To Set Sail or Not

So I am getting the programming bug again big time… I’ve had it for nearly a year now. It’s always been a higher level interest of mine. I’ve long wanted to be a game programmer… ever since the early 80s and it really took off in the mid 80s when we finally had a home computer, an IBM PCjr. I remember collecting Compute Magazine, which had full programs you could program in the computer… they gave you the full source code that you had to type in, and entering the code in and then tracking down errors, which universally meant typing errors then… but it was fun. I learned a little IBM Basica… which I think I did on my Tandy PC… I made a couple programs, or more like, modifications of programs from those in the magazines back in those days. But I never learned enough to do anything complex from the ground up.

In college, for whatever reasons, I skipped computer courses and steered to other directions, but at Brown Mackie, I did eventually move to get a Programming and Applications degree. The problem of course, was Brown Mackie’s format, and lowering to the lowest common denominator. So you had one month to each class, but if the slowest people couldn’t go along, then the whole class seemed to stall out, and we just never got far into our programming lessons. I wouldn’t feel comfortable searching out a job as a programmer based on what I learned there… heck, I could teach most, if not all the computer related classes I took there just as well if not better than we learned them. This isn’t to say I didn’t have some really good teachers, but they were held back by the text the school used, the slowest students and the format.

Anyhow, time goes on. I teach myself a bit more Visual Basic, some C# and enough PHP to fix a few issues off and on with the blog. I goof around with them some, but then stop around 2006. More time goes on and around 2008 I start looking at the idea of mobile development. iOS development looks to be out as it comes with a few obstacles, a new language or two (Objective C and possibly some COCOA), but the bigger issue would be needing a Mac, which is a rather large investment, plus in 2008 I had more faith in Android. Come 2010 I start looking at the market again, and the job options look good, and I start thinking again about my future as a programmer, and again focus on mobile development. I start really looking at the options, start thinking about focusing on Java (for Android) and iOS.. By 2011 I start looking at Full Sail University Mobile Development program which would give me a Bachelor of Science degree… now a year later I am again considering it.

The problem is a few fold… First I was really burned by Brown Mackie and how they were a rip off, and fear the same thing. Some reviews of the school seem to suggest the same thing, but others paint a more positive image. One needs to consider that most things like I see are what one expects on the Internet… people are far more inclined to complain than say something positive. People that were happy with it seem to be in the majority, but the majority if complacent and just don’t say much. It is just the nature of the Internet (and humans in general). There are postive ones, like a Game Design 411’s article Does Full Sail University Have A Good Game Degree Program? which seems to suggest it may indeed be okay. The next issue is cost. A generalized computer science degree from Stark State or even the University of Akron/Kent State University would be cheaper, problem is they don’t go into the programming detail I would like… and they don’t cover Objective C or even have classes on mobile specialty… I already owe $20k in student loans, do I really want to take on $60k more? Another issue is that it is so specialized, how well does that training translate to the desktop world?

I don’t know what I am going to do yet. I am thinking of Sailing away with their program, but fear and money are making me question things… It is a tough choice to make…