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There are some prominent summer schools in CS (ML in particular) like MLS (Machine Learning Summer School).

What is the impact of attending such program on academic careers? (or applying for graduate programs)

For example, LxMLS (Lisbon Machine Learning School) this year has ~ 150 selected participants from all over the world.

The summer school offers the following things:

  • Lectures (from basics to advanced topics)
  • Lab sessions
  • Talks
  • Poster Session (based on which the students were selected)

Would it be a worthwhile investment of 1000-1200$ (Assuming I have the means to fund myself) or are such opportunities common and easily funded in US and I should be looking at not attending and saving money?

What else would this summer school bring forth for a recently graduated undergrad student?

Some of the summer schools have courses which can be treated as university credit equivalents. Is this true for all summer schools?

  • Background: A student interested in Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing and has taken online courses in these subjects.
  • How long does it take? – Piotr Migdal Jul 5 '13 at 22:23
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I'm a PhD student in my final months, I'm in a different field (geophysics), but I've been to some summer-schools that I found very valuable. One lecturer even stated that summer schools are the best forum for scientific exchange. The summer schools I've been to didn't have as many participants as yours, but still, besides from the obvious point of acquiring knowledge and skills, summer school permit you to:

  • Meet and talk to senior people in your field
  • Meet other students, who may be going to be the future senior people in your field

The bottom line is: A summer school is as good as its lecturers are. Look at the list of lecturers, and ask a senior scientist you know to look at the list. Are there many famous names? Go for it. Are those mainly lecturers who spend most of their time teaching at not so well known institutes? Then you can probably spend your time and money better elsewhere. Depending on what's included (lodging/meals/...) and on how long it takes, 1000$ is not bad, although of course it's better if you can find someone else to pay it for you ;).

  • (1500$ for everything included). 1000$ without lodging. The majority of the costs are for traveling though. I would appreciate a comment on how it affects graduate admissions though. – Naresh Jul 5 '13 at 9:44
  • Not sure how it would affect graduate admissions, but I can't imagine it wouldn't be beneficial. – gerrit Jul 5 '13 at 9:48
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    Perhaps the biggest impact on grad admissions would come from getting a strong recommendation letter from an expert in your field. But then you have to do more than just show up. – JeffE Jul 5 '13 at 15:01
  • As for how this would affect your chances for admission into a graduate program, that depends. I think the admissions office will probably pay the most attention to your undergrad GPA, and your GRE scores. If those are low, I don't think summer school will do much to offset that. If those are high, you may not need an extra boost anyway. If you're applying to a very competitive school, though, an experience like this might set you apart from other similarly-qualified applicants, and give you a slight edge. But I think gerrit has listed better potential benefits in his answer. – J.R. Jul 5 '13 at 16:48
  • Thanks. We're required to bring a poster describing our current work and that formed the basis of the application(based on which students were selected). So, it definitely won't be just showing up. :) I'll definitely try to network though. That startup showcase on demo day should be fairly interesting as well. – Naresh Jul 5 '13 at 17:12
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What is the impact of attending such program on academic careers?

Direct - very little (unless it is very selective and prestigious and the committee is aware of it).

But the biggest things are:

  • how much you will actually learn and
  • how much you will network.

The later is more important (always you can learn by yourself, and most of learning is self-learning anyway) but you cannot network by yourself. So if there are people from groups you want to apply - it will help a lot (and also: mean that the level seems to be right).

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$1500 with everything included? Sounds very good value.

Asides from the great value and the great opportunity for networking with like minded people, it is a great opportunity, through the networking and sessions, to be able to find your focused research interest(s). You never know where the contacts you make, and what you learn will lead you.

I did something similar when I was just completing my MSc - I went to a workshop/conference in Boston - what I learnt helped me refine my PhD research topic; the people I met, I am still n contact with and have helped me when I did not quite understand some topics.

Ultimately though, it is up to what you can afford in terms of time and money.

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