It is not surprising that online courses (MOOCs) are helping many engineers compensate for their poor quality of education. Growing number of engineers who apply to graduate schools abroad are facing a massive challenge. With engineering colleges sprouting in every corner, the quality of education and infrastructure has taken a huge beating. With barely qualified teachers, students lack any avenues to learn and get the kind of exposure that would make them competitive against their counterparts from China, Europe and USA. So how do these students learn when their colleges are offering so little?
Enter the number of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), thanks to education startups like Udemy, Coursera and so on. With quality courses and online availability, an increasing number of students are resorting to taking such courses to augment their knowledge of popular subjects like Data Science, Basics of Computer Science and so on.
Engineers using MOOCs in their MS applications
Yasho Vardhan, an MIS applicant that I worked with, was feeling that his average GPA was putting him at a disadvantage in his applications. To further enhance his profile, he decided to take Introduction to Python for Data Science on edX and R Programming on Coursera. Since he was interested in Analytics which is growing more popular and competitive, he felt that he needed something more than his academics and work experience to differentiate himself. Further, such courses were highly recommended by his seniors at University of Maryland, the place where he is heading to this September.
Another popular online course is Machine Learning by Andew Ng on Coursera. When Sheelabhadra Dey, an Electronics Engineering student at NIT Trichy, started applying for MS in Computer Science (CS) programs with an interest in Machine Learning, he knew that CS is one of the most competitive programs. With a non-CS background, he needed to prove his mettle. So, he opted to complete online courses that would help him develop the CS skills that he could not in college. Now that he has admits from multiple reputed CS programs such as Texas A&M University, and University of Florida, he thinks his decision was a life saver.
The point is to gather the real skills and not worry about the certificate. Besides, developing good projects in these classes can be a great way to show you are a pro-active learner! These can also help to compensate for your low grades in a similar class you took in college or can fill in for lack of a formal education in the area you are applying to.
So, if you feel that you lack certain skill set that is hampering your career growth, it is time to go for a MOOC!
This article was originally written for and appeared in Tribune newspaper.