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Experienced a Nanodegree at Udacity during the pandemic.

Published on : 2021 - Aug - 06

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Featured Image : Screen-shot from Udacity webiste on 2021-08-06

Whoever said that during the pandemic we’d finally be able to do the stuff we’ve been putting off doing was a liar. I could name on one hand the number of people I’ve heard of who actually managed to cross anything off their to-do list. That being said, I did manage to apply and complete part of a Nanodegree program over at Udacity so, perhaps there’s some merit to it.

I already had a background in working with Python, so at the suggestion of my father, I enrolled in a data science Nanodegree program, with a focus on python. Data Science is, to put it shortly, an interesting and in-demand field, and I felt that it’d be useful for further studies.

Screen-shot from Udacity webiste on 2021-08-06

Firstly, the course structure. Something that stood out to me was the motivation videos at the beginning of each section, which provided details on why learning the topic was important, and gently encouraged the student to keep learning. Considering the demanding coursework, this was really effective. It was essentially the equivalent of someone giving you a thumbs up while you’re struggling to give a presentation in class—or simply put, motivating.

I think what a lot of beginner courses get wrong is presenting a lot of information at once, which, generally speaking, would overwhelm the student. Udacity manages to avoid that pitfall by presenting their concepts in bite-size videos—around 1-3 minutes worth of content. Quizzes/problem sets at the end of each lesson (or, concepts as they’re referred to within the program) lets you see how much you understood about the lesson, and whether you needed to go back and review something again.

And yes, the videos have subtitles.

This Nanodegree in particular is divided into three main sections; learning SQL, Python, and version control using Git. Each section has a project to complete and takes you from your first fumbling steps, to having a solid foundation in the respective subject. So the next time one of your relatives asks you what you’ve learned over the summer, you can pull out a tablet and write some python code as a neat party trick. This will also immediately label you as a tech-person of the family, so take that advice with a grain of salt.

As for any questions that would arise throughout the course, the peer chat and mentors are available to have any doubts reliably addressed. I personally didn’t interact in the peer chat much but those who did often got prompt responses, which was nice. Everyone was pretty helpful.

the difficult part
Photo by Marcus Ganahl on Unsplash

Arguably the most difficult part of the course was finishing the projects. I struggled a lot with window functions in the SQL project. The review I got back was useful in this regard, with detailed suggestions on how to further improve the project, as well as pointing out any errors I had made. Each review is personalized, so you’d know exactly what to work on.

Unfortunately, after my first project I had to leave due to time constraints. I should also note that this program is undeniably expensive, though there is an option to get a discount by applying for financial support. There are also some free courses available, even if a majority of what you’ll find is subscription-based. If you’re low on funds however, you might want to look elsewhere.

In conclusion, it was an overall pleasant albeit demanding experience. I managed to learn a lot during the program, especially about SQL and python libraries such as NumPy. If you’re interested in data science using python, this Nanodegree is worth a try.

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