Has anyone gone back to school after getting a Bachelors degree?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by chrono1081, Mar 24, 2012.

  1. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #1
    Hi guys,

    I recently got my degree in October, but 3/4th's of the way through it I had ONE class that really showed me my true interest in life, and now I want to go back to school for that full time.

    That class was 3D modeling and since that class I've learned a lot of Maya (still a ton more until I consider myself proficient in it), lots of ZBrush, Houdini, and Mari. I really enjoy making 3D scenes and texturing them especially.

    Anyway I'd love to go back to school for it and I was looking at Gnomon. Their student work is simply amazing, however the school is $70k for 2 years.

    I know that student loans do not work the same if you already have a degree which brings me to my question, has anyone here gone back to school after they get a degree? Was it horribly expensive? How did you manage?

    I'm trying to find out as much as I can before I dip my toes in this pool.
     
  2. determined09 macrumors 65816

    determined09

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    #3
  3. KylePowers macrumors 68000

    KylePowers

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    #4
    I'm in a constant battle as to whether to go to graduate school or not (I'd be applying this fall if I were to choose to do so). Besides higher starting salary and increased likelihood of hiring, I'm not too sure of the other advantages, especially when considering how to even fund it. Also not sure if I'd just go for an MS or go gung-ho and try for a PhD. Sigh

    //Electrical engineering major

    Good topic though.
     
  4. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

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    #5
    Hell, I went back to school for computer science after getting a JD.
     
  5. Queen of Spades macrumors 68030

    Queen of Spades

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    #6
    I got my master's, but I got a full scholarship. I paid quite a bit for my expensive ass undergrad university, so getting a bunch of money was an important consideration for me. It was like a trade off. I think most people end up in the reverse scenario (pay less for undergrad, more for master's/JD/etc.).

    I'd say it depends on how much undergrad debt you have. If it's not a staggering amount, go for it. I'm always in favor of education, especially when it's to pursue a career doing something you love.

    You only live once. You can always pay off the loans slowly. Good luck.
     
  6. lwood1 macrumors 6502

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  7. Queen of Spades macrumors 68030

    Queen of Spades

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    #8
    As far as loans, check and make sure your school or program would qualify you for government loans - perkins, PLUS, etc. Those have the most favorable payment terms, private loans are much more restrictive and expensive.
     
  8. cantthinkofone macrumors 65816

    cantthinkofone

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    #9
    Im not even to my associates yet but I plan on getting my masters in something. Go big or go home.
     
  9. malman89 macrumors 68000

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    #10
    At least in terms of federal loans, I don't think anything is different except you get even more access to loans as a grad student. There are Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford loans for graduate school with an even greater amount than their undergrad variants with much lower interest rates. Plus you're also entitled to the crummier GRAD PLUS loans that you can seemingly take out for any amount ever. Then any past loans go back into deferment when you enroll, but there's no grace period when you graduate (not sure if the newer loans do though).

    I graduated this past May and I'm working at a mediocre job at a solid non-profit. The thing is, my undergrad degree is mostly useless with two BAs in History and Classical Civilizations (Poli Sci minor). I'm debating applying to some grad programs this fall (already took the useless GRE) and due to having about $30k in undergrad loans (no family support, out of state private college), if I do end up going, I basically only plan on going somewhere that offers me a fellowship (free schooling) or a hefty scholarship, but is also a solid school (not going to go anywhere just for the sake of going).

    It'll just have to be one of those costs/benefits balances I have to work out in the end.

    ----------

    In all honesty, with the surge of all graduate schools' application rates in the past half decade or so, it won't be long for a Masters to become the new Bachelors if it hasn't already. I feel like now the floor is moving toward a Bachelors + Years Experience for many jobs. At least for non entry level gigs.
     
  10. theyoda3 macrumors member

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    #11
    As far as I am aware, Gnomon is not a graduate school, it is more like a professional trade school. Also, I think it is difficult to get into and requires a very good art portfolio. I could be wrong about that, but you should look at the threads other students have started about Gnomon on CGTalk, http://forums.cgsociety.org/forumdisplay.php?f=283.

    I think I have seen you make a few posts before and if I remember correctly, you have a technical degree. In the film, animation, and entertainment industry a technical degree gives you more career options. You may want to consider a program that has a mix of art and technology. A few schools you may want to consider are the following:

    Texas A&M, MS Visualization Science
    University of Utah, MS Computing in Computer Graphics and Visualization
    University of Pennsylvania, MS Engineering in Computer Graphics and Game Technology

    A lot of computer science programs also have a focus in computer graphics if a more technical approach interests you.

    In terms of financial aid, you are more likely to get aid, or find opportunities to get aid, at a traditional university in one of their graduate programs. At Gnomon, I think you will only qualify for federal aid.

    What exactly are your career goals? Are looking to work as an artist or a technical director? Are you looking to work for one of the major studios or a smaller studio?
     
  11. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #12
    Thank you (and everyone else so far) for all of the input :)

    I would love to work as an artist, but I'm not sure if I have strong enough art skills (I'm great at judging it, I'm not so great at creating it*). I think a technical director is more up my alley since I kind of do some of those responsibilities for that type of position at work. I create the standard operating procedures and test a lot of systems and software to create a pipeline for artists and I support everything from the hardware, to the software, to the asset management programs. Then once those are set up and good to go I go straight back to desktop and server support until a problem arises.

    I actually have a regular degree, its a Bachelors in Computer Science, its just not from a well thought of school. (I'd of killed to have had the MS Engineering in Computer Graphics and Game Technology when I went to Penn State!).

    And you are correct, Gnomon is not a degree, but instead just a certificate since all the garbage classes are cut out (which I prefer). Their students seem to be highly sought after.

    As for college debt, I had a really good job for a long time and have enough saved to pay off my Bachelors degree, I'm just waiting to get a bit more in my savings before I lose my giant cushion. I worked so hard to be debt free by 28 (I'm 30 now) that I'm hesitant to take out a ton in loans for school again, but if it makes me happy in my career its a small price to pay.

    I know I'm too creative for my current IT field and I'd be a million times happier creating something (hence why I program small games in my spare time, or work on real life and digital painting, 3D modeling, and matte painting) and really want to land a career where I can be both creative and a geek ;)

    *Honestly I know I could greatly improve my art skills with time (I just need more time to practice and learn) so I believe I would be OK in this area in the long run. I was super impressed with myself when I sculpted realistic hands on a first time go in ZBrush a week ago.
     
  12. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #13
    Well to answer your question I am currently in school getting bachelor degree number 2. My first degree is in Construction Engineering and the current degree I will get in May this year is Computer Science.

    As for paying for it the first 2 years of degree 2 was funded by my savings. The last year I received a grant and scholarship that covering pretty much everything. Now I am living at home and my parents are covering my living expensive .
    You can still get some grants and quite a few scholarships just you are not eligible for as many.
    Also the school I am going to it only cost like me like 6-7k a year doing 12-14 hours a semester to go there. The first year it was some leveling work at a jr college and then the following year I was doing it at the the school. Now I did take 6 hours each summer and I had to pay for those.

    Between my savings and unemployment that been bleed down pretty low but that is how I did it. I find myself liking computer science a lot more than I ever did my first degree.
     
  13. theyoda3 macrumors member

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    #14
    You sound like you are in a similar position as me when I was looking at graduate schools for computer graphics. Let me see if I can help you make a more informed decision. First, you need to understand the roles available in graphics. You could classify them into three categories as follows:

    1) Artists: These would include animators, modelers, compositors, painters, film editors, etc. Most of them do not program and are trained in traditional art. They are usually assigned to one production at a time.

    2) Technical Directors: This is a grey area, but these people usually have a balanced background in art and technology. Most of them can program, but usually they write scripts rather than full tools or applications. They provide technical support to a specific production, like a specific film. They will fix problems with files, write scripts for the pipeline, create tools for just that production, and do artistic shot work. Some different kinds of TDs are lighting / shading, character, effects, layout, pipeline, and general. In a nutshell these are software developers that are also artists. Anything they do is specific to the production they are working on.

    3) Software Developers: These people write the software that a studio uses on a global level. They maintain the code for the tools that artists use, the internal network system, and the company wide pipeline. They do not do shot work, although they may provide specific fixes or modifications to the code for just one production. The work in teams such as rendering, layout, lighting, rigging, pipeline, etc.

    Overall, TDs are expected to be more artistic than software developers, but both groups may be equally technically skilled. How artistic a TD needs to be really depends on the studio and what they name the different roles.

    I think one of the most important things to ask yourself if you are picking between TD and software developer is do you want to work on specific shots in a film or the tools the artists use to make all the films?

    Based on what you said in your last post, I highly recommend you at least look at the MS Visualization Science program at Texas A&M. It is one of the few programs that emphasizes a balance between art and science. Most other programs focus more on one or the other. Also, this program is well known in the industry and they receive a lot of industry support.

    Since you are a recent graduate, I also recommend that you look at internship programs before you go back to school, if possible. I know for sure Disney Animation offers a program for students who have graduated in the last 3 years, but I am not sure if any other studios offer this. Usually you have to be enrolled in school at the time or for an upcoming semester. It is also possible that you qualify for full-time positions with your degree and experience right now. You should look at some job descriptions and compare. If you can land a job or an internship it will help you make a better decision about grad school and it gives you a low-risk chance to make sure you actually like this career path.

    Personally, I ended up going with a masters degree in computer science and then taking courses to focus on graphics. With this experience and some other work experience I had, I have qualified for both TD and software developer roles at a couple animation studios. At most studios, the boundary between TD and software developer is pretty flexible even if you are not a great artist.
     
  14. dukebound85, Mar 24, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2012

    dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #15
    Got my undergrad in Mechanical Engineering. Came out with 15k in loans

    Worked a few years as an engineer.

    Came back to grad school where I get my school paid for and a 26k salary on top of that.

    Will say, while it is nice having a paying grad school, I miss the paychecks that I was getting as an engineer.

    Personally, if I had to pay for grad school, I would have never gone. I feel that I am sacrificing alot NOW in terms of opportunity cost.

    Side note:
    Not sure exactly what rationale people use to go to med/law/mba programs and pay 100's of thousands for the privileged. That burden would be such a weight on my conscious that I would be going insane and consumed with that financial obligation.

    OP, also keep in mind many employers will help pay for schooling as well.
     
  15. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #16
    Wow thanks so much for this post! It clears up a lot. (I find so many mixed answers on the internet but this post helped me see the roles a lot clearer).

    I'd definitely be interested in doing shot work for sure. I've been snooping around Disney's site too the past few weeks trying to figure out how to look for the "recent grad" positions they have listed (but have no drop down for :/ ) and I'll also be looking in to that course you mentioned.
     
  16. theyoda3 macrumors member

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    #17
    A few other things:

    1) Here is a list of how Disney describes their jobs, http://www.disneyanimation.com/careers/animation_careers.html. If you compare this list to other studios you will see some roles are called artists that other studios call TDs. It varies from studio to studio, not just the name but also how technical the role is.

    2) The Disney program is called Talent Development, http://www.disneyanimation.com/careers/student_programs.html. I think you can apply anytime by just filling out a profile on their website. Eventually they post the specific roles, so if they are posted in the career listings you should apply that way too.

    3) Sony Imageworks has a sort of informal development program. They have regular full-time jobs called Production Service Technicians that assist with data and file management for many different productions. From my understanding, a lot of people use this role to get a foot in the door and then move onto other positions after 1 or 2 years. They expect you to do this and try to support you in these goals. The studio offers competitions and learning programs so you can build your skills. For the competitions you are asked to do some type of shot work and then people from that job role will review your work and give you feedback. The position is hourly and sometimes you have to work night shifts. The pay is not as high as a regular software developer role, but you will be at a great studio and can use the opportunity to learn and network. They currently have an opening for this role if you go to the jobs section on their website you can view it. i cannot link to it because they use Flash.

    4) One thing to remember about this industry and TD roles is that you are hired on a per production basis, usually. This means you work for a company sort of on a contract. Once a production is done you may have to leave and look for work at a another company. Usually you get moved to the next production, but sometimes not. Most companies are in the same area, LA / Bay area, so if you have to look elsewhere there are other opportunities nearby. If studios staff these roles it is usually only in small numbers.
     
  17. determined09 macrumors 65816

    determined09

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    #18

    As part of the debt deal last July 2011 and in order to save the Pell grants for undergrads. Starting this July 2012, there is no more subsidized graduate loans.

    Read the article below
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-08-01-pell-grants-college-graduates_n.htm
     
  18. malman89 macrumors 68000

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    #19
    Well, they just begin accruing interest while enrolled. If they still have the lower interest rate, wouldn't be too large of a change - especially for grad school, which is 1-2 years shorter than undergrad.
     
  19. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #20
    Holy crap thank you so much! I'm applying for the graduate program one you linked too. I know its a shot in the dark that I'll get in, but at least its a shot ;)

    Seriously thank you so much for that link! When I saw it I squealed like a 10 year old girl that just won Justin Bieber tickets :p

    I'll also look at Sony too, it sounds like a great opportunity.
     
  20. determined09 macrumors 65816

    determined09

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    #21
    I hope the interest rate still low, too. I'm thinking about going to pharmacy school. It's graduate school and four years long. I'll do my best to paid cash for as much as possible. What ever I can't afford, I just get loan.

    Best of Luck to you,
     
  21. piatti macrumors 6502a

    piatti

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    #22

    I guess if you don't go into prestigious law school your opportunity cost is really bad.
     
  22. jlincoln25 macrumors newbie

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    #23
    Web Development

    Good day! I'm Jerry Lincoln from Colorado, USA. After I graduated in my course which is Information Technology, I'm taking my class a new class after a few months with computer management because I want to have a broader knowledge about computer works.

    Best wishes,
    web applications
     

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