Featured Interview: Nate Dykens
Computer Science '12
What drew you to the program?
The biggest thing was the notoriety of the school. I looked at some local schools and other online programs but nothing was anywhere close to the notoriety of Illinois, being a top 5 school across the board every year in CS. People mention the name [Illinois] in the same sentence with Stanford and MIT, so that was what drew me.
What advice do you have for incoming online students?
You need to be committed to the time it takes because it’s a challenging school. If you can be focused and set aside some time each week, then it’s definitely doable – but it will take some hard work.
What did you like best about the program?
When I first started, I got job interview offers from Google, Microsoft, and Facebook – from only taking a single class, whereas beforehand, I couldn’t even get my foot in the door anywhere. And then just the convenience of having it online; I could watch lectures on my phone while walking the dog or riding the bus—it was so convenient to fit into my life that it didn’t take a lot away from the things I was already doing.
How did you hear about the program?
I heard [about the program] from a co-worker who was looking into it.
What was your favorite class?
Ralph Johnson’s object oriented class; CS 598.
How much time did you spend per week in class?
It varies—some classes (like the algorithms class) are very challenging. I probably spent 15 hours a week, and other classes maybe 5 hours a week, including watching the lectures.
What was your plan of attack to stay on top of your job, classes, and personal life?
It takes a while to get used to that—sometimes on my lunch break I would watch the lecture to fit it in while I was eating, and I would try to create a very detailed day-by-day schedule of what I was going to do leading up to an exam.
Did you feel part of the CS @ Illinois community?
Yes, I got a lot of interaction with students in class, TA’s, and professors—they were easy to call and very helpful.