Today marks two weeks since my arrival to Canada as a student. I had many questions in my head, most of them I could not find an answer before arrival. It might be a good thing to keep mystery to the experience.
Most important question I had was about the mathematical foundation required to survive graduate school in Computing Science field; Short answer is:
- Linear Algebra
- Set Theory
- Basic Calculus
- Discrete Mathematics
Without basic knowledge in the fields above, you will suffer for some time until you cover the foundations and then recover whatever concepts you missed while learning above concepts.
I was lucky to have joined Khan Academy a little bit more than three years back, and started brushing off dust off such concepts I learned 15 to 25 years back.
If you are planning to join graduate school in Computing Science or Engineering, you MUST at least be familiar with Linear Algebra and Calculus.
Second concern I had while I was still waiting for both acceptance letter and my study permit, was the age gap. Yes, I was concerned about being nearly 40 years old, with rusty scientific background and saggy academic muscles among bright young men and women. I kept imagining myself in class surrounded by young people under 30 years old, and being the only grandpa in class. It turned out that such gap is not that obvious, for one reason, in graduate school you will find people in their early twenties all the way to people who are actually older than me. As for campus itself, you will find teenagers, middle aged people like myself and people who almost reached 60 years or older.
Of course, there will be a gap in the way we think, like normal age gaps we have experienced in hundreds of occasions, but we did adapt to it, either by tolerating different cultures, or by clustering with people from the same culture sphere we belong to. Imagine you are in public transportation or shopping, will such age gap make any difference? I don’t think so.
As for the mental capacity dimension, there is a blessing of experience, where old people like myself, who have lost some brain cells, can rely on whatever we experienced earlier. Trust me, this does compensate for that. I recall a few events where young students struggle to figure out a solution for a certain problem, where it just pops out of my head naturally.
I am not saying that life as a middle aged graduate student from a different continent is a piece of cake. But with enough determination you can gain momentum. It is still too early to judge the situation, but I can see so far how far I have reached so far.
From the financial aspect, I went through two interviews with a professor to help her as a TA (Teaching Assistant) which will put some control on the monetary bleeding I have (we are living on our savings). I am just waiting for some approvals to accept me as a TA, as I am enrolled as Course Based Masters student, not Thesis based, which put me second in the priority list. (Pray for me)
From the academic aspect, there is a decent field of research where we join Artificial Intelligence with Medical research to come up with better prognosis and treatments. There is this project that I might join, to work on better personalized tests and treatments for Leukemia based on historical data. I started reading about the different types of Leukemia and the standard procedures associated with it. I hope I could make it and join such program and come up with ground breaking results.
Here is something few people knew about me; Since my childhood, I always wanted to be a Medical Doctor, but always had engineering mind. I backed off from the medical career when I was about to graduate from high school, besides, I did not have enough GPA to qualify me to join medical school. It seems there was a certain path I had to go through to prepare me for such journey… Fate! It always follow an obscured optimal path no strategic genius would ever think of.
Enough for now, must return back to my assignments and study.