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#1 Ryuhphino  Icon User is offline

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Question in regards to what to have ready for Graduate School

Posted 10 February 2013 - 12:00 AM

Hello DIC, I wanted to ask some of you your opinion of what sort of materials I should have ready as far as applying for graduate school. The short of it is this: I love programming but I haven't learned as much as I should with it, and I do a lot with music performance(just practicing) and so between balancing the two, my GPA isn't the best it can be. I'm looking to graduate college in December with a 2.75ish out of a 4.0.

My question is this, What should I do to boost my appeal for a graduate program? I am currently looking at NorthEastern University, and I have dabbled A LOT in C# with XNA as well as what we have to learn here (Java, C++). I want to do an independent study in advanced programming this summer, and the fall to help boost my programming abilities, and I have done a bit in Unity for game development (such a thing that I want to do with Computer Science). I am also highly considering a degree in mathematics as it would only take me 9 classes (1 more year) to achieve that, and I believe it would help my understanding of a lot of computer science studies.

I am a hard worker, and will put in all the time I can, I just often feel like i'm not sure where to look to push my programming capabilities, or boost my self worth beyond my schooling. I've made a lot of mistakes early on that I am still fighting through and I just really want a strong future in video game development. If anyone can help with some pointers that will help me out I'd greatly appreciate it!

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Replies To: Question in regards to what to have ready for Graduate School

#2 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Question in regards to what to have ready for Graduate School

Posted 10 February 2013 - 02:38 AM

The first question - why do you want to go to grad school?
Second - what are you going to grad school for?
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#3 Ryuhphino  Icon User is offline

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Re: Question in regards to what to have ready for Graduate School

Posted 10 February 2013 - 07:50 AM

I would like to go to do graduate studies in computer science, either specifically programming language studies or software engineering. I will be graduating with a computer science degree in December, so a graduate study in computer science would be perfect.
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#4 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Question in regards to what to have ready for Graduate School

Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:23 AM

That doesn't answer my question so let me rephrase it - what do you think an advanced degree is going to provide you over your undergrad degree?
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#5 Ryuhphino  Icon User is offline

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Re: Question in regards to what to have ready for Graduate School

Posted 10 February 2013 - 07:49 PM

That is a much better question that I can definitely answer for you. I pursue a graduate degree for quite a number of levels. The main one is that I like to be good at what I do. Programming is what I want to do and so I like to be very good at it. It is the same reason i havn't given up being a musician yet, I hold very few things close to heart and music and programming are them, and through a higher study I can increase my ability with it. That is not to say I couldn't do that on my own, but with other's help, such as a professor, it, in my opinion, decreases the required time to learn such materials (at least for me), and I tend to get more out of it.

The second reason, of course, is for the money. I want to make sure my future is ensured. With a high level degree/a high level of knowledge in the field (I understand the two do not correlate) I can ensure no matter what happens I can be needed somewhere and have a job. I just don't ever want to worry or question "Can I pay back my student loans?" or "Will I ever get the call back?".

I'm just someone who loves to learn about certain things, and programming is one of them. I'm not good with the science behind it, but I'd still love to learn about it. Even though I don't understand fully a little of what i've learned in my degree (automata, organization architecture, ect.) I still take pride in knowing that I can comprehend the material well enough to get the picture.

I hope this answers your question. I know most people will say a higher degree isn't needed, I mean some argue that certain degrees offered aren't even needed if you self teach, but I only understand so much on my own, and a professor really helps me push farther until I reach such a point with the given material that I can readily learn it on my own. Some professors here, in my opinion, don't teach the material well enough (our instructors are newly hired or recently hired with no teaching experience) for us to understand, and I feel a lot of this plays into it. Again though, I hope this is what you were looking for.
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#6 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Question in regards to what to have ready for Graduate School

Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:59 AM

A graduate degree in CS isn't going to really focus on teaching you to program. It's a lot of math and theory. If you want to improve your programming skills, practice more. Seek out internships as well. If you want to take a research focus or specialize in an area of CS (again- programming does not count here), then grad school is a better option. At th end of the day, if you come out of grad school and don't feel confident in your programming abilities, what then? I think you are looking at going to grad school for the wrong reasons, honestly.
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#7 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Question in regards to what to have ready for Graduate School

Posted 11 February 2013 - 02:30 PM

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The main one is that I like to be good at what I do. Programming is what I want to do and so I like to be very good at it

Awesome, but you do know pushing further up the grad-degree pipe isn't like taking a more intensive syntax language camp, right? It is more theory and more of the science which, more often than not, is not applicable to a day to day programmer's job in the business world. I have worked with quite a few folk who have their Masters in Comp Sci and at least one PhD - eeks.. very slow on the "get shit done" scale, but nice guys to talk to over a few beers about purple-theory-whatevers.

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That is not to say I couldn't do that on my own, but with other's help, such as a professor, it, in my opinion, decreases the required time to learn such materials (at least for me), and I tend to get more out of it.


An honest question - when do the training wheels then come off? Are you going to be in a perpetual rut where you are codependent on someone drawing designs on a blackboard, handing out power point sheets, and assessing your homework? What happens when your boss says "hey - we need an HTMl5 and Javascript page in three days. Pick those up tonight and tomorrow!"? You don't have time to scamper off to a class or what not so do you just tell bossman that he's SOL and you can have it - maybe - done in six months?

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The second reason, of course, is for the money.
...
With a high level degree/a high level of knowledge in the field (I understand the two do not correlate)


Plenty of folk who are making stupid money don't deserve it... and many folk who should be making more are not. It depends on you and your ability to do solid business work. With that having a piece of paper doesn't guarantee a job.

This also begs the question - what job are you looking to do? Cheerfully grind away time in a nice business park? Stay in the ivory tower doing theory? Be a barista by day, indie game dev by night?

Also you say you understand the two are not linked (high level degree/a high level of knowledge), but you are acting on them like they are. Odd.

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I'm just someone who loves to learn about certain things, and programming is one of them.


Sweet - well eventually you will run out of degrees or schools that will take you. As I mentioned above you need to learn to kick the training wheels of having a professor and someone there to placate that ego with silver showers of grades and papers. A whole mess of education is 'informal' and that is just a part of life.

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I only understand so much on my own, and a professor really helps me push farther until I reach such a point with the given material that I can readily learn it on my own.


Then you need to also learn how to learn. Mentally, and financially, throwing yourself into a rut that I need to keep getting degrees or someone to grade my assignment is a little defeatist.


If you ask me, and you sort of did, I think you need to pass on grad school. Everything you told me doesn't sound like solid reasons to recommend going to grad school. It's cool and it happens.

On the other hand it sounds like you are afraid what ever your teachers told you isn't enough or you didn't learn enough. Let me tell you - they didn't and you didn't. A well rounded undergrad education is great, but a whole mess of that is going to get sloughed off to the side as you are focusing on business requirements, documentation, and bug fixes for users. Everyone hits that first internship/entry level job with a gut of panic but everyone scrambles and gets past it. Having a Masters in Comp Sci isn't going to make that day any less suckie - you'll just be facing it with another piece of paper and a slightly thicker neckbeard.

The biggest mistake many people hit is college isn't there to teach you syntax of a hundred different languages. No - it teaches you the science behind the programming, maybe a few languages, and then expects you to be able to apply it and recognize the concepts in new languages.

What you should be doing is projects.. tons of small project.. heck rifle through our 'project lists' and start doing them. Refine what you learn... and apply for internships/entry level jobs. You will need to do more work than what is assigned in class. If you enjoy it so much then you should be up to your elbows in digital mudpies!
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