Full Sail University Reviews - Bachelor's in Video Game Design
Review of Video Game Design Bachelors Degrees
Do not attend this school, full stop. The online courses are a complete joke. They talked about how difficult the online courses were to pass because of the accelerated nature of the program. Here's the issue, I went into that program already having received a Bachelors Degree from a traditional four year school, with a minor in my field, and I passed the admittance tests and got accepted into a Masters program within my field. I skipped a series of courses within my field and took a 2nd year, 600 level course to test the waters at the Masters level where I was at and I passed with an A. So the idea that I would run into problems because of the pace, complexity, or dedication required to succeed in their online courses was irrelevant, I had the educational background, work ethic to prove I could handle a self-maintained online program. And I did, much in spite of the glaring failings of the program itself. If you succeed at Full Sail's online offerings you will succeed against the grain because the programs are not designed to equip you, educate you, or properly challenge you, they're designed to take your money for as little effort as possible. It's worth noting a couple of things: 1. Full Sail does not offer classes a la carte, meaning you MUST sign up for large swathes of expenses at a time without the recourse of changing your mind part way through. This means if you get 2 classes into a 6 class block, realize you made a mistake and want to stop going, you're financially committed to all of those other classes. Does a company that has faith in it's own product offer programs in this manner? Your contractual obligations should not be the reason why you continue to give a company money, it should be because of the quality of the product or service. By design, Full Sail is after your money, not your quality education. 2. The "instructors" are not professors. They do not want you to call them professors, they want you to call them instructors. At first this appears like a nice, convenient, warm way of referring to one another that makes the "instructor" more approachable. However you will quickly realize the instructors are largely unqualified to be called professors, they rarely have more than the level of education you're trying to attain. It's expected that a person instructing a Bachelor's level class would at minimum have a Master's level of education to draw from. At Full Sail, however, you will find people who graduated from Full Sail's own bachelors and associates programs only to come back into the fold as instructors of the same programs they graduated from. What does this remind you of? That's right, a pyramid scheme. These people who wind up as "instructors" at their online offerings are not interested in investing in a new wave of students, they're working effectively part time to make ends meet because they couldn't find success elsewhere. It really does show through, too, because the instructors are disinterested in their programs, following the same, month to month, cookie cutter curriculum so they can get paid, and rarely take student complaints seriously. 3. The courses are designed poorly and rarely revised. In one of my offerings I ran into a question on the very first test that completely stumped me. I had read through all of the material, watched all of the videos, studied the concepts, and still this question completely stumped me. I anguished over it, tried to deduce what the answer could be from the test itself, and still I took a guess on it. Come to find out the "instructor" who made the test put that question on there out of order. I realized this because the VERY NEXT CHAPTER WE WERE ASSIGNED AFTER THE TEST HAD THIS QUESTION INTRODUCED AS CONTENT FOR THE FIRST TIME. I was frustrated and when I informed the instructor he brushed it off by saying, "Eh, if anyone complains about it at the end of the month and their grade is close I'll fudge the lines and give them the next grade up." Is that someone who cares about you, as a student? Is that someone who takes pride in the quality of their own work? They let content run roughshod through their students without caring if their prepared to deal with it and then only if they recognize it was an issue, complain, and are deemed close enough in grade to matter by the already apathetic instructor, then they'll get an adjusted grade later. No, this is not a quality course run by a quality instructor and the next month I saw students complaining about the same question from the same test on a Facebook student group forum. And you know what? We got push back because we were helping those students. The Facebook group moderator had to post a message that talking about specific questions wasn't allowed and that they got flak from the Full Sail administrative staff because of it. Yeah, the student wouldn't have even had to post that question if the instructor cared enough to revise their materials after being informed that they were a problem. 4. Poor group performances. Do not be surprised to see 60% or more of your fellow classmates fail from one class to the next, for reasons I've already described. Go ahead and ask your on-boarding personnel what the graduation rates are and they'll say they do not have that information. Thankfully the internet does, it's one of the first non-advertisement hits on a Google search: https://go.fullsail.edu/2017-graduation-rates Go ahead and take a look at these rates. Whether you're talking about on campus or online programs they are wildly fluctuating and dip as low as 18%, with regular 40-60% graduation rates. You have to ask yourself why that is. Why can a school bring in 100 people into a program that 80 people will leave by the end? Are they not vetting their students properly, setting them up for failure and continued financial obligation? Is it really just a matter of "get good" because the material is that "rigorous?" Take it from someone who has achieved two degrees and gone on to test out of Masters level programs, the failure rates at Full Sail are not because the program material is too dense or complex. It's because the instructors are not professors, the courses are not properly designed, the school is not interested in your success, and the financial model makes Full Sail a winner regardless of your individual outcome. 5. My personal experience. I wanted to provide good, verifiable reasons for why Full Sail is a garbage school and not worth your time. What I realized after having gone there is that taking courses online in a fast paced manner to reach my own success can already be done. Go check out Udemy, edX, or similar online course offerings that allow you to study at your own pace to acquire the knowledge you want. Want to be a programmer? Go check out https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/find-by-topic/ to find all of MIT's course material posted free and open source. From lectures and assignments to video lectures and examples. With the amount of free, properly designed, rigorous material already out in the wild on the internet you will find that your success at Full Sail can easily be replicated outside of Full Sail for either no cost or an absolute fraction of the cost. I began to realize all of this about 6 months into my courses. I had done the assignments, watched the lectures, made the videos, done everything I was supposed to do. Then I got into my first game design class where we had this sandbox style assignment where the "instructors" provided an easily accessible framework of variables to ascribe to Unity models in game. Wanted to make a wall that applied physics to an object on touch? Create the condition of "on touch" and "result is force in a given direction." You could get as creative as you wanted to with it. I read the ENTIRE rubric, watched all of the examples, did all of my homework and created my assignment to meet the highest scoring points possible. I put in the number of scene transitions, game objects, physics objects, etc. that I needed to pass the assignment with flying colors. I even read the portion of the assignment notes that stated the intent, the purpose of the assignment was not to make a fully shippable product, it wasn't meant to be a full on video game that was polished. They actually included in the intro to the assignment that it was meant to be a rough product with tools that the instructors gave us to meet the requested assignment outcomes. So I realize that my Unity objects are not easily editable in groups, if I create a Unity object that serves one purpose, has one set of pre-made variables on it, then duplicate it, and want to adjust the whole batch I have to go one by one to edit the whole batch. That seemed excessive and ridiculous. One of the tests of a proper design is how scalable it is and how easily modifiable it is as a finished product. You shouldn't have to build your scene from the ground up because you want x object to have a y variable associated with it. If you can't make changes throughout the build without encountering a massive rework problem, then you should have seen that coming from the start and given yourself the leeway needed. So I did, I assigned tons of open variables to my objects so I could modify them on the fly without having to tear it all down and start over. I built the thing, I exported the Unity project as a fully realized video game (albeit it was only two scenes), and I tested it on fresh Unity builds to see if it would work when importing it. In other words, whether importing the Unity scenes into the engine itself or playing it as an executable, the thing worked. I submitted my assignment and went to bed feeling wildly accomplished with myself. It was my first real design project and I blew it out of the water. Then I got an email reply from my "instructor" who made some BS claim that the project wouldn't open. I had to resubmit it for a late grade of 10% off. I lost my mind when he said that because I knew exactly what he was talking about. Their tools they gave us, the "Generic Behaviors," caused a problem when trying to load the Unity scenes in a fresh build. You had to first import settings to interact with the Unity scenes and allow it to run. All of this information I provided when I submitted my assignment, I told them how to make my scenes run and that their Generic Behaviors caused this problem. It was literally as simple as going into your Unity menu, scrolling down, and making the adjustment. It was something like 2 or 3 clicks away and the thing loaded properly. It's worth noting that the tools they gave me to make the assignment with caused this problem and if you loaded the exported, executable version of that file that had these settings in the final build it worked. So I did make a program that worked, the assignment made no mention of this issue having relevance to the final grade, and I know this because I read through all of the assignment requirements before making it. It didn't say anything about working without having to adjust the native Unity settings, instead it made a point of stating the importance of accepting an imperfect project because it wasn't intended to be a Gold version of a video game ready to ship tomorrow. So whether by the spirit of the assignment or by the written rules of the assignment I made a program that worked and they screwed me on it. I know what happened, the sleep-deprived, caffeine junky of an instructor who opened my assignment didn't get it to work immediately, didn't bother looking at my notes or making a good-faith effort to examine the game as is, and then because it was too hard to do his job as an actual educator just sent me a reply that punished me for something that was out of my control. Do you want to know how ridiculous this whole issue was? I recorded myself opening the game after making the appropriate setting adjustment, played it, and showed on my recording that the game worked. I had video evidence that they were wrong, that it did work, that I did my assignment correctly. I talked to my Full Sail student liaison about it and he was blown away. He was sad, I could hear it in his voice, because the same BS I was running into is the same BS every student runs into. Unclear assignments, poorly constructed course materials, disinterested, under qualified "instructors," and the ultimate goal of stroking one another's egos in an insular educational environment where they only care if they get your money. My liaison was just as confused, frustrated, and annoyed as I was. The head of the program who made the course defaulted to supporting his instructor, because of course he would, and told me to brush it under the rug and move on. They actually praised my assignment because it was a fun, well designed ball game with enjoyable controls and a nice couple of levels to interact with. That's right, they told me I had a fun design that met all of the rubric standards they set out for my first ever game design assignment but because the jackass who was in charge of opening and reviewing my assignment didn't bother to learn how to open it properly I got screwed. Even after showing them with a video that it could be opened by adjusting a setting on the native Unity engine and reiterating that this requirement was NOT a part of the original assignment (i.e. it did not say on the rubric it must work under these sorts of conditions) I still got down graded. They patted me on the back and told me to move onto the next assignment, to pay more attention and do better next time. That was the most insulting thing they could have said, because I did read the materials they offered, I did make it according to their exact requirements. They had no caveat about leaving dead, unused Generic Behavior variables on objects. They made no mention of what Unity settings it had to run under. They just threw me under the bus instead of admitting they had a poorly designed and instructed course. I was so burned by it that I left the school, I didn't even finish the rest of my already paid for courses. I cut ties with them. And you know what? My student liaison also cut ties with them. He told me on our recorded phone call it had nothing to do with how disappointed he was regarding my horrible experience being abused by the instructors. But you know what? I could hear it in his voice when we spoke on the phone, he was wildly disappointed when he was trying to get my penalized grade overturned and he sounded like a much happier individual when he told me he was leaving the company. That's what it is, after all, it's a company after your money. So perhaps my story wasn't the exclusive reason he left, perhaps it's the culture of under qualified, disinterested, poorly designed, poorly instructed, and financially motivated snake-oil salesmen that breeds my kind of stories and interactions that told him to leave. Yes, you can be successful AT Full Sail, but you will only be handicapping yourself by attending. Any amount of success you would have had with Full Sail you would have realized more fully without Full Sail. Do NOT attend this school.
This school is a joke. I took online classes, which Ive always done great with, but I left each month without understanding a single thing regardless of how good of a grade I got. The staff are ridiculous and the price of this place is through the roof. I was told the school is accredited many times by the customer service reps, enrollment persons, and my advisor. I specifically asked if it was accredited the way a normal university was (nationally) and I was assured they were. My fault on trusting them. Theyre not even accredited to the point that I can transfer credits from this waste of time. This school is an expensive joke. Thankfully I got out after only getting $7k in loans. The best part is that, because I could get loans they took away my at need scholarship, which gives money to people that cant pay out of pocket. I couldnt pay out of pocket so I got a small loan and they ripped the scholarship away because I had the ability to pay out of pocket. Dont waste your time here or even looking here. Go get an associates degree at a community college. Youll get better help and a better degree than here. My only hope is that this institution gets shut down and has to pay back large sums of money for their lies and hidden truths.
I went into this degree attempting to gain more knowledge on game design. I currently work as a systems engineer and do program modding on the side. I had a GI Bill to use and always saw advertisements for the school. I loved the way the program was laid out with core classes like history focused on gaming. History class is all on mythology and how mythology plays important roles in gaming. I have not got to that class yet and likely will not because it is not worth spending rest of my GI Bill. I work 50+ hour weeks and spoke with the student liaisons about needing full access to classes to be able to manage and plan my time. I was assured multiple times that after the "core four" ,core classes including math, english, etc, that all classes would open. Ok great sign me up! Get through the core four classes and no classes have been open. I ask professors to open them up for me, some have tried to, failed and got confused on why it didn't work. Some stated it would stress out other students to much to open it up and refuse. I speak to my new liaison and get told no class would be open normally. Glad I asked about it before enrolling!!!! So basically the lied to ensure I enrolled even though they knew they would not meet my expectation. So the class material and how its going. Very little challenge to the classes at all. Professor interaction may include a 1 hour live group chat a week, maybe not. Mostly the classes a bunch of PDFs, youtube links, and some vocabulary assignments, I had one class with a vocabulary quiz each week, are we in middle school? Really depending on the teach assignments will take 1-2 weeks to get graded. Some professor provided great feedback during the "core four". Since then I get good job, 90. So why did I get a 90 professor I would like to improve whatever I did wrong. No response. So currently I am enrolled in a degree that will basically be a piece of paper I can put on the wall and say I completed that and not improve my overall knowledge in skill more then a 10 dollar Udemy course could. Actually when I get free time I have been doing some online courses from sites like that and learned much more. Also I go via online. All the nice stuff they do like design competitions or any extra stuff is normally marked Campus Student Only. Why could an online student not create something and submit just like the campus student??? During my military career I went to 5 different schools dabbling in different fields of study and by far this is the WORST.
Seriously don't go here for game art. I can tell you now in a few sentsences what you need to know without going through the bulls*** I did. They will teach you how to model in Maya, sculpt in Zbrush, and texture in Substance Painter. And that's about it. They'll even say "Oh we don't teach anything about Photoshop" (one of the most basic softwares) and expect you to learn it on your own. What a waste of a degree.
Full Sail only cares about the money. They could care less about the value of the education. Professors are under-qualified, rude and rarely go out of their way to help you out. They simply copy/paste the class material at the start of the month and come back at the end to give you a grade. That grade typically offers no feedback because they are too lazy to do it. I graduated from the Game Design program and then got 1/2 way through the masters program before I had just had enough.
This school really fit my lifestyle, while working and supporting myself it was flexible for me. I was nervous at first that it wasn't going to be recognized by people in the industry as a real degree because I took it online. I'm happy to say that this was not the case, I live in LA and I already work at a studio. The job placement was pretty helpful but you don't start off as a senior director you have to start off as an aid and assistant which I get. Overall pleased with the experience but it was a journey and there were some bumps along the way. Definitely recommend the school they aren't just in it for your money.
It's not worth it unless you really want to work on a degree they offer (Meaning you really know what you will be doing) and even then, it's too expensive and the classes are really shallow, most of the learning you end up doing on your own (so if you're dedicated enough, they are basically charging you to force onto you deadlines.) I wish i would have went for a normal solid Software Engineering degree taught by teachers with background on pedagogy and then breeze over the stuff they force me to learn on my own anyway. There's so many things wrong i'll just say I don't recommend it.
You would be better off saving your money and investing in something like Lynda (which we use), YouTube (which we use), and other online videos and tutorials that teach Game Design (which we use). Hardly any of our material comes from lectures or books, as you'd expect with a real college. Half the time the instructors don't bother to teach you the material and instead expect you to find it on the internet on your own. The other half don't bother to grade or review material you've turned in and give you a half-assed grade that they made up at the last possible moment before the class ends. This "college" is a waste of time and money. Please, please don't bother. (Also, please keep in mind I am currently attending this "school" online.)
The first four classes were good, the instructors were always there for questions and there were weekly lectures and lots of interactions. Then began the real Full Sail school experience. I cannot speak to on campus students but I can tell you about one year of online school and it was bad. Vague instructions, no teaching or anyone to teach you, and extravagant assignments where you literally were told to watch You Tube videos to learn what to do. Save yourself thousands of dollars and just watch You Tube and you'd learn more and not have the debt than you will at Full Sail. Or find yourself a nonprofit university and see what the college experience can be like. Full Sail did not take any previous school credits. They are four times more expensive than my current university. They are a degree mill and likely will go the way of ITT when all their accreditations get pulled. Do not believe the advertising, it is false. You will be angry, frustrated, given intense assignments with no idea what to do and no help to get there. They will try to fail you in order to get you to take the class again, they have NO incentive for you to pass. They can make twice as much if you fail and they will liberally fail you or overwhelm you to the point of failing. I beg you, look elsewhere.
I first arrived at FullSail University as a transfer student, from a college that had a traditional offline class attendance structure. The change to the Online format of FullSail's online courseware was a welcome, and very different change from what I was used to. It's truly no lie, FullSail's method of classes does allow you a great degree of freedom to learn at a pace that is comfortable for you, and to schedule your time for coursework appropriately, allowing you to work to any schedule. During my time with the University, FullSail was in the process of redesigning their entire courseware online, and the flow of my own degree program. This did present a lot of difficulty following the program as things were changed, giving a feeling of 'the rail being placed in front of the oncoming train.' Their improvements were relatively worth it though, it's a lot more streamlined. The only other complaint I could have with the construction of the classes themselves, was it seemed most of them still focused on being able to be in a physical location, when no one in the class was actually attending on-campus classes. This made for some awkwardness when a great degree of physical work or team interaction was required. As someone who learns at a slower pace than others, however, this program was perfect. I was able to break my study sessions evenly through the week, and being able to focus on just one class a month instead of multiple classes over 4 to 6 months made my education feel comfortable, and open to a pace that was more suited for students than professionals working in a corporation. The difficulty of the coursework was strong enough though that I felt sufficiently challenged throughout the program, and I felt like I was graded appropriately for the quality and amount of work I put into the course. The Professors helped with this by having a great degree of casual attitudes, but just as invested in my education as they might be if I were a frequent attending student in a physical class. To me, as someone who has worked with online courses with different schools in the past, FullSail provided the highest quality online degree experience I've ever encountered. If you're looking for getting a degree without wasting any time, wish to do it from anywhere in the United States, and want a quality education that'll teach you a lot about the subject matter, FullSail University is something I would strongly submit for your consideration.