Course Loads & Pain

This article is part of a retrospective on my experiences teaching at Full Sail.

Full Sail University has a program structure different from that of traditional universities, and it’s important to know how it can impact you as a student before you really dig into a degree like Game Design Online.

In each online degree program, you’ll take one course per month for the 32 months of your studies. There are rarely any chances to take them out of order, or to take two classes at once. A definite benefit to this style is that you know ahead of time that you can concentrate on one subject at a time. Some students really thrive in this atmosphere, especially if they can stick with one cohort of students throughout.

The problems with this structure only become apparent when you run into a problem. First of all, if you fail a single class at any point, you get bumped back into a different cohort. If you’re lucky, this happens early on, and you have plenty of time to make new friends & contacts in your new cohort. If you’re unlucky, or unprepared for the dramatically faster pace of later classes, you might find yourself bumped back multiple times, even near the end of the degree when there are high stakes team classes coming up.

The second bad situation can occur if you have a flexible work schedule, one with different hours or a different amount of hours from week to week. Because you only take at most one class per month, there is no practical way to take a half load for some time when you know you need to spend more time at work or at other tasks outside of school. In a traditional University setting, it’s usually easy to cut a couple credit hours, or choose your easy classes (the ones you’ve been saving, right?) for when you are going to be busy outside of school.

At Full Sail, the best option is to take an entire month off, and you can only do this a limited number of times. While this might seem dire, keep in mind that most of my students were able to stay abreast of the situation at least most of the time, and many of the workload problems could have been ameliorated by coordinating with student services & asking for help early on in a course. Keep this in mind while you are planning your education.

If you were a student at Full Sail, how was your own experience? Did you find the month-long classes to be liberating or suffocating? Let me know by commenting below!

2 thoughts on “Course Loads & Pain”

  1. Hey Mark! Everything that you said: Totally true. I chose Full Sail primarily based on the structure. It was a good fit for myself: Late twenties, no kids, workaholic married to a workaholic. I put off school for so long so that I didn’t have to go through the BS of all that is traditional college life. I was able to (mostly) breeze through the course without breaking or falling to another cohort. I did, though, notice classmates dropping like flies after 6-12 months in. They’d fall back one, two, three classes and then so much more. My all-star final project crew was such because we had all been together since the beginning. We had gone through the different phases of team-building together time and time again and were a very strong group because of it. Many friends that I talk with that had fallen behind experienced troubles forming strong bonds with their new teammates, just as us that easily flowed through had troubles really fitting them into our familiar groups.

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