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#1 Kernel0010   User is offline

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Academic advice

Posted 26 September 2018 - 10:54 PM

I'm looking for some academic advice. I never finished high school, I'm 21 and I'm interested in pursuing a career in machine learning.

I basically have two options:

  • Finish my highschool degree online, (2 yearish), while trying to maintain a high GPA so i can get accepted into a good school
  • Follow open source society university on github to finish a non-certified equivalent of a bachelor degree and study machine learning through Udacity and EDX


I live in Sweden, and my dream is to work in tech in the US. Not only for job reasons but for language and culture.

The first option would at best take me 6 years to finish (4 years for a bachelor). That would mean that I am 27-28 by the time I graduate.

I understand that's still young, but it still feels like I'm wasting a lot of my time going back to square zero, if I'm able to educate myself. But the thing that worries me, is that maybe no company is willing or wants to hire somebody from Sweden on a work visa that is only self-taught and have no college degree nor high school diploma.

This is a pretty important decision of my life to go in the right path that will allow me to get where i want but also not waste my entire adulthood.

Looking forward to hear others opinion on the matter, cheers.

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Replies To: Academic advice

#2 modi123_1   User is offline

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Re: Academic advice

Posted 27 September 2018 - 08:27 AM

I would wager a high school diploma is a must. A college degree certainly would help things as 'higher ed degree' is typically a requirement with H-1b visas.

Sweden has some solid tech companies. I would think you would double up your time and get an internship or entry level job ASAP.. pump those work experience numbers.

It's not wasting time if you are in pursuit of a goal.
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#3 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: Academic advice

Posted 27 September 2018 - 08:54 AM

Machine learning, if you want to do it seriously, is a heavily mathematical discipline. That is, you can apply other people's tools without understanding them, but if you want to work seriously in ML you need to understand the mathematical models. This is not a trivial field of study, and it's frankly unlikely that you'll get where you want to be with online study only.
This doesn't mean that you should not do the online study, but don't expect it to be the end of the story.

I would seriously recommend that you try to get yourself into a BA or BS program in computer science. If you can test out of the high school diploma requirement, great. If not, surely you can make up the requirements - talk to the schools in your area about how to get there. Make sure you don't avoid the math side of the curriculum. Linear algebra will be very important to you, but since I don't know the current state of the art in ML, it is likely that there is other stuff you'll need.

If you have a B[A|S] in CS, then your options start to become more clear. Depending on the state of your transcript, you may want to pursue an advanced degree, either in Sweden or in the States. Or, you might be more interested in just starting to make some money - a CS degree will certainly help to open those doors. As a tech professional from a predominantly white country, you will have relatively little trouble getting into the states for study or work. (and yes, US immigration policy really is that fundamentally and explicitly racist, and yes I'm ashamed of this fact every day)
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#4 Lemur   User is offline

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Re: Academic advice

Posted 01 October 2018 - 09:50 AM

There are people in the Bay Area that don't have college degrees that are doing just fine, some in fact that don't even have high school ones. School, as it turns out, is not a great indicator of programming prowess.

If you were American it'd likely be a matter of crashing a couch until you got lucky in hiring, and riding that job out for 2-3 years to get a base of experience going.

Being from outside the country, it may be a bit more difficult. I'm not sure how the visa process works, but I've heard they can be pedantic about higher education degrees. One of your best bets may be to get into a US university in California on visa to try and make connections and see how that plays out.

As far as ML, there are tons of startups going that route and they hire a lot of people at any skill level. There is, however, a large trend towards Masters and Doctorate levels being required with one heck of an emphasis on statistics.
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#5 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Academic advice

Posted 01 October 2018 - 10:09 AM

The VISA thing makes it more complicated, because you will be seen an unskilled labor for where you are now. Do you have any programming experience currently? Could you get a job in your country now? You would be better off getting 6 years of development under your belt and then trying to transition. If it were just programming, it would be easier to move into, ML and AI is heavy on the degree field currently because it is still a very developing field. So, the skill level is different than what is typical currently. As was previously stated, it is very math heavy and without high school, it would be hard to show you measure up even in the slightest. The AI researcher I know is very math-centric.

If ML is really what you want to do, hell even if it isn't, I would tackle that highschool thing first. The degrees aren't needed as a hole, but certain fields are still sticklers, just because they are so theoretical.
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