When it comes to selecting a college, many students are conflicted. This is not terribly surprising considering how much rests on this seemingly simple choice. Hey, it’s only the rest of your life! And yet, every student will have to do some research to determine which schools will meet their criteria. This could include details like location, cost, degree programs, and institutional stats that help to compare one school to another, such as the percentage of students that graduate and how many are able to find jobs in their chosen field afterwards. For the rare student that has a major in mind, this process may be slightly easier, especially when it comes to a specific career path that is not offered by just any college or university. So if you happen to be interested in some type of occupation involved in video game design, here are just a few things you’ll want to look for when selecting the best colleges to help you reach your goals.
- Specific major. This is a biggie. Very few schools offer degrees specifically geared towards the video game industry, so if you’re really serious about becoming a game designer of some sort you need to look into institutions that are best equipped to train you. Of course, this could leave you with a rather limited selection. In this case, consider what type of game design you’re specifically leaning towards to see if you can find a comparable program at a prestigious university. If you want to write scripts, for example, you might look for highly-rated writing programs. Or you may seek out art schools or graphic design programs if you want to tackle the visual aspects of game design. But if you can find a video game major at an acclaimed school, it’s definitely worth considering.
- Internships. The entertainment industry may enjoy mass appeal when it comes to consumers, with music, movies, and video games earning multiple billions of dollars annually. But for all that, the world of video games is rather insular. This can make it difficult to get a foot in the door. So before you select a school, make sure to ask if they offer internships with video game companies in the area. Whether you have the opportunity to intern at a startup that designs web or mobile games or you end up shadowing a producer at EA or Activision, the experience could help you to shake the right hands, make a good impression, and hopefully secure a job down the line.
- Feeder programs. Job placement is a concern for many students, so you want to select a college that is proactive in this arena. Along these lines you should definitely make inquiries regarding feeder programs, or arrangements that schools have made with local businesses to provide preferential consideration to students seeking employment after graduating from specific major programs.
- Networking. It’s important to get to know people in the industry before you start looking for a job, so a school that has plenty of alumni working in the video game industry could provide you with opportunities to meet the right people. You might also want to look for a school that is located in a city that is home to several game developers, publishers, and so on. This could greatly improve your chances for networking.
- Technical schools. Don’t get hung up on the idea of attending a high-brow college or university. When it comes to design degree, a technical school might be closer to what you’re looking for on a practical level. If you were shooting for a masters degree urban planning, or an MBA, you’d certainly want to go to one of the top schools for such programs. So if technical schools can offer you the knowledge and skills you will actually use in your profession, why wouldn’t you at least consider them? In some cases, savvy employers may be more likely to hire qualified candidates from these targeted establishments over those who paid more for a degree with a prestigious masthead.