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MilesRobson

Associate or Bachelor's?

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I have to go to my Community College this year, and I saw that they offer an Associate Degree in COMPUTER PROGRAMMING AND ANALYSIS. I was planning on getting a Bachelor's, but with recent financial tugs, proved to be difficult. Is an Associate's degree strong enough to program in gaming?

[url="http://www.broward.edu/images/ProgramSheets/2195.pdf"]http://www.broward.edu/images/ProgramSheets/2195.pdf[/url] <= Class Program.

I know it depends on me, the team, etc, but in the forums opinion, is an Associate's degree enough of a base education?
I mainly want to enter development as a game designer, but I know it's difficult to just get "that job", and I also have skill in IT/Tech repair, so taking programming could aid a technical repair career, god forbid I don't magically enter the world of gaming.

I have been looking around South Florida for an internship or small Q/A position, not much in this area sadly.

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An associate's degree is certainly better than nothing. If the choice is between those two due to financial constraints, then I would say go for the associate's. Could you finish out the bachelor's degree later on by just adding to the credits you earned for the associate's?

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[quote name='Confirm4Crit' timestamp='1312908278' post='4846764']
I have to go to my Community College this year, and I saw that they offer an Associate Degree in COMPUTER PROGRAMMING AND ANALYSIS. I was planning on getting a Bachelor's, but with recent financial tugs, proved to be difficult. Is an Associate's degree strong enough to program in gaming?
[/quote]

What do you want to do?

Please see the "Breaking In" forum FAQ links on education, as I think it would help you.


The standard degree for programmers is a bachelor's degree in Computer Science. [b]Bachelors[/b] degree, not associates degree. [b]Computer science[/b], not 'programming' or ''analysis' or 'game design' or 'technology'. This is true for programmers in almost every industry, not just games.

The reason behind that is that the degree has well known requirements and is standardized by accreditation boards. A CS degree from one school is roughly equivalent to a CS degree from another school. You know the person has had some minimum standards that are well known and portable.

There are many accredited schools that give out what are called "trade degrees". They are accredited schools and they meet certain requirements, but they develop their own requirements for the trade degree. Many people are drawn to the programs at ITT or DeVry or DigiPen or FullSail or other schools in part because they require less time and less money. They reason to themselves, why go through a 4 year program when I can finish in 18 months? What they fail to realize, or choose to live with, is that the school's schedule requires them to omit much of the standard and expected material.


A university degree is not meant to be job training. In our discipline the university degree basically means you have the vocabulary to become an entry level intern. By choosing an abridged degree program you are entering the job market, trying to sell your skills, with a seriously reduced skill set and knowledge base. There are ways to compensate by providing clear, direct, strong evidence that you can do the job, but often it is more effort than the college program would have been.




If that is the best you can get right now, then go for it. You can only play the cards you are dealt. It looks like you have avoided the trap of paying a six-digit figure for schooling by choosing a smaller state school or community college that is about $2000 per semester. With scholarships and federal grants and other financial aid you can probably reduce that by half.


Locking in an associates degree at a community college is not a bad plan for life. Lots of people do it, and it is helpful. It certainly isn't the ideal for this career track, which is a bachelors in CS, but it is better than nothing and useful for a wide range of jobs.


You can still get a programming job with that non-standard degree, but you'll need to do a reality check. When comparing a stack of resumes where people have bachelors degrees that are in computer science specifically and also have demos and also have side projects, then they look at yours, who will get interviews?

You can still get a job, but be prepared for the search to take longer and to have lower wages than your peers. Because you are competing against others, you [i]will[/i] need to provide significant evidence that you can do the job beyond the level required of other candidates.

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I can later link the [color=#1C2837][size=2]associate's to some some schools, currently living in Florida, but there is hardly any GenEd in the [/size][/color][color="#1c2837"][size="2"]associate class schedule, and advisers are hard pressed on following it precisely. I [/size][i]might [/i][size="2"]be able to get my Bachelor's later, I might not. I just [i]really [/i] don't want to spend the next two years getting my GenEd, and, god forbid, have to stop going to college for a little bit, and having nothing to offer.[/size][/color]
[size="2"][color="#1c2837"]I know not to go to AI, Devery, Etc, and I also have a full Pell Grant, so any community schooling is covered.[/color][/size]
[size="2"][color="#1c2837"]My logic is simply this, I like math, logic, etc, and hitting programming books by myself is..... fun to me, and if that helps me get a job in the game industry, yay. If I don't have a job, I have a back up play with programming and computer repair in general. [/color][/size]
[size="2"][color="#1c2837"]I don't want to get a B.A in Writing or something odd and go no where with it, if that makes sense. [/color][/size]
[size="2"][color="#1c2837"]I've spent most of my summer diving into [/color][/size][url="http://www.amazon.com/Head-First-C-Andrew-Stellman/dp/0596514824"]http://www.amazon.com/Head-First-C-Andrew-Stellman/dp/0596514824[/url] and [url="http://www.amazon.com/Art-Game-Design-book-lenses/dp/0123694965"]http://www.amazon.com/Art-Game-Design-book-lenses/dp/0123694965[/url], so I hope something good will come out of it.
Worse comes to worse, [url="http://www.amazon.com/CompTIA-Certification-Seventh-220-701-220-702/dp/0071701338"]http://www.amazon.com/CompTIA-Certification-Seventh-220-701-220-702/dp/0071701338[/url]. :D

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[quote name='Khaiy' timestamp='1312912136' post='4846787']
An associate's degree is certainly better than nothing. If the choice is between those two due to financial constraints, then I would say go for the associate's. Could you finish out the bachelor's degree later on by just adding to the credits you earned for the associate's?
[/quote]
I know many state schools in the US will have 2 year colleges and 4 year universities with a lot of crossover between the two where many will start at a 2 year college and transfer into a 4 year degree program with half their course load already finished for dirt cheap and an associates degree to boot.

Not a horrible route as you save money and still get the degree. Usually you get hurt in taking 2nd level courses in a completely different institution though just because you don't know the teachers' styles or small things that might have helped you taught in earlier classes.

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In general, the bachelors degree will obviously be better -- you'll be exposed to more material in greater depth. Most associates degrees basically are only scratching the surface, moreso at a community college, but if you can apply some of your own effort and use those scratches to smash through to the other side, well, you may be as well off as those who coasted through their bachelors degree.

Now, that associate's degree will never look as good on paper, so it may well bar you from some opportunities, especially early on. The greatest hurdle will be getting that first job, and you may have to settle for something less-desirable (eg, not games) for less pay starting out. But if you apply yourself, by working hard and continuing to learn both job-related technology and technology related to where you want to go, you can probably exit a 2-year degree + 2 years of work experience and be equally marketable as your peers that have that 4-year degree, at around the same time.

This assumes you're able to clear the initial hurdle and find that first job quickly after school, so do everything in your power to make that easier on yourself -- Do great in your studies, do great on your projects, do interesting projects outside of school (and *complete* them!), and take any type of internship opportunity you have, even if its unpaid.


After a few years working, you'll have to expend less effort to prove yourself, and you should be able to merge right into the stream alongside those with 4 year degrees. You may become somewhat limited again in the upper-echelons, but you can always go after a professional degree program later, while working.

I've "only" got an associates degree myself, but have made a good go of it by being more rounded and more competent than my official papers might suggest. I'm not working in games at the moment, though I've worked around the fringes in very technical areas. The worst I've ever been paid was more than twice the average person's salary (and this was at a time when most were lucky to have any job at all) and I'm currently employed full-time, salaried, with comprehensive benefits (full medical, etc, stock, matching contribution on my retirement savings) and bringing home a paycheck most people would be more than envious of. I'm sure I'll make more money in the next 18 months before my high-school reunion than some of my high school classmates will have made in the entire time since they graduated high school. (take that, varsity farm-boys!)

Lately, I'll offer a piece of advice that I would offer any high-schooler or college student -- Don't aim to be just above-average at a lot of things, and don't aim to be really good at any one thing -- You may get by on the former, but you are doomed to being disposable. You may get by on the latter, but well-compensated jobs will be hard to come by and may be very temporary affairs. You need to be at least competent and flexible enough to do well at nearly any task, as well as being far above-average in at least a couple areas. I've done well by being broadly-competent, and finding a niche where two distinct skillsets intersect (meaning, the role is non-trivial to get into, but rather secure once you've established yourself, and well compensated since most people become good at several related things, rather than several very different things).

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One thing to keep in mind, once you have your first year or two of job experience, your degree means absolutely dick-all in most cases.

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What I do tend to come up with are a lot of solid game ideas and mechanics. I just know being just the "idea guy" isn't enough, and since I'm solid with logic and math, programming seems like a viable choice.
What I [i]can [/i]do, is mathematics, logic, puzzle solving. Do I like it? Sure. Do I enjoy it? yes
My [i]dream [/i]job is some sort of a design position. Even if it is lower on the totem pole than a programmer in some areas, it's what I want.

I'd hate to be lead programmer on a project. I don't quite know why. If it said Lead Programmer/Designer. Yay.

That kinda sumed up my brain perfectly.

And who knows, maybe two years of classes will help me discover an unbridled passion for it. xD

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Oh, you want to be a designer/idea guy? In that case, screw school, you might as well start buying lotto tickets.

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[quote name='Serapth' timestamp='1312915673' post='4846812']
Oh, you want to be a designer/idea guy? In that case, screw school, you might as well start buying lotto tickets.
[/quote]

That's my point, exactly. It isn't a career. It's a.....happenstance. It's an accident. It's not a job.

At least that's the way most people project it, anyway.

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Community College is not a bad choice. And a Associate's though not as strong (at least hiring wise) as Bachelors can be double with ...... Experience! Plus most Community Colleges have programs with the State Universities to get into cool programs and stuff of that nature.

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[quote name='Confirm4Crit' timestamp='1312916105' post='4846816']
[quote name='Serapth' timestamp='1312915673' post='4846812']
Oh, you want to be a designer/idea guy? In that case, screw school, you might as well start buying lotto tickets.
[/quote]

That's my point, exactly. It isn't a career. It's a.....happenstance. It's an accident. It's not a job.

At least that's the way most people project it, anyway.
[/quote]

No, it most certainly is a job. There are lots of game designers out there. It is also quite popular and something comes along the same lines as "anyone can cook". Anyone can design, a great designer can come from any discipline.


Most game designers start out in different paths and then move over to design. We have designers who started as programmers, artists, QA, and writers. You need to prove first that you know what a game is and how to make them, then you can more easily do the job, and also be in a spot where you are most likely to see the opening before it becomes common knowledge.

If you want to be a designer 10 years from now, you need to develop a plan to get into the game industry and develop the general development experience necessary for that job.

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[quote name='Confirm4Crit' timestamp='1312908278' post='4846764']1. I was planning on getting a Bachelor's, but with recent financial tugs, proved to be difficult.
2. Is an Associate's degree enough of a base education?
3. I mainly want to enter development as a game designer, but I know it's difficult to just get "that job", and I also have skill in IT/Tech repair
4. I have been looking around South Florida for an internship or small Q/A position, not much in this area sadly.
[/quote]
1. Choose a cheaper college, then.
2. No. Read the Breaking In FAQs (scroll up. click. read.)
3. Good, IT would be a viable entry pathway, if you get into the right company. Read the FAQs.
4. Right. Location, location, location. Read the FAQs.

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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1312918522' post='4846841']
[quote name='Confirm4Crit' timestamp='1312908278' post='4846764']1. I was planning on getting a Bachelor's, but with recent financial tugs, proved to be difficult.
2. Is an Associate's degree enough of a base education?
3. I mainly want to enter development as a game designer, but I know it's difficult to just get "that job", and I also have skill in IT/Tech repair
4. I have been looking around South Florida for an internship or small Q/A position, not much in this area sadly.
[/quote]
1. Choose a cheaper college, then.
2. No. Read the Breaking In FAQs (scroll up. click. read.)
3. Good, IT would be a viable entry pathway, if you get into the right company. Read the FAQs.
4. Right. Location, location, location. Read the FAQs.
[/quote]
Aye aye, Captain!
I think with college and personal life in the way, I just completely forgot about this. I read it when I was a few years younger, and life got in the way of my goal. I'll re-read the whole FAQ when I get the chance, just to reestablish my brain. Thanks. :)

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