Old 11-3-2014, 11:33 PM   #1
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Default A few tips for college?

Hey guys, I'm applying to colleges right now, if you can give some tips that would be incredible. Some facts about me:
-3 APs this year
-4.1 weighted GPA throughout highschool
-2000 on the SAT
-looking to major in Game Design or Computer Science. More focused on game design though.
-want to go to college for the education and not the status (I know it sounds pretty cliche)
-Like tutoring kids: I volunteer at my library to teach little children.
-Please ignore the above, I consider myself to be pretty mediocre, but I want to have a purpose in my life in the form of making video games for a living.

So does anyone have tips for writing personal statements? The general process? Dos and Don'ts? I'm intimidated by the whole system and I'd figure most of the people here has gone through this process. This site has been a part of my life for a couple of years, it and it's community have already done much for me; this would be the cherry on the sundae. Thanks for your advice.
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Old 11-3-2014, 11:50 PM   #2
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

Best advice I can give is don't slack and use all the resources that you have at your disposal. Don't be fraud to ask for help and dont:take ion a bigger road than you can handle
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Old 11-3-2014, 11:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

You writing up the Common App right now? You can hit me up and I can help out I guess. I've recently gone through it.

Also don't neglect applying for scholarships this year if money is an issue. And make sure that your college search also fits within your budget. Financial aid is also a thing at many schools, so if there's a budget calculator available, then look at that.

At this point though you should be finalizing your college application list, but if you haven't and you want someone to talk to about that too, then feel free to talk to me about that also.

Your stats aren't mediocre either. You're well above average!!!

EDIT: If you don't like your SAT score (which is good by the way. I mean, it's really good and not something you should worry about), then you can still improve it. Sign up for the Dec/January test and take full practice tests and go over everything you miss.
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Old 11-3-2014, 11:56 PM   #4
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

My advice when you get to college:

- Don't forget who you really are
- Don't change yourself for anybody
- Find what you enjoy, not what others expect you to become
- If you can find something you enjoy and study, and can make a living off of it, do that.
- Take risks. Join inter-murals, join clubs. I joined a dodgeball team (with literally all girls, they needed a guy and i was a free agent) and all 6-7 of us have been best friends for the past 7 years
- Get out of your room
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Old 11-4-2014, 12:01 AM   #5
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

- If you're focused about creating Video Games majoring in Computer Science might not be the best idea. Looking at the 4-year curriculum at my university and other universities, there is basically no mention of Gaming. Instead look into topics such as Object Oriented Design which is used frequently in games.
- If your university has an honors program see if you can get into it. In my case a certain SAT score had to be achieved and I got benefits such as being able to enroll for next semester courses the first day the classes were open to add (when usually only seniors would be able to do that).
- I originally went into university thinking about education but it's really more of paying for a slip of paper saying you spent the time and money for a 4 year curriculum. Professors will tell you that college is more about being able to learn by yourself, and for majors like Computer Science having arrogant professors can open many cans of worms. It is terrible in Engineering (I know good co-op students that are Engineering majors at my university who had professors say 50% on an Exam was an A, that students have less then 50% of skills needed to go into the workforce, and other condescending comments)
- Only go if you're able to afford it and are serious about what you are majoring in. If you're still trying to "explore yourself", accumulating student debt is not the way to go. Some people pile up more than $100,000 in debt, so yes this is a serious issue.
- See your professors during their office hours if you're having problems.
- If your university has a co-op program (paid Professional Co-ops at that), participate in it. It will allow you to get your foot in the door and learn about industries out there pertaining to your major. I've talked to some hiring managers and they said if they see a person who has graduated but has no work experience, that is a big turnoff.

Moral of the story is, if you're going to attend a university keep in mind that you will need to make a consistent commitment to doing well and be sure you want to do what you entered in, learn to contact people if you're having problems, and more importantly be able to leverage your budget. Don't get sucked in by buzz words like discovery, education, etc. there are some people who graduate or drop out who felt like they've just wasted several years of their life also accumulating debt from loans.
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Old 11-4-2014, 12:26 AM   #6
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

I don't have much specific advice, but if you need any tips with the application process (essays, supps or whatnot), I could help you out. I'm an international student applying to some US (and UK) unis; just submitted my ED application a few days back.
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Old 11-4-2014, 12:38 AM   #7
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

The question a lot of people who want to major in game design fail is this:

WHY do you want to make games?
Simply liking video games is not enough.

What is going to excite you about the profession when you are testing the same broken line of code the 500th time? What is going to keep you going when your first and second and tenth games are all trash that nobody wants to play (it will happen)? If you can answer that beyond "well I kinda like games" then maybe consider it, if not, it's not really a particularly viable career path unless you can pinpoint why you are super passionate about it.
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Old 11-4-2014, 12:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

These tips are for when you get accepted, they all may seem pretty obvious but trust me, Its very easy to slip-up especially in your first year. (I was a 4.0 GPA high school AP student)

Do not fall victim to the inevitable grade drop.

Univiersity is a HUGE step up from high school. You gotta work twice as hard and do twice as much work to keep your awesome GPA.

Apply for every scholarship, bursary or grant you can find, you'll need the money.

Do not fall behind, you'll never catch up.
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Old 11-4-2014, 01:01 AM   #9
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

Study, sleep, study, sleep. Play a few games. Repeat the process.
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Old 11-4-2014, 01:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

Game Design and compute science are very different things. You might want to try the starting courses of each and pick which one you want to do or meet up with the professors/advisers and ask them what they think.

Game Design is in it's name; You will learn to properly design, create, define, plan, etc. to make a fully functional game (you won't be getting to make proper video games through programming for 2 years generally) but it does include programming languages to get you in the right direction. It's more focused on creating the game and its graphics than actually programming the game (this may vary on where you go.)

Computer science is more about creating programs and software through your desired language(s) for processing data, creating applets, etc. It can be used in making games but this degree is not centered around it. You can put up your own effort and integrate it but can be very troublesome.

It's very possible you can double major since they overlap a bit in degree requirements. Not required but it can work out in your favor.


Disclaimer: don't take everything I say as an absolute. I'm providing info for you to decide.
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Old 11-4-2014, 06:17 AM   #11
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

You seem like someone who picks up on things quicker than your average person and I think that will work to your advantage. It depends on what you want to get out of college, but really the most important things are go to class (don't skip any unless you really have to) and actually do all of the work (YES that includes reading the chapter of __________ book in _________ annoying core/survey class you don't think you'll ever use).

When it comes to choosing from multiple teachers of the same class, ratemyprofessor.com is your friend, seriously. Don't take a super hard professor because you think you will learn more, as it does risk tanking your GPA pretty hard (happened to me at my old college) and they really are teaching the same course, same material (and sometimes use the same book). Not worth it.

When it comes to applying for college level internships/jobs (which is definitely more common for people in say - Accounting like myself than it is for computer science) employers will look at GPA and resume, not how hard your teachers were or anything like that so sometimes you may have to just do it for the grade/status more than the education, yes I know it stinks.

Just stick to your guns, be respectful to teachers, fellow classmates AND yourself (good social situations, get enough sleep), go to each and every class and pay attention, do the work and maintain the 4.0 and you will be great.

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Old 11-4-2014, 10:37 AM   #12
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

Maybe dedicate 3-4 hours every 2 or so days to go to the university library and study/do homework, i'm never motivated to do homework at home but at the library I always get it done lol

other than that it's pretty similar to highschool imo, just more homework and less class time (15-18 hrs of class a week as opposed to ~35 in highschool)


ps do computer science
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Old 11-4-2014, 10:49 AM   #13
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

there is 1 tip for people going to college. When you're in college, you'll be 16, which is the age where (where i live) you can get laid lawfully. basically, get laid asap when they look the best.

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Old 11-4-2014, 11:05 AM   #14
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

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tip
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Old 11-4-2014, 11:09 AM   #15
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

being in college at the age of 16 isnt normal
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Old 11-4-2014, 11:12 AM   #16
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

pretty much don't be afraid to ask your instructors/professors for help, pay attention and manage your time with assignments and studying (if you're that passionate about the class)

not that helpful but that's the gist of it so yea
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Old 11-4-2014, 11:18 AM   #17
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

Computer science seems like a great major and lots of friends I have in the program have gotten great co-op placements with top companies lke Facebook, google, amazon, and stuff like that and if you're good at coding and stuff, the job market is great. I have no idea about game design.

As for general, I hate to say it so bluntly, but high school is pretty irrelevant. It is extremely easy to get high grades without having to work, my average was over 95% and I was lazy as fuck. University was a completely different beast, you have to stay on top of things and you have to work hard and study hard. Lots of first year programs aren't extremely difficult in terms of content, from what i've heard, but they throw a huge workload at you to try and weed out the lazy kids. As you get into your upper years, the classes get harder obv so again, stay on top of things. ohaider made a good suggestion about dedicating x amount of time for each course per day and have library time or something. However some days you'll have like 2 midterms and a big lab report due and an assignment, and it just isn't feasible. Time management is a huge skill you should work on if you don't have it already.

As for fun stuff, get involved at school. I really haven't done this besides intramurals, but they are really fun and exercising is fun too. Going to parties and stuff is great too and maintaining a social life is important. Just put school first.

And i just reread your OP and realized you're moreso talking about just applying in general and i'm not too sure how the process is in the US. Best of luck anyway
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Old 11-4-2014, 03:44 PM   #18
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

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being in college at the age of 16 isnt normal
in british english, college almost always means a stand-alone institution where you study for your last two years before higher education, in which you are normally 16-18 (rarely 19 if you're on a gap year or retaking). it does not mean university

klimtkiller does miss the point completely though seeing as the OP's interpretation was clearly (USA-based) university
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Old 11-4-2014, 03:57 PM   #19
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

My tips for college:

Step 1- Go to a college.
Step 2- Go to classes.
Step 3- Make a collage for your college classes.
Step 4- ???
Step 5- Profit.
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Old 11-4-2014, 04:36 PM   #20
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Default Re: A few tips for college?

There has been a lot of things that have been mentioned already regarding college admissions so I'm not going to repeat those.

However, one thing that hasn't been said yet is regarding recommendation letters (if any of your college applications requires one of those). Regarding recommendation letters:
1) Give your letter writers at least a week to write a letter, a month if you want to be safe.
2) Check up on your letter writer towards the end of the deadline and give them a gentle reminder if they need it.
3) Choose a teacher that you are in good standing with and can say a lot of things about you not only as a student but as an individual. Simply getting an 'A' in their class is not enough, this needs to be a teacher that knows you on nearly a personal level, that you've had conversations with, etc.
4) Your letter writer need not be a teacher necessarily. Sometimes it might be a good idea to have your school counselor write one if you know your counselor well or if you are in any clubs/sports, getting your adviser/coach to write a letter for you might be a good idea. Bonus points if that advisor also happens to be a teacher you've had a class with.
5) This one is hard to gauge, but you want to find a teacher that isn't lazy. Even if your teacher thinks you are the best student in the world, if they are also the laziest teacher in the world, they might write you a lazy recommendation letter. Just something to consider.
6) ALWAYS waive your right to read your recommendation letters. By waiving your rights, the letters your letter writers write gain credibility since they have the ability to write freely without having to worry about the student reading the letter they wrote.
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