8 Common Mistakes New Programming Students Make (and Their Solutions)

8 Common Mistakes New Programming Students Make (and Their Solutions)

What do some stu­dents take longer to learn pro­gram­ming than oth­ers? Well, there are sev­er­al answers to this.

Yet, one sim­ple rea­son why some stu­dents lack behind is obvi­ous – they make some mis­takes.

Often, unknow­ing­ly.

This isn’t a bad thing.

In pro­gram­ming, you only learn by mak­ing mis­takes and fix­ing them. You prac­tice a lot until you grasp what you’re doing.

You might be will­ing to learn and hop­ing to improve your cod­ing skills, yet some things can hin­der your progress.

There are sev­er­al ways to get bet­ter at pro­gram­ming, but they only work as long as they’re exe­cut­ed along with oth­er habits and mind­set which nur­ture a pro­gram­ming mind­set.

You need to revise and reflect your cur­rent prac­tices to set your­self on a path where learn­ing gets eas­i­er.

Here are the 8 most common mistakes which new programming students make

To be hon­est, these mis­takes aren’t any rev­e­la­tions – just some sim­ple truths from which you can learn more about the way you do your work.

Based on this post, you can decide if you need to change some­thing about how you’re doing your work. All these mis­takes direct­ly affect your process of learn­ing.

Once you get rid of your mis­takes, you’re all set to enhance your skills in a bet­ter way than before.

1. Shunning it

Noth­ing can affect your learn­ing process as much as hav­ing a neg­a­tive mind­set.

Each time you ter­ri­fy your­self say­ing “I can’t pro­gram!” or “I hate pro­gram­ming!” you lim­it your chances of growth.

As you go on com­plain­ing and frus­trat­ing your­self, you real­ize that you’re mak­ing your­self hate pro­gram­ming even more. It keeps on get­ting com­plex.

Soon, you don’t even feel like pro­gram­ming – so you don’t do it. You begin to shun it. You skip your prac­tice ses­sions. You stop giv­ing a damn, and you quit.


As time pass­es, you’ll want to learn again. But because you’ve taught your­self that “it’s hard” and “you can’t do it,” you’ll face some bar­ri­ers. Don’t let that hap­pen to you.

The solution

Low­er your expec­ta­tions and start small.

Do your work.

Don’t decide whether pro­gram­ming is right for you or whether you’re right for pro­gram­ming.

Avoid eval­u­at­ing your­self based on your ini­tial progress, because like every­one else, you won’t be doing any­thing mirac­u­lous in the begin­ning.

Spend time pro­gram­ming, learn more, give your best, and if you still feel like you can’t do it – then hold on. Keep going on at your own pace.

But while you’re going through the whole process, don’t make your­self believe that you aren’t right for pro­gram­ming.

It cer­tain­ly takes time, and if you’re tak­ing a bit longer than oth­er then find a way out and be easy on your­self.

2. Not understanding the code

If you’re a begin­ner, remem­ber this sim­ple rule — under­stand­ing your code is as much impor­tant as run­ning it.

Sound sim­ple, eh?

Most begin­ners skip this step.

They’ll read books, type what­ev­er is giv­en to them, copy-paste code but there are quite a few stu­dents will take the time out to pause and look at what they’re actu­al­ly doing.

Stu­dents go on cod­ing, learn new pro­grams, and skip some parts until they real­ize that there’s some­thing wrong – they can’t under­stand their code.

In fact, you might even come across some stu­dents who mem­o­rize pro­grams; line-by-line. Though, they get into trou­ble with the increas­ing com­plex­i­ty.

What you need to know is that although there are lots of short­cuts to do what you want to do, your fore­most pri­or­i­ty should be build­ing a firm base of fun­da­men­tals you can rely on.

The solution

Read your code.

Observe it.

What did a cer­tain key­word do? In which line did a cal­cu­la­tion occur? What made the loop stop?

You won’t know the answers to all these ques­tion unless you try to under­stand your code.

So instead of just mak­ing your code run and think­ing that you’ve cre­at­ed a tiny suc­cess, empha­size more on under­stand­ing what you do.

If you skip this part, the lessons you miss out are going to come back to you in future and then you might need to start over. You can’t get rid of your prob­lems by tak­ing short­cuts for too long.

Here’s a 3-step trick to under­stand­ing your code:

1. Read your code and observe its details to find out what’s hap­pen­ing in it.

2. Learn from what you see and try to find out more infor­ma­tion and teach your­self more.

3. Under­stand what you learn and imple­ment it in your own ways to make the process eas­i­er.

3. Underestimating the logic

This is the only rea­son, the biggest one, which pre­vents most peo­ple from learn­ing pro­gram­ming.

They don’t get the log­ic.

To be clear, learn­ing the syn­tax of var­i­ous lan­guages, mem­o­riz­ing the key­words, under­stand­ing how a lan­guage works, etc. aren’t the hard things. They’re easy. Most peo­ple can get used to them.

In the end, it’s only the log­ic that both­ers begin­ners. It’s the back­bone of any pro­gram, regard­less of which lan­guage or envi­ron­ment is used.

Log­ic is the foun­da­tion of any code – those who don’t real­ize this face prob­lem while pro­gram­ming. They can’t fig­ure out the exact rea­son that’s stop­ping their progress.

In most cas­es, the hin­drance might be due to the lack of under­stand­ing of log­ic in pro­gram­ming.

The solution

Stress on learn­ing the log­ic of code.

Devel­op your log­i­cal think­ing, bit by bit. This would hap­pen when you dive into your code and grasp the steps in it.

What should you do if you aren’t born with that log­i­cal think­ing?

Not a prob­lem.

Log­i­cal think­ing is some­thing you can devel­op over time. As you deal with it, it becomes eas­i­er for you to incul­cate in your life, and cod­ing prac­tices.

We’ve col­lect­ed some arti­cles relat­ed to this top­ic from the inter­net. Read them if you wish to dive deep­er into this top­ic.

4. Unstructured learning

A ran­dom learn­ing pat­tern cre­ates a mess.

Improp­er learn­ing not only makes you suf­fer by arous­ing dis­or­ga­ni­za­tion but also wastes your efforts.

To be clear, you don’t want the hours you spend work­ing hard and learn­ing to go in vain. Unstruc­tured learn­ing nul­li­fies your ded­i­ca­tion.

So, what’s unstruc­tured learn­ing?

It means that you’re not fol­low­ing a pat­tern while per­form­ing your duties. Nei­ther are you hav­ing spe­cif­ic aims you want to fol­low and nor do you pay atten­tion to how you learn.

You try to learn sev­er­al dif­fer­ent lan­guages at once, read a hun­dred dif­fer­ent sites and keep chang­ing books, until you real­ize that you’ve already wast­ed a lot of your time with­out achiev­ing any­thing sig­nif­i­cant.

That hurts.

The solution

Sim­pli­fy what you learn and begin with a motive.

For instance, learn­ing sev­er­al irrel­e­vant skills alto­geth­er is a bad idea. That requires a huge invest­ment of time, effort and mon­ey. So what’s the point in ruin­ing your attempts?

Instead, choose a cer­tain goal and plan out your pri­or­i­ties accord­ing­ly.

For instance, if you’re head­ing towards becom­ing a web devel­op­er then choose the right set of skills and start work­ing on them. Sim­ple?

Also, once you fig­ure out what you wish to do, seek the appro­pri­ate learn­ing resources out there and choose the ones which are best for you.

Don’t read five books at once. Choose one which you feel is right for you and learn from it. This would save you from a lot of con­fu­sion.

Don’t jum­ble the process of learn­ing. Break down the study mate­r­i­al into cer­tain cat­e­gories or steps and then pro­ceed.

Don’t hur­ry or try to skip the basic and essen­tial parts. This might cre­ate some trou­ble for you. Be patient and learn at the prop­er pace.

Imple­ment such sim­ple tricks to ease your learn­ing process. If pos­si­ble take some time to orga­nize and jot down a rough plan. It’ll be worth it.

5. Not having the right tools

You have enough options at hand – use them.

When you don’t take the time out to find the right tools for you, you retard your own progress. In the long-term, you end up los­ing a lot of time, just because you didn’t think find­ing the right tools was impor­tant.

Also, com­pli­cat­ing what can be made sim­ple doesn’t make sense unless you’re learn­ing.

Beyond some point, work­ing the old way becomes an obsta­cle – you need to find bet­ter tools which can save your time, make you pro­duc­tive, and sim­pli­fy your work.

You don’t always access your files through com­mand prompt, do you? That’s hard and doesn’t serve a pur­pose. Tools work sim­i­lar­ly.

Sure can do every­thing man­u­al­ly and show up your extreme intel­lec­tu­al capa­bil­i­ties by doing every­thing with­out even touch­ing the tools, but that doesn’t make sense.

The solution

Use the tools – that’s all!

Find what’s out there that can make your work eas­i­er. Hunt for the best options you have. Use what brings out the best in you.

6. Not practicing enough

Have you giv­en what it takes?

You can’t com­plain much about not know­ing pro­gram­ming unless you’ve prac­ticed enough.

The less you under­stand pro­gram­ming, the less you do it – this is quite com­mon among all the begin­ners.

You can’t wait for some­thing to hap­pen. You have to sit in front of the screen, ana­lyz­ing and typ­ing pro­grams unless you learn. And then learn more than what you’ve learned.

You keep prac­tic­ing, no mat­ter if it tires you or makes you want to quit. In the end, you’re the one who needs to deal with every­thing.

The solution


Even when you think you lack what it takes, prac­tice.

Prac­tice when you think you aren’t cut-out out for pro­gram­ming, because you can learn.

You don’t prac­tice because you know enough – it’s the oth­er way around. You keep prac­tic­ing until you become good enough.

7. Being ignorant

Your teach­ers can teach you to code.

Your friends can moti­vate you and help you.

Yet, what mat­ters in the end it how will­ing you are to learn. If you think of pro­gram­ming as bor­ing and find it unin­ter­est­ing, then you’re bet­ter-off find­ing some­thing else.

But if you say that it’s what you wish to learn and want to have a career in, then don’t do it half­heart­ed­ly. That ruins the pur­pose of the whole thing.

The rea­son why some peo­ple are bet­ter, not only at pro­gram­ming but any­thing else, is that they love their thing and are always will­ing to learn more about it.

They appre­ci­ate what they do, they’re curi­ous, they give more to it – that’s what makes them bet­ter.

If you say you want to be bet­ter, then you need to have these qual­i­ties.

The solution

You become a bet­ter pro­gram­mer when you pro­gram not because you need to, but because you want to.

Be eager to learn and explore what you don’t know. Be fine with occa­sion­al despair and mis­takes – every­one deals with them.

Ulti­mate­ly, what mat­ters is how fas­ci­nat­ed and curi­ous you are. If you’re pre­pared to put in the hard-work, oth­er things don’t mat­ter much.

8. Not having fun

Don’t do it for the sake of doing it.

Why are you pro­gram­ming?

Because your fam­i­ly wants to have a soft­ware engi­neer among them? You wish to earn a fat salary? You want to feel like Tony Stark of Iron-man?

Not mat­ter what’s the rea­son why you’re pro­gram­ming, make sure you’re hav­ing fun. You can’t take it too far if it seems bor­ing to you and you hate it.

When you begin to hate pro­gram­ming, each moment you spend doing it seems hard, and it keeps get­ting hard­er.

And there’s just one fix to this.

The solution

Have fun.

We know that ‘hav­ing fun’ isn’t some­thing you can make hap­pen arti­fi­cial­ly. It has to be nat­ur­al.

Then how can you have fun?

There’s always a brighter side to some­thing – pro­gram­ming isn’t dif­fer­ent.

There may be some lan­guages you like more than the rest, sub­jects that you pre­fer over oth­ers, skills that you’re bet­ter at than the ones which you lack – focus on them.

When you focus on your strengths, you become bet­ter and feel more inclined towards doing what you know. This makes you bet­ter.

While doing so, you unknow­ing­ly lever­age your con­fi­dence and do what you per­ceive as hard. You get the moti­va­tion to keep try­ing. And as long as you’re hav­ing fun and try­ing hard, you’re chances of improve­ment are always fair.

How­ev­er, remem­ber that noth­ing can be always fun either. So if there are some bor­ing and tir­ing tasks you need to deal with, deal with them.

These were some of the basic mis­takes which most begin­ners make. We hope these tips were help­ful to you.

Now that you know the mis­takes pro­gram­ming stu­dents make, it’s time to do some­thing about get­ting bet­ter. Here are some posts to help you:

What else do you think are the oth­er things pro­gram­ming begin­ners do wrong? What advice would you give to them? What do you do when pro­gram­ming seems hard?

We’d love to hear from you. Leave a com­ment.

Leave a Reply