Tag Archives: Graduate school

Senior Next Steps: Pursuing a Master of Science in Analytics

By: Holden Jones, EC Scholar and Honors College Senior

Picture1Determining what’s next after graduation is a daunting task. Like going to college after high school, choosing your life path is a huge step toward your future. As a student in the College of Business, many begin their careers directly after graduation in order to gain experience within the business world. Others, like myself, decide to further their education in the hopes of distinguishing themselves from others in highly a competitive job market.

This coming summer, I will begin a Master of Science in Analytics (MSA) at NC State’s Institute for Advanced Analytics. The Institute’s MSA program was the nation’s first degree program of its kind and is known for producing some of the highest quality graduates in the field of Analytics. The Institute has created a unique environment where students work in teams to gain technical and real-world experience in a short timeframe. Each team not only learns analytics skills in the classroom, but also completes a year-long practicum project where they analyze datasets provided by project sponsors. These sponsors include elite companies like Disney, eBay, MetLife, and United Airlines as well as government agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Communications Commission. These real-world projects prepare graduates for future careers and the program to have a 100% job placement for their graduates for nearly 3 years running.

I had heard coin phrases like “Big Data” in the news and business magazines, but never really thought about the job opportunities created by this data until the spring semester of 2015. With a student organization, I was afforded the opportunity to tour SAS in Cary, NC. SAS is the industry leader in analytics software and is also a large contributor to the MSA program at NC State. After the tour, my eyes were opened to the endless career possibilities created by the “data” I had never paid much attention to. As I began to research the program, I realized that it fit my personality and mindset. I wasn’t sure what my career would be, but I knew I wanted to use technology in a way that could be visibly beneficial to an organization or business. Analytics gives me these options. I will be able to analyze datasets collected during business operations and present them in a way that non-technical, business minded people will understand. By doing this, they will be able to make better-informed decisions that directly impact the company.

I attribute much of my acceptance in the MSA program to the Honors College and the College of Business. Not only have they shaped me into a better leader, but they also provided opportunities that enhanced my interpersonal skills, which are critical to the business world. After submitting my application, I received an email notifying me that I was a possible candidate for the program. The interview was difficult, but I felt that I had been properly prepared because of my experiences at ECU. Without these invaluable lessons throughout the past four years, I would not be where I am today.

From this journey, I have gained invaluable insight about myself and my future career. Always keep an open mind about your future and don’t pass up any opportunities that may benefit you along the way. If you do this, you may find yourself on a completely new and exciting path.

How to Master the GRE

By: Stephanie Griffin, Honors College Senior

stephanie 1After taking the SAT in high school, I thought that was the last time I would ever take a standardized test. Lo and behold, 3 years later, I found myself having to study over the summer to conquer the first obstacle of graduate school applications, the GRE. The GRE, or Graduate Record Examinations, is a required standardized test for graduate school for a wide variety of programs. Being a Speech and Hearing Sciences major, the GRE is required for my applications into graduate school to get my AuD and become an audiologist. The GRE is a slightly more advanced form of the SAT that is computer based. There are two essays, 2 sections each of mathematics and reading/grammar, and an unscored section.

Compared to the SAT, the GRE testing occurs several times weekly in all major cities, so there are plenty of opportunities to take the test. I signed up to take the GRE in mid-June in order to give myself a month to study after exams ended. Knowing myself, I also recognized I would want to take the exam again. I am a person that needs to experience the atmosphere and general “vibe” of something as major as the GRE before I can truly feel comfortable. I know some people would rather study rigorously before taking a test to only have to take it once. With my general test anxiety I knew that taking the test twice would allow me to understand how it worked and timed out, so the second time I could really focus on the material and not on the logistics.

After signing up, I really didn’t know what was on the test, how it worked, etc., so I headed to Barnes and Noble. In the test prep section, I found a book from Princeton as well as a general 5-pound book full of questions. Not really knowing how to begin, I opened the Princeton book and began reading. Test prep books are honestly a great way to understand how different tests work, from the time format to what you are allowed to bring on test day. Along with a ton of great information about the test, many different test prep books will also give you online access codes for full practice tests online, vocabulary, and different tips. My book came with a timeline where I could select how long I had to study for the test and a schedule for each week was made. I used this to an extent but just focused on making my way through the book by a certain time.

Each day I would complete around half a chapter to ensure that I didn’t burn myself out. The Princeton book would talk about the format for each section and then work up the difficulty of practice questions as you finished each section. The reading section gave tips on how to read through the different passages and pick the information out that you needed. A large group of common vocabulary words were given, so I would pick through those and make note cards of unfamiliar words. The math section reviewed the basics of different categories such as geometry and algebra. I honestly hadn’t done any of the tested categories of math since early high school, so a review was definitely needed. Due to the GRE being a computer based test, I also had to practice transferring information from a screen to scratch paper without losing any valuable information.  For the writing portion of the GRE, I felt comfortable enough to not practice writing due to the large amount of papers I write every semester. I read about the format of the two prompts and how to structure the papers, and left it at that.

The day before the test, I did absolutely nothing. I relaxed, went to see a movie, and headed to bed at a decent time. I knew that stressing myself out the day before would only hurt me, so I stepped away from all my test prep materials. Test day came, and I found myself cool, collected, and surprisingly relaxed. I arrived early to the testing center, filled out my forms and walked in ready to go. Throughout the test. I remembered the tips I had learned, and stuck to what I knew. As soon as I completed the test, I received my estimated score and was ecstatic. Although 4 hours of my life was gone, and a headache remained from staring at a computer screen, I felt nothing but relief.

Knowing how the test is formatted and flows, I am now in the process of prepping to take the GRE for the second and last time. I know what sections to work on, the areas to study, and what I need to do to increase my score.  I know that practice problems help me, while forcing myself to study didn’t. I also know my personal pace and style of studying. My advice to anyone taking the GRE is to not burn yourself out, be confident in what you know, and most importantly, don’t doubt yourself. Best of luck!

Faculty Commitment to the Student

At ECU, there are tons of professors who come to the university wanting to teach and to find personal protégés. I have observed that few students at ECU take advantage of this. Since I am a student who seeks more knowledge, I advance outside conversation with many of my professors and they make time for me. Even if I’ve never met them, they make time for me. It’s that simple. I will share a few experiences that represent the vast majority.

When I was a prospective student, I made calls to each university that I was considering.  At ECU, everyone took the time to answer my questions and share their thoughts.

When I visited the departmental office of the Department of Economics to add my second major, the department head, who is also a professor, called me into his office to discuss the matter. He said that he is always happy to recruit another mathematically strong student to his “BS-Quantitative” program.

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