Sign in to follow this  

Are online classes worth it?

Recommended Posts

So to keep things brief I've pondered the idea of getting into game design for a long time but only recently have decided to fully commit to pursuing it as a career. That being said, I'm still trying to figure things out in terms of what steps to take and how to get there. As of right now my biggest question and concern is whether or not to take online courses. Based on my fairly limited research, I've managed to turn up a lot of mixed reviews for online courses at a variety of institutions which offer game design or other related degree programs. So from what you know, is it worth it to take online classes? Or is it simply a waste of time? And if it is worth it, what are some reputable schools which offer relevant degrees (which preferably won't put me super far into debt)? Thanks in advance for helpful responses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the insightful response. I'm still on the fence with where I should go (with cost being one of the biggest factors), but I'd rather cough up the extra money for a degree that's worth something than waste my time and money on courses that are pointless. I'll be sure to steer clear of any online only schools. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Is it worth it" is always a subjective question.  Is it worth it TO YOU? What is valuable to one person in one situation may have no value to another.

 

If your "online courses" are a quick training seminar, then it probably is low value.  If your "online courses" are an actual degree program then it can be quite valuable.

 

Many reputable schools -- probably including your local major schools -- offer a portion of their coursework online.  It allows a mix of both.  You have a nearby campus with live humans you can visit, you will likely have a few courses you attend in person, and for the online courses if needed you can connect with the teacher and other students.

 

Also, you don't need to go to the biggest name-brand school with the highest pricetag.  In many regions of the world the most popular schools are far more expensive than the less popular schools.  Assuming the US, we get posts every spring where people ask if they should go to the local major school or the smaller school where there is a 4x or 8x or larger cost difference.  Nearly always it is the better choice to attend the smaller/less expensive school.  An enormous number of professionals start by attending a community college (less expensive 2-year school) for the associates degree, then moving to a university to finish out the bachelor's degree. You might end up spending $1,000 or $2,000 per semester at the community college as a full-time student, then $4,000-$6,000 per year at the university. Or you could go to a more expensive school and pay out $15,000+ per semester at the university for an equivalent education.  These days all of them are likely to offer a portion of the courses online, maybe even offering all the core classes online.

 

Be sure you shop around.  Be aware that smaller state schools tend to be cheaper yet have similar educational results based on the amounts you study and effort you apply.  Both are adequate even though one may be a little flashier than another.  As a parallel, you can drive to work just as easily in a $5000 used car or a $50,000 sports car, maybe a little less easily with a $1.50 bus pass; they cost different amounts but each does the job.  Less expensive schools don't have the bling, but you can get a great education for an affordable price.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah, I'm starting to realize the more I ask around that a lot of what you're paying for at the big name schools is the community and campus aspects. Personally, I'm not so concerned with prestige as I am the quality of my education, so I'm happy to hear (from multiple people) that there definitely isn't necessarily a direct correlation between the two.

I've managed to find an in-state school, Shawnee State University, which offers programs directly related to my interests and desired career path, and tuition only costs around $6,000 a year there. So my current plan is to finish up any gen ed requirements (I've already got most of them under my belt from previous college experience) at my local community college and then transfer to Shawnee and finish up.

In response to RenzoCoppola's post, I intend to hopefully one day be in the position of coordinating and overseeing the overall design of games, which (as I understand it) would mean working with each department to make sure everything is integrated and works as a whole. So I imagine I'd need to have some semblance of artistic talent, but my intended focus would be programming and perhaps quest design or game mechanics. Although one day I'd like to be a team lead that's involved with just about every aspect of the game's design, my more immediate focus would be the technical aspect of designing games.

Sorry for the long post, but thank you all for responding. I appreciate your input.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

is it worth it to take online classes? Or is it simply a waste of time? And if it is
worth it, what are some reputable schools which offer relevant degrees (which
preferably won't put me super far into debt)?


Online classes can be "worth it" for some people, for some purposes. But if you're
thinking of online classes as a substitute for a degree, then I'd say its "worth"
depends on how old you are and whether or not you already have a degree. Assuming
that you are in your late teens or early twenties and you live in North America or
the UK, the degree is far and away "worth" more than online classes.

And by all means, since cost is important, figure out a way to get the degree at a
reasonable cost (don't apply to the school where I teach, because it's expensive).
If you live in the US, it's recommended to do your first 2 years at a community
college, then transfer to a college or university.
edit...

So my current plan is to finish up any gen ed requirements (I've already got most of them under my belt from previous college experience) at my local community college and then transfer to Shawnee and finish up.


Perfect! Edited by Tom Sloper

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry I'm late on the response time, but I appreciate the input Tom. Right now I'm 23, so I've still got some time to finish my college education before I get too old. The school I'm looking at transferring to this fall (after I finish up my gen eds at the community college) offers a degree in programming/game design, and tuition is only $6,000 a year. So I'm hoping to get a quality education at a physical campus for about the cost of online classes. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A paid online course is worth it if you can have regular and personalized contact with your tutor to ask questions and advice. This is usually in the form of email but if you can screen share then even better! Without the regular contact it is then no better than reading a free online tutorial or blog post.

You will unfortunately miss out on the social aspect which is important in a professional scenario. And if you want to make a career out of it then you will probably need higher credentials then just an online course as the piece of paper gained at the end is usually on the low end.

Ultimately online courses are great for dipping your toes in and seeing if you like it. Some places will also count it as credit towards a more advanced course. So if you are certain you want to make a career out of it, it would probably be best to study it at a higher level then online.

Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well,

It really depends on what the format of the "online courses" take.

 

If they are what they have been for the past few years, then no, it's not worth it.

There has been much advancement in synchronous and asynchronous communications, mainly in games/ social, but education for some reason has lagged behind.

 

If you do do more online, ask them about how it;s structured, if it's nothing more than a glorified forum, then it's a waste.

 

 

 

I intend to hopefully one day be in the position of coordinating and overseeing the overall design of games, which (as I understand it) would mean working with each department to make sure everything is integrated and works as a whole. So I imagine I'd need to have some semblance of artistic talent, but my intended focus would be programming and perhaps quest design or game mechanics. Although one day I'd like to be a team lead that's involved with just about every aspect of the game's design, my more immediate focus would be the technical aspect of designing games.

 

This goal needs to be clarified extensively.

 

Are you talking about a:

1. Producer

2. Creative director

3. Development director?

4. Lead Designer?

5. Lead Coder

6. Other?

 

Regardless of your career goal, if you want to make games professionally, you'll need to decide if you just want to:

 

A. be in the industry (join a company)

B. Make your own IP(start a company)

 

If I was back where you are now, I'd do what I did then.

Start/ join a hobbyist project.

 

Time is one thing no one can fake, get started early. But keep in mind to network with people at your schools. Don't make the mistake I did, and get too cought up in online interaction.

It really changes the game plan.

 

Get involved with school activities, and network, you never know. (it's about balancing the online and the offline social networks)

Edited by GeneralJist

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this