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Posted 01 October 2012 - 04:22 PM
Posted 02 October 2012 - 12:44 AM
If you really want my absolutely honest long-term experience, if and only if programming is really a passion of yours you wish to build a career upon later on, don't try and get the best grades possible. Aim for a satisfactory grade and spend the rest of the time you would have spent studying, improving your programming. Basic cost vs effort/path of least resistance, really, it's up to you to weigh everything according to your own learning skills.
I really need advice or any guidance on this, is it more important getting a better grade at A levels, or keep improving at programming?
“If I understand the standard right it is legal and safe to do this but the resulting value could be anything.”
Posted 02 October 2012 - 07:38 AM
Posted 02 October 2012 - 10:00 AM
Posted 02 October 2012 - 11:49 AM
My understanding is that A levels are pretty much like your junior/senior year of high school in the north american system, as you are only compelled to stay in school till you are 16 in most of the UK. If I understand correctly, your A levels are a determining factor in getting into university/which university you get into.
IF MY UNDERSTANDING IS INCORRECT IGNORE EVERYTHING I HAVE TO SAY.
In my experience, worrying about the later years of high school in north america was unnecessary stress. You shouldn't slack off, but as long as you are doing well (read: not perfect, but more than acceptable) you should be fine. Unless you have a goal of going to a very specific university, and you know that that university requires higher marks than you are getting it's really not something you should be terribly fussed about. What you miss out on by stressing is worth more than what you gain from the extra work.
It's generally understood that interpersonal skills can be just as important for success as technical knowledge, so it's a really good idea to make sure you're developing those as much as your technical knowledge in either regard.
Another thing worth noting is that if you plan on going to University, one thing that gets terribly overlooked by students is that it's more about developing the skills you need to teach yourself rather than being taught. As long as you aren't sacrificing your foundation or learning how to teach yourself, learning new skills/knowledge isn't that difficult in the majority of situations. It is, however, very difficult to take advantage of all the things you won't be so keen to do once your body starts feeling old and you aren't in an environment where social opportunities are popping up constantly.
tldr; Don't sacrifice the opportunities unique to the temporary environment around you in order to gain something you could gain simply in an environment with less opportunitie
I don't see why it isn't possible to do both...
I wouldn't sacrifice A Levels. I mean, there's obviously the whole question of work/life balance (no one spends 100% of their time on education), but I wouldn't deem them as something that can be dropped. If you view them as that unimportant, why are you taking them?
A Levels determine what University you can get in. They'll also be used by your first job interviews if you're applying before you've taken your final exams, as well as perhaps influencing starting salary - and perhaps be used as an indicator after that. Even if you do forget the work, they're still an indication of your capability and potential.
I'm not sure saying "Well I could have done better, I just slacked off because I preferred to work on something else" is a great interview answer...
Posted 02 October 2012 - 12:45 PM
Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.
Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.
Posted 02 October 2012 - 01:33 PM
Not drop programming so much as take advantage of your A-levels. At the same time, don't over-stress over your grades and miss other opportunities that are unique to high-school/university.
So you mean that I should try to gain the best I can from the environment I'm in at the moment, or in other words, drop programming?
What did you mean by developing interpersonal skills and social opportunities?
Posted 02 October 2012 - 01:42 PM
I've never heard any game programmer say "I had too much schooling".
I have heard many game programmers say "I wish I had taken a class in ..."
I recommend you take full advantage of the academic environment while you have it. You won't have it for very long.
Edited by Mafioso, 02 October 2012 - 01:46 PM.
Posted 02 October 2012 - 01:48 PM
Posted 02 October 2012 - 10:12 PM
Edited by noisecrime, 02 October 2012 - 10:18 PM.
Posted 03 October 2012 - 02:08 PM
My personal experience and impression is that academic record will trump spare time hobby programming knowledge. Part of the idea is that someone with a good record can be taught to program, plus the grades are a better guarantee and objective test.
That's before we consider that good A Levels give you a better chance if you want to ever work in other areas.
Spare time programming knowledge is always helpful to put you above the others, all other things being equal, but I wouldn't let it sacrifice academic results.
What do you plan to study at university? If you're dead set on programming, I assume something computer related, in which case, you'd be learning that there anyway. Unless you're talking about what looks good to a university, in which case, you need A Levels.
The obvious question is what A-levels are you studying and if programming is your passion, why does it sound like none of your A-levels are geared towards it? Surely in this day and age there must be some decent computer/programming A-levels? Clearly some courses such as Maths and Physics will be beneficial, so I would expect you'd be doing at least Maths A level too?
However even if none of your A levels are geared towards programming I still don't see why you have to drop it. Plenty of spare time to keep development of your programming skills up.
As to what is more relevant it depends as to what field of programming employment you want to get into. For the more creative side (games etc) I still believe that you can get much further pushing yourself, creating demo's , showing off your abilities, than any current education can do. However for more commercial side (say banking) then I would guess grades and qualifications are more important.
One thing though, whilst this is an important time in your life and getting good grades can open opportunists further down the line, don't feel that your life is dependant upon what you do now. You can always go back to education, or gain certifications later in life. Indeed myself and many people I know didn't really have a clue at 18 yrs what they wanted to do or indeed where they'd end up. So self-education, further education and putting yourself through certifications is common place later in life. As long as you have drive you'll be fine.
I will state though I have personally be massively disappointed in terms of the education I was provided. Granted at the time programming and computing wasn't see as valid or important as it is nowadays, but even so, O-levels and A-levels seemed geared to learning to pass the exams, whilst University was better, I still feel much if not all of the benefits I got from it was due to putting in the extra work to learn stuff on my own. I'd say in terms of my skills, knowledge and experience in programming, that has all be self- taught and hugely benefited from the internet. It has done me well, though that is partly also due to the 'work ethic' and drive I have, which I think also goes to show that its not simply about grades.
Posted 03 October 2012 - 05:16 PM
Why don't you tell the teacher for your computer course that you know a bunch of stuff and ask if there's anything above and beyond what's required you could do. It shouldn't be as complicated as you are making it.
I'm doing Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computing. Computing is the only subject that should be targeted towards programming, however I already know all the programming taught on the course and it's just the theory that I need to memorise... And again, when does the work towards a better grade at A levels finish and my spare time starts? (I've mentioned it in the above reply) Yes, programming on my own is the only way to learn programming or show my skills/work/passion that is why I'm thinking whether I should keep programming. And I agree that I can get certifications later in the life, but I want to create the best situation for me to get into programming at this stage, since I already certain what I want to do.
Posted 04 October 2012 - 11:46 PM
So the safe and the best way would be getting the best grades from my A levels as possible as many people have said before, but it's really disappointing being stuck for 2 years perfecting some letters on a sheet of paper, when I could be improving at programming, but if the grades are really important, then I can definitely put that effort and wait that time, but I have no idea which way is right
It's not only about grades, that is for sure, but there are two ways to go: either with the system, or against it. Where with the system, means going to the best university and getting the best grades that would put me at the top of the list at a job interview, wouldn't it?
Edited by noisecrime, 05 October 2012 - 12:01 AM.