Grad School Search During Fibro Flare
Despite going through a massive fibromyalgia flare following the recovery from my tonsillectomy, I’ve been extremely interested in finding a master’s program for data science that works for me. I have a lot of challenges to consider, but planning for the future is what inspires me throughout my rough patches.
I have a few fibromyalgia specific criteria for the program I choose. Due to dislocating bones often and injuries from falling down, I need to have elevator access to the classrooms and professor offices. Because of my chronic joint pain, I also look for a disability resource presence on campus. My current accommodations are note-taking, especially for intense classes, and scribes for tests during pain flares. Without the appropriate resources, I would be setting myself up for failure.
Besides examining the disability friendliness of a school, I also consider more typical criteria for my graduate degree. An online program would completely remove my need for elevator access, and it would aid in the flexibility I need during my pain flares. However, based on the advisement of my professors, the credibility of many online programs is questionable. Further, I prefer in-person instruction for intense classes. Besides that discussion, my GPA is low and my student debt is high, which I wish were the other way around. As far as data science specifics go, I would like a program which focuses on the computer science and data visualization skills that the current industry is looking for, as I feel that an analysis based program would be much less valuable to my career.
Another factor I’ve been considering is location and climate of the school. The University of Washington program looks great and is local to my community, but it is expensive and difficult to get admitted. The Central Florida University program looks easier to get admitted and seems like a good value for the classes, but its climate is hot and muggy. While moisture is better for my sports asthma, I get heat exhaustion very easily. I worry that choosing the wrong climate could have a negative impact on my health, as most people with chronic illnesses understand.
When I chose Western for my undergraduate degree, I was living in the arid, desert-like climate of eastern Washington. The winter froze me into my bed for 18 hours a day, and the summers caused a lot of heat exhaustion when the temperature differences from AC didn’t kill me. I knew I needed a moderate climate for my success at college, so I chose to move to western Washington. The summers and winters are more moderate in temperature, and there is no need for AC in every building during the summer. While I discovered a mold allergy due to the higher moisture, I’ve since learned how to manage. Moving away from this ideal climate could cause a lot of problems I don’t know about yet.
All in all, I’m glad I have a future I can look forward to. While I know I will have flare ups where holding a job and getting an advanced degree will seem impossible, I really look forward to the grad school application process this fall. I have proven to myself that by managing my disease, I am capable of success.
Here are a few schools I'm currently looking at for their Data Science Master's program.
This program focuses on building computer science skills necessary to build data analysis algorithms and analysis software, which are the skills that Seattle-based tech companies have been hiring at good prices. I'm interested because I love the area of Western Washington, where the climate is fairly moderate. Going to school in this area would also make it easier for me to acquire a job in this area post graduation, which is one of my long term goals associated with this career path.
Goergen Institute for Data Science Masters at University of Rochester
This program has three possible concentrations, offering a wide variety of elective classes while maintaining a focus on building the necessary computer science skills. They also offer a free bridge course for students who need basic computer science before beginning the more advanced courses of the program. I'm interested in this program because of the bridge program and the more typical course schedule. I like working during daytime hours, even if it isn't always the easiest thing. However, the climate of New York concerns me in that I've heard it gets extremely cold during the winter.
This program is an analysis and statistics degree with computer science skills. They focus on making sure you are employable as an analyst, but also more versatile and able to go into data science with enough experience. The courses are in the evening and on the weekend, but the instruction is all in person. They also offer a four weekend bridge course to ensure that everyone starts with the necessary computer science skills for the courses. I really like bridge programs, but I am concerned about how hot and muggy it gets in Florida during the season of not Winter.