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How Much Does School Choice Matter?


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#1 Uphoreum   Members   -  Reputation: 216

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 12:39 PM

I'm wondering if someone could analyze my current situation and see how easily or difficult it would be for me to get into the game industry (programming/development side). I've been self-teaching programming for about 6 years. As a result, I've spent two (paid) summers as a software developer at a major tech company and am currently working part time as a software developer at a local non-tech company (but writing software for them). My question is, knowing this, how much does it matter where I go to school if I want to eventually get into the industry? Wherever I go, I'll be going for the CS degree. That is, unless you think that's a bad idea for some reason. Also, it is not very important that I get in to games right out of school. I'm fine with working as an SDE somewhere else for a while before. Feel free to add any other comments or advice as well. Thanks!

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#2 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8325

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 12:49 PM

Having graduated recently, I would rank it just after:
* If the school has any research labs that interest you
* How nice the school is overall
* How good the food at the school is
* How the gender balance at the school is
* How off-campus life around the school is
* Overall class sizes
* Research school vs teaching focused school
* How far the school is from your parents' home
* How difficult the school is (some make you work for your grades, others not so much)
* How much the school costs (tuition, room and board and food)

But yeah, except for those details I'd say it matters. Sort of.

#3 Uphoreum   Members   -  Reputation: 216

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 12:55 PM

What I seem to be getting from reading various articles is that by far the most important things are experience, a good portfolio, and having and being able to show that you have the required knowledge for the job.

In other words, it doesn't matter so much how you got the knowledge, more that you have it. Agree? I mean, if I have an interview, are they going to focus on my education background or are they going to focus more on any cool stuff I show them?

#4 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8325

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 12:56 PM

Put more bluntly, yeah it might help your job prospects if you graduated from MIT or Stanford -- or Hopkins in my case. But you know what? Those schools suck (at least as an undergraduate). They have shitty learning environments and the people there thrive in spite of the school, not because of them. They are quite good at selecting talent, and that talent doesn't let the school's worthlessness stop them. And I don't see a point in ruining 4+ years of life just so a few employers will maybe offer me an interview

I picked a top tier for the name and from an education point of view it was a colossal mistake and wasted a lot of time and money. (From an overall life perspective it's worked out unbelievably well, but that's a separate and more deeply personal story.)
Quote:
Original post by Uphoreum
In other words, it doesn't matter so much how you got the knowledge, more that you have it. Agree? I mean, if I have an interview, are they going to focus on my education background or are they going to focus more on any cool stuff I show them?
I absolutely agree, as strongly as is possible.

#5 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10688

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 01:48 PM

Quote:
Original post by Uphoreum
What I seem to be getting from reading various articles is that by far the most important things are experience, a good portfolio, and having and being able to show that you have the required knowledge for the job.

You should read even more articles, then. Some more articles you should read:
http://www.igda.org/games-game-january-2005
http://www.igda.org/games-game-november-2005
http://www.igda.org/games-game-june-2009

-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#6 Uphoreum   Members   -  Reputation: 216

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 02:27 PM

Quote:
Original post by Tom Sloper
Quote:
Original post by Uphoreum
What I seem to be getting from reading various articles is that by far the most important things are experience, a good portfolio, and having and being able to show that you have the required knowledge for the job.

You should read even more articles, then. Some more articles you should read:
http://www.igda.org/games-game-january-2005
http://www.igda.org/games-game-november-2005
http://www.igda.org/games-game-june-2009


Were those intended to counter my statement? They seem to just reinforce that the school/degree choice is not a big deal.

#7 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10688

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 02:34 PM

Quote:
Original post by UphoreumThey seem to just reinforce that the school/degree choice is not a big deal.

Then you don't have a question you have to ask any more, then! You've found your answer. But if you're still unsure and want to read still more:
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson40.htm
http://sloperama.com/advice/m70.htm
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson25.htm

-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#8 stonemetal   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 02:52 PM

For the most part it won't matter As long as your degree is related to the job(and the school is accredited) you want as far as future employment goes.

School selection matters in what you get out of it. Going to a small commuter college will teach you nothing and bore you to tears. Your fellow classmates will be as smart as tea bags. Your professors will regale you with tales of their Cobol prowess instead of teaching you something. Or at least that was my experience with community college, before I transfered elsewhere. At a better school your professors will be better at teaching and interested in research which you may be able to work on as an undergrad. Your classmates will also be more intelligent so you can actually converse with them. The library will have better books. The better the school, the more all of that will be true. What kind of research a school does is important because it will tell you what the people who are teaching your classes actually know about vs. have to teach as part of the curriculum.

As an example the guy who is teaching my programming languages class is doing research into using type systems for security purposes. Guess what the class focuses on, type systems.

#9 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3748

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 05:41 PM

Quote:
Original post by Uphoreum
In other words, it doesn't matter so much how you got the knowledge, more that you have it. Agree? I mean, if I have an interview, are they going to focus on my education background or are they going to focus more on any cool stuff I show them?


That is, if you get the interview. A guy who graduated from Stanford is going to get more interviews than a guy who graduated from UMN, who in turn is going to get more interviews than a guy who graduated from University of Phoenix. And as Stonemetal points out, the better the school, the more likely that you'll get the necessary knowledge (and then some). Plus you'll invariably make contacts at your school, who can provide info about job openings and tell their bosses good stuff about you. If you're an all-star at community college, your less than stellar peers' recommendations won't look so good.

So while it's not a huge decision, it's important to note that not all degrees are made equally.




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