A Data Scientist Expert Interview With Sandra Altman
Sandra Altman manages the online part-time masters engineering programs at Johns Hopkins University, Engineering for Professionals in Baltimore, MD. She has worked in admissions for 6 years and currently lives in Baltimore with her dog, Stella. Sandra hails from New York on Long Island where she grew up and worked on her masters at NYU in Leadership, Administration and Technology.
Tell me about your current role as the admissions manager for Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering?
Clarification- Admissions Manager for Engineering for Professionals online and part-time graduate programs.
My current role as admissions manager is leading 6 full-time staff members to review and send application decisions on a rolling basis for the part-time and online engineering master’s programs at Johns Hopkins University. We typically receive about 3,000 applications per year for 21 program majors at Engineering for Professionals, EP. We also provide admissions decisions for 11 graduate certificates, and 14 post-master’s certificates.
What do you like most about your job?
I’ve learned that the admissions process is not completed in a moment or a specific timeframe. It is an ongoing process that takes a committed group of people. Thankfully, Engineering for Professionals has a strong team structure. I am confident that everyone who represents EP takes pride in their work and diligently serves students and faculty through the admissions spectrum, from marketing, admission decisions, course development and even graduation. More largely, I like that I can use knowledge of the university administration and insights on the review process to better guide applicants in their journey to find the right master’s program. In short, I like my job because I can use my power for good!
You have been working in admissions for over 7 years now. Have you noticed significant changes to the process during that time frame?
Yes, I think admissions has shifted its focus on improving the review process to be more efficient; namely the time it takes to give a student a decision. Also, graduate admissions is transforming its admissions process into a closer partnership between faculty and administration due to the elements involving the admission process for each major. The more shared information and insights that exist between faculty and staff, the better each program becomes; much of this information is shared through data research itself!
How does the admissions process differ for a graduate degree when compared to what most students would have experienced applying for an undergraduate program?
Graduate master’s programs are more specific to advancing a student’s career and providing better research techniques for an individual. In a master’s program, the admissions requirements vary from program to program rather than leading students to a consortia-type application process like the Common Application. Be sure to connect with the right people in the graduate admissions office to ensure you have all the correct requirements and tailor your application to each program or school.
Is the admissions process materially different for online programs vs. on campus programs?
Our part-time online programs don’t require the GRE and have less variety between program major requirements in comparison to on-campus programs. Students still receive the same master’s credential at the completion of the program.
What attributes are you looking for in applicants to the Online Data Science master’s program?
One of the most unique aspects of the EP online part-time master’s programs is its strategic combination of academic standards as well as professional experience. Our computer engineering programs require the academic pre-requisites to enable opportunity for those who wish to pursue or continue a career in the field.
What advice do you have for students to help set them apart and make sure they are submitting a competitive application?
If you’d like to have the most competitive application, it’s best to meet all pre-requisite requirements. You must also understand the time and financial commitment asked of each student prior to starting the program. Your prior undergraduate grades matter; especially the grades you received in the “hard math” type courses that are the foundation of many of our engineering programs, including Data Science. Also, it’s good to have background in Python programming since this course will be used to teach most other courses in the Data Science program. Be sure to take the courses even if they are just recommended.