Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Back to School

After a few months of trying to grasp Unity and other game programming on my own, I decided that I needed some guidance. I looked into the local community college just hoping to brush up on my programming and was charmed to see that they actually have a game design curriculum. So, instead of learning C++ and building something from scratch, I'm learning C# and Unity (though I still kinda want to go and learn C++ just because).

I've since been through a semester at Pima Community College, and I've just started my second. I'm not getting a degree or anything--I just want to learn enough to be able to do the rest on my own. It's been an interesting experience so far, though, so I figured I'd share my thoughts on returning to college. How many years has it been since I earned my bachelor's degree? Six years? Seven? I'm honestly not sure when I graduated from Nicholls State. It was pretty anticlimactic.

Anyway, here's my new experience:

At Nicholls, I was just kind of floating through the curriculum, taking classes on things that might interest me as I haphazardly followed the path of a Mass Communications major. I wasn't really sure what I wanted out of college, and when it was over I just sort of transitioned into a job that had almost nothing to do with what I learned.

At Pima, though, my goal is very clear. I know what I want to learn, and I'm paying close attention in class to learn what I need to know. I'm showing up on time, I'm doing my homework, and I'm doing independent research all in pursuit of my goal. I wish I had this kind of laser focus back in 2004 when I started at Nicholls, but alas. Better late than never.

I'm absolutely acing most everything I'm being taught, though I stumble a bit on group projects since I'm awkward and too busy to meet up with people outside of class. Other than that, though, learning is pretty easy. I'd forgotten how easily I learn things when I'm passionate about it. It's not that the courses are just easy, though: many of my classmates in the classes I've taken so far seemed to struggle with concepts I grasped quickly, even when I discount the kids who were obviously just there to dink around. In that sense, it reminds me a lot of grade school, back when school was education was effortless for me.

There are a lot of older folks in my classes, too. Not so much in the game design classes, but in the programming classes for sure. In the class I went to today, a class of 12 people, I was probably the fourth or fifth youngest, and I'm 30 years old. These folks were interested in learning some C# to add to their skill set, next to us youngsters who are all (I'm 90% sure) just learning C# because it's helpful in Unity. I think it's really awesome, though, seeing older people putting effort into keeping a relevant skill set, or even just continuing to learn for the sake of learning. It's something we should never stop doing.

Anyway, I think this is the last semester I'll need at Pima before I go off on my own. By the end of this semester I'll have put a bunch of hours into Unity and, presumably, will no longer be baffled by the program. There won't be much else Pima can teach me in that regard; it'll all be up to me, which is how I like it.

As it is, the three classes I'm taking this semester will be eating up a lot of my free time every week. By the end of the semester, I'm sure I'll welcome being able to return to a normal schedule and free time. I'll make the most of this structure while I have it, though.

That said, having done it now, I can heartily recommend going to a community college if there's something you want to learn and aren't sure where to start. If you take it seriously it can be just as effective as a university, but probably much cheaper.

No comments:

Post a Comment