Choosing the Applied Computing track: A journey through my thoughts

Choosing a university to pursue your higher education is a herculean task. There are so many variables and unknowns that it can seem overwhelming. I have sat where you are sitting right now and with this blog, I will share my thought process and how I came to my decision.
A laptop and a coffee

Going back in time

Let us start at the beginning of it all. It is February 2022 and my phone's notification alert goes off. I check to see what it is and I see an email notifying me that I have my interview for the university the following week. I do my due diligence, and prepare for the interview. I had chosen the “Applied Computing” track in my application but was still undecided on what I wanted to pursue.

Fast forward to the day of the interview, I am a nervous wreck and hoping that it all goes well (spoiler alert: it did and helped me make my decision). And suffice to say, everything worked out. During my interview, some key elements of the programme were highlighted that helped me make my decision. If you are considering applying for my programme or are just intrigued about the programme, I would suggest checking out this blog by Taylor and another one written by Peng to get a general overview of the programme from my fellow ambassadors. Keep on reading to find out my personal reasons for applying to this specific programme.

A practical approach

One of my biggest complaints regarding my studies during my bachelor's degree was related to how theoretical the entire curriculum was. We learned everything but we really did not do anything practical. I only realized how underprepared I was when I started working in the industry after the completion of my undergraduate studies. This was one of my main gripes.

During my interview, I was informed that the track has a good balance of practicality implementation. Each theoretical session has an accompanying lab session to give us an actual real-world representation of what we have just learned. My favourite course is Applied Computing Project II. In this course, we are tasked to work on a real-world research project for the entire year. We get to work with cool gadgets like the one shown below.

One of the cool VR headsets you get to work with

Graded on actual work and not memory

Perhaps the best part about the applied computing track is the fact that in most courses the grades depend on the projects we make and not on a few hours of examination. This was one of the key reasons why I ended up choosing this track. The fact that I will be graded on actual work I do instead of a two-hour exam where everything depends on me recollecting my memory is fantastic.

This has made learning fun, and interactive for me and I actually feel a sense of accomplishment. Why? Because I can see the fruits of my labour right in front of me. My previous studies left me so exhausted and unfulfilled that I did not wish to revisit the experience. But thankfully, this track offered what I was looking for and actually made me excited about learning again. There are also many other courses offered in the applied computing track available on the website.

Mix and match

It's no secret that the University of Oulu offers you great flexibility when it comes to allowing you to learn what you are passionate about. The same can be said for the Computer Science and Engineering programme. There are a total of eleven mandatory courses you must take during the programme.

But besides those, you are free to choose whichever courses you like. You can even take courses from other tracks if you so wish. This was important to me because I wanted to study what I was passionate about, and I wanted to learn new technologies and programmes that excited me. Simply put, if you want to learn something that you are deeply interested in, you can.

The applied computing track allows me to take the best mix of courses to personalize my two-year study plan.

And as an added bonus, you get to do that and study in cool places like this cute little cubicle.

Awesome places to study and code

Choosing what you want to study in university is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. It is okay to feel overwhelmed, I would be shocked if you weren’t.

The aim of this blog was just to highlight my own decision-making process and what was important to me and in the process help you understand your own reasons. The University of Oulu was able to fulfill all my wishes when it came to my master's programme while providing me with world-class education. And for sure, it can do the same for you.

About the author

Talha Zeeshan is from Pakistan. He is a first-year master's student in Computer Science and Engineering. He loves travelling and has spent a significant portion of his life abroad. He enjoys playing video games, watching tv-shows/movies and Japanese anime.