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I am seeking a masters in computer science, and I would love and appreciate any help with identifying schools and programs that I should consider based on my profile. I am interested in machine learning and computer vision. Here's my story:  

I am a former United States Marine that served as a Tactical Data Network Specialist in Okinawa, Japan for three years. As a network specialist, I configured routers, switches, and servers. After the Corps, I pursued my undergrad in computer science - 4.0 in major / 3.97 overall. In undergrad, I worked on a research project that was a collaboration between our computer science and meteorology departments and presented at the 91st annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Seattle.  

After my undergrad, I was hired as a entry level developer at a large financial institution. In 5 years, I was promoted from entry level to intermediate developer, senior developer, technical lead senior, and finally enterprise architect.  Beyond technical acumen and academia, I have formal leadership experience as a Sergeant in the Marine Corps and the tech lead role.

I took the GRE in June and scored a 161Q, 165V, and 3.5 AWA.  I am naturally disappointed by the Quant & AWA scores, but I am hoping that a strong statement combined with solid letters of recommendation will keep me in the running.

I am currently in Pennsylvania, but I am willing to relocate within the states. Thanks in advance for any help and insight. 

As an aside, one program that particularly interested me was an Intelligent Robotics program at USC: http://catalogue.usc.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=6&poid=5609&returnto=1460 

Everything I read seems to suggest that all of these programs are hyper-competitive - it's a little more than discouraging.  


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That's correct. Also, for what it is worth, I was exposed to statistics in my career for a DMAIC green belt. It may not count for anything, but I had a fun working with minitab. 

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I haven't considered big data management/analysis - I'll read up on it.  I have looked into several machine learning programs, but I am struggling to find solid schools where I have a high probability of gaining admission. Again, my fear is that because my quant score is a 161 instead of a 164, I will be systematically filtered out. While I understand that many schools evaluate applicants holistically, I am perhaps a little incredulous. I realize I have no basis for this suspicion as I have never applied to grad school before.  

More than anything, I am just trying to determine, based on my profile, a mixture of schools so that I can formulate a comprehensive application strategy.  For example,

2 schools that are reach and within the realm of possibility, 2-3 schools where probability of acceptance > some relatively safe %,  2 schools where probability of acceptance approaches 100%.   

Is that even a good approach? When evaluating the programs, how much emphasis should I apply to the reported average gre scores?  


Edited by NemosX
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