Katrin Becker has collected advice from senior computer science students to those just starting out, which she has collected in her blog post Worth Sharing: Advice for New Students From Those Who Know (Old Students). She summarizes the list as follows:
Top 10 list [Highlights]
- Start Assignments Early: they will take longer than you think.
- Make friends.
- Ask questions.
- Practice Programming. Try Stuff.
- Make sure Computer Science is really what you want to do.
- Choose options you will enjoy.
- Go to class.
- Don’t take too many CPSC courses in one semester.
- Plan your programs on paper before you start typing.
- Remember to have fun.
and goes on to give specific quotes from students for each of these categories (plus some other unsorted quotes). Some of my favorites include
Be nice to people. You never know when they will be able to help (or hinder) you in the future.
You’ll enjoy it more if you treat your work as a full-time hobby, and not just a path to a job.
Working in groups tends to be harder, not easier.
Of course, a lot of the advice applies to any engineering major, and some to any college major. Even the advice about programming applies to other design tasks.