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High School Student with High Goals -- Need Advice


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#1 Riztro   Members   -  Reputation: 240

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:37 AM

Hello everyone,

I need some advice from you all. I have two problems, one is lack of money and one is lack of drive.

I am a Sophomore High School student who wants to be successful early and is able to go to Stanford. From what I understand Stanford is looking only for the best, so in order to be "the best" I am trying to hold a 4.1+ GPA, trying to make some video games that I can sell so Stanford can see that I show initiative and so that they can see that I can program, and I am trying to play sports at the same time to show that I am a well rounded student (and I enjoy them). I enjoy making games and programming. I like to use C++ and OpenGL and when I was learning and just messing around with that language and library in middle school, I had no problems (probably because I had more time and was less stressed). Now I have problems.

I am having problems with drive. I have this game idea that I like and have been working on but I think these high aspirations of mine are not allowing me to apply myself to programming because I am too busy (and stressed) with school and sports. I go to school at around 8 and I get home after sports at around 5:30. I have plenty of time till bed, but I just don't have the drive to work on my self produced projects (my game for example). Does anyone have any ideas as to why I can't seem to hop onto my computer and start programming? I always seem to drift to youtube and just start watching videos there. I just don't have any will power at this point in the day to push myself to start programming. If I ever do start, I enjoy it, but I just can't seem to start. Does anyone have any advice for me?

Also being a high school student and soon to be college student, I need money. I am looking to use my intermediate programming abilities to make some extra cash and my video game endeavors are not producing any income at the moment. I have looked at freelancing on freelancer.com but it seems as though the amounts are always low and the bids are always in before I even have a chance to compete. So is there any other site or way I can use my programming abilities to make some extra cash? I have looked locally but there isn't much.

Thankyou,
Brent

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#2 JackBid   Members   -  Reputation: 453

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:44 AM

I am  in a similar situation, I find it helpful to instead of open up youtube, open up an online timer. Time yourself doing at least half an hour solid work on your game without getting distracted. Then go to youtube or whatever you want. I also find music sometimes helps me concentrate, I know that not everyone does but you should try listening to music while you program and see if it helps.



#3 Riztro   Members   -  Reputation: 240

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:54 AM

<blockquote class='ipsBlockquote'data-author="JackBid" data-cid="5023218" data-time="1358617488"><p>
I am in a similar situation, I find it helpful to instead of open up youtube, open up an online timer. Time yourself doing at least half an hour solid work on your game without getting distracted. Then go to youtube or whatever you want. I also find music sometimes helps me concentrate, I know that not everyone does but you should try listening to music while you program and see if it helps.</p></blockquote>

Alright i will try this, thanyou! I am worried that i wont even have the willpower to get on my pc though and i might just go on my phone.. Any ideas on a fix for this? :D Maybr have my parents take my phone away? Hehe. Also do you have any ideas for the money flow problem? I have a job oppurtunity on saturdays for some extra cash but i would really like to know if there is a worthwhile freelance programming alterative.

Thanks,
Brent

#4 Toothpix   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 810

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:08 PM

Why don't you stop doing "the right thing" to get into college, and do what you are genuinely interested in. If you are doing extracurricular activities for the sole purpose of looking good on a college application, that is stupid. There was a student applying to MIT who actually built a fully functional miniature nuclear core on his property while in high school, and for other reasons he was turned down by MIT, one of the most prestigious engineering schools in the world. Likewise, it is not smart to spend your childhood (where you don't have to go to work eight hours a day every weekday the whole year, muster up rent every month, pay bills for everything you use, pay for every meal you eat, pay for everything you do, and still try to find something enjoyable to do) on a checklist of things needed to look good on a college application. In converse, you do not want to waste your time, either. In my opinion, sports are a waste of time if you feel you don't have enough of it. Also, don't fully concentrate on making a game, but keep more important things on your horizon. For example, you could make a game while you are still a sophomore, but do something constructive next year, like use your programming knowledge to study papers and books and maybe do something like make a computer science entry in the Siemen's Science Competition or the like. Not to sound corny, but there is so much one can do in this day and age, yet people tend to squander it chasing for menial and traditional lifestyles (i.e. "I'm just going to take it slow, be married, have a few kids, someone else can do the thinking, I was never good at that, I'm just a simple man/woman").


Edited by MrJoshL, 19 January 2013 - 12:09 PM.

C dominates the world of linear procedural computing, which won't advance. The future lies in MASSIVE parallelism.


#5 Riztro   Members   -  Reputation: 240

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:24 PM

Well I am making games because I want, but i also know it will help me. So i am not doing it for the sole purpose of college. Also the only reason i really want to go to stanford is because of the cs oppurtunities there (such as the amount of other people who are good and interested in programming). But I think the idea that I NEED to make a game is what is actually holding me back, so I will stop pushing to make a game because i have to. Also i like the idea of science fairs for programming, i will check that out.

I am still have a shortage of cash though, so are there any oppurtunties that you guys know of?

Thanks a ton!
Brent

#6 JackBid   Members   -  Reputation: 453

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:36 PM

<blockquote class='ipsBlockquote'data-author="JackBid" data-cid="5023218" data-time="1358617488"><p>
I am in a similar situation, I find it helpful to instead of open up youtube, open up an online timer. Time yourself doing at least half an hour solid work on your game without getting distracted. Then go to youtube or whatever you want. I also find music sometimes helps me concentrate, I know that not everyone does but you should try listening to music while you program and see if it helps.</p></blockquote>

Alright i will try this, thanyou! I am worried that i wont even have the willpower to get on my pc though and i might just go on my phone.. Any ideas on a fix for this? biggrin.png Maybr have my parents take my phone away? Hehe. Also do you have any ideas for the money flow problem? I have a job oppurtunity on saturdays for some extra cash but i would really like to know if there is a worthwhile freelance programming alterative.

Thanks,
Brent

I am fairly new to programming and haven't made any money off it so far so I may not be the best person to ask. However I know some site like addicting games, funny games and armor games pay you to have your game on their site. it has to be flash though. I know some people who have made flash games in only a day or two during game jams, so maybe if you work very hard you could produce a basic flash game and generate some money.



#7 Riztro   Members   -  Reputation: 240

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:47 PM




I am in a similar situation, I find it helpful to instead of open up youtube, open up an online timer. Time yourself doing at least half an hour solid work on your game without getting distracted. Then go to youtube or whatever you want. I also find music sometimes helps me concentrate, I know that not everyone does but you should try listening to music while you program and see if it helps.

Alright i will try this, thanyou! I am worried that i wont even have the willpower to get on my pc though and i might just go on my phone.. Any ideas on a fix for this? :D Maybr have my parents take my phone away? Hehe. Also do you have any ideas for the money flow problem? I have a job oppurtunity on saturdays for some extra cash but i would really like to know if there is a worthwhile freelance programming alterative.
Thanks,
Brent
I am fairly new to programming and haven't made any money off it so far so I may not be the best person to ask. However I know some site like addicting games, funny games and armor games pay you to have your game on their site. it has to be flash though. I know some people who have made flash games in only a day or two during game jams, so maybe if you work very hard you could produce a basic flash game and generate some money.
Yeah it is starting to seem like c++ and opengl isnt really the way to make much money as a student. It is starting to seem like web is a more viable option for a steady income. I will definately consider moving to the web but if there are any other options that involve c++ and or graphics APIs like Opengl that someone knows about, please let me know.

Is there a money making oppurtunity in making mods for games? I like doing that and have done that in the past.

Thanks for your reply!
Brent

#8 JackBid   Members   -  Reputation: 453

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:53 PM

 



I am in a similar situation, I find it helpful to instead of open up youtube, open up an online timer. Time yourself doing at least half an hour solid work on your game without getting distracted. Then go to youtube or whatever you want. I also find music sometimes helps me concentrate, I know that not everyone does but you should try listening to music while you program and see if it helps.

Alright i will try this, thanyou! I am worried that i wont even have the willpower to get on my pc though and i might just go on my phone.. Any ideas on a fix for this? biggrin.png Maybr have my parents take my phone away? Hehe. Also do you have any ideas for the money flow problem? I have a job oppurtunity on saturdays for some extra cash but i would really like to know if there is a worthwhile freelance programming alterative.
Thanks,
Brent
I am fairly new to programming and haven't made any money off it so far so I may not be the best person to ask. However I know some site like addicting games, funny games and armor games pay you to have your game on their site. it has to be flash though. I know some people who have made flash games in only a day or two during game jams, so maybe if you work very hard you could produce a basic flash game and generate some money.
Yeah it is starting to seem like c++ and opengl isnt really the way to make much money as a student. It is starting to seem like web is a more viable option for a steady income. I will definately consider moving to the web but if there are any other options that involve c++ and or graphics APIs like Opengl that someone knows about, please let me know.

Is there a money making oppurtunity in making mods for games? I like doing that and have done that in the past.

Thanks for your reply!
Brent

I am not sure about mods, it probably depends on what game the mod is for as different companies may have different views on it. If its just a simple mod, you may be able to have people download it for free through adfly, then you profit from the ads from adfly, although I doubt you will make much from that.



#9 HappyCoder   Members   -  Reputation: 2830

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:59 PM

My suggestions. Do what you love. You may or may not get into Stanford and you aren't a failure if you don't. If you work hard and apply yourself you will find yourself in a university that is good for you and will help you along in your career. Be patient and don't worry if you feel like there are others who are better programmers than you. It always seems there is a bigger fish in the pond.

I think getting into Stanford is a good goal. That should help you stretch yourself and achieve more, but don't let that goal drain you or take away your happiness.

In my own life I worked on projects in during high school because I enjoyed doing it. I wasn't trying to impress anybody. I tried in school and I graduated with a 3.5. My highest score on the ACT was a 28 in math and everything else was above a 20. I still got into the school I wanted to and am satisfied with the direction my education and my career. The projects I spend the most time on are the ones I do because I enjoy them. These personal projects are usually more complicated then what I do in any of my CS classes and I find myself strolling through the programming projects where others in my class struggle. I think this is because my main focus is programming out of enjoyment. Not because my focus is get badges of honor.

#10 Riztro   Members   -  Reputation: 240

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:10 PM

Alright, well I will work on personal projects for fun and I will freelance on the web side of things to make a steady income. I will spend 30 minutes a day minimum on my personal projects and i will work on freelance projects on the weekend.If anyone knows of a good freelancing site for web and c++ that isnt overrun by people who undercut prices, it would be awesome if you let me know about it. Thankyou everyone so much! Brent

#11 Bacterius   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 9068

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:53 PM

Why don't you stop doing "the right thing" to get into college, and do what you are genuinely interested in. If you are doing extracurricular activities for the sole purpose of looking good on a college application, that is stupid. There was a student applying to MIT who actually built a fully functional miniature nuclear core on his property while in high school, and for other reasons he was turned down by MIT, one of the most prestigious engineering schools in the world. Likewise, it is not smart to spend your childhood (where you don't have to go to work eight hours a day every weekday the whole year, muster up rent every month, pay bills for everything you use, pay for every meal you eat, pay for everything you do, and still try to find something enjoyable to do) on a checklist of things needed to look good on a college application. In converse, you do not want to waste your time, either. In my opinion, sports are a waste of time if you feel you don't have enough of it. Also, don't fully concentrate on making a game, but keep more important things on your horizon. For example, you could make a game while you are still a sophomore, but do something constructive next year, like use your programming knowledge to study papers and books and maybe do something like make a computer science entry in the Siemen's Science Competition or the like. Not to sound corny, but there is so much one can do in this day and age, yet people tend to squander it chasing for menial and traditional lifestyles (i.e. "I'm just going to take it slow, be married, have a few kids, someone else can do the thinking, I was never good at that, I'm just a simple man/woman").

 

This, so much. I've come to realize how little grades actually mean. Of course, dropping out of high school is probably not the wisest choice you could make, but working in your own time after school (either coding, or any productive hobby really) means so much more in later life than getting straight A's. Plus, if you can get just that little bit ahead of the game, it makes high school essentially trivial for the subjects you're interested in. For the others.. just churn through it, you get to specialize in a few years.

 

I never bought into the whole "be the best at school" trend. Mind you, I was never a downright bad student, but in high school I never really strived for perfection, put the absolute minimum amount of effort I could into actual schoolwork, just enough to pass, and ended up with a 70-80% average which got me into university (again, not into a top university, but a decent one, as far as universities go). But this mindset many people would qualify of "lazy" and "unambitious", gave me a ludicrous amount of free time to get ahead in maths and programming - mostly because it was so much more fun than mechanically solving quadratics and integrals in class - and if I had to do it all over again, I would. Without hesitation. Personal satisfaction is so much better than reaching milestones set by society.

 

Now I completely understand why some people (including you, most likely, Riztro) would look down on me for this, and not everyone has the luck I had, but I am satisfied with the way things have gone so far, at least education-wise. I think the most concise way to put it is that to me, public education is not a goal in and of itself, but is more of a helpful signpost that you only need to read once or twice. I am not advocating this, as I do not have a basis of reference, and I do think it's a decision you have to figure out for yourself anyway. If going to a top college is your goal, then go for it! Just don't go in blindly because "someone told you so".

 

As for your motivation problem, I've found that a good way to resolve those mental roadblocks is to work on something smaller, much smaller in the meantime, that you can accomplish in, say, an afternoon or two, and get some gratification from completing it. Then you might be in a better mindset to work on your game. Also, I understand this isn't compatible with your schedule but I personally cannot "switch on and off" of projects like that, I need to have a good two-three hours minimum ahead of me to really have time to gear up and become productive. But that may just be me.

 

Though building nuclear reactors is kind of a risky hobby. Would not take up.


The slowsort algorithm is a perfect illustration of the multiply and surrender paradigm, which is perhaps the single most important paradigm in the development of reluctant algorithms. The basic multiply and surrender strategy consists in replacing the problem at hand by two or more subproblems, each slightly simpler than the original, and continue multiplying subproblems and subsubproblems recursively in this fashion as long as possible. At some point the subproblems will all become so simple that their solution can no longer be postponed, and we will have to surrender. Experience shows that, in most cases, by the time this point is reached the total work will be substantially higher than what could have been wasted by a more direct approach.

 

- Pessimal Algorithms and Simplexity Analysis


#12 Riztro   Members   -  Reputation: 240

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:06 PM

I think my ultimate goal is to help people with my programming and live a comfortable life. And I do not look down on you for being an average student. I only shoot for those grades for mostly scholarship purposes for achools other than stanford because i realize stanford is a longshot.I would love to slack off if it meant i could program but my parents dont want that because grades are important to them. Thanks for your advice about getting around mental roadblocks! Thankyou so much all of you guys! You are all so helpful! Brent

#13 Cambo_frog   Members   -  Reputation: 720

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:52 PM

I think my ultimate goal is to help people with my programming and live a comfortable life. And I do not look down on you for being an average student. I only shoot for those grades for mostly scholarship purposes for achools other than stanford because i realize stanford is a longshot.I would love to slack off if it meant i could program but my parents dont want that because grades are important to them. Thanks for your advice about getting around mental roadblocks! Thankyou so much all of you guys! You are all so helpful! Brent

It's great that you have respect for the opinions and wishes of your parents, but you are reaching the time in your life where you need to make your own decisions concerning your future.

 

I don't think working towards a career in your spare time could be considered as slacking it off.smile.png


For the love of god, please tell me that you've just omitted your error checking code for brevity, and you don't really assume that all those functions succeed.

#14 Riztro   Members   -  Reputation: 240

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:12 PM

I don't think working towards a career in your spare time could be considered as slacking it off.


Haha good point! If I can make an income with it too, I think they would be very pleased!



#15 Cambo_frog   Members   -  Reputation: 720

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:17 PM



I don't think working towards a career in your spare time could be considered as slacking it off.

Haha good point! If I can make an income with it too, I think they would be very pleased!
Exactly, it's a win win situation.

Now go for it and good luck.

Edited by Cambo_frog, 19 January 2013 - 03:20 PM.

For the love of god, please tell me that you've just omitted your error checking code for brevity, and you don't really assume that all those functions succeed.

#16 Shaquil   Members   -  Reputation: 815

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:53 PM

I agree only partially with Bacterius. As a current University student, I can offer input from the perspective of someone who's still on the path you're thinking about starting down. To be clear, and completely straightforward, I think your grades right now are the absolute most important thing. You need excellent top grades. Not because they'll make you a better person, but because they're the major thing that will give you the ability to choose from a list of universities, rather than settle for one the universities that choose you. I cannot stress enough how important it is to end up at a university you love, surrounded by people who you feel are as ambitious and driven, if not more so, than you are. I currently go to a university full of people who just want to do "good enough." They all have the intelligence and potential, but none of the drive. They treat me like a genius because I work harder than them, and it's frustrating to only know one other person who shares my excitement for life and programming. Do not end up in a place like this. You will regret it. To avoid that, do what you have to now. Get those good grades, do those extra-curricular activities. Find someone at stanford now, if you can, and talk to them about what it takes.

 

Now what I do agree with Bacterius on is doing what you love. Don't think about money or having a "good job." You're too young to be so defeated as to worry about things like that. If you pursue what you love, you will be so much happier than if you pursue the thing that will give you enough money to keep your netflix account active, like everyone else is doing. This applies to even small parts of life as well. If your current personal project doesn't make you want to jump up and get to your computer immediately, then you more than likely need something else. Just accept that it doesn't excite you enough and try to find something else to do. Maybe some modding will excite you, or something other than video games for the time being. Whatever gets you to close youtube and open visual studio (or whatever IDE), do it.

 

I'll go back to my point about going to a great school. When you get out, you'll have 3 options (in general). You'll either want a job somewhere, go to graduate school, or start your own business. Getting a job or going to graduate school both require that you go to a great school with great professors and other students you can bond, learn, and grow with. Starting a company, obviously, requires friends who are at your skill level and want to do the things you want to do. Under none of these circumstances is it okay to end up at a school where you're not challenge adequately, and the people around you don't seem to care as much as you do. Once you've gone to the school, you can definitely tone down your mad dash to have the best GPA in the school, and focus on other things (that would actually be better, in most cases). Until then, school first, hobbies second.



#17 game of thought   Members   -  Reputation: 213

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 04:34 PM

I am too in a similar position mine is 3.83(i have 11 subjects, for my top 5 i imagine it would be around 4.1). British boundaries are the same as american ones i have read, so i assume that. Bill gates had 4.3 and got 1590 of 1600 on the sats. I believe having such a high gpa is very good.

#18 warnexus   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 1472

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 05:12 PM

I think the problem is your mind and body is already tired from school and sports. programming is about active thinking. watching a video is easy, passive thinking. 

 

I think you also need to have a clear understanding about what you are getting yourself into. If you want to fulfill your goals you cannot let distractions keep you off that goal path. It is really easy to get distracted and do something else. Best thing, that distraction needs to be removed. You do not need the Internet to programming. So there-no videos to watch. If you have the fundamentals down, I don't see how hard it is to program.

 

If you are doing programming for the money alone, well you will be disappointed easily when the money does not met your standards. If that ever happens. You need to be passionate and enthusiastic about what you are doing. 

 

In terms of money issues, there is a library you can use. Knowledge is free in the library. Borrow books on the subject and learn! If you do not find what you are looking, any local book store and other book sites (there are so many!) can help you find the book with that particular title, author. 


Edited by warnexus, 19 January 2013 - 05:25 PM.


#19 ISDCaptain01   Members   -  Reputation: 1435

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:04 PM

I personally think your trying to do too much at once. Its good to have good goals but dont put them so high tthat when you dont achieve them u feel like crap. Heres some advice: By taking on less you are getting more done. Keep a few activities and do them very well, rather than doing so many but doing them poorly.

 

PS I personally know a guy who transferred to standford from a community college. Apprently him and few others made some type of special battery that impressed them. But man just go to any good university, it doesnt have to be some high end private school like MIT or Standford or CalTech cause you get the same education at any accredited univeristy no matter what. Its just the name that drives people crazy



#20 Aliii   Members   -  Reputation: 1447

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:23 AM

I am a Sophomore High School student who wants to be successful early and is able to go to Stanford. From what I understand Stanford is looking only for the best, so in order to be "the best" I am trying to hold a 4.1+ GPA, trying to make some video games that I can sell so Stanford can see that I show initiative and so that they can see that I can program, and I am trying to play sports at the same time to show that I am a well rounded student (and I enjoy them).

 

If no one told you yet: University is BS. They give you a piece of paper. Which is good(or can be good), ...but doesnt matter that much where you get it. Go there, you`ll see it yourself.

 

I am having problems with drive. I have this game idea that I like and have been working on but I think these high aspirations of mine are not allowing me to apply myself to programming because I am too busy (and stressed) with school and sports. I go to school at around 8 and I get home after sports at around 5:30. I have plenty of time till bed, but I just don't have the drive to work on my self produced projects (my game for example).

 

You are tired. You cant do everything you`d like to. Take away time and energy from something you do now and you`ll be able to work on your projects.






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