Many people dream of studying at top US universities, and Carnegie Mellon is one of them. Three Kazakhs told about studying at this prestigious university, who know firsthand what it is like to enter there. Their stories were shared by We Project Media.
Nazym Satbekova – Machine Learning Engineer at Kolesa Group
Choosing a University
I chose the university based on my specialty. In the top were Duke University, where, according to statistics, one of the best schools in the world, and Carnegie Mellon University, where this trend is also strong.
The advantages of Carnegie Mellon are that the campus of the university is located in the city. In addition to technical areas, the university has developed humanitarian and creative specialties. And I wanted the student body to be diverse.
I recommend applying to as many universities and schools as possible. It is also worth paying attention to what university students do besides studying. It is advisable to go to the campus, talk with students and graduates in order to understand whether this atmosphere suits you.
For admission, you need to have good SAT I and SAT II scores, pass an English language exam, prepare a motivation letter and an essay about how you can contribute after studying, and collect letters of recommendation.
I applied in the main stream, but I had little time to prepare – less than three months. The whole process is quite laborious and stressful. But I passed all the exams, collected the documents and passed the selection for my faculty, the only one from Kazakhstan.
You should think in what subjects you can show yourself better, prepare in advance. It is important to study the university well in order to understand what exactly is valued at this university, whether it suits you personally, and if so, emphasize it in the essay. You need to show yourself as a versatile person, have not only good grades, but also extracurricular interests. Applying early also increases your chances of admission.
About the features of training
To obtain a bachelor's degree at the university, in addition to the required courses in the profession, you need to take basic courses in various subjects. For example, I had several required courses in history. It was difficult to write essays and scientific articles, to learn critical thinking, because these skills were not taught to us at school.
Another difficulty is academic English. It was necessary to overcome the language barrier in order to discuss on a par with native speakers at seminars.
I liked the system of dividing students into groups based on the level of knowledge based on testing. It so happened that I missed the math test and was sent to the standard group. But I went to the dean of the Faculty of Mathematics, and my opinion was taken into account – they transferred me to a more advanced group.
The university has a strong teaching staff. Professors present complex and sometimes boring subjects in an interesting way, able to motivate and convey their love for the subject to students.
Another advantage is that you can choose your specialty in the second year, and before that time to try different classes and directions.
In addition to the compulsory subjects in the specialty, you can take additional courses in completely different areas. For example, I took a course in psychology, dance lessons, a photography class. These are full courses for which students also receive credits.
Who is a Carnegie Mellon University student
I was surrounded by smart, advanced, ambitious, conscious people. Americans are focused on efficiency and results. These are versatile people who can be choreographers and study mathematics. Every second person receives two different specialties at the same time. Looking at them, I also decided to take a second specialty. But this is a really big load, you need to correctly evaluate your strengths.
University students are constantly under stress – this can be seen from their faces and heard in conversations. Everyone constantly thinks about how much they need to do. But at the same time, in addition to studying and hobbies, they manage to work on campus from the first year in order to have pocket money. This inspires me a lot.
What the university has given
My picture of myself and my abilities has completely changed. I realized that in order to assess your capabilities, you must first try and only then draw conclusions. And with the desire and sufficient diligence, you can learn everything.
I also realized that you can manage to do many things at the same time, realize yourself not only in school, but also in other activities. Every person has great potential.
Nariman Ospanov – Dev ops
About choosing a university
I knew from school that I wanted to study at a prestigious university. In my environment there were many guys who aspired to something. This motivated me.
I planned to enter the Bolashak program, but I failed the interview stage twice. Entered the MUIT for an IT specialty and was preparing to enter the master's program.
The list of universities where I wanted to study was Carnegie Mellon. This is a cool university that is especially strong in computer science and robotics. He occupies high positions in the rankings, has many scientific achievements, and a good teaching staff.
What attracted me to Carnegie Mellon was a one-year master's program in Electronic technologies and business. At the time of admission, I already had a good experience. I worked for Air Astana for a year, I understood what I was doing, as well as what was happening in the industry. Therefore, I entered the university the first time under the Bolashak program as an independent student.
About the features of education
Studying in the USA is different from studying in Kazakhstan. When I first arrived, I had a program on my computer that allowed me to download movie torrents. I was invited to the information security department and was told that I was doing something illegal. In Kazakhstan, this would be a trifle, but in the States they made me understand that this is copyright infringement, and that such an offense could entail consequences.
There are many outstanding people among the university professors, who are always interesting to listen to. For example, we were taught by a millionaire and classmate of the founder of the Java programming language. The program director was a practicing lawyer who was involved in the case of Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss brothers. He taught a class on computer science legislation where we looked at real cases. One of the professors who taught a course on how to create marketplaces created a logistics system himself and sold it for $700 million.
There were also lectures given to us by university guests. For example, a meeting with a well-known expert in the field of artificial intelligence Andrew Ng. In addition, events and hackathons were held with employees of top recruiting companies.
Who is a Carnegie Mellon University student
The training regimen was very intensive. Among the classmates were older people who already had a lot of experience, created their own projects. But, nevertheless, everyone had to work hard, complete assignments, linger in the library.
Most of the students are foreigners. Many come from Asia and India. It was interesting to get acquainted with representatives of different cultures. We still keep in touch with many of them.
What the university gave
At the university, in addition to deep academic knowledge, I acquired useful Soft Skills. I realized that nothing is impossible. I got the opportunity to meet cool people – both professors and students.
Yerlan Minavar – Chief Innovation Officer Transtelecom
Choosing a university
I was lucky because my parents sent me and my brothers to study in the USA. In 2001, I entered a private American school, studied there from the 11th grade. In such schools, teachers are engaged in targeted preparation of students for admission to cool universities right away.
I have had an interest in the exact sciences since childhood. In the States, I took the most difficult levels in subjects such as physics, mathematics, computer science. And when I compiled the list of universities, I was guided by the ratings of technical universities. Carnegie Mellon was at the top of my list.
I passed all the exams, collected the necessary documents and recommendations. Then I was invited for an interview. As a result, I was among those who entered.
I think, as elsewhere, any successful result is the result of a series of actions taken. Academic performance, essays, hobbies, and your personal interests and ambitions are also important. The decision is made based on all the data.
About the features of learning
I graduated from university in 2006. I think the education system has evolved since then and looks a little different.
Bachelor's degree includes four years of study. The first course is freshmen, the second is sophomore, the third is junior, and the fourth is senior year.
All major American universities are a set of colleges – schools in the areas. The first year for most students is about the same, you take the standard courses: mathematics, English, history. But at Carnegie Mellon, if you study in the humanities, you can take classes in a different profile – to broaden your horizons.
After the first year, students are determined with a specialization. At this point, many may change their direction of study, since the system is flexible and allows this.
In the third and fourth years, students are taught to put into practice the knowledge they have acquired in the first two years of study. Prepare to start a career.
By the end of the third year, students write a resume and start looking for a summer internship in their specialty. This is a stressful period when everyone is actively looking for work. Ideally, you should be taken on an internship, and then invited as a full-fledged employee. And if you receive this invitation, you come to the fourth year already relaxed. You just need to get a degree and continue your career.
Who is a student at Carnegie Mellon University
The American education system is result-oriented, so there is a high level of competition among students. People work hard to get good grades, to participate in the activities of different clubs. This forms a rather serious pressure that not everyone can withstand. During my years in the United States, I did not make close American friends. I think this is also a consequence of the culture of competition.
We studied according to the principle Work Hard – Play Hard. They really worked hard, but at the same time, when the opportunity arose to relax, they did not miss it. My friends and I still maintain a close relationship, because together we went through all the difficulties and emotions.
What the university gave
In the first year, a mathematics professor told us one phrase: “It is not a fact that what we are doing now, you will apply in life. But I'm trying to teach you to think, to delve into the problem, to find a solution on your own. It was remembered for a long time. Already in the first year we were taught to think, and now we use these tools in solving problems all our lives.