Is it wrong of me to be upset that I wouldn't be able to minor if I got into Brown?
I want to be a professional video game designer; I already develop games by myself and I love the activity. I'm planning to major in computer science as part of this path - either a BA or a BS, I haven't decided. However, I also want to get some kind of certification that I've done something significant other than just straight-up CS, that I'm not just another cookie-cutter drone making a beeline for the cubicle. Brown was one of the highest schools on my list until I found out today that it doesn't let its students minor. Wherever I go to college, I'd like to be able to get either a concentration in game design (yes, some places have that; I don't know if Brown does) or a concentration/minor in some language (Russian, maybe, or Japanese).
Is it immature of me to want to get a minor/concentration and to make this a factor in my weighings of colleges? My dad seems to think it is.
Location: Brown '12 (Sc.B. Math-CS, Classics), University of Kansas '14 (M.A. - Classics)
Brown has no special distinction awarded for work in game design. There are a couple directly related courses, plus several graphics and software engineering courses that would be reasonable choices, but you'd either count these as part of the CS degree or as electives.
You will have the opportunity to complete a second major if you want, though this may be hard with an Sc.B (I think only 2 or 3 of us got an Sc.B in CS and an A.B. in something else this year). What is much more common, though, is to take several courses in the area of interest without majoring. Your transcript will then reflect your interests and skills, and a number of companies will ask to see your transcript in CS (though not all will). You can also tweak your resume to demonstrate that you've completed substantial coursework in this area - you can list related courses, number of years studying a language, or concepts learned in courses (until recently, I listed the math concepts that I had learned in my classes). I found, though, that the companies I applied to while I was still considering employment in CS didn't care at all about my work outside of the field.
Do feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the department, though - I was a relatively prominent student within the department while a student and am still a consultant for the development of a new course this summer.
EDIT: I'll leave this up but it looks like Uroogla beat me to the punch while I was writing it
Short answer: yes, your dad is right
Long answer: I think your dad is right because in the scheme of things, this issue is so minor (pun intended) because there are plenty of ways to "show off" your focus in game design without saying "and a minor in game design."
Let's start with the transcript. I imagine anyone who knows anything about CS (e.g. employers and grad schools) would be able to distinguish the nuances of the different courses offered at Brown. Since I'm a biologist, I can only talk in that language as an example. To many, all bio majors are the same, but if I looked at someone's transcripts, I could immediately tell their focus based on which upper level courses they took. Did they take immuno, innate immunity, emerging microbial diseases and virology, or did they take embryology, signal transduction, genetics, and cancer bio. I can tell the first person is more immunology/microbiology focused than the latter who sounds more cell bio/cancer focused. I would assume that people who do game design know what courses to look for.
If you're worried about applying for jobs, you can simply put on your resume/CV that you studied CS with a focus in game design, or put that you majored in CS and list "relevant coursework" and then list the courses with titles that are obviously applicable to game design. You can put whatever you want on a resume/CV as long as it's not a lie. Saying you minored in something when brown doesn't offer minors is a lie but saying you focused on a particular topic is not a lie if you have the coursework to back it up. Similarly, the internships and research or summer jobs you get would all indicate your interest. Employers are not robots, if they see a CS kid who spent every summer working at a video game company they're going to know he knows more about video games than the CS kid who spent every summer working at adobe.
Graudate schools will look over your application more so than employers look over resumes so they will certainly see on your transcript that you have the appropriate coursework and again they will see what you did outside of class.
My point is that you can so easily display your knowledge in a subset of CS that to give up on Brown just because you won't be able to say "I was a CS major with a minor in video game design" and instead have to say "I concentrated in CS with a focus on video game design" is absurd.
Now, if you feel that Brown doesn't have enough courses relevant to game design, that's a valid reason to not attend, but that's very different from "not having minors."
I didn't mean to imply that I would absolutely not apply to Brown if I could not minor, only that it weakened Brown's appeal to me. I still think Brown is a great school, and the no-gen-ed factor is nice to know of.
That said, I did not realize that anyone paid so much attention to courses. Being able to cite relevant coursework is definitely a plus; it's just that a formal minor or concentration is something I'd like to have. It's only one factor out of several; for example, though I don't like small towns, I'm still applying to Dartmouth because I like other things about it.
On most resumes I've seen of fellow students (Brown and non-Brown), they list relevant coursework in their area(s) of interest. This of course changes once you've had a few jobs, but it can be very useful for employers.
Remember that though you can't officially minor in a subject, you can take many classes in it. For instance, I'm a music major, but I'm taking nearly enough courses in the biological sciences for a Bio degree if I wanted it, since I'm pre-med.
My dad's talked about having me double major before. That'd let me do what I want, but from what I've heard it's a huge amount of work and doesn't let you take much of anything outside of your two fields. Still, I've heard of someone getting a double major and a minor in four years, so who knows.
If I do end up at Brown, though, I guess I'll just suck it up and get an unofficial minor. I really do like languages - I'm teaching myself Czech right now and taught myself enough Japanese to take the Japanese AP as a junior - so who knows. Wherever I go, I'll be taking at least a few language classes.
Hi, emberjed. I am a double concentrator at Brown, and I still got/am getting to take 12 classes outside my concentration, which is more than enough to explore other options. Just for the record, about half of the people I know at Brown have two concentrations. Don't let that scare you off. Also, if you do CS, there are tons of game design projects. I watched my friend program something pretty similar to pacman. Hahaha. Good luck!
About 20% of people double concentrate. It's much more common if one of the concentrations is a humanities AB (they tend to be the smallest, with 8-10 courses).
A minor will absolutely not distinguish you at all from someone who took similar coursework/preparation. It is very common to have a "Relevant Coursework" or "Areas of Interest" section on a resume, not to mention a thesis title if there really is an area of interest which is nested within your concentration that you want to emphasize.
Minors give you no benefit at all in getting jobs-- even a fully blown concentration is far less important than most high school students (and even college students) seem to think they are.
For example, I work in data analysis, data architecture, and IT project management specific to education and public policy. I work with: a poli sci major, an astrophysics PhD, a master's in public health, a demographics PhD, an Arabic Studies major, a master's in linguistics and classics, a psychology concentrator, an environmental science concentrator, and a couple of CS folks.
I wouldn't call it immature as much as I'd say it was misinformed/ignorant.
I'm another one agreeing that a minor is not the best or only way to convey interest to an employer. I am with your Dad that it shouldn't be part of college selection, and if you knew more about Brown, you'd know why they don't offer it. Did you just now learn they have open ciric?
Double major with language may be difficult. But, fyi, my daughter (a math/cs concentrator) took both Mandarin language and Russian on a pass/no pass basis, just from interest and she found both useful to her. Once on a visit to Ukraine.
Brown CS students are not seen as cookie cutter drones to employers or grad schools. That is from left field, I don't know why you would think that.
To focus on game design is really too narrow and down the hierarchy, it is almost vocational. If you take the sort of classes that were mentioned above, the ones that pertain to that area but are more theoritical or overreaching, such as many graphics, software engineering, computer vision, you will be prepared to do gaming and more. You specialize later, first you get a solid education. If you can get into Mellon, go for it, they have a better program for what you are interested in.
Eh. There are other things I like about Brown that Mellon doesn't have; I won't go into those now. Thanks for the info, though. I'm starting to not really care about minoring (yes, I do know about open curic - wait, you're talking about "curriculum" for the first two weeks or so, right?). I've never really WANTED to double major; I've just heard people talking about it.