Struggling between Vertical and Horizontal Learning!

Hello everyone,

I am a fresh graduate of electronics and communications engineering. It has been two years since I started learning Data Science. On the other hand, I feel that I have to learn various CS topics such as CSS & HTML, OOP, Functional Programming, Data Structures & Algos, … etc.

What do you think should I do? Should I continue on my path of Data Science? Should I stop learning and practicing data science and start learning the CS foundations first?

*I’ve recently got accepted into Master’s degree in Data Science and also doubting whether it’s the right decision or not!

Any advice, please?

If you got into a DS program, I would want to focus on that, mostly. I would have other CS stuff as a side project.


If Data Science is genuinely something that you’re interested in pursuing, then you’ll still get value out of taking the time to learn some core CS fundamentals. When manipulating data, it’s a fair bet that you’ll be using code. Many people who only learn code as a tool to do something else end up writing single-purpose “throw away” code because they don’t understand how to make it maintainable and extensible. Academics are notoriously bad about this. (Can I get an “amen” @JeremyLT ?)

If your concern is that your Data Science program might be all statistics and not much scripting, then I strongly urge you to start talking to members of the faculty about who is available to serve as your advisor and what research they are working on. Then talk to those professors. Would you be working with someone in the CS department on building a library for data interpretation? Would you be collaborating with a cross-department team that mostly just wants you to run their numbers for them? What do current students in the program do on a day-to-day basis?

I’m really reticent to give out personal advice to total strangers, but if you look at the content of the DS degree you’ve been accepted for and think “I don’t really want to do that,” then please think long and hard if this program is right for you. Graduate school (in the US) can be an incredibly taxing and even harmful experience that leaves many people feeling exploited, exhausted, and burnt out. Taking time to really think about whether it is the best path to accomplish your goals is a smart thing to do.

What do you want to do in five years? What are the paths that can get you there? Which of those paths is best for you?

Regardless of what you decide, congratulations on your recent graduation and good luck on your next endeavor!

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Yeah, agree on many of those points

  1. Many academics typically write iffy code.

  2. Data science is just statistics. How do you like statistics?

  3. Grad school can be a meatgrinder. Make sure you want to do it.

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Thank you so much for giving me some of your time. I highly appreciate it! @ArielLeslie

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