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What is Data Science?

Joy Biscornet

Written by Joy Biscornéton March 30th, 2021

I got my first taste of admissions through my undergraduate work-study at Lafayette College where, in addition to filing a lot of paper, I interacted with students and families as a tour guide and admissions panelist. However, it was only when I was away from a college environment working as a Civil Engineer that I realized how much I missed working with students at this important time in their lives. I spent the first part of my admissions career working at small liberal arts colleges on the East Coast, before joining the undergraduate admission staff at Boston College where I reviewed applications to all four undergraduate programs. After more than a decade working in admissions, I wanted to have more insight into the student experience in the college process. My curiosity took me to Northern California where I worked as a college counselor at Castilleja School, a highly selective private girls high school, helping students apply to the most competitive colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. After my time at Castilleja School, I moved to the Midwest to manage the undergraduate international admission process at a large public university, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I reviewed applications for admission to the College of Engineering. Through these experiences I’ve had the privilege of traveling across the nation and around the world (20+ countries), meeting and working with students and families to share my knowledge and expertise of the nuances of the college process.
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by Joy Biscornét, former admissions officer at Boston College Interested in a future in the technology sector, but unsure of the options beyond programming? Consider data science. Data science is a rapidly growing field of study that utilizes algorithms, machine learning, and other tools to find patterns from unstructured data. Data scientists take a forward-looking approach through building models and analyzing data to predict outcomes and inform decisions. They provide information in today’s data-driven society to solve complex problem. Deeply rooted in mathematics, statistics, and computer science, data science also requires business/domain expertise. Social media, travel, heath care, and automation are just a few domains in which data science is valuable. In addition, successful data scientists must have strong communication skills in order to explain their findings to their non-data-focused colleagues. Although data science is not as common as computer science or mathematics at the undergraduate level, colleges continue to add this major in response to student interest. University of California, Berkeley graduated its first cohort of data scientists in 2019. Other institutions that offer a bachelor’s degree in data science include Drexel University, University of Michigan, College of Charleston, and Smith College. If a school does not offer data science as a major, check to see if a minor or a concentration is available. You might also consider a dual/double major in computer science and statistics, with the goal of obtaining a master’s degree in data science. Students planning to study data science should expect to take coursework in business, ethics, and psychology along with computer science, mathematics, and statistics. Data science provides the opportunity to work in tech while drawing on other areas on interests such as cognition, economics, and environmental science. Graduates go on to careers in a wide array of fields from software engineering to asset management to sales. If you are excited by the idea of using big data to impact the world around you, then data science might just be the path for you. College Application Prep 101


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