Georgia Tech – Skype Interview with Online Computer Science Graduate Student
My first question to you, Christina, is you’re
all the way in Minnesota, so what prompted you to enroll in Georgia Tech’s online Master
of Science in Computer Science program? I’ve been a developer for 10 years, but I have
no formal training in any aspect of that. I actually have a Master’s in Chemical Engineering
from University of Illinois a long time ago. And, um, the way careers do, mine sort of
took a left turn at one point and I found myself doing development, uh, sort of without
the degree to back it up. I had thought about grad school previously but I have a more than
full time job and three kids and I volunteer in the community, so there’s no way that—Even
driving time would make, uh, something like that impossible. So, when I heard about the
online program, and given the, the low cost and the convenience, I just thought I’m kind
of, this is an opportunity that’s too good to pass up.
I want, uh, to get an idea as
to what a typical week would be like for you. Uh, things are pretty crazy for me right now,
uh, in terms of work. You know, over the course of the semester, there’s enough flexibility
that things can ebb and flow a little bit. Hopefully work will calm down for me pretty
soon and I can start doing homework before midnight What would you say has been the
best part of this online experience for you, or the program overall?
The first class
that I took, uh, last semester was Machine Learning. Uh, which, I found out after the
fact, is probably the toughest course that the program offers. At the same time, when
I finished the semester, I had a real sense of accomplishment in terms of, you know, if
I could conquer that class, I can—I know I can cut it in the program. When you go off
and do some research, which we had to do for a couple of papers. You know, your own experimental
type research that you learn at a level that, you know, is not really
possible in any other venue.
In your opinion, how would you say that this online program
has changed the realm of higher education overall? How has it influenced it, you think?
Until now, the model is, sort of, you’ve got a certain number of spots, and then you look
at who applies, and then you pick the right people for those spots and everybody else
is kind of out of luck. And this, the essential model change, I think, there is if you can
do the work, then you can participate, which is a profound difference. From a student standpoint,
it’s also a difference in terms of, you know, it isn’t just a matter of, “Do you live close
enough to someplace that would offer something appropriate and do you have the buckets of
cash that it would take to, you know, dump into something like this. I’ve got three kids
headed for college, so there’s no way an expensive program would be in the cards for me. You
know, and so, it sort of changes the model in terms of reducing some of those barriers.
I think barriers that everyone kind of assumed were fixed are starting to fall, which is