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LifeKills

Best schools for online degree?

13 posts in this topic

I'm 26 years old and considering I've been trying to break into the gaming industry for a few years without a single callback for an interview, I think it's time to get a degree. The problem with this is I don't want to have to live on a campus as I'm probably going to be holding down a full time job. My question is, what are some good schools to get online game design degrees from? I originally wanted to go to Digipen, but they don't offer an online program. I'm currently looking at Full Sail, but I've heard mixed reviews about that school. Is that school respected in the game industry? I think I could probably get into any game design program (3.4 HS GPA, 32 ACT, 1450 SAT, 4 years of college level coursework, and full length games programmed in flash). I would like to find the best one I can
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What position are you going for? Programmer? Designer? Artist? What experience do you have so far? Do you have a portfolio?
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I'd like to get a game design degree, but seeing as no major studio will hire a game designer fresh out of college, programming would be okay. You can always work your way up

I don't have an official portfolio yet, I've made two full featured flash games (albeit, the first one isn't anything special) and a small collection of object oriented tools and algorithms in ActionScript 3.0 (an A* pathing AI algorithm and a 2D collision detection algorithm are the standouts) which can be easily converted to C++. I am very fluent in C and C++ as well as ActionScript. I know some Java and Pascal, and have experience scripting with Python, PHP, and Lua. I like to think I have a pretty good handle on programming, but employers like to see that degree

I have also taken college courses in Calculus (1-3) and Physics (1-2), so I'd like a school where I could transfer those credits (from Ohio University)
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Diploma mills have started tarnishing online degrees, and game schools don't have the best reputation in the world either. I'm not saying you can't get a good education online, but realize you may face some prejudice against your education when going for a job. Fortunately, once you've had a few in-industry positions your work will (usually) outweigh any perceptions about your degree.

Depending on your current salary, it may be worthwhile to take on some debt and finish school full time in 2-3 years (depending on how many credits you can transfer), thus moving into your desired career faster, rather than stretching it out too long trying to get the degree in your spare time. I wouldn't want to live on campus at 26 either, but being a commuter student is a good alternative to online classes.

I'd also encourage you to consider a standard C.S. degree. You'll probably find it easier to transfer out of games later in life if you want a change of pace, and my understanding is that there isn't much of a hiring preference towards game degrees in the game industry.

Whatever you end up choosing, keep making games and try to do something new and exciting with each. It sounds like you're moving in the right direction to succeed with this.

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well, since I'm looking at going for a BS in game design, I don't think it will matter whether that is done online or live since that won't be going on my resume. ultimately I'm only going back to school to get my foot in the door. I'll let my work speak for itself, but from my experiences so far most game studios won't even take a second look at your resume unless you have a degree. so I just want to get a degree as fast as possible without disrupting my life too much

also, I've tried CS, and I just don't like the coursework. during my time in college I didn't learn anything useful outside of learning how to meet a deadline (which I obviously didn't learn too well since I ended up dropping out)
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so I just want to get a degree as fast as possible without disrupting my life too much

also, I've tried CS, and I just don't like the coursework. during my time in college I didn't learn anything useful outside of learning how to meet a deadline (which I obviously didn't learn too well since I ended up dropping out)
Have you thought about trying to get an Associates degree? It would meet the fast part. If were you went for your undergrad wasn't that great have you thought about trying to transfer to a better school?
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Original post by stonemetal
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so I just want to get a degree as fast as possible without disrupting my life too much

also, I've tried CS, and I just don't like the coursework. during my time in college I didn't learn anything useful outside of learning how to meet a deadline (which I obviously didn't learn too well since I ended up dropping out)
Have you thought about trying to get an Associates degree? It would meet the fast part. If were you went for your undergrad wasn't that great have you thought about trying to transfer to a better school?



well, I don't want an associate's degree because I imagine there are 9999999999999999 people who have associate degrees in gaming related fields. also, most major studios specifically ask for a bachelors in most of the fields I'm interested in

I'd like to transfer as many credits as possible, but it's more important for this to be an online degree or come from a school close to a place I can easily move (currently, arizona, southern california, ohio, nevada, or southern florida as I have family in these places). Full Sail is reasonably close to my place in florida, but it's still too far to commute every day (about 4 hours).

I thought about Digipen, but they're in washington. I don't know anyone in washington and I don't know how easy it would be for me to get a job there. I could just get financial aid to cover my cost of living, but that would put me even farther into debt
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Original post by stonemetal
Have you thought about trying to get an Associates degree? It would meet the fast part.

But it's not sufficient. After getting the Associates, one would need to transfer credits and get a Bachelors.
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LifeKill wrote:
I'm looking at going for a BS in game design, I don't think it will matter whether that is done online or live

You think wrong. An online degree isn't as good as a "live" (as you call it) degree. But you can only play the cards you've been dealt. I wrote about the online option at http://www.igda.org/games-game-september-2007 - View this forum's FAQ (link above)
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Original post by Tom Sloper
You think wrong. An online degree isn't as good as a "live" (as you call it) degree. But you can only play the cards you've been dealt. I wrote about the online option at http://www.igda.org/games-game-september-2007 - View this forum's FAQ (link above)


well, I wasn't really talking about the merits of the education. I'm simply talking about the piece of paper you get at the end. I can handle the learning on my own
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I'd also encourage you to consider a standard C.S. degree. You'll probably find it easier to transfer out of games later in life if you want a change of pace, and my understanding is that there isn't much of a hiring preference towards game degrees in the game industry.

I heard a standard CS degree > games specific degree, even in the games industry, it shows you're a bit versatile.

I agree that the bit of paper at the end is all that matters. I'm based in the UK so it's a little different but I chose to stay local and go to a very poor Uni. The uni has actually taught me nothing however I'm still coming out with a bit of paper that says I have a 1st class honours degree in Comp Sci. That's great but when I think I'm in £21,000 debt ($30,000?) and I have learnt little to nothing it does make me feel a little sick.
So yeh go where you like, spend the money and get the paper or go to a good school get a good degree and have your moneys worth, it's up to you :).
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I would highly suggest putting together your portfolio while you pursue additional schooling. You mentioned you made some flash games but that they aren't that special. Polish them up and show them anyway! That shows personal commitment. With as many lazy people I have worked with and have unfortunately hired, I place a high value those who are hungry and want it bad enough to work on their own projects.

As a side note, I got my first game job partly becuase I had a degree but mainly because I had a demo to show - it was a little 3d race-track building app. It didn't do much but looked kinda neat.

If you want it, don't give up!
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Original post by LifeSkill
well, I wasn't really talking about the merits of the education. I'm simply talking about the piece of paper you get at the end. I can handle the learning on my own

Quote:
Original post by Jonnys
I agree that the bit of paper at the end is all that matters.

I don't. The piece of paper matters in getting past the filtering process, but what really gets you the job is the portfolio.
And the piece of paper from the online school might (depending on the person doing the filtering) not work quite as well at getting your application to the next step. I did say in one of my columns, "don't worry about appearances," but in regards to the resume-filtering process, the online degree doesn't carry the same weight. Once your spectacular portfolio wows them enough to get you a job, none of that stuff matters any more.
But the person who acted as his own teacher probably didn't teach himself all the stuff that he'd learn in a normal real-world campus environment, and if it turns out that he's not that good an employee because of that, he could well lose the job, and now the resume is weakened thereby.
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I don't. The piece of paper matters in getting past the filtering process, but what really gets you the job is the portfolio.


I was referring to the fact that the classification of your degree has more weight than the school/university you go to. I would agree with your point, a degree gets you an interview not a job.
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thanks for the advice. I'm probably going to end up at Full Sail learning game design. I'll definitely keep working on my portfolio. the only problem with my flash games is I made them in CS4 and CS3 when I had trial versions, but that expired so now I can't go back and edit them. I'm still learning flashdevelop, hopefully this will allow me to polish them
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