My piece of advice to aspiring data professionals
And why you should too…
I want to learn and pivot into data science and machine learning
I want to pursue higher education but cannot afford high tuition cost
It seems that during the pandemic, people have reconsidered their career decisions and decided to move into data science as the popular choice. There are plethora of online courses and micro certificates out there and I have received many questions about pursuing Online Masters in Computer Science (OMSCS) Georgia Tech.
Since I just graduated one week ago, I would like to take the liberty to share my experiences on taking OMSCS and why you should enjoy it as well.
Disclaimer: This post is not driven by any agenda besides sharing my own experiences and thoughts. It serves to give a preliminary picture to encourage you to embark or compare on your learning journeys.
If you are still considering whether you want to take a masters degree or attend a boot camp, I suggest you watch this video.
Congrats, the moment you continue reading this post, you are considering getting a graduate degree? But why online? Why OMSCS?
Reason 1: You Want Highly Accredited Master Degree
OMSCS promises equal degree certificates as on-campus graduates. This means as an OMSCS graduate, your diploma will read “Master of Science in Computer Science” which is exactly the same as graduates of on-campus program.
In the beginning, this caused a huge uproar and complaints that the quality of online students would drag the ranking down.
But based on the latest milestone, It is actually the opposite.
Georgia Tech is ranked number one nationally in cybersecurity education and fifth overall for computer science (CS) in the U.S. News & World
Furthermore, During the pandemic, Georgia Tech’s OMSCS Program surpassed a new milestone: 10,000 Students Enrolled which widens the STEM talent growth accredited to Georgia Tech.
Reason 2: You Want to Avoid Exorbitant Tuition Costs.
OMSCS costs you 7000 USD for the entire program. In comparison, Ken Jee, an online youtuber, shared his experience of taking a graduate degree in DS which left him 150,000 USD in debt.
To me, OMSCS gives me an affordable solution to save on my education expenses.
Reason 3: You want a High Quality Education
When I first joined OMSCS, I was really doubtful of the quality of an online masters degree. But after graduating, I did not regret my decision because:
The lessons are high quality. As they are recorded, most modules are taught by the best lecturers, even including the dean itself, Charles Isbell who taught us Machine Learning and Reinforcement Learning.
I also took all of David Joyner’s (Executive Director of OMSCS) courses and he has one of the best teaching structures which are really clear for me to learn.
If you’re on the fourth row, fifth row, the 27th row you’re about as close to me as someone who is online right? You are not really getting the face to face interaction — Charles Isbell when asked about equality of on-site and online students (youtube) —
The assignments are high quality. As OMSCS students, we have the same access to the same assignments as on-campus which I think is well thought.
For example, in Knowledge Based AI, my first assignment was to build a learning agent that can take Raven’s Progressive Matrices IQ tests using image and verbal inputs. This is very challenging but implements lots of concepts I learnt in the class.
Conclusion: I have to say that OMSCS has one of the best online tutorial quality I have seen. Every student is able to reap the similar experience and benefit to physical students with a fraction of price. A word of caution is to research the course offerings and connect to the value it brings you.
Reason 4: You want a flexible Part Time Master Degree
Doing OMSCS forced me to study and work at the same time. It taught me how to manage my time and space really well. To me the advantages from OMSCS is the freedom of flexible time and space usage.
Flexibility with time: OMSCS allows you to take classes, exams and assignments at any time between the opening date and deadline.
This works well for me because I always use my morning time as my focus time. This flexibility is not available for most on-campus graduate degrees because of night time classes which I need to plan my schedule and work on assignments when I am most focused.
Flexibility with Space: Since you might not have access to campus physical spaces, it really opens up on where you should study.
For me I always use my office space to work and do assignments while being at home for relaxing, so I could batch my work and study with minimum commute and interruptions.
Reason 5: The Future Education is Now
OMSCS opened my mind to the future of education where all lessons, exams, and collaborations are taken online.
During the pandemic, many graduate study faculties have rushed to place their courses online. Sadly, in some cases, this means sacrificing quality for speed. One of my friends who took graduate studies early this year felt that she was paying more than the educational value that she got.
Therefore, I am grateful to take OMSCS as my graduate study as the quality of the lessons are kept. Throughout the online interactions, I have also made friends with a few colleagues and collaborated towards the forums.
Whew! To make this discussion more balanced, I also would like to play my own devil’s advocate. You should not take OMSCS if:
- You don’t like the structured curriculum and prefer to get your own hands dirty with your own personal projects: The best thing about Master’s degree is that it provides you a good structured on learning regarding a topic and track. OMSCS specializations (e.g: Interactive Intelligence and Machine Learning) will give you a picture on how you should start learning about the topic. However, it is also equally good if you have your own personal projects to learn about analytics.
- You have many commitments outside OMSCS: In general, OMSCS takes 20–30 hours per week commitment depending on the difficulties of the courses you choose. If you take OMSCS, you will need to juggle your priorities wisely.
- You have a tendency to get lonely easily: Since you don’t meet any other students physically, loneliness is a huge deal in OMSCS. For me, I am hugely fortunate to take OMSCS together with Albert Bingei and ranon sim.
I took OMSCS while undergoing through life changing moments: changing my job to Google, proposing to my girlfriend, and moving out due to pandemic. All of these while working full time.
It has been a bittersweet victory to reflect that I had considered dropping out from OMSCS so many times. But looking back through the struggle, I am glad I persevered and I believe you could too.