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PS for Columbia University Master of Science in Data Science (Part-time); once dismissed from PhD


orangeqq99 1 / 4 2  
Dec 27, 2018   #1
I plan to apply for the MS in DS program in Columbia University part-time. As all courses are provided in the night and my company is not far from it.

I have the following questions:
1. Do I need to clarify part-time in my essay? As they do have the same requirement bar, courses and degree for both full-time and part-time students. Do I need to address how I could manage?

2. Do I need to address how I overcome my biggest failure as I got dismissed from Economics PHD program after the first year? Or I just put what I put here: I am not ready for it hoping they won't notice it either?

3. My first-year PHD GPA is very low around 2.8 but after I transferred to Master, I got all straight A-. Should I explain this? As in my transcripts, they put PHD and master courses altogether.

to be a Data Scientist in the Health industry



I was raised up by my grandparents ever since my parents abandoned me while I was a 6-month baby. The highest education degree of my parents was my father's as a high school student who quitted in the second year. Yet I love reading and learning since kid even nobody kept telling me how wonderful the process of chasing knowledge is and how it will change my life. My grandparents raised me very conservatively, encouraging me to stay, never to travel.

The curiosity of knowledge is always the urge that helps me get where I am. After high school, despite being admitted to XX University (ranked 8 in China but 1 hour from home), instead, I chose to go as far as I could, XX University. Still a top school in China, XX is the farthest away I could get from my hometown. There I studied Economics. I don't know much about what Economics is about and my grandparents picked it for me as they thought it must be related to money. A lucky coincidence: I love economics and the view it provided for me to see the world and everyday life as an Economist. It is like a filter that you could see the world in another way and more rational and scientific.

In the 4th year, I exchanged to Sup De Co Business School in France for one year. There I studied International Business Administration and got my second bachelor's degree. It made sense so much that you learned international business administration in an international environment. After the wonderful experience in France, I decided to further pursue a higher degree. With a strong academic background in statistics and economics related courses, I got full range scholarship as an Economics PhD student in SUNY Albany. Whereas, the first year was a leap for me as I took advanced Econometrics, Microeconomics and Macroeconomics courses without taking any Intermediate courses before. But through self-learning, I passed the Macroeconomics qualification exam yet failed the Microeconomics one. I realized that I might not be ready for PhD program yet and thus transferred to Economics Mater program concentrating in Forecasting. Unlike the very theoretical setting of PhD courses, the forecasting program is full of practical use and I quickly got obsessed with using statistical models via SAS coding to solve the real-life problems. In the 2nd year, I got an average GPA of 3.71.

During my master program, I got an Research Analyst internship opportunity in DOH. That is the first time I realize how to organize and transfer the data and interpret them in a meaningful way to help people. As a member of the core team of three, we also drafted a paper: Multicomponent Approach to Evaluating a Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Implementation Program in Five Agencies in New York and submitted for publication. In the paper, we used a multicomponent approach to evaluate a PrEP implementation program. The health area seems different from Economics, but the methods to establish the model, fit the data and analyze the data are common. The way to process, structure, and analyze data really interest me and I know that it would be the career I could pursue in my life.

After graduation, I got a position as Data Analyst in the Office Of Mental Health. There I got access to Medicaid Data Warehouse data. Using SQL querying and data mining, we monitor the performance of health plans while implementing the managed care transform. The database is large and for extracting meaningful information from relational databases, you need to figure out clear logic.

After OMH, I transferred to New York XXX-a health information exchange company. There as the first time, I used Machine learning to solve a fuzzy-matching problem. Using Supervised learning, I managed to find the duplicate records submitted by providers. This has been a long existing unsolved issue. It is hard to find duplicates using only name-address strings as identifiers without machine learning, let alone the data we collected are unstructured and manually input. It is the first time I know how machine learning could help my work. And I know that I should learn more about the methodology and algorithms behind it instead of just using the open source packages online. I want to be a package developer in the future.

Reduced cost analysis, cheap large data storage and digitization of health records made big data and machine learning application to health is demanding. Right now, in the public health, the traditional statistical analyses are still the main methodologies. But I know that big data and machine learning could certainly help us dig more in the torrent of health data we have. Directly after graduating, I will transfer my career path to be a Data Scientist in the Health industry. There I will learn how to transfer what I learned to meaningful application in health like analyze mental health records which are mostly qualitative data using NPL, use big data and machine learning to link health data in different sources, join the unstructured data from SNS and personal health devices, provide useful insights that allow superior healthcare services etc. From there, in the long-term, I will continue to work in the health sector as a data scientist for the booming health data market.

Holt - / 7,529 2001  
Dec 28, 2018   #2
Qin Qin, this is a very lengthy essay that combines information for your statement of purpose and a few details that can be used for a personal statement. If you want to create a more appropriate personal statement, then you will have to write a new essay that better addresses the requirements of that type of essay. For starters, you do not need to present an autobiography to the reviewer. You can start your introduction from the point where you first enrolled in an MS course then failed at it. In response to your second and third question, you must address those aspects in this essay to clarify to the reviewer that you are not a first timer when it comes to this course. You must also address the issue of your grades being a mix of courses that cover both the PhD and masters fields as that is not how American universities function with their graduate courses. With any luck, you might even course credits because you already took certain classes and passed those previously.

Try to address the issue of you getting dismissed from the program after the first year. Don't be melodramatic about it though. Just explain why you were dismissed and how you overcame it. Then include a reference as to how you plan to use that experience to become a better student this time around.

With regards to the part-time reference, if there is no difference in course load and requirements, I do not see any need to mention that at all. The student designation is not important in this instance. Although, you could refer to the choice of university as having a relation to the proximity of your workplace to the campus. That would be part of the university choice presentation towards the end of the essay.

Set aside this current version of your PS for possible revision into a SOP. That would be the better use for this piece of writing that you completed.
OP orangeqq99 1 / 4 2  
Dec 28, 2018   #3
this current version of your PS for possible revision into an SOP. That would be the better use for this piece of writing that you completed.

Hi, Holt
Thank you for your helps. I will rewrite it. As Columbia University did require Personal statement on their website, should I still revise it into an SOP?

Concerning the length, it did not say any limit I should stick to, do you think I should cut it down?
Thanks.

Best,
Qin
Holt - / 7,529 2001  
Dec 29, 2018   #4
If a personal statement is not required, then you should work on revising this essay to become a statement of purpose. Use the same instructions I gave you above in response to your questions to get you started. Omit the parts that I told you were not necessary in the presentation. Allow yourself to focus on the actual purpose of your higher studies. Develop a true purpose for your desire to complete this course. The purpose should be both academic and professional in presentation. Respond to the 5 basic requirements for a proper SOP. These requirements are:

1. The purpose for your advanced studies;
2. Your undergraduate preparation in terms of classes related to the MS course;
3. Any undergraduate accolades you may have received that shows your qualities and traits as a student;
4. An explanation of your undergraduate thesis (if related to your chosen MS course. If not then omit it)
5. Pertinent work experience;
6. Reasons you chose the university (include a masters thesis subject overview if possible);
7. A 5 year career idea that you hope to achieve through these studies.

These guide questions should help you create a more appropriate SOP for the university. I'll be happy to review the new essay when you finish it. Just add it to this thread and make it urgent so that I can attend to it at once.
OP orangeqq99 1 / 4 2  
Jan 3, 2019   #5
Hi, Holt

I am a little bit stuck while continuing with my essay.
As for your advice: 2. Your undergraduate preparation in terms of classes related to the MS course;
3. Any undergraduate accolades you may have received that shows your qualities and traits as a student;
4. An explanation of your undergraduate thesis (if related to your chosen MS course. If not then omit it)
I tried to revise it according to these advice, but I have a master degree already and worked as a data analyst for 3 years. Why should I put so much emphasis on my undergraduate? It was back 10 years ago. You wont doubt how much I could still remember. And when I tried to talk about undergraduate accolades I was once proud of, now it just reminds me how childish I was.

Shouldn't I put emphasis on my working experience, and if any academic related, focus on my master?
thank you for your helps,
Qin
Holt - / 7,529 2001  
Jan 4, 2019   #6
The undergraduate focus is meant to show that you have been building on your academic knowledge in relation to your professional goals. The reason why I want you to strengthen that is because it is the foundation of your professional goals, experiences, and master studies. Yes, you should also focus on your masters degree to a certain extent. However, showing the balance of the prior undergraduate experience to support your abilities as a masters degree student will help to heighten the idea that you are a strong person when it comes to academic considerations. The approach that I was suggesting was meant to do that. What seems childish to you may be of importance to the reviewer. Most specially since you were once dismissed from your PhD course. That is why I am leaving no stone unturned in proving your academic proficiency. However, if you do not feel that it works with the way you want to write the paper then you don't have to follow it. Mine is only free advice so you can use it, or not. It all depends upon what you want to present in the paper because in the end, it is all about what you want to say about yourself, not how I want you to say it in your paper :-)


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