Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Attempting the Impossible: Raising $45,000 USD for College

Well, to be blunt, I've spent the last two years since I emerged onto the Internet as Arikado trying to do the impossible. And this is the most stupid or brilliant thing I've ever attempted yet.

It's my dream to become a great programmer. I find video-game programming to be the ultimatum of programming. You must know more to write a video-game than to write any other program. It's take high level math, physics, science, and the most random trivial factoids in existence memorized to be used at any time.

In fact, were it not for my knowledge of video-game programming, DeSmuME Wii would have never happened. And neither would have DOP-Mii. Only because of the knowledge I've gained through video-game programming was I able to bring these projects to where they are today.

So what I'm trying to say is: I want to become a video-game programmer. That's my career choice. It always has been, and it always will be. I was born to do it. I've been programming since I was 12 starting in Liberty BASIC and graduating to markup languages (HTML, CSS, javascript) and then finally to C/C++. Every step of the way I challenged myself to think: How can I make a game out of this? It took lots of research and teaching myself advanced concepts but I've always been able to complete whatever I set my mind to. And through this, I've been able to branch off and create other related projects. Yes, I'm saying that, in some sense, DOP-Mii and DeSmuME Wii were easier to write than WiiBreaker and Wii Shooting Gallery and my other games.

This June I'll finally be out of high school. Finally. Of course I'm choosing to get a degree in computer science. However, there is once school in the world that offers a bachelors degree specifically in video-game programming and then allows you to achieve a masters in computer science. That school is the holy grail of colleges for me to attend. That school is DigiPen ( ).

DigiPen is located in Washington State. I live in New York State. I live in a deeply financially troubled family and thus I have almost a full ride in financial aid to a local school for a degree in computer science. DigiPen offered me next to no financial aid whatsoever. After talking to parents and figuring everything out, we've come to the conclusion that I will need $45,000 USD to make it to DigiPen for the first year (I will be working two jobs this summer and getting as much scholarship money as possible but its still $45,000 USD :( ). My parents told me that this is way too high an amount and that I should just take the local school.

I dont believe in the impossible. I believe that I can raise the money via the awesome people on the Internet. By May 1st, I have to make a decision on which college to attend. If I can get $10,000 USD by then I can probably convince my parents that I can raise the rest (if I can get all $45,000 USD by May 1st though that would be ok too ;) ).  If not, well, the money you send will make my crappy local school experience at least a little less harsh.

You can donate via the ChipIn widget on the right-hand side of this page. Or the same widget right here:

I will be taking programming and blog and other requests if you are willing to donate if I complete them.

Thank you to everyone for reading this :)


  1. Congratulations, you've raised $1 already! :<

    I'm afraid I can't contribute but I wish you the best of luck.

  2. As do I. I'll see if I can donate later, and I'll be sure to spread the word.

  3. Good luck :) knock together a decent iphone app for a quick but of cash ;)

  4. College/University is a scam. It was originally designed to be free, until greedy fucks forced people to pay for it. They don't guarantee you any success in life, nor do they guarantee a better job than flipping burgers in McDs. I know because I have a university degree in business management. I could have started my own business without it.

    Luckily my parents paid the entire tuition... so whatever.

    If your fund raiser is unsuccessful you can always get a free university education in Europe. I could of chosen that option because I have dual citizenship, but whatever, I wanted to stay in North America.

  5. No offense, but I would say you are really selfish. As you mentioned that your family has already been in a deep financial trouble, why would you still stick to this plan without considering your family difficulties? Besides, there are still millions of people suffering every day from starvation across the world, if I have spare cash, I would rather chip in to help out those poor people instead of making a donation to your uncertain future, which would barely contribute much to our society.

  6. You're very unlikely to be able to study in europe for free without citizenship. The tuition fees are much higher for international students.

    However, several offer partial bursaries based on academic merit, so you could investigate that.

    On the other hand, don't get too worried about going to the best college available. Your interest in the subject is strong enough to motivate you to develop your skills accordingly. Academics at all colleges are competent enough to aid you in this.

    Unfortunately you're coming face-to-face with the reality that after a certain point in education academic excellence is no longer the primary factor, and privilege becomes the main catalyst for success. This won't be entirely the case just yet, but it becomes noticeable at this stage. Nor is this rule absolute.

    A consolation is that members of the industry are frequently heard to play down the importance of courses like this one, often saying that the graduates aways need extensive retraining before they can work in a studio environment.

    The decision you are trying to make is hugely unrealistic (though if you do raise $45k, props to you!), though I understand your feelings and frustration. There are several other paths available to you which will be equally effective. I suggest taking a CS or AI course somewhere, maximizing your development there, and then moving to somewhere like Dallas to get a foothold in the industry.

    Good luck.

  7. To be blunt, this is really my last idea to get into a decent college. As stated in the blog post, I'd be surprised if it happened, but it's not impossible.

    I get thousands and thousands of unique hits on all of my web pages every day ranging from those on WiiBrew to this blog to those pages on googlecode to newkseen. I also had people tweet and facebook and post link on other sites for me.

    If every person chipped in a single dollar, I would be there in no time. I got about an estimated 50,000 people who saw my donation link last night.

    The course of the next 24 hours will probably show me whether or not this will work out.

    @Second Anonymous
    You could give to a starving person who will always be a starving person or you could give to highschool student potential of becoming rich and famous and helping out the world in ways you could never dream of. Donating is an investment to help the future; Your choice which you think will help more. Lastly, since you're reading this I'm sure you've used and enjoyed my software which took months and months of hard work to write. I've never asked for a single cent until now.

    Plan B right now is to go to a stinky local school, extend the ChipIn widget to this time next year, and see if I can get transferred to a better school. I'm really not too interested in studying in a foreign country; A little too intimidating for me haha.

  8. Come to the UK! get some debt from a loan lol. Alot of the unis here would have you no problem (hell they wanted me)
    staffs for example houses RAREs motion capture suite so you get your games kick if you want it too.

  9. He'd be looking at up to 4x 8000GBP if he came here. Plus actually moving himself here and paying rent. It would probably be more expensive than his first choice.

  10. As someone who had to work all through university and pay for it all himself I can feel for you. It was pretty rough at times but I made it.
    Let's say you get the $45 000 for first year, then what? You still have 3 more years for your Bachelors and you mentioned plans to do a Masters as well.
    Unfortunately many college/university students have to seek out government or private bank loans to pay for school. Is it right or fare? No but that's the reality of the situation
    You mentioned that your local college/university would be taken care of for you, why not earn your undergraduate degree locally, save some money during that time and then apply to do a Masters at DigiPen after?
    Regardless I wish you the best of luck in your endeavours.

  11. Donated. Hope you make.. it but you might want to consider extending the timeframe at the current rate you will definitely fail :S

  12. Coming from a graduate student, I can tell you that it's not always about the prestigious quality of the college, it's really based on the faculty. Have you met those who will/would be teaching you in both places? Will they be able to teach you what you want to know, even if it is in a different aspect than say, Video game programming 301?

    I agree with the latest Anonymous, work on your bachelor's locally and then move on to a master's degree. If you score well on your GREs and whatever other tests thrown your way and present yourself well, you'll end up where you want to be for master's work.

    You're not being selfish, it's the responsibility of a parent to do what's best for their child, and I'm sure they'd love you to be happy and successful over their own well being (so long as they aren't in the poor house. Money doesn't guarantee happiness, but it makes it possible.)

    Good luck Arikado.

  13. All this is good advice.

    Also, I'll donate 10GBP if you'll recommend my youtube video.

    Actually, I'll do it anyway.

  14. Maybe you should put ads in your blog? So you know you get some money from there since you get a lot of unique visits. It would help. Too bad I'm 15 and I want to learn programming tooo soon. Maybe I'll follow ur path.:p

  15. Wow, this is great advice I'm getting. I really appreciate all of it and all of the support. The suggestions to try and get a masters at a better school is a great idea.

    An anonymous asked "what would you do after the first year even if you got the money for this year[sic]"
    My running idea is that I would be able to get an internship throughout my stay at DigiPen and would be able to make enough money throughout the year that I would only have to take out a very small loan. Combine that with family support and any online money received during that time and I should hopefully be able to pull it off. It's the first year that's going to be the hardest to get into.

    Someone else asked if I've met the staff at both schools and I actually have. The one's at DigiPen (contacted via telephone and e-mail) were amazing, answered all my questions, and got me pumped to go there telling me I would be developing high quality video games by the end of my first year. I met the faculty at the local university and they gave a half-assed attempt to get me excited for a first year of basic electronics (which I have college credit for from high school that they won't accept) and learning java.

    I really just feel like I'd be wasting my time at a local university and would be learning most things on my own. DigiPen is just so damn expensive :/

    Lastly, the $45,000 covers living expenses too btw (someone asked this I believe)

  16. One more quick thing: Someone mentioned I should run ads on my site. Honestly, I would if I could. But I'm not eligible for any advertising programs because I'm 17 and not 18. If there is one I'm eligible for that transfers via PayPal, someone please let me know :)

  17. Have you thought about student loans? They generally have low, fixed interest rates and the government pays the interest on subsidized loans while you are in school. With a career in C.S., you should have no problem paying them off after school. It is just a thought, but it could be useful - especially if it helps you decide between going to a good school or not.

  18. Thing is, I would be taking out about $37,000 a year in non-subsidized loans. And I can't take out any loans, only my parents can by putting their house up as collateral. I also have a younger sister who's going to need to go to college as well in two years. Taking out that much in loans right now is an unfortunately impossible situation.

  19. hey arikado!

    Its great you are being positive about your fund rising!

    I'll tell you about my background.

    I was one of the best students, in an international 3rd world school (sponsored by the goverment of austria) in central america.

    When I graduated, I had the same difficult decision you are taking right now.

    a) Study in my country paying the least
    b) Moving to europe making it harder for my parents.
    c) Studing in a prestigeus university in my neighbor country (the US), almost imposible (I dont belive in the word "Imposible" also.

    Well, to trying to make my story short, I never stoped dreaming, If you fell like you are being in a difficult situation, think about all the other (the majority of people) living in places with greater difficulties to have a decent education.

    I decided, it was an extream load for my parents, and I stayed in my country.

    I graduated with honors, and became part of the faculty in my Uni.

    ...Now... what I say to my students is that.. If someone is a parrot, wherever he is, he will be green. It doesnt matter where you had studied, what makes you the best is YOU as a pearson. I can assure you, in no university you will find anyone that will teach you that much about an ebedded system, than what you know about the wii right now... there are so many things to learn in life, most of them, you will have to learn yourself... alone.

    Well, to finish, I would like to say, you should never lose your dreams, If what you really want is to study at digipen, just make your plan, evalue possible scenarios, and have plan B,C,D. What I mean, is that you can study in your local college, and then ask for an assistanship at digipen. You can try to achieve a scholarship from the biggest scholarship providers, etc ,etc etc. There is always a way. You should consider that the WORLD is struggling for better education, and that being smart is not enough, there are tousands of smart guys applying por scholarships, you have to be better, you have to be able to offer more.

    Do not feel bad if what you think would be the best for you, in short term, do not happen, struggle to make it happen in the shortest time possible.

    Don't give up!!! You can make great thinks beeing perseverant.

    If life were chicken soup, no one would get a cold!

    Si la vida fuera caldo de gallina, nadie tendria gripe!

  20. @Mathcad

    Wonderfully said.

  21. I simply cannot resist to mention this, but, you know, the next-to-impossibeness is because of the politics you advocate. In Sweden (socialist Sweden, you know) you could go to any university if you just have good grades that are good enought. As an example, I'm studying at a really nice one and isn't paying a cent for it (except for litterature and travelling, but that's covered by the student grant I accept).

    No hard feelings about this, I just couldn't resist the opportunity to try to convert a clever man into a socialist. ;) ... and yes, I know this attempt will fail :)

    Also, I agree with mathcad. The thing is really about who you are and not about where you've become who you are. You say you'll be having 2 jobs if you go to DigiPen. When are you going to have time to study? With all the time you'll be spending at work, you shouldn't you be able to teach yourself what they would have taught you at the college by yourself? The problem is then to get a job without proof of what you know. But as you are as good as you are on what you do, the companies should see this and if they don't, couldnt you start your own company?

    In any case good luck, with your career!! :D

  22. @ Profetylen

    Love the idea of free education, not terribly sure about the tax burden...almost 47.8% according to this: , but hey, to each their own :-P.

  23. @Kage

    I wonder how 47.8 % is calculated. I guess it could be the tax for high incomers. The tax regular people pay is around 33 %. Or they may have included other taxes other than work tax, like sales tax (which is 25.0 % for most wares).

    Regarding the article. Our so beloved statsminister Fredrik Reinfelt actually pays the tax reductions through loans and by selling public companies to insanely low prices and by forcing sick people (in some extreme cases, people dying from cancer (truly, actually)) to work, while the youth has an incredible hard time of getting a job.

  24. Profetylen, even though I'm poor and I would love a full ride from the government; I'm smart enough to know the consequences of it that would ruin everyone else. Accepting it would be selfish. I'll take a shitty education and capitalism over a great education and socialism any day.

  25. Lol, sorry for the topic change.

    You truly are at a newer frontier when it comes to academics, going for video game programming. It's my understanding that graphic design is so new, there's an instructor in my area who's teaching at a 2 year institution without any degree whatsoever. He does this simply because he's that good. Maybe this is similar to what you're experiencing?

  26. Lol. I thought socialism was the unselfish alternative. However, back on topic. I'm also sorry for going offtopic.

  27. KillBill_158ür-ein-universitätsbesuch/#post144255

    DONATE: 10$

    Good luck :) DSEmuME Wii is the best!!!

  28. w00t, Homebrew Programmer at Big N - exploits from the most reliable source :P

    I'll see if I can find some money for you, about 10$ should be possible.

  29. why so short only until may 2? It just gets to the media...

  30. It will be extended shortly ...

  31. "I'll take a shitty education and capitalism over a great education and socialism any day."

    If you educate people they gain knowledge.
    Knowledge is power.
    You think a country of smart, well educated people is going to end up like the US?
    The US has more financial troubles then Greece does, yet you dont want your government to pay for education?
    You want the ppl of the US to remain powerless?
    god damn fox news is keeping you all stupid, you know...

    Im not saying socialism is perfect, but the USA could learn a lot from it.

  32. Yes, and all of the USAs problems stem from these damn socialists running the country beginning with Jimmy Carter through Obama today.

  33. Those are not socialists.
    There has NEVER in the entire history of the USA been a socialist president.
    Who told you they where socialists?

    Did you do any research on what socialism is?

    I live in Belgium, and here, we have got way
    better health care then you can imagine.
    going to a university would cost me about $800 / year.

    we have lower crime rates, better schools, faster, safer AND more economic cars, Less car crashes, better social security, less racism, virtually no slums, less national dept, started no wars, ...

    And yet we are not socialists.

    We are capitalists.
    But here, calling someone a socialist isn't offending. We have a socialists party, and people are complaining that these are starting to lean to much towards the center. Even the capitalists here know that we need to get the best from both systems.

  34. It's a pity this turned into a political debate. Kind of off topic don't y'all think? Even I'm guilty of it...

  35. I think anyone can help him to Europeans if everyone gave $ 1 is not even 1 € you give it, I think it's a good approach to help him.

    With all those who cross the wii hack forum and read on his blog, etc. .. making the gesture, I'm on in 24 hours he has accumulated the amount for the project which is his future.