Graduation Complication – Final Project – Foster, Ramos, Chambers, Blay-Tofey

One out of two students at St. Edward’s University will graduate “on time” with the typical four year college plan. Many students find themselves graduating early, graduating late, or transferring to another school. While falling outside of the recommended four year plan can be perceived as negative, it is not always seen as a burden to those who experience an unorthodox college experience.

Graduating early is one of the many factors as to why students are not completing college in the typical four year span. Getting a jump-start on one’s career or possibly saving thousands of dollars on tuition in the process can be quite an appealing offer, especially with the cost of attending St. Edward’s rising year over year. Alex Soybel, a recent St. Edward’s early graduate, graduated in the Fall of 2016, a semester earlier than her original plan suggested. “I never liked the obligation of school,” she said. “I love learning but always hated busy work, so I just wanted to get out of that to be honest.” And her post-early graduation life seems to be a success: “I have a well-paying job, an apartment near downtown, and I’m only 21 years old.”

When a student is faced with the decision to transfer schools, a common fear is not being able to integrate into a new social environment. Hunter Williams, a student who transferred from St. Edward’s to The University of Texas at Dallas, claimed how “transferring was a scary idea” at first glance.  Although transferring may seem like an intimidating road to travel, the change of scenery when attending a new school can also be beneficial in terms of getting a fresh start. Former student Sam Dier adds that transferring away from St. Edward’s can be “so much cheaper.”

Pierce Soreals, a student who transferred from St. Edward’s to the University of Texas at Dallas during his sophomore year voiced that transferring resulted in an “academically more rigorous” experience. Despite the unique circumstances that both Dier and Soreals encountered when transferring, both of them shared a common challenge: loss of credits.

While some students may choose to transfer away, those who stay at St. Edward’s can also encounter obstacles that result in late graduation. Graduating late has a negative stigma surrounding it. However, two St. Edward’s alumni who took the unconventional path argue that taking their time to graduate benefited them. Both did not plan on graduating late, but they are confident they made the right decision. Erin Reas took six years to graduate due to transferring to three different colleges. Not all of her credits transferred and her graphic design degree at St. Edward’s was so specific it hindered her graduating on time. Reas said she “enjoyed having more time to make connections at St. Edward’s and having a solid career waiting for her.” Sarah Fumagalli took four and a half years to graduate due to double majoring.  However, Fumagalli does not regret it because she said when she graduated she “knew that when [she] walked across that stage [she] chose the correct career path.” Both argued they would not change anything about their college time frame and that students should consider to take the extra time to graduate to make sure they make the right career decision.  

Despite the number of students that leave St. Edward’s, the university has consistently maintained an average of an approximately 82% retention rate in recent history. This means that about 82% of each freshman class continues onto their sophomore year. This number is quite satisfactory in comparison to the retention rates observed at peer universities in competition with St. Edward’s: other small, private, religiously affiliated schools. St. Edward’s makes many efforts and initiatives to help students feel connected and develop relationships during their freshman year to keep students satisfied with their choice to be a student at the university.

Nicole Trevino, head of retention at St. Edward’s, encourages students to graduate in four years. However, she claims that the school is committed to their “moral and ethical obligation” to help students be successful, no matter how many semesters it takes.

Final Project Pitch (Group 2) – Foster

We will be presenting a story about St. Edward’s Students who have graduated earlier than the typical 4 year period. We are curious about whether or not graduating early has impacted their lives, why they chose to graduate early, and whether or not they are satisfied with their choice. We already have several potential interview subjects.

HEADLINES – FOSTER

  1. Fire at Local College Leaves Two Students Injured
    • Mallory College students left with burns after attempting to extinguish a minor fire
  2. Man Sentenced to Nine Months in Jail For Cross Burning
    • Fred R. Thornton, 32, Pleads Guilty to Harassment Charges
  3. Anti-Drug School Supplies Recalled Due to Potentially Harmful Message
    • Fourth-Grade Student Discovers Misleading Phrase
  4. Plane Crash Near Little League Baseball Game
    • Damage to Vehicles, but No Major Injuries to Passengers or Pedestrians
  5. Winter Weather Inbound
    • Utility Workers On Standby for Potential Emergencies

Midterm Story Final – Harris Foster

At St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, a classroom is filled with students, a typical scene for any major university. The students of this class are like any other. Working in groups, they are hunched intensely around their computers, occasionally glancing to their neighbors screen to make a quick suggestion or ask for help on a formula. Are these students future mechanical engineers designing the next great wonder? Are they scientists looking for the next medical breakthrough?  While math is greatly involved, their goals are far different. These students are creating fun.

One of St. Edward’s most notable game development teams is Alt Mind Ctrl. Alt Mind Ctrl is an independent game studio formed by students who met each other through St. Edward’s Interactive Games program. While many game projects are created as part of assignments to get an interactive games degree, Altmind Ctrl operates independently of the school, with hopes to make their own commercially available game.

While some students dread group work, Alt Mind Ctrl is a student formed organization that thrives off of it. Upon visiting the computer lab where Alt Mind Ctrl has their weekly meetings, a clockwork process can be observed. Coders and Engineers work alongside the gameplay designers to create the skeleton frame of the game, manipulating the mathematical, behind-the-scenes data that determines everything from in-game items to the speed of the player character’s movement. These elements are brought to life by the artists, who draw, sculpt, and animate on their digital canvas. All of this is overseen by a director. Just like in a film crew, the director runs the show. They call the shots, they make the decisions, and they have the final say. I sat down with head of the studio Lissa Argetecha to ask her about the project. An interview with Lissa can be heard at the end of this article.

Alt Mind Ctrl’s current project is a title called “A Matter of Time”, an adventure game with a horror setting. Taking place in 1950’s America, the game follows a protagonist named Amara, a young woman who is in search of her brother that has gone missing. The search takes her to the home of a suspected serial killer, where things take a turn for the worse. Amara is found in a mystical place where time can be manipulated, taking her on a journey throughout a range of time periods.

Unlike other student game projects that use a lot of license-free tech or art, “A Matter of Time” is being completely built from the ground up by St. Edward’s students. All of the games coding, art, and even an entire orchestral score is constructed in-house by those who are also earning their degree. The game has been in production for about six months, and while there is no release window yet, Alt Mind Ctrl is hard at work ensuring it will one day their passion project will be available to play. Until then, you can follow their development by liking their Facebook page.

 

Interview with Lissa Iracheta -Director, Alt Mind Ctrl

Midterm Story Draft – Harris Foster

Read the assignment again, Harris. The story is to be no more than 400-600 words w/an interactive element. What is yours? How will you tell this story? What is the focus of this story? Is it a profile of this new program? Is it a look at the work of one team? Is it an examination of the challenges the program is facing? Staffing? Resources? Etc. Find your focus.

At St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, a classroom is filled with students, a typical scene for any major university. The students of this class are like any other. Working in groups, they are hunched intensely around their computers, occasionally glancing to their neighbors screen to make a quick suggestion or ask for help on a formula. Are these students future mechanical engineers designing the next great wonder? Are they scientists looking for the next medical breakthrough?  While math is greatly involved, their goals are far different. These students are creating fun.

These are the Interactive Games Studies students, and they are creating the next great video game. Jumping between graphical interfaces and lines of code, these students are implementing their knowledge of algebra, geometry, and even physics in order to create virtual worlds in both 2D and 3D space. Using industry standard programs such as Unity and Unreal Engine, the games created by St. Edward’s students have the potential to be the next big blockbuster release.

Different roles populate the teams creating the games. Coders and Engineers work alongside the gameplay designers to create the skeleton frame of the game, manipulating the mathematical, behind-the-scenes data that determines everything from in-game weapons to the height of the player character’s jump. All of these attributes are brought to life by the artists, who draw, sculpt, and animate on their digital canvas. All of this is overseen by a director. Just like in a film crew, the director runs the show. They call the shots, they make the decisions, and they have the final say.

One of St. Edward’s most notable game development teams is BigCat games, which has been who have been working on a project together for the past __ months. An interview with BigCat games is scheduled, in which I will speak to both the director and one of the designers. So, is this really the focus of your story? If so, you need a new lead.

While the students of St. Edwards University are able to create a fully functioning game using what they’ve learned, the program is not without criticism. Some students in the program believe that they are not learning enough core concepts to be ready for the video game industry following graduation. While the tools being offered to the students are industry standard, some students believe that the way some of the classes are handled leads to more confusion than education. How? Be specific. Interview and give us examples. The gaming program at St. Edward’s is also greatly understaffed, with many faculty either leaving the program or getting fired after only a few years of its existence. How do you know this? You need attribution of your sources and specifics. What does understaffed mean? How many students are enrolled (this is a new program)? How many professors are teaching? If there were firings, why?

As only one of two schools in the state offering a dedicated video game program, St. Edward’s University has an advantage at drawing in students interested in perusing a career in the world’s newest medium. Time will tell if the quality of the program improves, which hopefully reflects in the work produced by the small, independent teams of dedicated student creators. Where do you get the information that SEU is “one of two schools in the state” offering a dedicated video game program? Assertion needs to be verified and you need attribution.

Midterm Story Pitch – Harris Foster

For my midterm story, I’d like to look at the video games being developed by the Interactive Game studies students here at St. Edwards. Formerly part of that degree, I have insight into a few of the classes, but I’m interested to see how far along some of these projects have gone. Content can include direct feed capture of the projects as well as video interviews with the developers of the projects.