evolosophy/grad school As soon as I found a catchphrase, I placed it here.
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Always The Motherfucking Bridesmaid
Publish: 2024-04-15 01:31:23
Categories: grad school

Well, I heard back from our friends over at the University of Minnesota.

REJECTED! 😢

What's next? On the heels of the Dearborn fiasco, I don't exactly know. Clearly this adventure isn't starting off quite as smoothly as I'd like.

Fuck.

😐

18 👀
Dearborn v Ann Arbor
Publish: 2024-04-14 01:19:15
Categories: grad school

So I think the takeaway here is that I'm a fucking stupid dipshit who can't get out of his own way. At least I think that's the takeaway. But maybe I should tell you the story and let you decide for yourself.

So I was at the park the other day yesterday, chatting with a park-acquaintance, Kelly, and I told her that it was quite likely that I was going to University of Michigan. As soon as I said it she immediately asked, "Ann Arbor?"

"No", I replied, "Dearborn".

So as I say this I just catch the quickest flurry of something on her face. I'm not sure I can place the exact expression, but maybe I'd say it was a less-than-optimtistic surprise. On top of it, that's the 3rd time I've been asked if I'm going to Ann Arbor when I mention U of M. So I finally got to the point where I was like, "Maybe I should look into this". So I did, but before I tell you about it let me give a little more background.

I essentially have two experiences when it comes to universities with multiple campus locations:

The Annex Model

So when I was at PSU the main campus was in downtown Portland but they also had a campus out in the suburbs somewhere that was like an overflow for certain courses and also the location of certain evening courses since it's closer to all the tech work west of Portland.

At the same time, while living downtown Portland, I was aware that University of Oregon also did the same thing; while they're located in Eugene, OR they have these annexes out in Portland that you could take classes there and end up with a U of Oregon degree and it would be no different than the main-campus degree.

The Sister-Campus Model

When I lived in San Antonio there was, within the city, The University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA) at the same time there's UT Austin whic is in, you guessed it, Austin. They are two completely different schools which have nothing to do with each other other than the fact that they're both in the state of Texas.

They have competing programs. Which is to say, you can get the same degree at both because they're separate and complete entities - unrelated to the each other.

I'm guessing you know where this is going...

So... when I was doing my research initially, and I found the Data Science program at U of M Dearborn I honestly just assumed it was the Dearborn annex (and it was the annex model). At the time it didn't even occur to me that I should consider the sister campus model. Honestly, I feel like a bit of an idiot for letting this fly below my radar.

Back to today... go home after my chat with Kelly and I'm like, "OK let me ask the internet. Are U of M And Arbor and U of M Dearborn the same thing"? So, I ask the internet.

Well the short answer is, "fuck no".

The longer answer is no "Really, really fucking no".

😐

😐

From what I can tell this is definitely the "sister model". They're not the same school. At all.

While Dearborn doesn't seem like a terrible school (I don't think), it's definitely not the University of Michigan that brings the "prestige" that's associated with that university name. Either way the real takeaway is that, stupidly so, I was under the impression I was applying for a top-tier school when, clearly, I was not.

I'm not sure what to say about this, other than it's frustrating as hell. You know, it's annoying as hell because it seems like throughout my adult life I've continued to make these same sort of don't-know-what-you-don't-know mistakes. I had hoped to have several top-tier universities to choose from as well as several other "flyers". With UW putting me on a waitlist, and U of Mich turning out to be the wrong one, that puts a lot of pressure on the Minnesota application.

I get that I still have options, which is great, but it seems to me like whenever I pick up any forward momentum, I always run into the same fucking hurdle: being a first generation everything who has to figure everything out myself and somehow managing to fuck it all up the first time (and usually the second time also).

So yeah... it's frustrating, but what are you gonna do, right? Like I said at the intro, when it comes down to it, the ultimate problem here is that I'm a stupid dipshit. Sadly, I have not yet found a solution for that one.

Minnesota was my #1 choice going into this, and clearly, they're the #1 choice now. Let's hope that happens. 🙂

21 👀
Applications Update
Publish: 2024-04-14 00:51:07
Categories: grad school

OK, so what's up with the grad school applications that I told you about in Next Steps? So, here's an overview of where we sit. This time around I'm listing the schools in what I think is the order of likelihood of me attending:

  1. University of Minnesota - pending
  2. University of Michigan - accepted!
  3. University of Washington - waitlisted
  4. Marysville University - accepted!
  5. CUNY - pending (but it was my fault?)
  6. New College of Florida - accepted!
  7. University of Texas - incomplete - may stay that way

OK, so let's walk through these:

University of Minnesota

Not much to say new here. Like I mentioned in Next Steps it's a good program, a good school and Minneapolis could be fun. Let's see. 🙂

University of Michigan

I think I covered Michigan in my last post. But the short version is that Michigan is #2 because it's a great program from a top-tier school. I think, from a pure "rankings" perspective, Michigan is a better school than Minnesota. The reason I gave Minnesota the edge is the non-school factor - namely wanting to live in Minneapolis, MN over Dearborn, MI.

University of Washington

UW has two factors going for it. The first, big one is that UW's MS program is 1.5 years compared to everyone else's 2 years. I'm old. Old as shit. Time matters. This plays huge into considering UW... although I am waitlisted. If can finish 6 months earlier, that adds a premium to this program that none of the rest offer.

The second positive about UW is that I'm local. I would save thousands of dollars simply by not having to rent a uhaul and move myself wherever.

I don't think either of the above points should be trivialized. If I get accept to UW, I may make a last-minute decision and pivot this way regardless of Michigan & Minnesota. I honestly don't know how likely it is, since I'm not accepted, but it is a possibility. 🙂

Marysville University

At #4 on the list... it's looking less likely that Marysville will end up on top. Like UW, Marysville also has two majory factors that attract me:

First, Marysville is very close to some great friends... and their adorable little kids to seem fucking insisent on growing up. If I can just live anywhere I want for 2 years, regardless of location, I'd love to be closer to them before their kids are too old to recognize me.

Secondly, you know what, out of all the universities I've dealt with so far, Marysville has been the most welcoming, helpful and responsive. If we didn't rank schools and assign levels of prestige, if not value, based on school name I would've accepted Marysville and been there by now. However, I think I made that mistake with my undergrad and for the Master's, I'm less inclined to keep swimming up hill. If this dumb shit matter to people, then it does I guess.

University of Texas

This one's easy. There's one appeal and only one appeal to UT's program: It's 100% online and self-paced.

Look, if I knew, 100% that I would end up with an education and degree (and alumni support!) that was exactly on par with the on-campus degrees, this would be my #1 choice. By far. I would enroll, get a plane to Costa Rica, and spend 1.5-2 years living on beaches while getting a Master's degree. But, honestly, I just don't have the confidence that the rest of the world is ready to accept online degrees with the same sincereity as traditional ones.

This would be awesome. But I think it's too idealistic.

That said, UT's application process has been super shady. They're the only school to ask for my letters of recommendation and application fee before asking for the rest of my documentation, like transcripts and shit.

Worse yet, among the additional docs that UT is requesting, they're also requesting that I take some sort of entrance exam. I think it's called "Quest" or something like that? I onliy briefly looked into what this was, but it seems to be a multi-hour test that also includes an additional fee. Asking me for an entrance exam and an additional fee after you've taken my application fee seems borderline corrupt.

I may change my mind in the coming weeks (applications are due May 1st), but I'm likely just going to let this one go.

CUNY

What's there to say here? Honestly, the only reason I added CUNY was because of nostalgia. It would be kind of cool to live in NYC again. That said... CUNY has made it very clear they don't give a shit who goes there. Their entire application process reads like: "go here, don't go here, what do we care?" CUNY should be bottom of the list except for...

But, as far as the application process goes. While I took all but two of my undergrad courses at Portland State between 2009 and 2013, I did happen to take 2 courses at a university in Texas back in 1999 ( 1999!! 😂 do you ever type something out and realize how much of a fuckingn dinosaur you sound like? 1999. Haha...). Well, CUNY is the only university that has asked for my transcripts from TX.

Honestly, I totally missed that they updated the application with that request. I've gone and sent and a request for transcripts from that school as well. But the CUNY application deadline is April 15th, and it's really a crapshoot whether or not I'll get the transcript in time or not.

We'll see, but either way CUNY isn't super likely at this point.

New College of Florida

I think I covered this already, but it's short so let's do it again.

The appeal of NCF is simple - spend two years on a Florida beach. I'm in.

Unfortunately, the degree is a "Master's of Applied Science" and not a "Master's of Science". I genuinely don't know if this semantic nonsense or if this actually matters. But I that there's a reason for this distinction and, quite frankly, there are too many other better educational opportunities on this list... even if they're not beachside. 🙁

So...

So that's where things sit. The last month or so has been mostly waiting. Most of the time all of this feels a bit unreal still. I'm still not sure I"m doing it I guess? And if I am sure, it hasn't hit me? I don't know. There are these brief moments where it feel like "oh shit! are we really??"... but so far... I don't know, let's see...

17 👀
A little less green, a little more Blue
Publish: 2024-04-10 15:44:31
Categories: grad school

So, like I mentioned in 'Next Steps', I've gotten a few responses back from my grad school applications, and some I'm waiting for. Well, as it were, one of the ones I've heard back in the University of Michigan, which has accepted me.

Currently, I have Michigan as my 2nd choice, behind Minnesota. Michigan is a great school with a great program. Really , the choice between the two is based mostly thiking it would be cool to live in Minneapolis for a bit.

While Minneapolis is still pending, Michingan has not only accepted me, but they've been sending "encouraging" emails for me to go ahead and enroll (which, of course, includes paying an enrollment fee) to secure my seat. I'm not sure if it's "standard procedure" to accept enroll and still end up backing out at the end. When I graduated and applied for grad school the first time, I only appled to 2 schools, largely because I was broke. I learned after meeting other grad candidates that some of them sent out 20+ applications to grad school.

So, now, with this enrollement shit, I'm a bit worried that the same thing is going to happen. I asked a few friends who had some experience here, but there was no real consensus.

Well... so I decided to jump in. I've officially enrolled at University of Michigan's Data Science program. 😀

I mean, we're still going to see how the rest play out (really, I should do an update post on the other applicationns) but I must say, something about taking another step towards making this really, really officially is both exciting and making me nervous. And, I have to admit, even the anxiety feels good. I have no idea what I'm doing with my life at this point, and I truly have no clue if this is the right move, but I will say... fuck... it's been too long since I've been excited about things. We're not there yet... but it's nice to be pushing life a little again.

BUT!!... back to the topic at hand...

I don't plan on enrolling to other schools that accept me at this point, unless I know for sure that's where I'm going. But I think this is the right move. Quite honestly, I think I'll be happy if I end up gonig to Michigan... I mean, I think I'd be happy at any of the places I applied, that's why I applied there. 😋 But Michigan has done an excellent job of communicating along the way, and I've been reading their emails. They're definitely making a strong argument for Michigan.

But who knows at this point.

Again... I get that this is just a baby step, which may not even be in the right direction, but still... baby steps towards something!

16 👀
Data Science vs Artificial Intelligence
Publish: 2024-04-09 22:43:17
Categories: grad school

In a previous post, I told you the plan was to go back for a Data Science Master's. So, let's chat about this a bit.

As I told you, I'm fairly amateur in the AI space. I've tinkered with it a bit, but I don't have a deep understanding of it. And to complicate things even more, beyond the fact that I'm a noob in this space, there's also the problem that world of AI is very new and still developing and being defined. This means that degrees fields, job titles and career paths are being blazed as we speak.

So anyway, in my research in late 2023, prior to applying to grad school, I had to figure out the difference between two different degrees: an MS in Data Science and an MS in Artificial Intelligence.

I think the following two paragraphs are a pretty good overview as I understand it today:

MSDS:
Data science is a broader field that encompasses various techniques and methods for extracting insights and knowledge from data. Students in an MSDS program may learn a wide range of tools and techniques applicable to various domains such as business, healthcare, finance, and social sciences.
MSAI:
Artificial intelligence is a subset of computer science focused on creating systems that can perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence. MSAI programs may delve deeper into the theoretical foundations of AI algorithms and models, as well as their practical applications in fields like autonomous systems, computer vision, and natural language processing.

Fun Fact: The explanation above came verbatim from ChatGPT. 😋

OK, so I'm not really sure at this point which of those two most aligns with where I want to end up. But, umm, that's made a little tougher since I don't really have a clue where it I want to end up to anyway. So then, how the fuck do I select between the two? Well, my decision to go for the Data Science degree was reached based on a few thoughts:

First, if the MSAI is a subset of the MSDS. I'd expect that with the Data Science degree I could apply for AI jobs, while the reverse may not necessarily be true. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's my guess.

Second, since I'm still not sure where I want to fit within the world of AI, I figured getting the broader degree will hopefully give me more options.

Lastly, I don't think it really matters. From my understanding of the current state of the industry, everything is too new and there's too much growth in too many directions for it to matter that much. In fact, when I was looking into things last year, I got a reasonable amount of feedback telling me I didn't even need a degree since I'm already in tech (not getting a degree at all may be worth its own post actually).

So, although I'm genuinely not sure, it feels like going for the Master's in Data Science is the right answer. But WTF do I know, right? I guess we'll find out together...

15 👀

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one day. possibly.