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Benjamin GD

Starting a Business vs College?

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Okay, now it's been on my mind for a while, should I start a software business from scratch, or go to college first?

Now before you say that this "starting a business" idea is crazy, consider this:

The problem with college for me is that, well, let me put it this way; it's designed for CPU like minds (people with precise, orderly thoughts based on throughput logic). I have a GPU like mind (officially called Obsessive Compulsion Disorder), which allows me to churn through ideas over and over, and to do tedious tasks which require many iterations (I naturally love to program complicated systems), but I am getting Fs right now at my high-school because my mind has trouble with doing the "CPU-mind" assignments, so I doubt going to college would work for me.

This has been an issue between my parents and I for quite some time. I don't think they understand how severe my OCD is.

Now consider the replies I have posted in this topic for myself. What do you think? Am I delusional?

Original post:
It's annoying how most colleges try to teach you all of that bogus IT stuff with the poor languages such as Java and .etc

I live in Utah (a state of the US), and I'm looking for a nearby college that goes heavy on Computer Science, not that yuck stuff that people try to claim as real computer science (IT industry).

There is this good one, http://www.neumont.edu/programs.html

However I know it costs tons of money! My brother went there and now he's going to be paying back the loans he took for quite a while. So what would be a better option?

[Edited by - Benjamin GD on November 10, 2010 10:38:08 AM]

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Why does education cost a ton of money? Because it's worth it.

Probably the closest top flight schools are Stanford and some of the University of California campuses. I imagine there's others closer that provide the more academic focus you're looking for, but I'm not personally familiar with that part of the nation.

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For one Java isn't a poor language, actually one of the absolute best places to go for Computer Science, Carnegie Melon, does start with Java. The big reason that schools do start with Java is because it doesn't have as much overhead thought in the beginning. Java has nice garbage collection so you don't have to worry about deleting items, you can worry about what you are coding.

Plenty of schools start with Java then move on to other languages, since once you know Java (a C style syntax language) you can easily learn C++ and C. Then moving down to assembly.

edit: Yes college does cost a lot, but there are tons of grants, scholarships and the likes. If the school you are looking at is involved with STEM, they give out rather large scholarships. I know at the school I attend its around 4k a year.

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Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
Why does education cost a ton of money? Because it's worth it.


I'd like to disagree. Imho, it is more like:

Because they want it for reasons they know (research, greed, whatever) and in their opinion don't get enough from the state (do they get any in the US?).

Anyways, it is like it is, don't wanna start a dispute on that one ;)


To the OP: If you have some really original ideas, some conferences also accept papers from non-univ people. Though you should build up massive knowledge before ever submitting something, read hundreds of papers, and all.

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Okay, well I certainly know that my brother is poor as dirt now that he went through that college, but at least he has a job. I hear he's very good at programming. Its come to my ear that he is the fastest, smartest, and most productive person at his work. But that's just a rumor from my parents. *licks lips*

So even though he's doing well with his job, I don't think he'll be able to support anybody except for himself (no wife or kids) because his student-loans are very big.

This is what my backup plan has always been, and because I really have my doubts in education at the moment, I've been executing it:

If I don't go to college...
I will start a software-development business.
1) Make a game engine and keep building it up.
2) Find some people who can make the assets for my games for cheap (or even free).
3) Finish a game. See how well its doing and improve it. etc (go through polishing)
4) Improve my game engine and start work on a professional and commercial quality game.
5) Finish the game, try to market it and if I succeed, the rest is history (or is it?)
6) Go for making more software and games .etc keep trying to make money.

I've made game prototypes in Game Maker since I was 8. I understand how to bring the player to an immersive state with game-mechanics, graphics, audio and so forth. I'm confident that I can make a good game! I am good at problem solving and my games should work flawlessly. No bugging flaws. I've played some games made with Unity that had all kinds of problems, and I thought "This person expects to become good enough to sell for money?" But I ensure quality. So again, I'm confident.

Anyway, these are the things I know that a business man should know:
1. Never cheat your client/customer.
2. Always take decisions smooth and slow. It's common for people who decide to take immature-initiative to fail before their goal.
3. Don't fill your plans with hot air... thinking that everything you're going to get done will be "super awesomely mega epic" and nothing will go wrong.

[Edited by - Benjamin GD on November 20, 2010 4:36:57 PM]

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I'd say if you want to start your own company a degree is a must. Not only will it teach you some things that you'd not figure out on your own (basically because its coming at the same problem from a different angle). You will have time to work at games, and the thing is a lot of programming jobs are nothing more than code monkeys so they get paid rather little compared to other programming jobs. The area I live in the closest city is Erie, Pa, the average starting salary there for a programmer is around 35k a year, so no more than a school teacher in this area, if I drive 2 hours south to Pittsburgh its around 55k+, it also has some offices for larger companies (one being google).

A lot of it is area, and I'll be coming out with around 30k to repay, realistically speaking at 55k+ a year starting out, I could easily pay back all my loans and live (considering I was raised in a family that was used to 15-18k a year to support 5 people). It all comes down to the area you want to find a job in and if you are willing to relocate.

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Quote:

It's annoying how most colleges try to teach you all of that bogus IT stuff with the poor languages such as Java and .etc

I live in Utah (a state of the US), and I'm looking for a nearby college that goes heavy on Computer Science, not that yuck stuff that people try to claim as real computer science (IT industry).

All this does is demonstrate that you have a very, very long way to go before you are minimally competent enough to do something like start your own business (remember, most people who graduate college are minimally competent at best in their field).

You are laboring under the delusion that afflicts most people who want to pursue a technical career that involves programming or software development, this foolhardy assumption that you already know enough to be useful. But your ideas are off-base -- Java is a fine and useful language (objectively), and there are some areas where the IT and CS discipline overlap a bit, for example. There are even more areas where CS overlaps with mathematics and where general education will be useful -- will you spurn those, too? As somebody who has graduated many years ago and has been working in the industry for many years now, I can tell you you'd be demonstrating precisely the characteristics of the people that don't get hired.

Computer science very often turns out to be very different from what most people think. It isn't about programming -- that's incidental, it's a tool used to convey the more fundamental ideas.

If you don't learn to accept the idea that you might be wrong, that you might not already know everything, then you shouldn't go to college because you'll waste your time and money.

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Yes, understanding how to use a programming language is not difficult. But understanding how to apply it with mastery is something I love to get better at.

I know a lot of 3D-space mathematics required to make a game, and if I need help with the math I can just ask a friend (perhaps someone from these forums?).

As I said, I've prototyped and have practiced a lot; I've even made a prototype game-engine which is comparable to Quake (but without all of the neat tools). I mean, after I wrap the API I choose and prepare it for more rapid development, I can build games very fast!

I've built VERY COMPREHENSIVE systems. Inventory-interface systems (similar to World of Warcraft), menu systems (which parse CSS/HTML like markup into interface for the menu), and now I'm working on my latest; an AI system.

I still have confidence. Just say I'm wrong, and I'll debate for justification.

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Quote:

I know a lot of 3D-space mathematics required to make a game, and if I need help with the math I can just ask a friend (perhaps someone from these forums?).

You can ask for help, but unless you learn the fundamentals you will always be limited to the aid that others are willing to provide you -- and at the mercy of the quality of that aid, without necessarily being able to determine if it's accurate or good.

Quote:

Just say I'm wrong

Wrong about what? I already told you want I thought you were wrong about. All this posturing about the "complex systems" you claim to have built (which are, incidentally, content-free statements until you actually show somebody those systems and explain them and is also a different beast entirely from working with complex systems built by others, as you would in a real production environment) is entirely irrelevant to what I told you you were doing wrong. This is a different discussion.

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I changed the topic. Reread the top post. But anyway, give me examples of what college would teach me that I don't know. What, trigonometry, quaternions, vectors, matrices? I believe I understand those well enough. But maybe your right, I think there's many times when I have to research more math before I can get straight to work. But can't I just use the internet? That's what the internet is for.

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derivatives, integrals; the concepts behind them.
non-trivial physics, rigid body dynamics.
formal computer science theory (the big one).


Sure, you can use the internet. But almost everyone learns these difficult, abstract concepts better/faster with a well laid out class schedule and actually having another person to interact with and teach you (and/or collaborate with).

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From your updated post:

Quote:
I have a GPU like mind (officially called Obsessive Compulsion Disorder), which allows me to churn through ideas over and over, and to do tedious tasks which require many iterations (I naturally love to program complicated systems), but I am getting Fs right now at my high-school because my mind has trouble with doing the "CPU-mind" assignments, so I doubt going to college would work for me.
Sounds like you have bigger problems.

Get the mental health issues resolved first.

If you are failing at high school classes, you will almost certainly crash and burn in a university environment. Much more is expected of you.

Also, without your mental health issues resolved you would very likely have difficulty performing the required work in a technical work environment. Certain standards of high-level performance are required every day and uncontrolled OCD will prevent it. Assuming you could get it under control you could do it, but in that case you could also complete your education.

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Okay thanks, I know this topic was a bit ridiculous. But I think that my OCD actually helps me with programming. In fact, I've heard of a software businesses that only hires people with OCD (it's located in Scotland).

The problem with OCD comes when my brain cannot stop thinking that I'm right (and you're wrong) because of so and so reasons. But I'm learning to disable those thoughts and try to be more a more workable person. This is why I want to run a business, I have no one telling me what to do, for goodness sake! But yes, I need to learn how to cooperate. Thanks for being so kind about my "bigger problems". That just made my day, I'll try to resolve my issues.

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Quote:
I also know the ways around a business. I've been running it already, see: www.viblicent.com

That's my business. :)

That's not a business.

You are not selling anything.
There is only one contact address to an individual to enquire about the company itself.
There is next to no information on the 'products'.

Edit: Eep. Where did all those posts come from?

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I think a better idea is to go to college, make some good friends there, and start a company with them.

About not getting good grades. Have you taken the time to actually analyse what the teachers want from you? It helped me a great deal at an engineering school when I learned to look at what the specific teacher wants to see.

For example, I wrote reports for a physics class teacher with a similar style the teacher had used when she had written a book. Damn right it helped me to get better grades - the teacher loved my reports! No surprise as I learned the style how to do the layout of the report from her book. I got the best possible grade and I think it was mostly down to carefully writing "pro"-looking reports. Of course the actual substance had to be right, but that wasn't too hard most of the time. Where the difference between a good and a bad grade was made was how the information was presented. You need to identify these things, when does it matter and when it doesn't matter - some teacher may think it's very important and someone else doesn't think so. Analyse your teachers!

Yeah so I think there were smarter people in the classrooms with me but I got equally good or better grades simply by targeting the teachers specifically. You can do it by carefully listening to them. They are dropping subtle hints about what they want from you - give it to them and you will get better grades. It may feel stupid to change the style of reports teacher-by-teacher but if it helps to get your grade up... do it! It worked for me so it can work for you too.

Of course this won't work with everything, you will have exams in which this is not possible.

At another class I actually helped other people to understand what the teacher wants from them. At one occasion I knew that the teacher was wrong about something. He told me my report was wrong. It wasn't wrong but this teacher was not very nice and just to get rid of him I decided I will change the report so that it says what the teacher thinks is right. I then turned the modified report in and he gave me a good grade for it.I didn't like it but I didn't want to deal with the teacher any more than I really had to because I think he had some, let's say it bluntly, psychological problems.

And guess what. Other students did the same assignment later and they wrote the report like I had done it on the first time, and they got very confused when the teacher told them their reports are wrong. No they were not wrong but as the teacher had gotten it wrong they were screwed.

So they came to ask me what had I done to get my report to pass. I told them specifically what the teacher wants to hear and told them it's not right but just write it in the report as the teacher likes it and forget it. We all agreed that the teacher is wrong but we also agreed that he was being a bit mad so we just gave him the reports like he wanted to have them and everyone passed.

This is how it goes sometimes and if you meet such... erm, idiots, just ignore them. I mean with a teacher it's great that you only have a certain amount of time that you have to be with them so this shouldn't be too big a problem. Give them what they want and move on.

You can think of your high school studies the same. Even if you think a lot of those studies are not very relevant or just not something you would like to do, for dog's sake just give it to them and move on to other things. Sometimes you need to just give it to them to be able to move on to the things you like doing more.

And writing this post helped me remind myself of some unfinished business I really should be doing. What I wrote in the previous paragraph is good advice for myself at the moment.

Okay I won't blabber about my life too much. I hope there was something useful in this post.

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As an aside, please DO NOT edit your original post to significantly adjust its content after there have been replies, even if you leave the original version as you have. It makes the discussion more complicated to follow. Just create a new thread for that sort of thing.

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Why not start a business while you're in college?

From both your edited post and your original post, you appear to be in need of a dose of reality. You need to expand your mind and become enlightened (consider traveling or something where you can relax, be at peace, and open your mind).

You're failing to see why schools teach what they teach and do what they do. You would do better if you had respect for those above you rather than meet them with resistance (probably why you're receiving Fs--you are purposely being a non-conformist).


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Running a business isn't about doing one thing until it is right, it is about doing many things until they are just good enough. Being driven to obsessively rework something until it is "right" (especially when the belief that it isn't already right is a figment of the obsession) makes you wholly unsuitable to run a business. Running a business isn't just about programming something over and over until it is right it is about programming, project management (managing all the other aspects of your project such as art, audio etc), managing your team, accounts, banking, marketing etc. If you can't switch from one of these vital tasks to another at the time it needs to be dealt with (as opposed to when your compulsion releases you) then your business simply won't succeed.

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One thing to remember is that through college you will implicitly learn a very important concept, learning strategies. You are bound to have different types of professors and deal with different types of projects, which is a good thing. From college you will also learn how to teach your self subjects, which is extremely important for someone interested in the GPU ... and the computer field in general.

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My personal answer? Do both. I have quit my day job in order to start my own business, and I further my study for a degree at night (previously I have a diploma). It's a long story and i have my reason. But for me, why choose when you can have both. At least if the business failed, I have my degree (and I do plan to get a master afterward).

But of course, this is my personal opinion.

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Not to confuse you, when I said business, I mean freelance business. Starting a company is another game altogether, and depend on how you plan to do things, you might not have much free time to study (one of the reason I quit was time, not having enough free time and energy to study).

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I don't regret going business first, but I wouldn't recommend it either.

If you can get your brain to fit through college - and I second the recommendation of mental health assistance - than you should.

A degree in CS will make you minimally competent to do computer stuff.

If you can, I strongly recommend putting your spare time into non-computer stuff.

When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of my spare time studying languages, drawing a comic, took writing and art classes, etc. All of it has served me very well at work.

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Quote:
Original post by FableFox
Not to confuse you, when I said business, I mean freelance business. Starting a company is another game altogether

Yes. Freelancing isn't really business -- it's work, that you have to work hard to get. And because a freelancer is self-employed, there are different procedures to use at tax time.

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Quote:
Original post by Benjamin GD
I changed the topic. Reread the top post. But anyway, give me examples of what college would teach me that I don't know. What, trigonometry, quaternions, vectors, matrices? I believe I understand those well enough. But maybe your right, I think there's many times when I have to research more math before I can get straight to work. But can't I just use the internet? That's what the internet is for.


College is a lot less about learning facts and much more about learning concepts, people, and yourself.

I could have easily learned everything in my textbooks at college without actually attending college. I would be far less of a person for it. I would have less friends, I would have very little experience with people coming from different backgrounds , and I would have missed out on an absolutely astounding number of life experiences. College is a lot more than just the classes you take.

I was a roommate with a golf enterprise management major, a packaging major, and a business major while playing rugby with a bunch of construction majors; and all of these people played video games at least casually. know your audience much? I'll tell you right now hardcore gamers like you or I are not the bulk of the market so don't think you know what your customer wants. They also deal with problems that might bridge to CS more. I work at a bakery atm, but I found a solution to an algorithm on a programming interview/test in the way they set up and filled the racks of bread at the bakery. YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED HOW MUCH THINGS LIKE THIS HAPPEN.

You need to stop thinking that what is in the books is what's important. You are concentrating so much on the nose of the portrait of computer science that you are forgetting that the portrait is actually a landscape and you are missing the beautiful waterfalls, rolling hills, and mountains that are life.

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