It’s the end of my first masters semester at Georgia Tech and other than learning the obvious course work, I have also learnt some important bits about being a part-time masters student.
Not a walk in the park
9-6 job by day, 3-4 hours of school by night. That brings a level of mental exhaustion.
Having a set time to cover schoolwork every day is what I’ve discovered as the best way to manage time and workload. Yet, sticking to it is often a challenge because school usually comes at the end of a day’s work when I am tired. Over the past four months, I am learning to make it my new normal.
Not waiting until the last minute
I am not my best under pressure, that is why I always make the effort to stay ahead on my assignments and quizzes and submit them a day or two before the due date. Making a submission with time to spare means doing it carefully. This applies to work as well.
Meeting other computer scientists
There are brilliant computer scientists out there. I didn’t know how brilliant until I got to interact with some of them over a group assignment. Learning from them was the best part of this semester’s class. How they break down a large project, how they handle teamwork, how they approach a problem. The best part was how humble they were. As much as they all have 10+ years experience in not only coding but computer science, they still welcomingly took my input, someone with barely any experience. I am looking forward to interacting with others over the next semesters.
Crawl before walking
The student gets to choose which class to enrol in at the beginning of a semester. I start with the easier classes as I walk my way up the ladder because I want to work my way slowly but surely through the program. This way I get the lay of the land, learn how to adjust my schedule accordingly, depending on the course difficulty, manage stress in levels and keep my grades up. I do a course per semester. That is what OMSCS (online masters in computer science) students are advised because school workload gets pretty high over time. Adding that to a day job can lead to something crashing and burning.
Doing most of the work
This may apply to most levels of education, so I am already used to it. The lecturers, teaching assistants and course work provide just a foundation to get the student started. That is not enough to handle assignments, quizzes and real-world scenarios. You are expected to read research papers, textbooks, attend sessions with the lecturer discussing real-world cases and so on. There is so much more work expected to be put in by the student.
This is the first of many articles about my school and work life. They will be about mistakes I’ve made, lessons I’ve learnt, advice I’ve received and eureka moments. I hope from them someone picks up a lesson or two, draws up some inspiration on how to balance school and work or just finds a source of relaxation or entertainment in the words.