Nowadays, almost every big and known institute has rolled out courses in Analytics, Data Science, Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence. Looking at the demand for data scientists in the industry, they have been advertising their courses very aggressively. If you have researched little more about these institutes and courses, you must have seen the fee structure. These institutes charge a hefty amount for these courses/specialization. Many institutes are charging in the range of thousands of dollars (and in lacs in Indian Rupees) for these specialized courses.
To make it very clear, I am not against any of them. Their courses are good. These institutes provide their degree on successful completion of these courses. You can mention that in your resume. Therefore, they not only charge you for providing knowledge, but also for their brand value. If you have that much money to invest, go for them. But if you don’t have, please don’t put pressure on your pocket. At one point of time, even I was considering joining one such big institute course which was so expensive that it could cost me my 6 months savings. I later dropped the idea and thought of going with not so expensive online courses which won’t give me any big brand degree but would definitely give good knowledge.
Thankfully, times are changing today. People and employers are evolving and they have started valuing knowledge and skills much more than a degree. Apart from that, there is so much demand for good candidates in data science field that it doesn’t matter if you have a degree from a top institute or not. Even if you possess a data science degree form top notch institute, you still have to go through the same interview process like others who don’t have degree. If you fail to impress the interviewer by your knowledge then you won’t be selected even after having a top institute degree. On the other hand, a candidate with good knowledge but no data science degree from a top institute will get the job. Please understand that world bows down in front of knowledge, not degree.
So, now the question arises that what you should do, if you don’t have a lot of money to give hefty fee to these institutes to learn data science. Answer to that question is: find a good and not an expensive online course. There are education start-ups and individuals that offer remarkable guided courses at much cheaper rates. At times, these courses are even better than top institutes courses because these courses have a personal touch which is many a times missing in professional courses offered by big institutes. I have some of my friends who went after big names, joined their courses and gave up in mid because they could not feel the connect with the courses. Now, this thing has got fixed in their mind that data science is not for them.
This leads us to another million dollar question – how do you find a good online course which does not cost you fortune. There are 2 ways to look for a good course:
- Active Search
- Passive Search
Let’s look into each one by one.
Active Search basically includes all the ways that you do consciously to find a good course:
- Use your google skills
- Ask a friend who has been there and done that / Quora
1. Use your google skills
We all know how to use google. Just go to google and type something like ‘best data science course online’, you will get different types of results. They would be either articles(or blogs) talking about top 10 best online data science course or you would see course websites. Now follow the below steps :
- Go through 5 such articles talking about top 10 online courses.
- Read the articles’ reviews about these courses and shortlist 3-5 good courses.
- Now, visit these courses websites and have a look at the entire course structure.
- Every course/specialization either offers a free mini course or provides a free preview of starting lectures of these courses. Quickly go through the free chapters or mini course and get the feel of teaching style. You don’t need to spend too much time to actually learn the concepts in these chapters. Just a speedy glance would be enough to give a good picture about teaching style and the language used to explain the concepts.
2. Ask a friend who has been there and done that / Quora
This is one of the best ways to find out a good course on data science. As data science field is evolving and many people are trying to make their career in this field. There is high probability that you would have a friend who has already started this journey of data science before you. He was at the same stage some time back where you are right now. He has already faced all the questions and most probably has the answers of your questions now. If you think that he is doing reasonably good in the newly learnt data science field and his experience could be a good starting point for you then use experience of his journey. Go and talk to him in detail. Ask the below questions from him:
- How did you come to know about data science?
- Why did you want to get into data science field?
- What did you do to learn data science?
- What all courses did you look at before finalizing the one
- What course/specialization did you finally join and why (and not others)?
- What is the fee structure of this course?
Now, you have got a good data point to start with. Come back to your home. Open you laptop and browse all the courses your friend talked about – he joined or did not join. Verify his logic of joining the course (and not other courses) by going through free preview lectures/mini courses provided by them. Now, decide upon the best course which suits you on the basis of teaching methodology and the way concepts have been explained in these courses.
Quora is best friend of many because here you find first hand personal experience of people who have been there and done that. In your circle, you may not have a friend who can give you little direction in data science field. In that case, go to Quora and search for best online data science course. You would find many people there giving their opinion about good courses.
- Find most 5 common courses suggested by people
- Check the course and fee structure
- Go through free preview lectures / mini courses
Now pick the best course out of them that explains the concept in a very simple way and you feel connected to the course.
This entire exercise might take you a week’s time or even little more but don’t worry about that because it’s not a waste of time, rather it’s the best investment of time. Because waste of time is joining a course hastily only to realize half way through that this is not something you wanted or the teaching methodology does not suit you.
As data science and the jobs in this field are booming, good courses are investing in marketing themselves online and offline. You might see hoardings of some website/courses talking about offering data science courses. Do little bit research on internet about these courses. And, it’s very true that Google/Facebook know everything that you are doing on your laptop. When you want to learn data science and look for good course online, it’s tracked in your laptop in form of cookies, Google and Facebook come to know about your desire to find a good data science course by reading these cookies. Google and Facebook will then keep on showing you ads about the data science courses for next few days. You can just casually visit these course ads and their websites and follow the same procedure – go through free material provided by them and decide which course suits you best.
Let’s conclude this article by understanding that why it is so important to select a right course to learn data science specially when you are just starting out? A good course can make or break your data science journey. Suppose, you are just scratching the surface and not very sure if data science is for you or not, and you join a not so good course then your journey will end then & there. Unfortunately, you will miss out on such an awesome career opportunity. On the other hand if you join a good course, it will explain the concepts in laymen terms only to keep raising your interest as you move along the course. The exercises given in the course will give you a good hands -on and a good grip on the concepts. Therefore, it’s important to do due diligence before joining any data science course.
In this article, we have just touched base on the criteria of selecting a course like the teaching methodology or the way concepts are explained. We have a very important and comprehensive article on 5 Criteria to select the best course for your data science journey.