I graduated 2 years ago from a (frankly shitty) US state school with a 2.9 GPA and a Bachelor's of Arts in Computer science and no research experience.

I am well aware that this is a very poor undergraduate record. My mental health has has improved markedly since I left undergraduate and I have continued educating myself (self study/undergraduate courses).

I have the opportunity to move to a group within my company that does machine learning and statistics. Provided I take this position, will this experience be a positive mark on an application to a Master's program in a related field (comp. sci, statistics)? If so, how can I maximize the utility of this work experience in terms of admission?

More generally, what can I do to prevent myself from being permanently locked out of acceptance into graduate studies?

  • Does the new group include at least one academically impressive leader? – Patricia Shanahan Feb 18 '15 at 21:34
  • @PatriciaShanahan I believe that at least one member has a PhD – Bryan Glazer Feb 18 '15 at 21:53
  • @jakebeal I'm only considering a Master's degree at this point, specifically because of an answer in your linked question: "The best way to offset a low GPA ... is to consider enrolling in a terminal Master's degree and getting a good GPA in difficult classes." – Bryan Glazer Feb 18 '15 at 21:56
  • @BryanGlazer Ah, good... we really need to make a similar community wiki for questions about Masters admissions. – jakebeal Feb 18 '15 at 21:57

Getting experience on a work project using statistics & machine learning is a great first step towards remedying a poor undergrad GPA.

Your next steps should be:

  • mastering your work project (reading books, picking your colleague's brain),
  • finding CS programs & faculty that specialize in machine learning,
  • reading their popular/latest articles (list your questions),
  • discussing these articles and questions with coworkers,
  • attending the weekly colloquium/seminar of a CS department, and
  • talking to the speaker and other interested faculty afterwards.

Once you're comfortable enough to talk faculty about their research, make friends and say, "I am considering applying to grad school, is there a place for me in your group? Would you consider putting a good word for me with the admissions committee?"

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  • Thank you Nick. Should I be searching for some way to get published? Is that viewed as a necessity? – Bryan Glazer Feb 18 '15 at 22:58
  • Publishing is nice, but not necessary. However, if you are excited about a professor's research, it is very likely that he can start you out on a publishable project. This is perhaps the best way to gain admittance to grad school. – Nick Vence Feb 18 '15 at 23:06
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    I'd add to your list taking some courses at a local university and getting good grades to establish that you've become a better student then you were before. – Brian Borchers Feb 19 '15 at 2:01

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