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Old 04-02-2009, 04:23 PM   #1
solarnoise
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Default Biggest decision of my life (thus far)

I've posted some stuff in this forum before, but I'm finally at "the crossroads" where I need to make some big decisions.

I'm 23, applying as a transfer to a few schools. Aspiring to be a software developer, want to make games (obviously). I live in New Hampshire.

I got accepted to DigiPen. The fact is still sinking in, and my stomach turns when I think about it.

My other two options are UMass-Amherst and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

UMass has a renown CS program, and WPI has a new gaming program that is doing very well..it is VERY intensive, covers art and CS topics, and is 50k a year.

I need to decide within a month where to go and where to live, and it is terrifying. Wherever I go will be my new home, I am financially self-supporting.

I know that I am older than most of my peers at my level (junior) and am just looking forward to having that degree and skill set so I can get working! When I think of DigiPen, I think of what an advantage I will have getting into the industry, mostly due to the location of the school. WPI and UMass both offer great reputations as well, but aren't exactly located in anything like Silicon Valley. Plus WPI's price tag is very intimidating (I'm not rich).

I mean... do I just move out to Washington? Hope to find a place to live and dedicate myself to this school that I've never been to, haven't seen, and know little about due to there being NO reviews for it? My whole life is here... my brother, my girlfriend, everything I have... but if I really want a head start on my career, isn't that what DigiPen is for? Man....
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Old 04-02-2009, 04:32 PM   #2
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I get the impression that you are enthusiastic about DigiPen, although you havn't yet visited the school and are apprehensive about moving there.

If it's any encouragement, for my currrent studies I moved from the South West of the UK to pursuit a degree at a London university. Being completely independent is a daunting experience at first but also incredibly liberating and rewarding. It's been great so far and I've been having loads of fun.
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Old 04-02-2009, 05:55 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solarnoise View Post
WPI and UMass both offer great reputations as well, but aren't exactly located in anything like Silicon Valley.
Digipen isn't near Silicon Valley. Not sure if you were saying it was.

I to like Adrir dropped everything and moved thousands of miles away to pursue an education that would help me achieve my dreams. It was a big decision but one of the best I have ever made.
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:52 PM   #4
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I suggest that you at least make a visit to the campus and get a feel for the environment before making a huge investment that you're unsure of. The cost of a plane ticket and hotel are miniscule compared to what you'll be investing. Meeting faculty and students, seeing the facilities, and getting a feel for the community will most likely make your decision much easier one way or the other. And if you're still unsure afterwards, then it may be a sign.

Good luck!
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Old 04-02-2009, 07:52 PM   #5
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Yes to Scott's response. Also make sure you set up meetings with transfer advisers, financial advisers and academic advisers as well. I agree with Scott that if you're trying to decide on attending Digipen that you really need to take the trip out there and see what it's about. Schedule tours; ask lots of questions. It's worth it.
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Old 04-02-2009, 08:03 PM   #6
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One other thing to note is make sure you talk to a variety of students at all the institutions so you can get an idea of their experiences.

I don't mean student panels, those are usually full of filtered content.

From what I hear at Digipen students typically spend most if not all their time on their projects throughout all four years. The soph/fresh a little lighter with some free time on weekends. Because of this their projects do tend to be quite awesome, but I don't think the students have much of a social life or life in general outside of the class (this knowledge is from talking to students directly last week at GDC, not from some random rant reading).

The biggest thing a University gives you is a degree. What you put into it is what shows when trying to get into the industry. I had a similar decision to make 3 years ago when I was choosing a college. I had 3 or 4 really, high quality CS institutions (also very expensive) and two other average state schools that were almost free (with scholarships), with one of them having a solid CS/bus honors program.

I've been successful thus far in terms of getting in the industry (bout to decide on what internship to take) and I chose one of the cheaper solutions. I'm sure I could have got to this same path at any of the better schools in probably a slightly easier manner, but it would have been more expensive.
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Old 04-02-2009, 08:58 PM   #7
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I'll echo what everyone else has said here: Go check it out. Like dzeligman, I also talked to many DigiPen students at GDC and I heard the same thing, very intensive, very little time for anything else. But really, if you have a passion for games, does it matter how much time you spend on it? Thats a personal choice, no one can tell you what you want your life to be like.

Keep in mind that DigiPen isn't the only school that is going to get you in the industry, its really what you make of it. I don't have any statistics on hand, but I'd put money on saying that not all DigiPen students make it. The ones who work hard and are passionate do, but thats not everyone. Same thing at other CS programs, if you work hard and do things that prove your passion, then you'll be fine. Thats a huge tip I picked up from GDC, don't just talk about wanting to do something, go and do it to prove it.
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Old 04-03-2009, 04:38 PM   #8
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My super cool comm-tech (3d animation/modeling) teacher recently had a talk with our class about choosing our career paths, schools, and other similar stuff. He had recommended us to take a fifth year of high school so as to get better/more credits and also for financial reasons (1+ years of not paying for college is 1+ years of extra money saved up to be able to pay for it). He also told us that we should call, meet, and explore our chosen college(s)/university(s). He said a lot more than just that but that's not the point

I recently took the opportunity to call and speak to an education consultant at triOS college in Toronto and they were very supportive and have even offered to make arrangements with me. Its always useful to do things you don't normally want to do or feel will negatively impact you in some way. Because in reality, it won't! Take that thousand mile trip, make an arrangement, make a call, what ever; just do something to get yourself started!

I felt really nervous when I applied on the website to get a call from an education consultant but once it happened, it was all okay and I learned some things that I would have otherwise never know without asking.

So to sum up everything everyone has said here... Make it happen, walk it; don't just talk it!
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:53 PM   #9
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Hi everyone, I know this thread is old now but I wanted to share my decision with anyone who may be reading and have a similar dilemma.

To reiterate, my three options were:
DigiPen - private gaming school
Worcester Polytechnic Institute - private engineering school, great rep
UMass Amherst - More affordable state school, good rep for engineering

UMass was obviously the most affordable option, and has a solid CS program (as well as a gorgeous new CS building). But, it didn't offer much in terms of flexibility... if I wanted to do any game-related design and art, it would have to be on my own time.

DigiPen needs no introduction, but in the end I deferred my enrollment (they allow you to do that!) for one year, because I couldn't afford the trip out there. I think their students' projects speak for themselves, but I am concerned with our well-rounded their education is (IE thinks outside the gaming disciplines)

WPI was the closest, yet most expensive option. I was almost set on going to UMass for now... but WPI gave me a scholarship which brought the cost I would cover down to DigiPen's level, so now money wasn't as much of an option. WPI has a great reputation around here, not sure if people know of it outside the area, and it just recently implemented a new program: Interactive Media & Game Development.

Upon enrolling in WPI, I made the decision to double major in Computer Science and Interactive Media & Game Development... the IMGD program is new (only 5 years old) and they're still tweaking it and adding faculty, so getting the CS degree is a great backup plan.

For those that are interested in WPI's gaming curriculum, do not judge it by their website; as I said, the program is still new and they don't even have enough student projects to showcase online, so information about it is scarce. Essentially, they created some gaming electives and crafted a program with other CS courses and art courses. Some of the classes are:

-Game Development Process
-Critical Studies of Interactive Media & Games
-Storytelling in Interactive Media & Games
-Social issues in Gaming
-Philosophy and Ethics of Games
-Machinima
-3D Modeling
-Art of Animation
-Technical Game Development I & II
-Artistic Game Development I & II

And I'll be taking most of those.
I hope someone learns from this thread that even in the most stressful situation, there is usually a middle road and a satisfying outcome!
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Old 07-31-2009, 12:20 PM   #10
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Glad to hear that you found a choice that you enjoy. Good luck moving forward!
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