Archive for the ‘Academia’ Category

Applying to SJSU Grad School

February 5, 2008

Many of my peers at SJSU have asked me about the process of applying to grad school in the Computer Science department. When I was going through this process I was very nervous that I might accidently miss something so I spent a lot of time thinking and reading about it. There are two things I had to worry about, the university procedures and the department rules. I had to meet both standards to be accepted, but the department ultimately decides if a student will be accepted into their program or not.

Here is an outline of what I did to get accepted. I am sure this is not the best way to do it, so please do not take this as a how to guide but hopefully as a stepping stone in how to do it better. The best thing to do is read all of the information at the SJSU Graduate Studies page and read the information from the CS Department web site, and be sure to check out their great FAQ.

First I started to make sure I was going to be able to get letters of recommendation from my teachers. I did this by taking challenging courses during my last semester and ensuring that I got A’s in those classes. I made sure to visit the office hours of those teachers so that they could get to know me, and at the end of the semester I had no problem getting two good letters of recommendation. I actually got both of my letters of recommendations from math professors, which I assume is fine since math is very important to computer science. By the way, the FAQ I pointed out earlier mentions that submitting letters of recommendation is highly recommended.

Meanwhile I had started the online application at CSUMentor which as it turns out is fairly straightforward. The main thing you do there is enter the classes you most recently took along with the grades you received. There is a 50 dollar application fee that you need to pay in order to submit the application, but you can start the application and save it so that you can come back and work on it later. I ending up postponing submitting the application because I wanted the statement of purpose that is required with it to put me in the best light possible. I had until the end of May to submit this application and the current deadlines for Fall 2008 applicants can be found here.

So then I just checked to make sure that the SJSU Department of Graduate Studies had all of my transcripts. This was very easy for me because I already had all of my transcripts sent to SJSU so that I could graduate with my Bachelors degree. The Graduate Department was able to use the same copies of my transcript.

I finally submitted my online application only a couple of weeks before the deadline. The Computer Science department had told me that turning in my application early wouldn’t matter because all of the applications would be reviewed at once sometime after the deadline. However my friend turned in his application months early and was accepted before the application deadline. I didn’t find out I was accepted until mid summer. The annoying thing is that they don’t email you when you get accepted. You have to check your application status on MySJSU. I was checking this status several times a week and then one day it just said “Accepted” and I was very happy.

Good luck with your application process!

Java Closures

April 25, 2007

Last week I went to a really cool talk given by Dr. Neal Gafter about closures in Java. I wasn’t really excited about going, but I was between classes so I stopped by to hear what he had to say. I was pleasantly surprised. The subject was much more interesting than I had anticipated and it turns out that closures are very powerful.

Dr. Neal Gafter was a very enthusiastic speaker. You can see from his profile that he has been involved in some really interesting activities such as the development of C++ and Java. He has his own blog where he has written much more about Java closures for anyone who is interested. I think a good post to check out is “A Definition of Closures”, which describes the history of closures.

Dr. Cay Horstmann, a Computer Science professor at SJSU, has also written about closures on his blog as well as more details about the talk. Actually it turns out Dr. Horstmann is the one who setup the talk as he was teaching the topic in one of his graduate courses. His post “Dr. Gafter comes to SJSU” was easy to follow and goes over the main points of the talk.

Thanks to Dr. Gafter and to Dr. Horstmann for making this talk happen. The talk was very informative and exciting.

There is another talk that may be interesting coming up this Thursday, April 26, at 4 pm in BBC 202. The talk is being given by Bob Sutor, IBM’s Vice President for Open Source. Check out the flyer here.

UPDATE: I went to the IBM talk and I thought it was interesting. Steve Sloan wrote about it in this post.

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Academic Renewal

December 28, 2006

There is still a good amount of time before the next semester starts at SJSU, but it’s never to late to start thinking about it.  Many students at SJSU work or have something come up during the semester, making it harder to do as well at school as they would like.  If the last semester just ended that way for you, you’re not alone.  The important thing is to not be discouraged, and learn from your past mistakes.  So if you got some bad grades last semester and you are planning to retake a class, you should use Academic Renewal

The reason you want to use Academic Renewal is because otherwise you will still keep your old grade.  If you use Academic Renewal your original failing grade will not be counted in your GPA.  The key to Academic Renewal is that you must sign up for it by filling out this sheet and having it signed by your new instructor and turning it in to Student Services Center before the add deadline is over.  The add deadline for Spring 2007 is February 12, according to the calendar found in the schedule of classes.  If you do not turn in this sheet by the deadline you will not get Academic Renewal, which would be a shame because it’s easy.  New students should make sure they spend plenty of time over break reviewing SJSU and specific department policies to make sure they are doing everything they should be.  There are many interesting rules that can easily make it difficult to graduate if not heeded. Reading the rules can help to avoid those mistakes.  The instructions, policies, and procedures included with the schedule of classes are a great place to start.

Listening Hour at SJSU

November 1, 2006

Music BuildingI went to the listening hour this afternoon.  I have known about it for many years, but I probably have not gone since before I joined the Marine Corps (so over 6 years) even though I always enjoy it.  Its FREE for everyone and is in the audotorium in the music building.  You can view the schedule on the SJSU Music Department website.  It looks they have programs on Tuesdays and Thursday from 12:30-1:20.  Pretty exciting stuff, did I mention it was FREE?

 I was most impressed by the second group that consisted of Kenny Corso, Tara, Frederick Alexander, Joe Kenny, Danny Ernst.  They all put feeling into their music and they played songs that they wrote.  I would definitely like to find out more about this group and listen to them play again, I can’t find anything on the Internet yet though.  They said they only started playing together about a month ago, so hopefully I will hear more about them.

SJSU Linux User Group

September 29, 2006

I stopped by the SJSU Linux User Group meeting this afternoon for the first time. It was fun even though only a couple of people showed up. Most of the people in the Linux club were actually CE majors instead of CS majors as I assumed they would be. The computer engineering guys were pretty cool. Anyway, they have a bunch of machines they want to turn into a cluster. Sounds like fun and obviously challenging but I wonder if it has any use. Everyone always gets excited about linking computers together to harness their combined power, but for what use? I think thats the problem behind that type of project, you need to have a use planned ahead of time.

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Math problem of the week

September 13, 2006

The math department here at SJSU has a problem of the week that I like to work on in my spare time.  You earn points for each problem you complete and at the end of the semester there are cash prizes for the top three problem solvers.  My instructor for Math 142, Dr. Schmeichel, said he helps create the problems.  It was hard not to notice that this weeks problem is very similiar to a problem we discussed in his class this week.  Hopefully the opposite is true and problems from the competition will end up being on our test 🙂  Even so, my math has gotten rusty from misuse, so working on these problems is helping me get back into the game.