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Choosing a college program, help please.

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Hey everyone, I'm looking around for colleges to apply to, and I am interested in programming. I would of course like to program games when I get out of college. I have heard that employer's, even for game development prefer a degree in programming rather then a game programming degree for whatever reason. Is this true? Also, if you have any schools to recommend in the New England(or not too far out of New England) area it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, -blue

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MIT, carnage mellon, brown, boston college, Yale, Harvard is up that way isn't it. Go to the best college that will take you. Game schools get paned around here because as the old saying goes "all work no play makes joe a dull boy" pretty much applies, and more over "all game programming no art history majors to pal around with makes joe a one trick, no imagination programmer".

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I would like to add that Yale probably isn't the best choice for CS. I go to a very small liberal arts school right next to Yale, and I have sat in on a couple of classes there. Yale is a brilliant school, probably just not for CS. (We destroyed them at the ACM Competition :) ).

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Yeah definitely go to a good traditional college and begin a Computer Science major. If you decide for whatever reason that the program is not right for you, you can switch majors rather than have to switch schools.

Also if you graduate with a degree that has "game" in the title, and ever want a non-game programming job, some employers won't take you seriously - no matter if that's fair or not.

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OP wrote:
>Choosing a college program, help please.
FAQ 25: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson25.htm

>...heard that employer's [sic], even for game development prefer a degree in programming rather then a game programming degree for whatever reason. Is this true?
FAQ 44: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson44.htm

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Do you have hot keys assigned for your article references, Tom?

In general a CS degree is recommended over a specific game programming degree. This is, of course, assuming that you do extracurricular game programming beyond your CS degree.

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Choosing a College
Weigh your options. Start with money. Which colleges can you afford to attend without living in 10 years of debt post-graduation? Just because a college costs $30,000 per semester to attend does not make it better qualified than your local $2,000 per semester state university.

Choosing a Degree
Instead of thinking in terms of what people are going to want to see, think about what you want to see. Choose a degree that will benefit you, personally, in the long run. What do you enjoy doing? Figure that out and choose the degree that complements your interests the most. Do not listen to anyone who says, "The only way to achieve X is to get degree Y." Thought like this is extremely limited and usually completely naive.

In game development, this is especially true. There are an incredible amount of positions available on game development teams. Think about it for a second. There's marketing, advertising, business management, financial management, accounting, visual artists, audio artists, game designers, level designers, general programmers, specialized programmers, network programmers, database programmers, database administrators, network administrators, and plenty more. Those are just the positions I thought up out of the blue, but I guarantee there's more that varies depending on the development studio.

That said, it's fairly obvious that every position in the above selection does not require any specific degree. Getting a degree in business will not mean that you cannot be a network programmer. Getting a degree in visual arts does not mean you cannot be the financial adviser.

Recap
Choose the most affordable and convenient university that will adhere to your interests the most. Again, do not take advice from others saying, "You have to go to X college to get Y degree to do Z job." It just doesn't work that way.

Once you've decided on the college, choose the degree that will benefit your interests and passions the most. Just getting a degree says a lot about a person, regardless of whether it's in Aerospace Engineering or Journalism.

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Original post by Justin Rebuilt
Choosing a College
Weigh your options. Start with money. Which colleges can you afford to attend without living in 10 years of debt post-graduation? Just because a college costs $30,000 per semester to attend does not make it better qualified than your local $2,000 per semester state university.


This bit is terrible advice. (though choosing what you like is very good advice)

1. While the tuition does not directly influence the qualifications of a school, it will rather proportionally effect the money the school has to spend on professors, facilities, and all the other things it needs to educate you better. Further, a pricey school is often a sign of desire or prestige which rightfully or not will impact your prospects during hire and your salary once hired.

2. As #1 alluded to, a better school means quicker hire out of college and increased salary. The money you'll gain will offset the added debt.


The idea that CS101 at Podunk U will teach you the same things, just as well as CS101 at CMU is a fallacy. It is not a rock solid rule, but in education you do generally get what you pay for. Your college education is the most important investment you will ever make, and will influence 40+ years of income. Don't skimp on it.


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Original post by Telastyn
This bit is terrible advice. (though choosing what you like is very good advice)

1. While the tuition does not directly influence the qualifications of a school, it will rather proportionally effect the money the school has to spend on professors, facilities, and all the other things it needs to educate you better. Further, a pricey school is often a sign of desire or prestige which rightfully or not will impact your prospects during hire and your salary once hired.

2. As #1 alluded to, a better school means quicker hire out of college and increased salary. The money you'll gain will offset the added debt.

The idea that CS101 at Podunk U will teach you the same things, just as well as CS101 at CMU is a fallacy. It is not a rock solid rule, but in education you do generally get what you pay for. Your college education is the most important investment you will ever make, and will influence 40+ years of income. Don't skimp on it.

I don't think the weighing of cost is a bad idea at all. A higher amount of money does not necessarily mean a better education. I paid a little over $3000 a semester (in-state) to go to Purdue University. I think I got a quality education there, and I landed a job as a game designer straight out of school. Cost shouldn't be the only factor in deciding where you want to attend school, but it certainly is a factor.

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1. While the tuition does not directly influence the qualifications of a school, it will rather proportionally effect the money the school has to spend on professors, facilities, and all the other things it needs to educate you better. Further, a pricey school is often a sign of desire or prestige which rightfully or not will impact your prospects during hire and your salary once hired.


Private schools aren't backed up by tax dollars, so they have to charge more. Price is not indicative of the quality of the education, facility, nor professors. There are terrible professors at ivy league schools just like there are terrible professors at state universities.

An expensive school isn't a sign of desire. Your performance is the sign of desire. Proving that you have what it takes in your classes, whether they're attended at ivy league or community college will speak volumes.

As for prestige, who cares? Working for an employer who gets giddy over a prospective hire only because of the school attended is probably someone you should avoid. Performance over prestige.

Quote:

2. As #1 alluded to, a better school means quicker hire out of college and increased salary. The money you'll gain will offset the added debt.


No, a better performance will. I hate to keep reiterating it, but the school doesn't make the individual. The individual makes himself. You get out as much as you put in, and more. I know people who spent tons on private education and didn't land jobs that immediately paid off their debts. It just doesn't always happen. That isn't to say it never happens, but more likely than not, you won't be landing that dream job simply because you went to a school that put you in the debt you're trying to get out of.

Quote:

The idea that CS101 at Podunk U will teach you the same things, just as well as CS101 at CMU is a fallacy. It is not a rock solid rule, but in education you do generally get what you pay for. Your college education is the most important investment you will ever make, and will influence 40+ years of income. Don't skimp on it.


Define "well." Are you speaking about the available resources? The professor qualifications? The faculty? The teaching assistants? Teaching isn't a 1-way operation. It requires work on the student's part as well. The availability of specialized classes may be lessened at local colleges, but they're still there. The fundamentals of Calculus do not vary depending on the price of the institution.

Overall though, you're right. You shouldn't skimp on your education. I don't mean economically, though, like you do. I mean it in the sense of effort. Go to college and learn. Do the work, put in the effort, and you'll come out a skilled individual with a world of opportunity because you've shaped yourself into a knowledgeable person.

I just want to harp one last point. You get as much as you put in. It isn't all about money. It's all about you. No matter where you go, as long as the college offers an education that covers the entire scope of what you wish to achieve and as long as you put in the effort required to become a skilled individual, you're going to be in a good position.

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Original post by zer0wolf
Do you have hot keys assigned for your article references, Tom?

There are 67 articles. That'd be too many hot keys to remember. ("Let's see, is FAQ 54 control-N? No wait, that's FAQ 64...")

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Original post by Justin Rebuilt
Quote:

1. While the tuition does not directly influence the qualifications of a school, it will rather proportionally effect the money the school has to spend on professors, facilities, and all the other things it needs to educate you better. Further, a pricey school is often a sign of desire or prestige which rightfully or not will impact your prospects during hire and your salary once hired.


Private schools aren't backed up by tax dollars, so they have to charge more. Price is not indicative of the quality of the education, facility, nor professors. There are terrible professors at ivy league schools just like there are terrible professors at state universities.


True, true.

Quote:

An expensive school isn't a sign of desire. Your performance is the sign of desire. Proving that you have what it takes in your classes, whether they're attended at ivy league or community college will speak volumes.


Expense is generally a sign of desire for people to go there; not your desire to do well. Your desire to do well will be shown by doing well as you say, and by secondary projects. But make no mistake, doing well at MIT will always be more impressive than doing well at your community college.

Quote:

As for prestige, who cares? Working for an employer who gets giddy over a prospective hire only because of the school attended is probably someone you should avoid. Performance over prestige.


In the ideal world. In the real world, most every resume goes through HR people who are incapable of performance evaluation even if they did hold to those ideals. In the real world, even intelligent people will prejudice you based on your school because it's cheaper for them to toss the resume rather than spend their time interviewing you to make sure you're not like the other idiots from that school they interviewed before...

And a better education will only help your performance.

Quote:

Quote:

2. As #1 alluded to, a better school means quicker hire out of college and increased salary. The money you'll gain will offset the added debt.


No, a better performance will. I hate to keep reiterating it, but the school doesn't make the individual. The individual makes himself. You get out as much as you put in, and more. I know people who spent tons on private education and didn't land jobs that immediately paid off their debts. It just doesn't always happen. That isn't to say it never happens, but more likely than not, you won't be landing that dream job simply because you went to a school that put you in the debt you're trying to get out of.


Sure. But the individual is fixed. Joe getting a good education will have (far) better performance than Joe with a poor education. Not applying yourself will harm any education, and an ivy league education isn't some panacea for motivation or work ethic issues. But learning on your own only goes so far. Having good resources available (or rather, having less impediments) will only amplify what the individual puts into it.

Quote:

Quote:

The idea that CS101 at Podunk U will teach you the same things, just as well as CS101 at CMU is a fallacy. It is not a rock solid rule, but in education you do generally get what you pay for. Your college education is the most important investment you will ever make, and will influence 40+ years of income. Don't skimp on it.


Define "well." Are you speaking about the available resources? The professor qualifications? The faculty? The teaching assistants? Teaching isn't a 1-way operation. It requires work on the student's part as well. The availability of specialized classes may be lessened at local colleges, but they're still there. The fundamentals of Calculus do not vary depending on the price of the institution.


But the professor teaching the fundamentals of Calculus will (generally) be better. The breadth and depth of the topics covered will (generally) increase. The availability of teaching assistants, libraries, and other tools to help the individual learn will (generally) increase. By well, I mean that the useful education gained and retained will be better.

Again, the student is a constant. Put in the same effort and a better education will provide you with more, better knowledge. And in my experience having attended both, the differences between a good school and a bad school are vast.

Get the best education you can, period.

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Original post by Justin Rebuilt
Choosing a College
Weigh your options. Start with money. Which colleges can you afford to attend without living in 10 years of debt post-graduation? Just because a college costs $30,000 per semester to attend does not make it better qualified than your local $2,000 per semester state university.


Couldn't agree more, Go to the best school that will take you. Cost isn't usually a sign of quality, it is usually a sign of weather or not the public is paying for it. Consider Rice, Purdue, and UT all in the top 100 and probably all in the top 50(In fact UT and Purdue rate much higher than Rice) or so of CS schools in the US Purdue and UT are around 10K(assuming 3-4 semesters a year) a year Rice would probably be 40-60K a year. Only difference price wise is Rice is a private college the other two public. So Realistically evaluate the schools you can get into, most share average grade and sat scores. Then go to the best school you can and can afford. You will need to do research to figure out what ranks one school above another, but the pecking order is pretty well established. I know when I first went to college I thought I would just go to the community college and teach myself on the side. But really after my os class used java and my data base class covered only Cobol, I knew the depth of my mistake. I pretty much had to start over at a much better school.

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1. While the tuition does not directly influence the qualifications of a school, it will rather proportionally effect the money the school has to spend on professors, facilities, and all the other things it needs to educate you better. Further, a pricey school is often a sign of desire or prestige which rightfully or not will impact your prospects during hire and your salary once hired.

2. As #1 alluded to, a better school means quicker hire out of college and increased salary. The money you'll gain will offset the added debt.

The above quote , while no hard feelings against who wrote it I despise the quote. No offense to you :) Let me explain myself , like a guy said in the thread, a college/uni that costs more doesnt mean its better. However I know someone who worked in a so called prestigous uni ,now the fact is rightly or wrongly these people are practically snapped up by employers at the end of their degree because the place in question has some history from years back and is common place for the rich. (Conequantly this uni is like many others and has a fair drop out rate, it has its good students and its bad[being honest though it is a bit harder to get in and although they wouldnt admit it Im guessing what background your from would affect entry, and I know its un PC for me to say that and I dont have any proof its what I personally think in this instance)

Im sure it is better than many other UNIS and it has a high standard however where I stay and currently the colleges and unis I know of are reasnably well funded and use the same books in many cases so I reckon the end result educationally is about the same in many cases.

Actually the quote is a great point :) , just I dont like how it works like that especially since any course Ive done Ive went the extra mile and what could potentially happen is you have 1 really good person from a standard uni and one person whos coastered or cheated there way through and they get the job, its very unfair but thats life.

Like another guy said you dont want to end up in really excessive amounts of debt and if I might be so bold to say , theres no gaurentee with computing jobs now, at least where I am - everybodys advertising do IT , leave your old job behind and in many areas IT is becomming saturated. So whatever you do , choose wisely.

I actually did part of a uni degree, for computer science , it was OU and I had an HND so I got further into the course, anyway I was doing that for 1 year , the quality of materials for OU was dam high - I actually doubt I could have had things any better explained , they included so much books because 1 to 1 tution wasnt a every day thing, because of this we got lots of really expensive books written from pro authours and basically tested on them from cover to cover and there was practical stuff, lots of it - I was working every day. Anyway I got good results , all my assesments over 89% last one was 94% and I actually just thought Im not ready to keep going with this, Im not sure if its for me. Very heavy on theory as most courses are and the practical was getting more specialised fast enough, In short I was patiant and packed it in. So all I got to say is REALLY think and check all what you will be expected to do for your units before you jump on a computer science course. (It starts out heavy theory with bits of practical to as an intro to people just from college/school and then it starts getting quite intense and no doubt if I stayed it would have got 10 times worse , so youve got to love it!)

I may be deluded but Ive always maintained that job prospects aside with the correct documentation Ive always been able to self teach myself more(At least in relation to what I wanted to achieve) and that colleges UNIS give you great foundations which set you up for building on those and prepare you a little if your going into to some specialised company.

[Edited by - firefly28 on February 14, 2008 12:25:05 PM]

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