Elderly lady on retro computer in library studying

So, I previously wrote up a whole blog post about why I chose to study an online Masters at The University of York in Computer Science and Data Analytics. Ya-dee-daa-daa basically.

I was totally raving and enjoying the course. So I decided to write another post 4 months later…

First of all, the first module that everyone studies is always Algorithms & Data Structures. It’s pretty decent but it’s all self learning….

Advanced Programming

The next module was Advanced Programming. What I found odd was the students in my cohort seemed to rotate. So some people were doing AP as their last module and some were doing it as their 3rd…6th…etc and we’d just get thrown back into the mix with strangers. The order you learn in is just sporadic and there is no order but many complained about wishing they had done a module or two AFTER the Advanced Programming module as it would have helped them immensely.

Anyways, the slack channel is lively and everyone is very helpful, supportive and mostly nice.

In the first week, you learn Python. I didn’t know Python and had to put myself through a Bootcamp using Youtube, the content and reading stuff online as it was completely new. I’m pretty sure most people on my course were in the same boat. It was a struggle but well worth it. I recommend Corey Schafer and FreeCodeCamp to learn Python.

The tasks the uni provide are really fun to do and you do learn from them but they take AGES. I’m trying to figure out a new way of studying. Previously, I was reviewing the content day by day and then doing the tasks at the end. I think I will try reading the whole weeks content in the first few days then directly going through each task and re-review the content + youtube + google to solve whatever they are.

The tasks are quite important especially if you’re a beginner and don’t know much about Tech/CS/ Dev stuff. What they get you to do usually becomes a snippet of what they want from you in the end of module assignment.

After learning Python we learn about collecting, parsing, cleaning and wrangling data to create visualisations. They spend 1 week teaching you about each area.

The module is titled ‘Advanced Programming’ but it’s essentially an intro to Data Science/Analysis module. You learn how to use different APIs like Pandas, NumPy, Matplotlib and then MongoDB if you want to use databases. All this was also completely new to me and I loved it. I really liked Pandas and how easy it made cleaning and re-organising large sets of data and also creating a GUI in Tkinter.

Despite being taught 1 general topic per week. They only touch lightly on each area. That’s what made the course so hard and overwhelming. I wanted to explore more and dive into everything but there’s just not enough time to experiment and dabble.

Level of Difficulty

The content is digestible – you will get it if you put in the leg work. The main issue here is you don’t really know how much or little or what they expect of you and this means you don’t know how deep to dive or how shallow to skim. And because you have a limited time to do things you have to be calculated with your time and effort.

The course is more intense than ADS. The tasks and the content again are super interesting but there’s no time to do the tasks AND the assignment. So you end up feeling overwhelmed and like you can’t get everything done or learn everything in time.

Problems

Everyone in the slack channel individually emails about everything then posts their findings so it’s a bit of a shit storm as you scroll through the chat piecing together the requirements. Slack is honestly the holy grail and the thing holding the course and its students together.

Hopefully, after my first hand in I will get feedback on what I’ve done wrong to help improve because what I handed in in terms of the report was awful. The program was decent but the report was shit and that’s what they mark you on so bear that in mind.

Will I pass?

I’ve literally just handed in my second module assignment today. It was….horrendous. Or should I say my assignment was horrendous? The amount of work they get you to do is hefty. The assignment was basically a mini-thesis of 5000 words about 30 pages of screenshots and over 1000 lines of code which took me, no joke, 4 weeks nonstop coding for 8+ hours every day. Once finished I had no time for the essay so I botched it and now I’m worried I’ll fail.

Maybe I overdid it and went overboard with the programming but when something has a bug…you have to fix it right? Then when that bug creates 10 bugs it turns into A Bugs Life and you forget how to wash and live off Quorn sausage rolls for week.

I couldn’t hand in a half-arsed program that barely worked and that really stressed me out. Like I said earlier, they mark you on your report, not your program but you still have to hand that in otherwise you get a 0. I wish I told myself this at the beginning.

I’m not even certain I’m going to pass but we will see. Many people handed in despite it being hefty. A few in the slack channel stated they were either exhausted, getting grey hairs, dropping out, taking a study break or looking for alternative options. I took the study break and gave kudos (as a lurker) to those who persevered onto the next module.

Mental Health

If you struggle with your mental health then I highly recommend you get the rest of your life in order a week or 2 before hand-in as it gets stressful. I had 2 weeks of sleepless nights, all-nighters and 18 hour days.

I got mega anxiety and literally stopped functioning and living properly. I stopped seeing my bf and even stopped cleaning the flat or eating properly because I was scared I was wasting valuable time I could be wrangling data that hated me. Then my laptop broke. Then my sink broke. SO I had to load Debian OS on my Raspberry Pi 4, connect it to my TV and use that as my very buggy computer for 3 weeks. The stupid chip was so outdated no software was compatible the IDEs were shit and I could only load Python 3.7 in a virtual environment which took me 1 entire week to figure that out.

My bf ended up bringing over food and lots of paper plates as an emergency kit which was sweet of him lol.

Then, I ended up panicking and getting burnout and so I was advised to get a doctors note to get an extension which I did but I still handed in 1 minute before deadline with only 70% of the report completed lol.

The amount of workload for this module is intense so be wary if you want to study this Masters on top of a busy job because it can be overwhelming. If you do a desk job then you will be glued to your computer 12+ hours a day lol.

Of course, you can also just study just enough just to make the grades but for me, I am studying this course because I enjoy the content and topics and so I want to put 100001% in and digest everything…but of course..my therapist says you don’t have to try your best in EVERYTHING.

Conclusion

I like how the course is set out and I like self-learning but what I don’t like is the mammoth assignments at the end that make me want to smash my head against my laptop.

The majority of complaints about the course about the lack of support and overwhelming workload are true.

At the moment, I’m praying I pass this module so I can move onto the next one. I will defo continue this course considering how much I’ve learned so far.

I’ve been trying to learn OOP for years and this course has directed me towards all the materials that have helped me finally grasp it and honestly, I really need that mysterious person who marks my work to kicks my butt into action.

Yes, it’s overwhelming and I can guarantee over 70% of those enrolled will not enjoy it/drop out because it won’t meet their standards but I personally am enjoying it πŸ™‚

I would have quit on week 2 if this were a free online course and be stuck just knowing how to write For Loops for 3 years thinking I was a genius. Oh, wait that was me πŸ˜….

If you have any questions please do comment this post. I always reply πŸ™‚

So far, so good.

If you found this post useful please support House Ninety Two and
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com