Students reflect on new data science major a year after its inception – The Daily Free Press

Boston University Computing and Data Science Center. BU launched Data Science as an undergraduate major in 2021. SAM BETSKO/DFP STAFF

Riya Parikh, a freshman in the computer science and data science program, waited until the last minute to make her decision to go to college.

It was April 30, 2022 — a day before she was due to submit her official commitment — and she was between Boston University and Northeastern University.

She compared the two programs and found that in terms of coursework, they were quite similar, she said. Although she noted that part of her decision came down to family inheritance and offers of financial aid, there was another deciding factor that led her to choose BU.

“I was also quite adamant about graduating in four years instead of five and with the path I would have planned at Northeastern, I don’t think that would have been possible,” Parikh said.

So BU it was – and Parikh became part of the first freshman class to apply and enter the new undergraduate major, launched a year ago at BU.

BU announced the undergraduate data science program in June 2021, with students eligible to transfer to the major last fall. Some students who have moved on to major in data science, however, have doubts about graduation to be able to graduate on time.

Parikh said she felt like she was in the “right place” and would stay on track to graduate within four years.

CDS junior Amelia Sturbois first came to BU as a statistics major, then later moved into computer science. She officially transferred to the data science major after meeting with her advisor recently, but has now said she’s not so sure she’ll finish her degree on time.

“I told (a CDS counselor) that I won’t transfer unless I’m sure I can graduate in four years just because I’m not willing to pay to stay longer than necessary,” Sturbois said. “It’s definitely a point of anxiety.”

CDS faculty senior undergraduate academic advisor Colleen Kenney said in an email to the Daily Free Press that CDS would support students’ efforts to graduate on time.

“As we work with this next cohort, if a student is unable to graduate, we will work with that student to assess what resources they may need to ensure they graduate” , wrote Kenney.

The Data Science program is in its infancy, which makes enrolling in classes difficult, said CDS junior Tessa Wu. When she first started considering switching to CDS, she spoke with an academic adviser, who left her “a little disappointed” with how the program was organized, she said.

Wu learned that the counselor did not have clear answers to her questions about the program as a whole.

Although Sturbois was able to use some computer classes to bypass the DS major’s introductory classes, she said she and many of her classmates didn’t feel prepared for the next level when she entered. his first DS class this semester.

“It’s a 300 level course, and it’s my first DS course that I’ve taken because I’m trying to stay on track,” Sturbois said. “I think a lot of people were really insecure or worried about taking an upper-level class where they didn’t know anything about it, but yet that’s the position graduating on time has pushed them into. a lot of students, I think.”

In an email to the Daily Free Press, Micah Sieber, director of academic programs at CDS, said all intra-university transfers are unique.

“To date, no intra-university transfer has been exactly the same, so we examine several aspects of a student’s file when evaluating their IUT application. Current academic level is taken into account, as well as performance in courses taken in their previous program,” Sieber wrote.

Arin Wang, a senior at CDS, planned to transfer to New York University for its data science program, but stayed at BU and transferred to CDS.

“I saw this program. I thought, this is what I want,” Wang said.

Wang said she felt confident in the usefulness and applicability of the program. She said the program could have opened earlier.

“I think (BU) should have opened (CDS) earlier because there are a lot of things we need to try and test to see if they work or not,” Wang said. “I think people need time to prepare for this.”

Wang anticipates that after changing her major from math to computer science to data science, she will be able to graduate on time in the spring of 2023. She said she was excited about the diverse job prospects that a degree in data science offers him.

For Wu, there are pros and cons to the major being developed.

“Sometimes it’s not great to get into something so new when it’s not structured yet, just because you don’t know what’s going to happen and a lot of courses aren’t offered” , Wu said. “Right now, I’m taking two Questrom courses that count towards my main requirements. I mean, it gives flexibility to… go around and take different courses from different colleges that I probably would never take.

While Sturbois said she initially thought the program would be a good fit, she is now uneasy.

“At first I thought (the DS major) was a really cool opportunity,” Sturbois said. “And I still think he has a ton of potential, but my perspective has changed that maybe the University shouldn’t have offered the opportunity for juniors to make the switch just because there’s still a lot uncertainty within the program.”

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