From Cegep to University in tech

written by Marie March 6, 2017

cegep university tech

Do you sometimes wish you knew some things sooner? That’s exactly how I felt when I entered university. I want to help other students avoid making the same “mistakes” I did. Keep on reading this article if you don’t want to miss out on some great opportunities for your IT career.

All students in the province of Quebec (Canada), needs to attend a CEGEP after high school and before getting in university. It takes 2 to 3 years depending on the kind of diploma. I did a 3-year-diploma in computer sciences where I learned Java, SQL, C #, VB, etc. Now that I’m in university, I am aware that I should have learned some technologies sooner, or pay more attention during some classes because I’m regretting it!

This article aims to give you some advice if you’re still in CEGEP or high school. I reveal what I wish I had known earlier in my training.

I know very well that from every CEGEP teach different things, so I stick to my experience. Some points can indeed be applied to all students in CEGEP.

I should have been paying more attention in…

  1. Analysis classes
    One of the most important courses I had to attend. How to do class diagrams, sequence diagrams, use cases, etc. We have to create this documentation throughout our careers in IT, like it or not. The analysis is the basis for all development, and primarily a programmer is a good programmer if he/she can thoroughly analyze the work that must be done.
  2. SQL IMG_5316
    I listened very well in this course, but If I could go back in time, I would have taken better notes. Today, I am confident that these notes would be useful to me. I keep some memories of the tough exercises that I had to do. Still, it’s a shame, because databases are everywhere in IT. Wherever we work, there will be databases somewhere.
  3. Linux
    This course would be very useful today. Four years later, I finally realized the importance of the terminal and its high utility. Now whenever my computer is on, I have a terminal open. Why did I not realize this before ?!
  4. Managing a Workstation
    It covered all the material on a computer. We disassembled and reassembled towers ensuring they still work, dismantled laptops, and even disassembled MacBook (without ascending the course – it’s impossible!). We also learned to play in the BIOS of a computer for the first time. I loved the course, but I wanted to follow the instructions of the laboratory and have 100% rather than understand EVERYTHING I was doing. That is what I regret!

We should have learned

  1. To use GitHub 
    Maybe it was a new technology for my teachers. They have therefore had to learn before then teach – which requires some additional work. In this case, it should have been my duty to get to use git properly. It’s so useful, even for an individual project, to have versions of our code.
  2. Create LinkedList / FIFO / LIFO
    I learned about these types of lists while I was studying for my tests to get into ETS. I went to see my former teacher of Java so that I could get some explanation. I do not understand why these concepts have not been taught when I was in CEGEP. At university, it’s all we talk about!
  3. Some Design Patterns, Especially MVC
    Now that I know MVC, I just tell myself … “but why my teachers did not show this to me while I was learning to code?” It seems to me that learning good object-oriented design patterns from the start would help students to have a better foundation for the future.


In Conclusion

Technology advances very fast. GitHub was much less known and used in the days when I went to CEGEP. Also, being in computer sciences means we need to be able to learn some new technologies on our own. Teachers cannot teach us everything; they don’t have enough time!

What about you? Are there any concepts that you wish you could have learned before university?


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Dan March 6, 2017 - 10:29 am

I think that many of us have passed, that once we finish university, we wish we had taken more attention to what we need today. But in spite of that it is important, always keep learning.

Very good article, greetings from Chile.

Marie March 6, 2017 - 11:00 pm

Yes, I’m sure we always feel like that when we leave school, you’re right!
Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked the article!

Grasseh March 6, 2017 - 11:11 am

We learned to use Git during our last semester of Cegep. I definitely wish teachers told us to use beforehand.

Using Drive for manager projects, making folder backups with dates and no diffs was a pain and way too error-prone.

Marie March 6, 2017 - 10:58 pm

I completely agree! Bad memories. lol! Thanks for your comment!

AKAM March 8, 2017 - 6:27 am

I’m a software engineering student just like you but from a different country.
We have same problems here too. I really wish to talk more about these problems especially in Iran but my really bad English don’t let me

You have a interesting blog

Marie March 8, 2017 - 1:20 pm

Hi! Wow, interesting to know you have the same problems we have here. Thank you for your comment – i’m glad you like my blog!

A girl student March 11, 2017 - 8:39 pm

I found this blog through the link in your ins bio. Thanks for all these advices. I’ve been in my CS-related master’s program for half a year now. And since day one in this program I regret for not spending my leisure time wisely, at all, back in college. My bachelor’s degree is somewhat irrelevant to what I’m learning now, so now I often feel like I learned nothing that really mattered in the past four years. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, if I had read some blog like this back then, I would have learned so much more by now. Now I’m in my semester break, and this time I want to spend the free time wisely and try to build my programming skills. And I found your advices useful. Sincere thanks from a Chinese student in Germany. 🙂
Also it’s awesome to be able to leave a comment here without signing up and everything. 🙂

Marie March 11, 2017 - 9:10 pm

Hi! I’m glad you’re comming from instagram, good to know! 🙂

I get what you mean. That’s why I wanted to write this article. I think it’s important to realize that what you learn with follow you and last forever. Certain courses are not like physics for programmers. Physics you won’t need it everyday. But you HAVE to realize certain subject you WILL use your learnings every day!

Thanks for your input on comments 😀 it’s great you don’t have to sign in you’re right. Never thought about that before!!

dhirender March 11, 2017 - 9:19 pm

Iam 18 year old and i love web development/design. I am also planning to make a blog just like u did,it is really good.

Marie March 17, 2017 - 10:33 am

Go ahead and do it then! It’s the best thing ever. You’ll learn a lot more about web development too while maintaining your blog so, really — what are you waiting for?! 😉

Farrell March 19, 2017 - 1:28 pm

Amazes me how few graduates have used git 0.o definitely agree on that one, haven’t worked at a company that didn’t use it in some form.

Marie March 19, 2017 - 5:31 pm

I feel the same! We should all take our own free time to learn git!
Thanks for your comment!

Leon March 23, 2017 - 4:58 pm

Hi! Very nice blog, I find it very interesting to see which topics someone with a diploma and experience in the field considers important. I don’t know if this is the right place, but I have a question. I am studying physics in Germany, and while programming is extremely important in nearly all parts of physics (complex simulations, data analysis, more and more big data,..) at our university we hardly learn about programming (and nothing mandatory at all). So after taking all “programming for physicists” – courses that were available (they covered really only the basics of C++) I wan’t to take some courses at the computer sciences department.
Which topics, courses or abilities would you consider the most important to learn to get really startet in computer sciences and from there being able to expand ones knowledge in different directions? Especially in the “handling data” – field?

Thank you and keep it up with your awesome blog! 🙂

Marie April 5, 2017 - 1:15 pm

Hi! Thank you so much for your comment. I’m not very knowledgeable in the data field, but you could ask “bigdatagal” on instagram, I’m sure she would be happy to help you. You can also email me at if you have other questions, I’d be happy to help!

Blog Income Report - March 2017 – Girl Knows Tech April 10, 2017 - 9:59 am

[…] From Cegep to University in tech […]

Elizabeth October 2, 2017 - 10:37 pm

I came upon your blog from the Facebook “Women Know Tech” group. I am looking for how to pursue a career in IT and this article helps me understand where to start. I appreciate your information because it is a big field and it is hard to prioritize where to start. I have learned SQL and I started with Java. Continue to provide this great information so more women can get in the IT field.

Marie October 13, 2017 - 8:35 pm

Hi Elizabeth!
Welcome to my blog! I created this blog and Facebook group especially to help women get into tech and get out there! 🙂
Let me know if you have any questions I’d be happy to help, or anyone on the FB Group I’m sure!
Marie xxx


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