Why I Drop OCSMS from GeorgiaTech

Let’s just calculate cost and benefits~

Benefits:

  1. Systematic learning in computer science, broaden my horizon for topics I would not consider learning on my own, learn more about history and connections between different topics.
  2. Community connection. You can talk to and work with similar people who have similar aspiration but different background
  3. Showing dedication. If you are willing to spend so much time to earn that piece of paper, you proved your dedication and passion in this field. That definitely looks good on your resume

Cost:

  1. (Other trivial problems. (1)Their course registration system never have enough capacity for the most popular courses, and it prioritizes students who already had credits from previous semesters, so you may have to take courses you don’t really need just to accumulate the credit so that you can be prioritized for course registration in next semester. Yes, this happened to me and likely many others. (2)The communication between you and your TA or advisor can be quite slow and impersonal. Most answers I got so are copy-paste from their handbook or policies which I already read before asking the question, or maybe they already implemented a machine learning system to process your natural language request. You may give up the idea of asking for help from them eventually. This problems belongs to any online education, but this is also where you can tell one program is better or worse than the other.)

OCSMS is trying to sell themselves as the most affordable degree program which is a great idea and move. However, they are targeting people who are taking this program part-time. This means these people are not young students who just blindly learn whatever topics are being taught in school. These people are older, more sensitive to time(not in terms of flexibility, but in terms of getting things right in the first attempt, because they simply have less time left in their lives) and more clear on what they need/care. These people are taking the program mostly for a passion of learning (which also defines their career change), not just a piece of paper. Therefore, I believe they are targeting people who are old enough to choose part-time master’s degree, poor enough to not choose other more in-person programs and inexperienced enough to not learn things on their own. For me, the real competitors against OCSMS’s should not be other traditional education at all, instead, their real compositors are those new forms of education such as YouTube, Coursera, fastai, etc.

Yes, part-time and $6k are really cheap compared to other great CS master’s programs, but it’s still so much more expensive when you can spend $15 and 20 hours in total on Udemy to get similar quality of service on the theories or technologies that specifically interest you.

Overall, I think it’s a good choice to take this program if you (1) have not established your self-discipline or learning system and need a program to provide you an easier environment (2) are very comfortable spending $500–800 and 15h per week for each course even you may give up at any time, (3) really need that piece of paper for your specific career advance(which is probably a not so good career path)

Otherwise, if you expect you succeed in this program, you should expect you succeed on your own as well. It all depends on how bored you are with other parts of your life.

I believe this program will get better and better, but that doesn’t mean that’s the best choice you can make for your life.

My day job is a machine learning engineer, but I love working on projects in mental health, fitness and finance. I am also the author of GetUpLate.

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