A degree in computer science is often meant to give students a basic education in the theoretical and mathematical foundations of basic computing. During their years studying computer science, students will focus their time learning algorithms, computer architecture, calculus, linear algebra and basic programming. Because computer science is such a large field of study and so much information is given to computer science candidates during their four year tenure in college, students often feel like they aren’t familiar enough with programming.

The best ways to increase your computer programming skills is to read, practice and converse with fellow coders.

Read Programming Books

Luckily, after you’ve finished your computer science degree, you’ll have more time to study the things that are important to you. In this case, you should dive into a good programming book.

If you’re still struggling with the basic languages such as C, UNIX and Java, start with basic programming books. Reviewing what you learned while in college will also help you learn new programming languages that many employers now use on a regular basis.

As you read through the programming book, experiment with what you’re learning by practicing some simple coding exercises. Repetition and hands-on training are both important factors to successfully increasing your programming skills.

Solve Programming Puzzles

Computer programming involves a great deal of critical thinking and abstract problem solving. The best way to hone your problem solving skills is to practice solving mathematical and programming puzzles, such as the ones found at Project Euler and Peking University.

While many of these puzzles may take days to solve, you’ll come to realize that the constant trial and error involved in the process is what will really help increase your critical thinking skills and will force you to think outside the box. If some of the problems are too difficult, start with some of the easier ones and progress down the list.

Converse With Fellow Programmers Via Blogs and Forums

One of the best ways to increase your programming skills and knowledge is to have conversations with fellow programmers, both online and in person.

A variety of blogs and forums exist specifically to serve programmers that are looking for helpful coding tips or that may want input on a recent program that they’ve created. Feedback from other individuals is often the best way to find answers to problems that you run into on some of your private projects, or to find an answer to a question about a new language you’re learning.

Computer science is an ever-changing field. New programming languages are always being created and continuing education is essential to a successful career. Honing current skills and learning new languages is a continuing process that can take years. Set achievable goals every year and you’ll soon be able to code programs faster and more efficiently than you ever did before.