the money with the quality of the course.

Secondly, these courses do not expire ever. Once you buy a course on your account, you’re able to access it indefinitely. Not only that, but if that course has been updated after you bought it, your course will still get the updated content! 

Besides this, there are many other benefits to using Udemy to explore your interests or to enhance your skills. You can view the ratings of the instructor, along with how many students have bought that course. You can also get Udemy certificates from completing these courses and see an in-depth description of the course to make sure it’s what you’re looking for.

While going through the course, there are Q&A sections for each lesson. You can also pin parts of the videos to make notes to look back on. Most instructors even give PDFs of extra content to go with their course!

Resource URLs:

The Odin Project: https://www.theodinproject.com/paths/foundations?

FreeCodeCamp: https://www.freecodecamp.org/learn

Udemy: https://www.udemy.com/

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