Switching Degree Programs @ Full Sail University

Changing your degree with Full Sail University.

I was going to do a video for this and may still however, I feel I am more articulate when typing. I decided I’d add this to the blog here for others who are curious as to how to change your degree and the steps to take to do that.

Before I begin I’d like to first note that I am changing my degree after I completed my core 4 classes as well as after having received my Launch box for the degree program I was enrolled in. I will give details on the process, the launch box as well as other items to keep in mind.

If you are here reading this either you are interested in changing your degree or interested in the process. Either way I hope that this helps you to either decide or answers questions you may have. I will give as much detail as possible but please keep in mind this is my personal experience and it may differ per person.

When I initially enrolled in Full Sail University I signed up for the Computer Animation degree. I was ready to animate, it was my dream and since I absolutely love doing graphics and digital art I thought it would be the perfect fit. I had previously been attending Southern New Hampshire University as a video game art and development major with a graphic design minor. I opted to move into the computer animation degree program because I had hoped it would offer more opportunity than just working in the video game industry.

While enrolled in SNHU I did take a class that used the program Maya. And if you haven’t heard of it go to Autodesk.com to check it out. Any who…. I struggled so hard in that class I got a C. I was defeated and felt hopeless, but I pressed forward. When I made the transfer into Full Sail I was aware that I would be required to use Maya however, I had thought with the virtual classrooms at Full Sail I’d be able to ask questions and get the extra assistance I was surely going to need. I was right in my first class, 3D Foundations, I had 3 classes a week, an instructor in front of me doing the work step by step and it was good for the most part. Still yet when I was on my own, I struggled. I realized that me and Maya weren’t going to get along and despite my best effort and the instructors, who were amazing by the way, I just couldn’t do it. Maya isn’t for me and I can accept that.

I had already completed my core 4, for anyone unsure of what that is it’s the first 4 classes everyone is required to take, Creative Presentation, Psychology of Play, Technology in the Entertainment and Media Industries (More on this class later), & English Composition 1. I was relieved of English as in I didn’t have to take it because I transferred in an English credit. I took the other 3 and in my 4th month went straight into 3D Foundations. Because I wasn’t taking English in the final week of my 3rd month I received my Launch box that contained everything id need for my degree program (minus the art kit for Fundamentals of Art which I received later on). I got it all the MacBook pro computer, the Wacom tablet…. All Of it… Check out the Computer Animation launch box HERE. You generally get the launch box when you are required to use the components. So, I would need my computer for classes starting my 4th month so I got it.

While juggling with the idea of transferring into a new degree program I had two options I was on the fence about, Digital Cinematography and Graphic Design. Both very interesting to me and one I know a bit about as I was a graphic design major and Fine Arts major at former colleges as well as I minored in it. I wanted to challenge myself though, I wanted to incorporate something I love into my degree and while graphics and designing was where I was leaning heavily, I trusted my gut and chose Digital Cinematography. I love editing, I love writing, I love movies… It made sense and it was something different from what I’d done in the past.

Once I had the degree program chosen I had to take the steps to start the process of switching my enrollment. Full Sail refers to it as a “Change of enrollment”  This process of course starts with the desire to do so. Once I spoke to an advisor about the issues I was having in my current degree program and my inability to use Maya and knowing it was going to be a required task throughout the rest of my academic career I was feeling like I had 1 of two options. Either switch degrees to one that don’t utilize Maya or drop out of school. We all know I didn’t want to drop out, but I considered it. Once I’d plead my case I received an email just outlining the conversation and stating I wanted to switch degrees.

Changing your degree in the first 4 months (providing you take English) is super easy. In fact, they recommend you do any degree changing in the first 4 months this way no launch box has been sent and there isn’t any overlapping courses. In my case I took a majority of 3D Foundations, this means I paid for and took a course I won’t be carrying into my new degree. (Essentially wasted month) but it’s all good. You can only change enrollment at the start of a new semester. Full Sail semesters run 4 months, so you have specific deadlines to get the request in to change your degree. Because I was just beginning a new semester and had already taken the 4th class I was forced to wait another 4 months before I could officially switch.

I know what you are thinking… Did I have to stop taking classes? No, I didn’t. What they did was enrolled me in courses that everyone is required to take. Throughout your degree there are certain classes everyone takes. I was enrolled in Art History, College Mathematics, Fundamentals of Physical Science and Career Module 1: Personal Branding. These are all courses everyone will eventually take so they can go for either degree program. I am not behind in my courses by doing this however, this month is my Career Module 1 course, this course is usually paired with Project Portfolio. I couldn’t do the project portfolio because I am switching degrees, so I had pretty much a month off. The Career Module 1 course was literally an hour tops of work for the entire month and I finished it all day 1 and now have nothing more to do. It’s only 1 credit but eh….

I will be required to take one of the core 4 classes again. Why you ask? When you enroll in a degree program you are put in a class in your 3rd month that is degree specific. So, for computer animation I took Technology and Entertainment in the Media Industries (TEM). Once I switch to Digital Cinematography I will have to take Visual Arts in the Entertainment and Media Industries (VEM) because that course is specific to the Digital Cinematography course. Be mindful of the degrees you are switching to, some you won’t need to re take this course others you will.

One of the most important aspects of switching your degree once you’ve received your launch box is whether or not you can financially afford to. In Full Sail you may or may not be aware we pay for our Launch Boxes; the school don’t give us all these nifty items for free. When you opt to switch degrees and have received your launch box if you’ve not opened any of the items you can return it. I know few people who aren’t tearing into these puppies so it’s safe to assume everything is opened. In my case I opened it ALL! I inquired about this and I know what you’re wondering… Yes, you keep your launch box. So, all the programs and items you received are yours.

Financial aid, in fact a special section of financial aid, will be contacting you to get a form filled out. This form consists of the items you received already as well as the items you need for the new degree. So, in my case I listed the items I needed for the Digital Cinematography course. All Launch boxes come with the computer, cords, low jack, warranty and iPad. Those items I didn’t have to list because I already got them however I had to list everything else I would need.

That’s the most current list of items for the Digital Cinematography Launch Box. I highlighted the items I currently have which left the items un highlighted that I will need. This section of financial aid will then do a total amount for all the items I will need and add that to my tuition to ensure that my financial aid, loans, grants etc. will absorb it. Thankfully it will so I am good to go.

You will be contacted in the month before the official change to verify you are still moving forward with the switch. Since I already verbally did this months ago with the financial aid people it was already set in motion for my switch to happen on November 19, 2018 which will be that start of my 3rd semester.

An interesting side note here…. I was genuinely worried about the financials of this switch. As we all are aware Full Sail isn’t a cheap school and I can tell you that I have used my lifetime allowed loans and grants attending this school.  I have hit my cap I am eligible for in my lifetime. Most if not all students will apply for the Momentum Scholarship… it’s a life saver for if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t be able to attend school. I also received a technology scholarship of $3000.00 which I am told they no longer offer. I remember getting both of these scholarships, so I started seeking out more scholarships to help offset the cost of tuition. My thought of course was the increase cost of the second launch box which isn’t cheap, I needed all the help I could get because I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay out of pocket. Worst case scenario I can’t switch degrees because I can’t afford it. So, I contacted the financial aid department that would be going over the financials of my degree switch and inquired about other scholarships I might be eligible for to help with the cost. I was then told that even if I was eligible for any scholarships, I couldn’t use them because I can’t stack scholarships with the momentum scholarship. I mentioned that I had gotten the technology scholarship when I first enrolled but was told that wasn’t being offered anymore and at the time they could offer to me with the momentum however now no other scholarships could be stacked with it. Which in short means if you opt for other scholarships you make a choice. The momentum is up to $20,000.00 of your tuition so I would stick with that one.

Speaking of the financials… As close as I could find I went through the Digital Cinematography Launch Box list and found the items and their prices. Again, it was an estimation for a couple because without actually holding the item I can’t determine what it is completely. I did watch unboxing videos and got model numbers off boxes other students got so it’s possible these prices will change as the items become updated… But it’s a good baseline. Each item is a link to a page to purchase the item.

  1. Sony FS5K Camera – $4,749.00
  2. EPZ 18-105mm Camera Lens – $599.99
  3. Final Draft – $129.99
  4. Manfrotto Tripod – $359.99
  5. Westcott Light Kit – $249.90
  6. Westcott Light Kit Case – $49.90
  7. Movie Magic Budgeting – $185.00
  8. Movie Magic Scheduling – $185.00
  9. On Stage Desktop Microphone Stand – $14.95
  10. Sennheiser E835 Microphone – $99.95
  11. Porta Brace Soft Case for Camera – $169.00
  12. Sony 7502 Professional Headphones – $49.99
  13. Sony Shotgun Microphone – $219.00
  14. Scandisk USBC to SD Card Adapter – $12.99
  15. Scandisk 64GB SDKC Card – $15.90

For a grand total added to my cost of tuition – $7,090.64 Approximately…. Plus, the total amount of the Computer Animation Launch Box I already purchased…. $4,996.64 Gives us an approximate total of $12,087.00 spent on Launch Box items….

It wasn’t a very difficult thing to switch degrees just took time.

Tips:

  • Be mindful of the dates and time frames. Remember you can only do a switch when you are going into a new semester (every 4 months) there are deadlines to get the requests in so speak to an advisor as soon as you are thinking about it.
  • Talk to the financial aid department that handles degree switching to make sure you can afford to do it early on.
  • Try to do any degree switching while in the first 4 moths of school. While this isn’t always an option as in my case, I can assure you the least amount you have to spend on Launch Boxes the better.
  • Don’t switch degrees more than once. I say this because it can get costly, time consuming and put you way behind in courses and time frame for graduation.
  • Do research on the degree you are wanting to switch to. I went on YouTube and found videos of other students who were in the Digital Cinematography courses. I got a great idea of the assignments, classes and using the tech stuff. It’s a good way to really determine if a switch is right for you.

All in all, I can say it was a relatively painless process. But one, at least in my case, was essential to my future career. I knew I’d struggle throughout school had I remained in the computer animation program so for me, I had to switch. I am really excited to start this new journey in my education as a filmmaker.

If you have any questions at all please feel free to leave a comment or contact me via social media.

Are you a student thinking about switching your degree? If so please share with us your process.

Thank you all for reading. I hope this has shed some light on this process.

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