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puddinlover

Advice about getting my programming degree(s)?

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I'm graduating high school this year and I plan to go to a public college out of state that has a newer program (fully credited of course). It is a BA in Science for Simulation and Game Engineering. The course focuses on ALL aspects of game development (but mainly programming). You learn multiple languages at the same time and I guess that the course work is pretty hard. You also get to do some really cool things from creating your own OS to making multiple games for different platforms by yourself and in groups (you partner multiple times with the students in the BA of art for Simulation and Game modeling and what not). I'm mainly scared because a very large part of the course is spent learning math I never even heard of or came close to learning, the fact that the course keeps students busy with programming EVERY semester is very appealing to me since I'm not going to just get a degree. I'm going to get as much knowledge in programming as possible. The first class to graduate from the program was really small (guess most people did not make it to the end). Now I have 2 years of Computer Info Systems in high school (we did very basic programming) and I did not like it much (the class I think is what ruined it for me... just did not go well... was very "slow"). Programming it's self is something I think I should do. I have always been VERY computer savvy since I built my first pc with parts from around yard sales/garbage when I was 10. My passion for the computer field in general has filled up most of my youth. I never really thought about programming as a career till I thought more about myself. It's obvious I'm going to work with PC's but I just think that being a network admin (first plan) wont 1. make as much money (I know it's not a good reason but a factor for me) 2. I wont be pushing myself all the time to keep progressing like I would as a programmer 3. As a programmer I have the chance to CREATE which I love to give life to things and I love creating entertainment (weather films or games). Now I'm content not getting into game programming right out of college. I wouldn't mind software development either but game programming is where I want to end up (reason I'm taking game programming over software programming plus the software degree doesn't offer as much programming knowledge as the game degree does). Right now I'm creating small games and software to add to my portfolio and also get my juices flowing before college. NOW time for the twist! Long story short; my life has sucked and I'm not sure if I'm ready just yet to go off and pursue such a serious degree. I'm wondering if going to the local 2 year school would be a good choice (graduate in a little under 2 years) and they offer a programming thing which is geared at web development. It will be about 11k total after grants. Would it be smart to do this (learn web programming) than go and get my BA in simulation and game engineering (all oop)? Do you think getting the local school degree for 11k would be worth it in the long run (would open up programming jobs in web field, and I think they learn java). I do not really plan to be in the web programming field 10 years from now but I also wouldn't mind learning many different languages. I also think that it might help me get ready for my BA since it is a very hard step for me study/knowledge wise. I'm not really putting off my BA for "lazy" reasons. I want to make that clear (in short I haven't had a great life up to this point and I think if I go to a serious college now for my BA than I might bring my same "mood" with me which I know I wont be able to get anything done if I do). I think if I go first for the local school than I will be able to better prepare myself for my BA because when I take my BA I really want to be 100% focused and on top of things! Also a "option" might be to take the 2 year network admin degree and learn programming from the online courses they offer (you get certificates at the end) than go for my BA. I'm just not sure if the 11k in debt would be worth getting a small degree (also get the chance to take a few certifications like Microsoft and stuff for free while in the school; so that saves a little money and would fill the job app up with more stuff) and having more time before my BA to sort my life out? Serious advice is welcomed since this is a serious choice for me because the local school starts in June. To get the point across again... I'm not considering doing a local school first out of pure "laziness" it would be more so to get my life on track (it is very far off the track... has been for years), get my brain juices flowing, prepare myself for the work load the BA course will being with it, and to develop good study habits to carry over into my BA. [Edited by - puddinlover on March 14, 2009 5:20:22 AM]

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You should consider breaking that wall of bricks into a few more manageable paragraphs. It hurts just looking at it. O_o

~Jonathan

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Quote:
Original post by Durakken
step 1 communication skills improvement...

step 2 will be revealed when step 1 has been achieved.

Agree!
No matter what choice you make you won't get very far with poor communication skills no matter how smart you are.
I suggest taking English and Speech courses at your local college if anything to improve your writing since I read your post like twice and still couldn't tell what you were trying to say?



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Details... which newly accredited out of state college? What issues do you have that lead you to believe that you won't do well going for a Bachelors?

In general, you should go for your bachelor's at the best school you can get into. Spending 4 years of cash now to increase your salary for 40 some years is a no-brainer baring exceptional circumstances.

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guess my text is too poor for you to understand, just nevermind.

Was trying to ask if getting a degree in web programming before I go and get my BA in game programming is smart considering my situation.

Also the college is old but the program itself is new.

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Original post by puddinlover
Was trying to ask if getting a degree in web programming before I go and get my BA in game programming is smart considering my situation.
Two BA's in succession? You don't want to do that - at best you are extending your study for considerable extra time.

Just go for that BA in simulation and engineering, or else a straight computer science or software engineering degree. Anything you might learn in web programming you can pick up in a week or two on your own, once you have honed your fundamental programming skills.

As far as difficulty, pretty much any technical degree is going to require hard work. If you are smart, and reasonably talented, it won't be anything you can't handle.

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Quote:
Original post by puddinlover
guess my text is too poor for you to understand, just nevermind.

Was trying to ask if getting a degree in web programming before I go and get my BA in game programming is smart considering my situation.

Also the college is old but the program itself is new.

Don't take it so hard I used to do the same thing all the time before I had to take the courses I mentioned where I was forced to cut down my sentence fragments,run-on sentences, and overall haphazard sentences - LOL!
Anyways, back on topic I agree with swiftcoder to go for that BA in simulation and engineering, or else a straight computer science or software engineering degree from a traditional college.
It will be tough going if your math is weak but you'll be in a way stronger position than fast-tracking it and going to a vocational or tech school.
If you graduate from a decent traditional school where you will be force to take linear algebra,differential equations, and discrete math not to mention data structures,etc web programming will be a walk in the park. Think we do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard :)
Let me put it this way one place I worked at I was like could I just do web programming and the main programmer was like we don't need to hire anyone fulltime to do that since I can easily do it. I assume it's like this at alot of companies. It's kinda like Python programming I guess. When people ask what book they should use and it's like so simple and straight forward that no book is really necessary...

[Edited by - daviangel on March 15, 2009 1:08:10 AM]

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Almost everything for web dev can be picked up in a few hours...

HTML is so easy and has so many tutorials out there that you really don't need to learn it.
CSS and javascript are so close to C++/Java that if you understand either you'll understand CSS and javascript.

And you don't even need to do those either as there are WYSIWYG apps so no real point in spending money on it. What you might do is just go get a certificate in it...costs like $50 at most community colleges if I remember correctly.

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Quote:
Original post by puddinlover
Was trying to ask if getting a degree in web programming before I go and get my BA in game programming is smart considering my situation.


What situation? All you've said is a few vague things about life sucking and moods. There's an exceptionally wide range of suck and mood that could be your situation.

In general though, swiftcoder is correct.

Quote:

Also the college is old but the program itself is new.


So, what college is it? There's only about a dozen that offer Simulation and Game Engineering, so we discuss them regularly here.

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@ Telastyn
My "situation" life wise is one I do not care to elaborate on... but to give a better understanding I will give a quick overview. My life as I said has actually really sucked and recently for the first time I'm just now starting to face my past because I'm realizing how much it has effected me.

Also the college is Shawnee State University in Ohio.

---------

Ok let me rephrase my question.

In short I want to wait at least a year before I start my BA in Game programming because 1. Life issues 2. I want to prepare myself so I can do the best possible job retaining and learning the course.

With that said I do not want to just "sit around" for a year studying things myself. I was thinking if taking the 2 year degree "solution developer" at a local school would be a good choice so I can start learning harder math and also learn a few languages (the "best" ones they teach are javascript and C#). This would get me a diploma and also I would be able to take over 700 certifications for little to nothing while attending the school (like microsoft, A+, adobe, and others). So that way I can prepare for my BA and also push myself beyond their class room (by learning the certifications and also make more programs/apps than what I would make in the class for my portfolio).

The total cost for the diploma is 11k. The course is a diploma because I guess they just integrated two associate degrees together to make this new course which has to pass something to be counted as a associate degree... not sure really that is what they told me though.

Also to add to the "pros" of going to this local school first before my BA I can really see if I like programming (or get a better chance at knowing if I do).

Hopefully this is a better question than my first post hehe.

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Quote:
Original post by puddinlover
In short I want to wait at least a year before I start my BA in Game programming because 1. Life issues
Life issues have a tendency not to disappear by themselves, even given time, but nuff said.
Quote:
The total cost for the diploma is 11k. The course is a diploma because I guess they just integrated two associate degrees together to make this new course which has to pass something to be counted as a associate degree... not sure really that is what they told me though.
Figure out if you can transfer the credits for the diploma towards your BA - you might be able to cut a year out of the BA program, which would save you a lot of time. This is of course supposing that there is a fair overlap in mathematics and programming prerequisites for both programs.
Quote:
Also to add to the "pros" of going to this local school first before my BA I can really see if I like programming (or get a better chance at knowing if I do).
Quote:
Now I have 2 years of Computer Info Systems in high school (we did very basic programming) and I did not like it much (the class I think is what ruined it for me... just did not go well... was very "slow").
This one raises a red flag to me. If you turn out to be good at programming, University is going to be equally slow, so get used to being bored in your courses and entertaining/educating yourself outside the classroom at a much faster pace.

In general, I find that anything they can teach you in a semester long course, can be picked up in a couple of weeks from a good book. Note that the same doesn't seem to hold true for other topics, especially Math, where the higher stuff is very hard to learn directly from a book.

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swift coder, that's part of my problem right now... the prof goes out of her way to make you attend class and teach in an agonizingly boring way, and gives assignments that if you're not in the class you can't complete so you end up spending about 5 minutes of actual good lecture, 1-2 hours of can you give us the asignment now? lecture, and 55 minutes of busy work programming. It takes maybe a minute to figure out how to do most of the things in the class assignment...but takes 30-50 minutes to program due to all the other utter crap, that I know is absolutely wrongly used in the program.

I have a hard time pulling myself into doing it and while it does only take a short time to actually do it, it depresses you a lot of times.


Puddinlover.

If you really want to see what a programming class is like at college level. Take a college level programming book, one that usually has projects in the back, and pace it out over about 16 weeks read 1-3 chapter a week and do 2-3 programs a week based on what you learned, there are challenges in most books so that shouldn't be hard, then half way through and at the end give yourself a test.

If you don't like that you might have a problem.

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Quote:
Original post by Durakken
swift coder, that's part of my problem right now... the prof goes out of her way to make you attend class and teach in an agonizingly boring way, and gives assignments that if you're not in the class you can't complete so you end up spending about 5 minutes of actual good lecture, 1-2 hours of can you give us the asignment now? lecture, and 55 minutes of busy work programming. It takes maybe a minute to figure out how to do most of the things in the class assignment...but takes 30-50 minutes to program due to all the other utter crap, that I know is absolutely wrongly used in the program.


Get used to it. This will happen a lot in your professional real work experience life. Only difference being they will be called meetings instead and not classes - heh.

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Quote:
Original post by Durakken
swift coder, that's part of my problem right now... the prof goes out of her way to make you attend class and teach in an agonizingly boring way, and gives assignments that if you're not in the class you can't complete so you end up spending about 5 minutes of actual good lecture, 1-2 hours of can you give us the asignment now? lecture, and 55 minutes of busy work programming. It takes maybe a minute to figure out how to do most of the things in the class assignment...but takes 30-50 minutes to program due to all the other utter crap, that I know is absolutely wrongly used in the program.

I have a hard time pulling myself into doing it and while it does only take a short time to actually do it, it depresses you a lot of times.
Trust me, you are not alone in this feeling. I went into University with a fairly strong, self-taught programming background, passed out of the first year of computer science courses, and slept my way through the second. Now in my junior year, I am working through the graduate courses - and the word 'work' is something of a misnomer: I am almost invariably in the top 10% of the class, despite terrible study habits, and a tendency to program personal projects into the wee hours of morning, pretty much every night.

If you are good at what you do, university is pretty much an exercise in finding enough extra-curricular activities to keep mind-numbing boredom at bay. On the plus side, if your program is good, you can make your self noticed, and cram a lot more in. I get to work on research with our graduate program director, and landed a nice work study job in the website department, both of which go a long way towards relieving that boredom [wink]

I guess the most important thing is to keep at it - there is always the temptation to slack off, and just coast on your abilities, or even drop out and try your luck in the field, but you need to keep sight of the reason you are there in the first place: this degree (plus a lot of hard work and dedication), is your key to an interesting future (or at least a way to avoid that job at McDonalds).

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Great input guys!

I called up SSU and they said most credits are NOT transferable from 2 year type schools but a few are if you have a good gpa.

The reason I'm still considering going to the local school first is the course work at my BA... yes learning multiple languages at once and always have a project to do sounds fun to me BUT the others courses (math mainly) that are not programming I KNOW I will struggle very hard at because my study habits are really bad and I don't even have a clue how to do the work that they feel you should already know before you come to college.

As for not liking the programming course in high school it was really bad. The teacher just said two things and handed you a book to look at and do programs that never tested your skill... it was more like work than it was learning.

Right now I might consider doing a 2 year networking degree (since it is an associates and the web programming is just a diploma) than study programming on my own. Not 100% sure yet.

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I would go with the associates degree, then BA degree. If you go with the associates degree, you might be able to transfer some credits from that degree to your BA degree. It will also give you time to get used to or change your study habits. And if you don't finish your BA degree you can always fall back on the associates degree, instead of going for the BA and quitting half way then having nothing to show for it.

I completed my 3 associates degrees last semester, along with a couple of certificates. Now I am finishing up my classes at the community college to transfer to my university. I should be able to transfer most of my credits from my associates to my BA degree. So if it's possible to do something like that in your situation, I would go for it.

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I headed a similar route to what your discussing.

I graduated high school, and wanted to program games or simulations. I couldn't afford a university at the time. So here is what I did.

I went to a 2 year community college to get my A.A.S. in Computer Information Systems. I specialized in Web Development. I worked full time at a crummy paying job to afford to go the community college full time at the same time. I graduated from there. Got my degree from there and was shortly there after able to get a job at a local ISP as their in house web app developer. The pay increase of the new job then made it possible for me to afford going to a university.

I started the university shortly after getting the new job, and was able to transfer about 1 years worth of classes. I'm now in my last year of the University, granted I've acquired some student loan debt from the University, but It's a wise investment.

Just break your whole plan up into manageable steps and decide what you are willing to take on, and then go from there.

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Ya I'm going to meet with admissions again for the local school and ask even more questions. My large concern is transfers credits because it a DIPLOMA because the program was just merged with 2 aos degrees but they said it is all accredited by the same people. SSU said they accept little credits from 2 year schools but than again if I do this and do well I might find out I like web programming.

Also I can't seem to find this but what would the pay difference be in general for a web programmer with a 2 year degree vs a software/game programmer with a BA?

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I would suggest not going for the associates degree. I did over 100 credits at my local branch of OU during highschool, and the only things that counted for anything were 1 english class, 1 history class, 1 sociology class, and 1 math class. NONE of the "technical" classes I took counted toward me degree here at the main OU branch, because they weren't "engineering" level. *sigh*

I imagine that the "few classes" that they told you would transfer will probably be along the same lines -- english, math, social studies...

As for wanting a year off before diving into difficult coursework... Sure, computer science is hard. Any software engineering is hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it (ok, we've all heard that one before). But if you really LOVE programming, then it really won't be bad.

Besides, do you really want to sit around for a year or two thinking about how depressing your life has been up to this point? :| I spent my first year here doing exactly that, and I can't say it did me a whole lot of good.

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Quote:
Original post by puddinlover
Great input guys!

The reason I'm still considering going to the local school first is the course work at my BA... yes learning multiple languages at once and always have a project to do sounds fun to me BUT the others courses (math mainly) that are not programming I KNOW I will struggle very hard at because my study habits are really bad and I don't even have a clue how to do the work that they feel you should already know before you come to college.


I had the worst study habits in high school. I would show up to class, daydream, barely do any homework, get A's on the tests, and get a C in the class. If I had my act together I could have gotten straight A's in high school. Stupid on my part.

Got to college, did the same thing the first semester and my dad told me "I'm not paying for C's". At that point I got my act together.

Now I am not very good at math and don't like it either. I struggle a lot. But I NEEDED to do good in every class that I took, so I study my ass off now. Poor study habits are simply a lack of motivation or lack of interest, or both. If you really want to be a software developer, you need to find the motivation to do well in not only math, but the motivation to practice your programming skills regularly. Without motivation you have a small chance of succeeding in anything you do.

If I were you, I would go for the BA right away.

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thats a great point. Right now I program/script almost everyday (nothing serious though). I'm just worried my social issues might come with me to college =[ which tend to make everything else worse.

(I have OCD and it is getting worse I hope to work on it while still up here before I go down to college, also why I said social issue is because it is part of my OCD and I just clam up... I really do not know why. Something I need to figure out before I'm sitting in a class with 30 people I don't know.)

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Ok thinking about it (the types of programmers)

I do not wanna be a pure web programmer.
Game programming would be great but also seems like a lot of stress too.
Software/Small application programmer sounds like something that really fits me well... I can see myself working in C# or a similar environment making applications for clients. The only problem that I see though is I don't think there are many jobs in C#.

Also the local degree WILL be a associates by time a graduate and I would get the associates degree. They learn:
* Visual Basic .NET * C# Programming
* ASP.NET * ADO.NET
* javascript * Microsoft SQL Database Design
* XHTML/CSS * Systems Analysis

By time I get to the end of the degree you will be a certified .net developer.

I'm thinking that I should take the local and if I do well than go onto getting my BA in SOFTWARE engineering which researching it is a WAY better field outlook wise than just normal programming. (better pay, WAY better job growth, and also seems like something I want to do)

I thought about it and yes making games is really cool but I think I'm more of a GUI/Software type programmer and I will do games on the side.

I'm not saying software programmers dont use math but it seems game programmers use a lot more math than other types of programmers and well game programming seems a lot harder to break into.

Both software and game programming have strong job outlooks but like I said I think I would be better off programming user/business software.

Game programming brings that enjoyment of making something that will be used for fun but software TO me will be more fun to make on a day to day basis I feel.

If worse comes to worse I'll get a few certifications in networking and become a network admin haha (really good job placement for that in my local area) because it is easier to be a programmer and get a networking job than it is to be a networking and land a good programming job. With having the database exp I will get in the local degree that will be good too for networking.

Any more input is welcome but I felt relieved when I heard it would be a associates degree by time I graduated. The only thing now is to go and bug them more about what all I will learn and make in the course.

Also they offer 2 free brush up courses which is nice considering the type of job programming is and also lifetime placement.

Also to clear up the part about me not wanting to be a web programmer... I do not mean web programming as in the languages I just mean programming web sites. I wouldn't mind making an application that communicates to web databases ect.

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