Hello, hello. So most of you probably already know that I am planning to return to school for a master’s degree this fall. I really need to be more thankful to God for the opportunities he has given me because I got into both of my top choices and now need to make the difficult decision of which one to actually go to (Stanford or Berkeley).
Neither master’s programs are in engineering, but rather in the intersection of design and technology. As you can imagine that’s quite a large intersection, and as such, the two programs I am considering cannot be directly compared because they have different areas of focus.
Stanford’s program is called Learning, Design, and Technology (LDT). It’s a pretty unique and specialized program offered from Stanford’s School of Education focused on designing and implementing emerging technologies and interfaces to solve learning problems and improve education.
Berkeley’s program is called Masters in Information Management and Systems (MIMS), which is offered through Berkeley’s School of Information (also called an ischool). It’s a degree in information studies pertaining to the role that information plays in our lives and how we can design, process, and interact with information in a useful and effective way (I just made up that explanation – as a matter of fact I don’t really know the best way to define what information studies is when people ask). This program is a bit broader in scope and I would be primarily focused on how technology can be used to enhance our experience with information.
Both programs are pretty appealing to me. I visited both schools during their Admit Welcome Days and came out of both feeling positive about each one. In order to distill the important factors in this decision process, I wanted to compile some sort of summary which laid out my various thoughts and sentiments on each school. But instead of doing statistical analysis and comparison like geo did (which is much more impressive, rigorous, intellectual, and probably more useful), I spent more time than I probably should have creating this visual comparison chart using LucidChart (the company that I won the CR-48 from).
Green indicates a "pro" and red indicates a "con." The rest is more or less neutral.
The PDF of the entire chart, if you are curious, can be found here. Stanford vs. Berkeley Visual Comparison.
This chart is a little bit biased in details towards Stanford because it was the more recent of the two schools I visited (and I did like it a lot). That’s probably why Stanford has more green and red. I guess from reading the notes I have you could say I am leaning a little bit more towards Stanford, but I have not made a definite decision.
While my sister was driving me to Stanford (since she works nearby), I asked her what I should do if I came out feeling really positive about it too. She said something that I think is really perceptive and makes a lot of sense:
“It will be as clear as how clearly you know what you want.”
So has this chart made it any clearer to me about which one I should choose? Not really…it hasn’t really revealed anything particularly new or groundbreaking, but I guess it will serve as a useful quick reference for myself.
In any case, I need to pray more. I do believe that often times “God’s will” is less about the absolute place you end up going to and more about what kind of person you are, but when it comes to planning, God has to be in the picture. How can my studies be for the glory of God? Will I be able to still serve while I am studying (I worry a lot about my time management skills)? How can the things I learn be applied to future servitude? (RE obviously comes to mind when considering Stanford’s program, haha). Just some things I feel I need to consider in my prayers.
I’m also curious about what thoughts any of you may have concerning either these schools, the programs, or the general field of design/technology/information in general. What observations or insights do you have about the role technology is playing in our lives now and in the future? Or what advice might you have for a prospective graduate student? What other important considerations should I be aware of?