Featured Interview: Steve Leighton

Computer Science '12

Steve Leighton

What drew you to the program?

I found out about it from an alumni newsletter.

What advice do you have for incoming online students?

Prepare your time, knowing that you’re going to need to spend a fair amount at it. And if you’ve been away from it for a while like I have, it’s probably not a bad idea to get your head around something abstract; I reread a calculus book just to sort of get myself prepared.

What did you like best about the program?

I liked the rigor and the breadth—the courses were all challenging, difficult and deep, and they were theoretically based, which I think is important—so I really had to do a little bit of everything.

How did you hear about the program?

From an alumni newsletter.

What was your favorite class?

That’s tough—I would say my favorite sequence was probably software engineering.

How much time did you spend per week in class?

Probably varied from 9-15 hours a week per class, so if I was taking it for 4 hours and there was a project, it was probably more like 15 if there was a lot of programming involved.

What was your plan of attack to stay on top of your job, classes, and personal life?

The first thing I did was retire [laughs], so that gave me more time, but that didn’t last long because I actually went back and got a part-time job programming, so I was back in the thick of things—so it was just time-management, blocking out the time, make sure I stayed on top of the lectures.

Did you feel part of the CS @ Illinois community?

I did; for the most part, certainly with all my classmates when we were doing projects together it felt like we were on campus as much as anything. I did get a chance to come to campus once and sit in on a lecture, and I felt like the outreach was pretty good for the most part.