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University of Advancing Technology Reviews:

UAT Game Design: Good Content, Bad Staff

Game Design - September 2, 2009
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UAT was not created with online degrees in mind, and it showed. I write this review now to dissuade people from UAT-- it's a good school, with some great ideas, great professors, and great opportunities-- but to give anyone considering it some knowledge that will help them get the most out of a degree here. 1. The biggest problem with UAT is that they focus much more on their in-house students then their online ones. Online students often feel like an afterthought, and it can be frustrating emailing staff members multiple times to get the attention you deserve. Toward the end of my degree, it seemed they hired more online specific staff, so it's likely improved. At the very least, all game related professors were a joy to work with. It's the general/core course professors that tend to ignore their students. 2. While you can choose your courses, you are not prompted to do so. You will be enrolled in courses that meet your degree needs automatically, and have to go out of your way to change to the classes you wish to change to. On the one hand, I appreciated this; I didn't really want to calculate what I needed to do and the core courses were the ones I was interested in. I only changed class a few times when I felt the subject wasn't going to help me out or managed to test out of a class. 3. Accelerated courses. UAT likes their classes to be done in a few weeks. If this isn't a learning system that jives with you, avoid it. They pack these weeks tightly and even brought in some big names from the industry into chat rooms at times for us to interview-- meaning, they do take advantage of the online structure in doing what's not even possible in ordinary classrooms. Busier people may also find it easier to be focusing on one class at a time for a shorter period than several over a longer period. 4. The portfolio class ends up hitting a lot of students out of the blue. Be prepared to save EVERYTHING you have ever created in that class-- especially concept work and rough drafts-- and do what you can to go out of your way to work on your own projects throughout the year to boost it. 5. The career program is probably the best part of the system, and the shining light at the end of the tunnel. UAT works hard to make sure you're hired after you've graduated. It was reassuring that they have many contacts with big name companies and help you toss around your resume and give you recommendation. They even called on me some months later to make sure I had a job, and when I told them I had quit, they offered to help me find a new one, even though I had been a graduate for a year. UAT isn't without its flaws, but it has its strong points as well, and shouldn't be outright dismissed. Their knowledge of the game industry is valuable for those looking to enter it and they keep this information up to date despite the fast moving industry. They will prepare you with a wide range of skills. Just watch out for the staff; they need hassling.

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Painful Experience

Game Programming - August 13, 2009
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UAT has no real concern for its students. Their actions have contradicted their literature and advertising several times in an effort to squeeze me for more money. Here's what they did: 1. Scholarship bait and switch: They offered me a scholarship based on my credentials. On the day classes started, they notified me I was too late to receive it, without ever telling me what I needed to do or that there was even a deadline. 2. Assessment bait and switch: The UAT literature says that if you take assessments or have professional experience, they will promote you to the next class. I passed the assessment and it took me 7 weeks of fighting with their administrators to get them to advance me. As of this writing, my transcript there still shows an F for the class (for which I passed the assessment) and they have yet to change it. It takes weeks, literally weeks, for them to take any action. The first line support staff do everything they can to try to get you to go away and stop bothering them. They go silent for days with the excuse that they are "checking with the supervisor." 3. Course management shady practice This one shocked me -- you don't get to choose your courses! What the heck kind of college doesn't let you manage your courses? They choose them for you! And they conveniently don't mention this little tidbit until you actually start taking classes. I was so amazed when I logged in that I had no control over classes, that I looked through all the literature to be sure I hadn't missed something. There was no warning about this huge policy shift from traditional universities. So, you never know what your next course will be, and you don't get to choose what you want to study. And forget about doing anything creative like a minor or a dual-degree. Just not going to happen. I'm giving up on UAT. The courses were mediocre, definitely not worth the hassle of dealing with their shady business practices. I highly recommend just going to a community college and saving your money. UAT will end up costing you at least $60K in loans, 4 years of your life, and it's not even clear anyone will consider it a real degree. So, you *might* find an employer who will accept it, but it's not clear you can get a graduate degree from another university after completing the UAT undergrad tracks. They really are not trying to help you achieve your goals, like a traditional university would. They are in it for the money and it's painfully slow dealing with their staff. My advice: stay away.

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