omscs, gatech

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Background

A few years ago, I was having a casual conversation with a friend who mentioned that he was interested in a new program being offered by Georgia Institute of Technology, which was being advertised as the first ever accredited program using a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) format.  I was immediately interested because with my schedule and full-time job, online courses have suited me and is what has allowed me to get my Bachelors in Computer Science, as well as my previous Associates.  At this time, I still had well over a year remaining in my undergrad program so I did preliminary research, and filed the information for later consideration.  My research sparked quite a bit of excitement because the specializations for the program included Machine Learning and Interactive Intelligence, two topics that have intrigued me for quite some time now.

Last semester, prior to my undergrad graduation, I decided to really inspect Georgia Tech’s program in order to see the prerequisites and note any deadlines and information that I needed in order to proceed. The requirements seemed to be a pretty standard affair, sans the usual requirement of GRE test scores.  I made a plan and a schedule to complete each action item in order to apply for the program for Spring 2017.

The Process

Georgia Tech required some simple data from me being an out-of-state, but non international student:

  1. A Statement Of Purpose (2,000 characters)
  2. An objective
  3. Transcript (Unofficial accepted initially)
  4. 3 Professional References (I did a current tech lead, a former HR manager, and a former co-worker/manager)
  5. Personal Demographic Data (standard identifying data)
  6. Uploaded (or mailed in) Identification such as driver’s license

As expected, although this program does use the MOOC format, applicants still need to have a bachelor’s degree, as well as some experience in Computer Science, Math, Technology to be accepted.  Going by their last statistical update, they’ve had 10,697 applicants, with 3350 actual admissions into the program, so although it is using a MOOC platform, the decision process still upholds the expectations that one would expect of a top 15 Computer Science University.

Applying was relatively easy, the most taxing parts were writing the statement of purpose and nagging my references.  Honestly, I find it difficult to write about myself in a persuasive manner and found writing the SOP relatively difficult.  In fact, it took me a month or so writing bits and pieces of the statement before I was able to come up with something I felt was honest and true to myself, while describing my interest in the program succinctly as well as demonstrating my absolute excitement for getting accepted.

One thing to note, I originally applied to the Fall semester but one of my references did not complete the process, so my application wasn’t “officially submitted”, so when I officially submitting everything, my next available date was for the Spring semester.  This worked out better for me in the long run, considering the transitioning that I have gone through over the past few months with getting a new job as a Senior Full Stack Developer and moving to a new place.

Once everything was submitted, all that was left to do was to wait.  Boy did I wait… I went almost crazy waiting.  I read https://www.reddit.com/r/OMSCS/ occasionally, but all that did was make me worry based on people being rejected with similar experience as I had.  Hopeful students were using a method of sharing their data so that a baseline could be established for people to have some sort of data regarding the likelihood of getting into the program.

Acceptance

I received my acceptance letter roughly 7 weeks after applying.  I quickly received other information regarding financial aid, data regarding the program, and a link to the school’s academic calendar.  Looking at the /r/omscs thread, there really was no real pattern that I could see that could really indicate a real guideline for acceptance, which showed that each application received individual consideration, which was promising.  For me, my background did not begin in Software Development.  Anyone following my journey would know that I started as a manager in retail and I’ve transitioned over the past 5 years.  For me, some of my positives was that I did finish undergrad with a 4.0 and I had 15 years experience in different management positions, on another hand I have a friend that was accepted with a 2.8, but with all software-related experience including principal roles.  Again, shows that there are many factors and that anyone with a passion to extend their education should give it a shot.  All that’s there to lose is the application fee.

Final Thoughts

I labeled this post as being Part 1, mostly because I haven’t gone through the process completely.  I want to write about registration, staying organized, the platform and other data as I meander my way through the program.  Since I am absolutely abysmal at updating my blog, I can’t say for sure that Part 1 won’t be the first and last edition of the series, but I’m naming it as Part 1 in the hopes that will provide even a modicum of motivation for me throughout the months to come =)

Mira is a Senior Full Stack, specializing in Web Applications developed in the healthcare industry.

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