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I don't know whether I should go online for my game programming degree or to be on campus. The closest college that offers game programming degree is in a different state 6 hours away. Any advice?

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If you are considering college, I really do hope you can type better than that, and this time you were just being lazy. Either way, people here will be more willing to answer questions if correct spelling and grammar are used. –  AttackingHobo Oct 17 '10 at 20:34
    
yeah sorry about that I had to be quick to go help my cousin get his deer out of the woods. –  Shadow wolf Oct 17 '10 at 22:01
    
@wolf:haha, lol, shall i give yu a +1 dear? :-p –  Vishnu Oct 18 '10 at 9:40
    
@ vishnu: Nice one. XD –  Shadow wolf Oct 18 '10 at 14:22
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5 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Attending college not only builds your skills as a programmer, it gives you an opportunity to build your social, communication and teamwork skills. Just the social aspect of being with other people is a necessary experience for working in teams inside a company.

Beware of online school scams, however (same goes for some colleges, but there are alot of online ones which are just scams). They'll take your money, give you a pass and hand you a diploma, but that diploma won't be recognized by any company once you graduate. Be careful!

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The online college will deprive you of the opportunity to build relationships with professors and industry professionals. While they try to mimic the classroom experience through webcams and chat rooms, those will only take you so far. You will likely not get to know your peers as well as you would if you had to endure painful all nighters in a lab with them. These relationships may lead to job opportunities in the future as well as potential partnerships.

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In my experience, college classes are nowhere near as helpful as actually meeting other students. In most of the classes I've taken, the teachers teach everything extremely slowly. While your teachers are busy telling you how multi-threading is "too hard", you can make friends with other students and learn from them. Most of what I've learned in my classes is a result of me and friends doing homework in strange ways to entertain ourselves. I see that as a huge advantage over online classes.

I would say it would be better to just make friends with a couple programmers and skip college entirely, but what you really want are other people at a similar level as you, and an environment that will get you in the mood to do programming.

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As with any college or university program (online or otherwise), you're going to be spending a shockingly large amount of money -- probably more than your first car, and at least with the car you probably took a test drive and kicked the tires. So be sure of what you're getting!

Unfortunately there is no single concept of "online class," it varies by school. Some schools consider "online" to equal "self-taught": as in, you get the textbook, teach yourself, hand in the exercises, and some remote instructor who is just a glorified grader gives you a score. Some schools include more content, everything from text to podcasts to video lectures, possibly even "live" remote lectures with courseware that simulates you being in a physical classroom. Some schools expect you to do most of the work on your own, but the instructor is expected to be there as a resource for you if you need help or get stuck.

If there is a specific school you're considering, find out more about their program. Find out exactly what is involved, what a typical class looks like, what kind of level of support you can expect, what your rights and responsibilities as a student are. If they can't tell you or they refuse to show you... run away!

Caveat emptor.

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Do online colleges offer a similar curriculum as traditional colleges? Probably

Do online colleges offer a similar experience as traditional colleges? Probably not.

In my experience, a lot of online courses will try to mimic the classroom experience through software like digital whiteboards, video conferencing, etc., but it's never quite the same as being in a classroom. To me, online courses fell more rigid, professors fell more distant, and classmates seem less like classmates and more like passers-by. Not to mention the countless social opportunities and interactions you'll miss out on.

Given the choice, I would definitely choose to pursue a degree on campus, unless there is some particular reason you need/want to stay in your area.

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