Do schools sometimes give students false expectations?

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Old 01 January 2010   #16
Originally Posted by csmallfield: As for companies requiring a BA, I've never seen that in commercials, your work and your personality are the only things that mean a thing in my experience. Often they don't even read resumes, just look at your reel and give you a call, or not.

Ironically, the only CG jobs I've seen that absolutely require a BA are teaching gigs at accredited schools.
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Old 01 January 2010   #17
I'm going to be frank, I was "top of the class" for animation / CG related courses and had a high GPA for the majority of my courses in Interactive Media Design. I never once was given any form of constructive criticism throughout my entire university degree. Not once.

I was always told I was doing good and encouraged, which was great... but never pointed to where my flaws were. I'm very hard on my own work, and I knew that it was student level and wanted to improve, but was never told where my mistakes were, in what capacity and what I could do to make it better. Even the times when I got a less than stellar grade, the feedback was just terrible. Evaluations seemed to be more about hitting a list of bullet points to include in a project rather than actually applying the knowledge correctly.

I put a lot of effort into improving myself and doing good work, but that lack of feedback left me frustrated and not nearly as capable of getting my desired results. Thankfully I found this forum and managed to learn significantly by viewing other people's work / critiques.

Meanwhile, there were many students who slacked - who should have failed out of the program in the first year - and ended up with the same credentials. Since many of these people were babied, they came out with the expectation that their fancy degree would be the ticket to employment. Even some of the good students had this expectation, that their work was awesome. Obviously they were incorrect.

So, absolutely yes. If the school has just opened a new game development, new media or animation program, they more likely than not have no idea what they are doing, and are just creating the program for the "cool" factor to boost the school's reputation. There are good schools out there, but you have to work hard to find them.
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Old 01 January 2010   #18
I taught a 3D graphics class for 7 years at a fairly popular university for visual effects and animation. Teachers are expected to teach and grade in such a way that most, if not all, of the students are capable of passing the course. This is the way it's always been for them -- starting in grade school -- and neither the students nor the administration want courses that are so tough that most students can't pass them. As a result, passing a course (or getting a degree) is not a confirmation that you can do professional work. It's more like getting a pat on the head for being "a good boy" and doing what you were told in each class.

Teachers sometimes try to warn students about the realities of the industry, but the students themselves start out with the "false expectations," and brutal honesty usually deters the wrong people. There's no correlation between self-confidence and competence. The less competent someone is, the less capable he is of self-evaluation or recognizing good work. As a result, if you warn people about the growing gap between the number of people studying the field, and the number of competent artists who will find a limited number of jobs, the warning could not only fall on deaf ears among the less competent, it might actually deter artists from continuing who have more talent than self-confidence.

I also don't think that teachers (or professionals on-line) add much to the discussion by being overly negative. Most art students have already experienced something like that scene in the movie "Art School Confidential" where the arrogant artist comes as a guest speaker and tells the students nothing but how inferior they are and how none of them will ever achieve his stature. That kind of rant doesn't help any more than the opposite extreme of pretending that earning a degree at a school will automatically help you get a job.

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Old 01 January 2010   #19
This is a real shame... Some teachers I know are literally just teaching students how to push buttons. Many of the students I get are only wanting same. I get odd looks from some students when I offer them critique on their work as if my input will taint the perfection they are creating

Not everyone understands the power of aesthetics and the benefit of informed decision making within the production process. I do all I can to figure what each student 'needs' from me as far as motivation is concerned and try to be measured in my ass kicking. It's the students whose ass I kick the hardest that hate me the most during the process but it's also the same ones with my footprint still on their butts who return months after graduating to thank me

It's one of the many cool things that has kept me teaching
Those who know it can't be done should stop interrupting those who are doing it


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Old 01 January 2010   #20
Yeah, it's a frigging shame that people ain't spoonfed all the time.

Imagine a scenario where you actually have to read a 5000+ pages manuals by yourself(zomg!!11 yes by yourself wtft???!?!?^^) to get solutions instead of having a class full with mates, teachers, youtube tutorials and internet forums for posting ' help plz i can haz qstion?!?!?' threads.

Wouldn't that be hell?

Stop whining, because nobody cares.
Old 01 January 2010   #21
I think the infancy of this field is really contributing to the lack of discipline in schooling.

My professor didn't have a film or animation or teaching degree when he took the job about 8 years ago. He just kinda showed up on the Dean's doorstep and said "Do you want someone who can teach animation?" And the Dean, blinded by the Wow factor said, "Sure!" Problem is, my teacher was practically bi-polar. He would reward crappy work with good grades and hard work with satisfactory marks. It's almost like he was there just to make friends. I remember on a number of occasions he'd say something like "Well, if any of you guys make it big and get a job out at Pixar, don't hesitate to give me a referral." The whole class felt immature.

Thankfully the guy got fired a couple years later, and was replaced by someone with a relevant degree.

I still think it's silly as hell that some Universities will freely hire some guy who walks in off the street to teach a class in an emerging field without doing their homework. I can't imagine Dentistry had such a rocky beginning.
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Old 01 January 2010   #22
Originally Posted by scrimski: Yeah, it's a frigging shame that people ain't spoonfed all the time.

Imagine a scenario where you actually have to read a 5000+ pages manuals by yourself(zomg!!11 yes by yourself wtft???!?!?^^) to get solutions instead of having a class full with mates, teachers, youtube tutorials and internet forums for posting ' help plz i can haz qstion?!?!?' threads.

Wouldn't that be hell?

Stop whining, because nobody cares.

Did you actually read the post? He isn't whining at all. In fact, he brings up a really good point. Instructors do absolutely mislead students, not only about their abilities but also about employment in the industry itself. They aren't strict on students because they don't want to have to go the extra mile to actually teach properly (frankly I'd say many instructors in CG courses are teaching because they failed at getting into studio jobs themselves, there are exceptions to this of course, but I believe this applies to a large percentage, if not the majority) and because they don't want students dropping out, as that's a loss to the college/university. They love to paint this picture of this growing industry in which everyone who graduates will get employed, when in fact there are very few junior positions available for graduates. And frankly I do think this laziness, pussyfooting and deception is disgraceful when you consider the tuition costs involved. People are being scammed into shelling out loads of money for really, really poor quality courses taught by inept instructors who couldn't cut it in the field themselves.
Old 01 January 2010   #23
Thanks Leigh. Does this make up for all my whining on the Challenge XXV thread?
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Old 01 January 2010   #24
Originally Posted by flipnap: throwing your entire self belief into one persons opinion of you is bound to fail. this is a failure on a personal level that has nothing to do with a school. this student has examples of greatness all around and shouldve been able to see he wasnt good. As far as schools in general, they are a business and will try to convince as many students as possible they will succeed;its business. Very few schools i know of will kick you out or refuse admission if you arent capable. Many schools i know will pump kids out like a factory because the bottom line is profit. sad but true.

I can relate to this experience and it's not just in CG.... I majored in Information Technology and got good grades making applications that were very poor at housekeeping memory, games that were grossly inefficient.. and making Essays that were wordy and made no sense... Doing art that really was quite awful.

It took a combination of seeing the REAL benchmarks, and my mom calling my Essays "crap" to make me realize I needed to work at it.

Learning is up to the student.
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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 01 January 2010 at 02:06 AM.
Old 01 January 2010   #25
Requirements for BA degrees among teachers are, of course, a requirement either of the accrediting agency or state law or sometimes both.

I never felt that the school was "expecting" me to hand out a certain number of A's, B's and so forth; in fact, they took pains to stress that this was not their expectation. But course plans and syllabuses were subject to peer review, and everyone participated. (And I do mean, "participated." As peers.) I am quite pleased that I wound up handing out mostly "A's and F's." Well, I am not at all pleased with the F's, which I think were wasting both their time and my own. My courses were difficult, challenging, fair, and worth the student's time. They said so, long after the courses were done.

I think that students ultimately will make (or not-make) of their education whatever they will, and ultimately it is the instructor's challenge to effectively teach the material as best he or she can, to those who will listen. To those who try.

Certainly, most of the students in my classes were adults. One student in one of my classes was a Doctor of Chemistry, himself a tenured faculty member at a 4-year University in the area. He blended right in, insisted that I simply call him by his first name, never demanded attention, and of course made an "A."
Old 01 January 2010   #26
Someone mentioned earlier in this thread that if he posted his work here 'we'd of straightened him out', and that's not true at all. I've posted plenty of awful work here trying to get critiques in the WIP stills section... 1/4 of my threads get 1-2 responses, 1/4 get a full page or more but usually from 1-2 people, and 1/2 get no responses. I'm not whining about not getting responses, I'm just saying that the statement isn't true, the majority of people here reply to threads they think are great, because posting a "wow that's so amazing" comment is totally helpful and not a waste of time.

On that note, the animation WIP section usually always gets responses. So I'm not entirely correct either

As for myself, I'm a hobbyist, soon to be a student. The school I'm applying to almost didn't let me in even though I've been learning CG on my own for over a year and have had a life long interest in it, just because I hadn't been to school/work in a while due to illness. During the first 1-2 weeks they try and make you leave, from what I've heard, because they don't want not-so-good people in the course even if they do have money.

So I guess we people in new zealand are really spoiled for good animation schools. And I'm fortunate

Last edited by JaredTaylor : 01 January 2010 at 02:55 AM.
Old 01 January 2010   #27
t in my school. The teacher wouldn't hesitate to tell his student that their stuff looks liek shit. Those very words "It looks like shit". He was an ass but I guess it worked because his students were among the most accomplished.
Old 01 January 2010   #28
IMO, it's just as much the fault of the student's as it is the school's.

When I taught at art schools, I witnessed first hand how many students delude themselves, never once bothering to think that in order to get a job in the industry, their portfolio must look at least as good as the average professional work being produced at the moment--meaning the video games, movies, TV shows...etc that are being released at the moment. The complete lack of self-awareness in some of them is just scary. To make it worse, they refuse to listen when they are told they have to learn the very important foundations like composition, color theory, anatomy/figure, perspective, lighting/values...etc in order to become a good artist, regardless if it's 3D or 2D. Many of today's students don't think of themselves as artists and don't want to be artists--they just want to make "cool shit." It boggles my mind to think that they are so blind as to not see that 3D = visual medium, and all visual mediums share the same foundation. To become a 3D ARTIST means you must study the same foundation as someone who is majoring in illustration or fine art--it's all related and intertwined. It's this very basic lack of understanding that results in thousands of clueless graduates with astonishingly bad portfolios full of 3D pieces that show a complete and utter lack of understanding of even the most basic visual art knowledge (and then wonder why they can't get a job).

The schools are just as guilty, because they often succumb to the popular trend of students avoiding foundational education. They know a lot of students find that stuff boring and will end up dropping out and not returning, so they just gloss over all the extremely important but "boring" stuff, and spend the majority of time teaching students how to operate software, which is the most idiotic waste of someone's tuition money. If I went to art school just to be taught the same thing I could learn from reading the manual, I'd be extremely pissed. What schools should be doing is turning students from clueless, delusional, and misguided youths into passionate, knowledgeable, motivated, and skilled ARTISTS. If that means doing all it takes to MAKE the students understand how important the foundations are, then that's what any good school should do. As the voice authority, you TELL the students what they need to learn because you should know better, not the other way around.

IMO, to tell the difference between a good school and a bad one is to look at the curriculum. If it's very strong in the foundational courses, then it's likely a good school. If they just gloss over the foundational stuff, then it's likely a school only interested in taking your money and teaching you the same thing you can get from a manual. Another telltale sign is the faculty's industry experience. There are a lot of people who should not be teaching anyone anything, because they're not even good enough to get a respectable job in the industry, nor are they actually knowledgeable about what they teach. The real acid test is to look at the teacher's work. If it doesn't impress you, then well, you draw your own conclusions. IMO, people who are failed artists but have a lot of academic knowledge are basically armchair quarterbacks. They talk the talk but can't walk the walk, and to be able to really make a difference in the lives of the students and prepare them for the real world, you must have accumulated hard-won experience on the battlefield--at the front lines, to really know what the hell you're talking about.

The last factor is the student himself. In every school, there are the superstars. They are the ones who are light years ahead of other students in terms of skill, knowledge, motivation, passion, and direction in life. They are the ones who knows from day one that their real competition are the pros already working in studios--the people who are making the stuff that have inspired them to want to be an artists in the first place. They judge the quality of their own student work against the big blockbuster movies and AAA games, and they shoot for the stars and don't let up. They treat each class assignment like it's the most important job they ever had, and they spend just as much time on their personal works outside of class assignments. They are hungry for knowledge and they are constantly pressing the instructors for more knowledge and insights. When other students are getting stoned and drunk, they are working hard on their portfolios. In an ideal world, all students should be like these superstars, but since many art schools are in the business of making money first and foremost, they don't even have a proper screening and filtering process--they'd take any slacker who can pay the tuition. Because of this, I also recommend students to pick schools that are actually hard to get into, or at least have a proper screening process. If there's no portfolio requirement to get in, then you know they have no standards.

So it's really a vicious cycle that will continue, and in the end, it's up to the students to be the positive change in their own lives. Be smart, be resourceful, be critical, be motivated. Shop around. Research. Aim for the stars.

Last edited by Lunatique : 01 January 2010 at 04:47 AM.
Old 01 January 2010   #29
Jeez, I really hope medical school isnt taught the same way. I'd hate to know my doctor's professors are telling them years later "yeah, you dont have a firm grasp of even the basic concepts. But hey, you have your degree!"
Old 01 January 2010   #30
Originally Posted by Lunatique: IMO, to tell the difference between a good school and a bad one is to look at the curriculum. If it's very strong in the foundational courses, then it's likely a good school. If they just gloss over the foundational stuff, then it's likely a school only interested in taking your money and teaching you the same thing you can get from a manual.

I agree with most of what you said; just not this. Foundations are a major portion of the curriculum at one of the bigger diploma factories in the United States (I'm not going to name names) and last I looked, most of their grads were unhirable. Even the few ones with real talent had demo reels done in stop-motion toothpick animation, sand animation or some other artsy fartsy stuff with little commercial relevance.

Foundations are important, that is not up for debate. But in the courseload, I wouldn't consider their presence a major barometer of quality when a certificate from VFS, Animation Mentor or Gnomon indicates much more valuable, marketable training then from certain schools with strong foundation courses that hand out an awful lot of mostly useless AAs and BAs every year.
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