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Old 06 June 2010   #16
Originally Posted by jesse92: Mmm well lets say that i do like CC for fall only.. like from august or october to december or jauary, just to get my GPA up, and then i apply for the summer semester or spring semester at a good college...that would be the best thing to do right? , so in the CC what classes should i take? only art and that stuff, or like everything, history, math, english...

Do your liberal arts credits at a community college. The community college will probably have a higher standard of instruction on top of bieng cheaper for liberal arts. It would be wise to complete all liberal arts requirements at community college and then transfer to an art school. You don't want to be paying $450+/credit hour for history and english.
Old 06 June 2010   #17
I'd agree go for the basic liberal arts stuff. You may want to take an art course or two depending on the school. Just make sure you get good grades, the whole purpose is to show you can handle the work load.

@Lyr, I'm not saying they go away, just stating they are much more problematic if you are sitting at home rather than in a class room.

"If someone isn't mature enough for animation mentor, they aren't mature enough for college."

I wouldn't agree with this part of the post. Maturity may have been a wrong choice of wording in my post, discipline would be better suited.
Nicholi Conterno - Gnomon Student

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Old 06 June 2010   #18
College isn't like high school. They don't call your parents if you don't show up to class. They aren't going to ride you. Change the word to discipline if you like, I don't think it changes anything. Both online and brick and mortar schools require you to show up on time and do your work on time. I really don't see one requiring more discipline over another.

The way I see it the choice comes down to a preference of enviroment and routine. Online letting you keep your current enviroment and working around your established routine, and brick and mortar requiring you alter your routine around the program and maybe move.
Old 06 June 2010   #19
I agree with MrConterno about most of what was said. I don't think that Animation Mentor is the right solution, but it entirely depends on the person. I think only in the RARE instance is a high school student better served by an online program than a brick and mortar one. I actually usually think that unless a person has severe behavioral issues that prevents them from interacting in a live classroom, they are better off in a real one than a virtual one (for basic high school and undergraduate education) because of the richness of the education and the networking / friendships, etc. that happen much more seamlessly in a real classroom. I can say this with some authority because I have taught both live and online workshops, and believe me, an online workshop is not the same as a live one.

I think the real issue though here is cc vs. AI, and I would go with a good cc any day. What I would do is talk to a high school counselor as well about what courses you should take at a cc to get your grades up - you don't want to overload yourself and set yourself up for failure, but you also don't want to be wasting time with taking too few classes to really affect your GPA. Only someone attached to a high school or college to which you will be applying can address these questions definitively, certainly random people from the internet (like myself) won't know your full situation. My advice is to take matters into your own hands and really research (eg, call the schools you're interested in) to find out what you will need to do to get your grades up / be accepted to your dream school. Also talk to counselors at a cc - either before going there, and/or during your time there - because they will certainly know what you will need to do to achieve a better GPA.

The thing that most students don't realize is that getting into school is all a game - SCAD wants good students, and they are willing to help you get there if you are persistent - that's what the counselors are there for. All schools want your $, but good schools like SCAD also want their student body to be strong. Places like AI don't care whether or not you are a good student, they just want your $. You may not be as strong as you want now academically but it does not mean that you cannot get there. My advice is to address the things that are holding you back academically and work on them, go to a cc and work hard, and then reapply to a number of different schools once your grades are stronger. In the meantime, while you are at a cc, stay in touch with counselors from the schools you are interested in, and show them that you are really serious about getting into those schools.

Communication and being positive is everything, if there's one thing I've learned over time, it's that you can't get what you haven't asked for. You have to be persistent to get what you want.

Korpus School of Art + Gallery
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Last edited by Rebeccak : 06 June 2010 at 07:35 PM.
Old 06 June 2010   #20
Good post Rebeccak
Nicholi Conterno - Gnomon Student

Time To Answer A Question: 15 Minutes
Time To Thank Someone For An Answer: 30 Seconds

Post of Wisdom
Old 06 June 2010   #21
Originally Posted by MrConterno: Good post Rebeccak
Thanks - to the OP, there are several people in the same boat as you. Check out this post in response to another person's thread that may also be of use to you.

Korpus School of Art + Gallery
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Downtown Los Angeles

Old 06 June 2010   #22
Thanks for everyones posts, it was really helpful.
Old 06 June 2010   #23
Can't speak for all of the Art Institutes, but I attended the one in Sacramento, California for 2 quarters. The traditional artwork teachers aren't really that bad, but the digital teachers are teaching outdated material, on outdated software.

Most of the students there could not get into any other art school with their current portfolio. It was just kind of depressing being there. I won pretty much a half-ride scholarship there, but all things considered, I would still walk away with 50k in debt. A B.S. in Media Arts & Animation is $110,000. Not including books, living expensives, supplies, etc.

So I left, and now I'm going to start school at Gnomon in September.

I guess my advice to the OP is pretty much what everyone's been saying: Going to community college and building up your GPA is probably the best idea.
Old 06 June 2010   #24
I'm a bit familiar with AI Houston and I haven't been impressed. I'll leave it at that

Rebecca, very much agree with you on community college and Animation Mentor. AM is fantastic if you really know what you want to do, but it's not great as an initial liberal/fine arts education.

Lyr, I totally get where you're coming from but I think there's some truth on the other side as well. I'm just finishing up the Maya Springboard course with AM (their intro to Maya course before starting the full program) and even as a working professional with a college degree it's tough to come home and be disciplined enough to sit down and focus on classes and homework with everything else going on. Yes, college does require a lot of personal responsibility, but college is also where you learn a lot of that responsbility and experience a lot of growth into the adult you're becoming. I also don't know that online courses are really great for your formative art studies, a traditional college program would seem much better suited for that.
figdigital | @figdigital
Old 06 June 2010   #25
I wen to ILIA (Illinois Institute of Art) and frankly it was the worst mistake of my life. It was pricey, I never finished because I couldn't afford it and I was still in debt at the end of the day. I really wish I had done what I wanted to do in the first place which was go to a CC and work on my grades for a better school like NYU, or some of the better schools in the industry. Until this day I regret ever going to that school.
Old 06 June 2010   #26
I can offer a bit of a different perspective. I went straight from high school to AI Colorado, went through the entire program, never took college classes anywhere else, and immediately was working in the industry upon graduation. My story isn't the typical AI story, but it's my personal experience so I think I have the right to share it.

I'm definitely not "pro-AI," nor would I necessarily recommend them above other schools. However, based on my experience of successfully getting a lot of work in the film and game industries and subsequently moving up to being in the position of hiring people and evaluating new-grads and job seekers myself, I have come to think that what matters most is the individual...and I'm not convinced that any one school is significantly better or worse than any other school.

We hear a lot of "I went to AI for x months and it was such a joke" stories. While most of the negative comments are based in truth, I usually take them with a grain of salt too. First of all, I'm not real keen on taking advice from people that don't finish what they start - which is 90% of the AI bashers out there. Learning from the experience of others is great, but you also have to consider whether or not the advice giver has their own shit together. The vast majority of the AI bashing that I hear comes from the type of person that makes a habit of making excuses and blaming others for their own failures. I was able to make my experience at AI very successful, and I have yet to meet a serious, hard working artist that was seriously held back by an AI education.

Most of the negative comments that people have made here are true...but they aren't nearly enough to keep a good artist from succeeding. For instance, the worst thing about AI is that (as others have mentioned) they are a private, for-profit enterprise whose main motivation is their shareholders' profits. This also contributes to the astronomical cost and the shady sub-prime style student loan racket that they have going on. But again, even that you have to take with a grain of salt. For one thing, personally, I was able to get a good job and pay back 100% of my $60,000 loan within a couple of years after graduation. Granted, you won't talk to a lot of former AI students that have a similar story, but if you're dedicated and have your shit together, the price tag and student loan racket won't hold you back. In fact, I look at the AI tuition/student loan racket the same way I look at their 100% open registration "we'll take anyone!"'s kind of a double edged sword. Yes, it's a scam that is in place for the sole purpose of making money. also allows access to a lot of students that wouldn't otherwise be able to get a similar education elsewhere. Yes it's predatory and yes it sucks...but with diligence you can make it work to your advantage. I did.

As for the comments about people that "aren't impressed" with AI schools and their grads...well, I agree and disagree. For several years I've been in the position of hiring new artists for the game studio that I work for. I see a lot of grads from different schools around the country. Yeah, I see a lot of shitty AI portfolios...but I also see a lot of shitty Ringling portfolios and a lot of shitty SCAD portfolios. The different schools seems to have different strengths. The AI schools tend to have more generalized programs, so you don't see a lot of rock star modelers or hot shot animators from AI. But I have hired more well rounded, dependable people from AI than from any other school, and that happens to be what I'm looking for most of the time. I've hired a few Ringling grads and have only had 1 guy that has worked out long term. Usually what happens with those guys is that they will have a killer portfolio that is 100% focused either modeling or animation, but then they shit their pants when they're asked to learn a new software package or do something that is out of their comfort zone. AI programs are more jack-of-all-trades, which usually means that they aren't as well suited for, say, a straight up character animation job. But at a small studio like where I work, I know that an AI grad will usually be a quick learner with good overall design skills that is used to learning new techniques/packages/etc. I remember when I first graduated and went to LA, a lot of interviewers were blown away that I'd learned so many packages in school. I didn't have the hot shot character animation reel, but I had the depth and breadth in my portfolio to demonstrate that I could handle just about anything, and that got me a lot of job offers.

I remember a kid that I went to school with that got about halfway through the program, and then started talking to people online and got all worked up about how the AI animation degree doesn't focus enough on 3D character animation. He went on and on about how much AI sucks and the teachers are incompetent and he was going to quit and start Animation Mentor, where he could take classes from real industry animators and focus on character animation. We all wished him well...and then a year or so later we heard him bitching about how Animation Mentor sucks and their curriculum is out of whack and he was going to quit and go to Gnomon. All I know now is that he's still not working and I don't know if he's actually completed an animation program anywhere. Meanwhile, as I said, I went through the oh-so-terrible AI program, found work, paid off my loans and moved on with my life. The grass is always greener, ya know? I know a lot of people that went to AI and half assed their way through their classes and had a crap portfolio and didn't try too hard to look for a job and are now working at Best Buy or whatever. But I also know a lot of people that went to AI and busted their ass and are now working at top studios. Between myself and my friends, I know AI grads that are working for Blue Sky, Pixar, Disney, Blur, EA, Sony...on and on. I don't know a single AI grad that really worked hard yet got stuck with no job, a worthless degree and piles of student loans...which is what most people say you'll get out of AI. Different things work for different people too. AI worked for me, but it doesn't work out for a lot of people. A few of those people move on to find something that works better for them. Most of them are happy to just pile up complaints and excuses, and will hand out advice to others even though they don't have their own shit together.

But like I say, I think it has more to do with the individual than the school. That's why I don't particularly recommend AI, either. I think Rebeccak is onto something when she talks about community college. (And yes, she's right, AI credits are worth less than cc credits...though supposedly the accreditation is getting better). If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't go to AI. I'd probably look into cc's for most of my credits, do A LOT of private study with online tutorials, books, etc. (which is mostly what you'll be doing at any school anyway), then maybe finish up at a good state school (yay in state tuition!) or a flashy VFX school if I really wanted a degree. Actually, that's not true, if I had it all to do over again I'd run for the ****ing hills and leave this bullshit sweatshop industry behind me, take my college money and set up a surf shop in Mexico. But that's another story.

For the record, I do have one friend that quit AI "cause it sucks," then spent a couple of years in his basement studying, then got a job at a game studio...without a degree. Not a bad idea if you don't care about the degree part.

To sum up: try to get some credits on the cheap if you can. I'd recommend some cc classes (gen eds and art) even if you had a 4.0 in high school. And remember that a school can only help or hurt you so study is a solitary endeavor and no one really has the ability to hold you down or hold you up. If you work hard you'll succeed. Any talk of "making industry connections" is mostly bullshit...when the cards are on the table, your work will speak for itself and get you more jobs than having the best brand name VFX school on your resume will. And like I said, I'm not real keen on taking advice from people that don't actually have much experience, or don't have anything to say other than that everything sucks. I tend to listen to people that actually have their shit together. I can't tell you how many times I meet people out there that say "Oh I went to AI for a few months and then quit cause it sucks, that school is such bullshit, I tell everyone to steer clear of it..." and then I ask them what they are doing now and they mumble and say "Uh, well, uh, I'm uh, looking into Gnomon, I think I'm gonna go there this year..." No industry experience, no real world knowledge, no alternative that has actually worked for them, just a bunch of talking shit and making excuses for their own failures.

(BTW - these comments aren't directed at anyone here - just based on the countless, inevitable comments that always come up whenever AI is brought up, online or in person. I apologize if this comes off nasty, I've just heard that whole AI bashing bit so many times and it gets a bit old, even if there is some truth to it)
Old 06 June 2010   #27
Thanks for the comment.. Really helpful jabuhrer.
Old 06 June 2010   #28
Very nice post jabuhrer. I pretty much agree. It's not the school that decides the future of the artist, it's the artist themselves. Ai may not have the best reputation around these parts but really, it's about what you do with the education. It's a commitment, and motivation is key.
Old 06 June 2010   #29
Joseph made some really good points. Definitely go with a cc to start if you're going with a bachelor's, regardless of the school you decide on. I ended up with about a quarter of the debt that my friends had going to an Ai because I had a bunch of transfer credits. One surprising thing, was how many credits Ai gave me. I had a far worse time trying to get credits going to a state university.
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Old 06 June 2010   #30
jabuhrer, great post. You're very right in that it all comes down to the individual, I have two friends who went to AI and ended up in very "name" CG jobs (though they both admit they went to AI simply to have some kind of degree and did pretty much all their learning on their own).

I think what often makes AI come off looking really bad is exactly what you mentioned, they admit everyone and then there doesn't seem to be much weeding out from there. You then end up with students graduating with work that isn't very good because they've never been told it wasn't any good. There are folks with real talent and ability mixed in there but they often get missed in the masses of mediocrity.
figdigital | @figdigital
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