There is a famous dialogue from an Indian movie by one of the top Bollywood actors and its English translation is “If you really wish for something from your heart… the whole universe starts to work for you to get that”. Although he said it for a girl, for me, it was certification in data science.

Before coming to the US I had this goal in mind but I was unsure which is the right institute for that so, you can say I had no idea how much it is going to cost me. I just brought $800 when coming here from which I paid $500 to Atlas Corps.

I spend my first month looking for the free intro to Data Science sessions throughout DC. As I was there I use to ask people which is the best institute for doing a certification and most of them recommended General Assembly (GA). Some of them said bad about GA too (I assume because they were there to promote their own programs like Thinkful and Promotable).

Why I decided to go with General Assembly:

I tried learning online using coursera, edX etc platforms but as I’m not used to this type of setting. I like the old-fashioned way of sitting in a classroom and the teacher is teaching etc. So General Assembly was doing that plus the schedule was great 2 days evening class in a week and weekend office hours.

Everything was perfect except for the fee structure. For a three months course starting in May and ending in July, the fee was $4000.

How did I manage to pay $4000

One good thing was that the General Assembly allows you to pay in installments. So the installment plan for three months which they gave me was:

925+925+925+925+250 = 3,950

I’ll add $50 to this amount because you’ll be going out for drinks with your classmates and instructors so this is how it’s a total of $4000 😀

I paid $250 from my $300 which I brought from Pakistan and $925 from April’s Stipend. I paid $925 from May Stipend, Paid $925 from June and final $925 from July’s Stipend.

You might be wondering that from the total Stipend of ~$1600 how did I manage the rest of the things like rent, food, transportation?

Referring to the dialogues of the Bollywood star 😛 For me two things happened:

  1. I took the room on the shared basis which saves me some on rent.
  2. I won two hackathons and the total cost that I got was $1750 which is like half of the fee. Read about First Hackathon & Second Hackathon blog post.

But with that, I did a commitment with myself that I have to live on less money for some time and I have to manage to live on a low budget and living on the low budget taught me a lot of lessons which I’ll share some other time in some other blog.

Side Tip: If you have the account on BofA and your balance goes to -ve they are going to charge you $35 fee for that.

I’m putting all of my learnings in tutorial form for free on DataCTW so if you want to learn I would be happy to help and you can save $4000 🙂


Want to do something? Have a goal in mind? Starting working for it right now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *