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Ken Bellows
Ken Bellows

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Advice for online grad school with a busy life?

Over the summer, I applied and was admitted to Georgia Tech's Online Master of Science in Computer Science degree program. So... I'm going to grad school! Online! On Monday! While I have a full time job! And a toddler... 😬

I've never done online school before. I've been out of school for several years now, so I'm not exactly fresh in that area either. I have a very supportive partner, but she only has so much time as well, and we've also talked about having another baby in the next year or two, which would add to things.

Anyone have experience in a similar situation? I'd be thrilled with any advice or protips you could offer on how to make things easier and be successful!

Discussion (4)

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Deven Jarvis

Hey Ken! I actually just completed an online masters in Data Science this past August. As in your situation I have a full time job and my daughter was born 3 semesters into the program!

My suggestions:

  1. Wake up earlier than your family (or stay up later if that works better for you). It’s a hard habit to start, but this became critical time for me to do school work without taking time from my wife and daughter. It doesn’t all fit in this time, especially around exams or major projects, but it helps a ton.
  2. Don’t take on more courses at once than you can handle to rush graduation. I usually stuck to 1, or 2 tops in a semester.
  3. Be strategic about which classes you take together when you take multiple in a semester. The online masters for GT has a pretty active subreddit last time I checked - you can get insight into work load and difficulty ahead of time there.

Best of luck to you! I’m really glad I did it, but am also really glad I’m done too haha

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Ken Bellows Author

Thanks for the response! Yeah, I definitely plan to stick to 2 per semester max, and I plan to stick to 1 when I have courses known to be more time consuming, or in areas I don't know. I am actually already used to waking up around 5am to workout or get things done around the house, and I typically leave for work around 8am... Maybe I'll have to reduce my exercise routine, or go harder on fewer days or something. Play-by-ear I guess

If you don't mind me asking, how long did it take you to complete the degree? Was it a 30 credit/10 course program, like many I've seen (and indeed the GA Tech OMSCS program)?

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Deven Jarvis

Sounds like you are off to a good start then! I'm usually up around 5-5:30am as well which gave me a couple hours before the family wakes up to do school work. Then I'd dip into evenings/weekends just during crunch time (usually mid and late semester).

My program was 32 credits/8 courses, so 4 credit hours per course. I did it in 2 years (Aug 2016 to Aug 2018) taking classes every semester including Summer so 6 semesters total. I did 2 semesters with 2 classes and the rest with just 1.

Have you decided on your specialization yet? I looked at GT OMSCS when I was choosing programs in 2016 and almost went the ML route there, but decided to go for the Data Science route at UIUC.

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Ken Bellows Author

I'm shooting for the Interactive Intelligence route, and may pick up ML as well. Seems to be plenty of room for multiple specializations in the schedule, which is nice.

2 years is impressive for part time! I do plan to do the summer semesters as well, but I expect I'll take a bit longer, if for no other reason than that I need 10 courses... If all goes well, I'm hoping to be done within 3 yrs, but we'll see what life offers