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  06 June 2010
Jabuhrer, that was an awesome post. I'm not at an AI school, but I am at Full Sail, which shares some similar traits. Jesse92, you might consider Full Sail as it also accepts anyone who is willing to pay and they don't care about your past grades. But it isn't an easy school. My first year here, so many of my class mates dropped out or failed out. And as Jabuhrer talked about, they complain and blame the school, which is very annoying to listen too as it's mostly just bitterness. The admissions people warn you before you apply that its very hard. They straight up tell you that many people fail out. They also tell you that even though Full Sail has a couple of art classes, its assumed that you're coming there with fairly strong art skills. They advise you to take at least a drawing class before starting school here. I did that and I found it very helpful. They cram as much information and as much work as is humanly possible every month into a full college level class, or even two college level classes some months. And it really is the same as a full college course. I went to a regular college before this, and these classes cram more info and more work into them then I got in most of my regular college classes. I took physics at my old college and then I took physics here and physics here was unbelievably harder. One of the biggest differences between here and an AI school is that here the school, despite their open admissions policy, and wanting to get as much of our money as humanly possible, they really do only want to graduate the best possible people; Full Sail is all about expanding and they are very concerned with constantly improving their reputation within the industry; and to do that, they need to make sure that only students who will help them improve their image graduate. But they're willing to accept students with lower grades so that if they flunk out, full sail gets to keep their money and they don't get a degree from full sail, so full sail's reputation stays in tact. I'm close to graduating now, and looking at how many loans I have to pay back really depresses me, but there's no way that I could have learned all of this stuff on my own. Sure, I could have learned the modeling part, the part I came here for, but the rest of it, the scripting, rigging, and even animating, I doubt I would have put much effort into those if I had gone to a different school that allowed me to specialize, or if I had tried to teach myself. As Jabuhrer pointed out about the AI schools, Full Sail is also big on us learning everything and being very well versed in all aspects of the cg process. Yes, I'm going to be in a lot of debt after this, but I think I did get something good for my money. But to Jesse92, if you do look at Full Sail, keep in mind that it's a very hard environment and a high percentage of people don't make it in the CA program. If you make it though, I think its worth it. It's kind of a double edged sword... with an open admisions policy, it gives people an opportunity that they can't get at a normal school if their grades weren't so great in the past. But taking that opportunity can leave you in a lot of debt with no degree if you're not careful.
  06 June 2010
Thanks for the advicee MechanicalSiren .. :P
  06 June 2010
I too go to Full Sail, and I agree with everything MechanicalSiren just said. A lot of people give it a bad rep just because they were lazy and undetermined. But Full Sail has a very powerful curriculum, and if your dedicated, you will achieve a lot at that school.
  06 June 2010
Hey all. Another ILIC (Illinois Institute of Art Chicago) student here. I'm pretty much 98% done with my program (only have 2 gen ed's left). I've been at the school for coming up on 4 years now. The main reason for that duration was I was taking a lighter course load than normal. Now, I can find things that I absolutely agree with all over this thread, and I've certainly seen my fair share of AI-bashing around this forum in general. However, even though I haven't graduated I can definitely share a lot of thoughts with jabuhrer's post.

My main reasoning for coming to this school wasn't really because I couldn't get in anywhere else. It was because I didn't really look anywhere else. I knew that I wanted to move to Chicago because I had a lot of friends up here, so I began looking into schools. My original idea was to go into 3D animation, and literally the first place I found that seemed to have the kind of program I was looking for was AI. So I visited the school, took the tour, and got more information. After visiting, I ended up deciding to go into the Visual Effects & Motion Graphics (VEMG) program. It seemed like a much more well-rounded major since it not only encompassed 3D animation (though to a lesser extent), but traditional design, film, special effects, and motion graphics.

Within about a year, I began to notice what many of you have noticed. The quality of the student-base in terms of artistic talent and dedication was fairly sub-par. I quickly realized what I had gotten myself into and began to have buyer's remorse. But then I took my first motion graphics course. I excelled above the rest of the class, primarily because going into it I already had a solid foundation within After Effects, so I didn't have to spend as much time learning as I could DOING. This trend repeated itself throughout the rest of my time here. What people say about ending up teaching yourself most of the time is certainly true, IF you want to excel amongst the pack.

This isn't to say that the teachers at my school are bad. In fact, they've been one of my most valuable assets. While I can't honestly say that they've taught me a great deal in terms of technical skills, they HAVE pushed me in terms of my own abilities and have always expected more from me. They're wonderful people who I will remain personal and professional colleagues with for a long time.

Another major plus to my AI experience is the Career Services department. Now, a lot of this is second-hand knowledge, but from what I've been told by people directly related to these schools, the career placement at Columbia, SAIC, IDT, and Flashpoint is relatively lacking compared to AI (at least at my school). My personal career advisor seriously goes to town for her students and is out there talking to companies every day, getting us internships and jobs as best she can. Whereas (again, from what I've heard) at other schools, the career services department is just kinda there if you care to talk to them.

So, tl,dr; I would definitely say that my personal experience at AI has been a positive one, and several of my friends that have already graduated in my program are working at places like Digital Kitchen, Foundation, Radar, Daily Planet, Bridges, and more. And I do realize that this is a somewhat focused point-of-view since it's only really applying to VEMG and not animation in general, but, I can only tell it from how I see it.

Now all that being said. I WILL say that I certainly don't believe that my experience is going to be everybody's. I do know what's bad about the schools on a whole and that it won't work for all students and they'll simply end up in debt. So it's certainly important to heavily research other alternatives. And definitely go the community college route for as many general education courses as possible. That is my biggest regret, that I didn't even think of that as an option. But, live and learn! Best of luck to you.
  06 June 2010

I wouldn't go to AI. I was going to go to the Art Institute of Houston when I was 17 after graduating from high school. There are much better schools than that, that also don't get you into extreme debt. Plus transferring credits is a nightmare.

Right now I'm going to Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas. It's about an hour north of Houston. They have a BFA in Computer Animation Program here that is pretty decent. Plus many more majors or minors say if you wanted to minor in Computer Science, Graphic Design, Art History etc. It's a public University and a very recognized one as well. You don't need to go to a fancy school to get what you need. As they say you don't even need a degree, but I'm the type who needs a classroom setting plus I want a masters.

Here is the link:

They give you an internship as well. You take a shit load of art class (mostly drawing). You do 2D and 3D. You take specific classes to animate, model, rig, textures, lighting, etc. When you are a senior, they make you build a website for yourself and make you build a demo reel to a specif specialization that you choose after completing most of your 3D courses.

Texas has plenty of jobs in animation. Houston, Austin, and Dallas are all great cities for that. But definitely if you want to be surrounded by LOTS of jobs, California is the place to be. Right now I am 20 years old and currently have about 2 years left from this University. If I don't land a job in 3D within my first year of graduating, I will more than likely apply to graduate school for Art History so that I can teach at a community college while I am perfecting my skills in 3D. <===(I don't know why this is underlined. The system wont let me undo it. Underline is not meant for intensity. Just ignore it) That way since most studios are project based anyway, I will at least have a decent part time job teaching to fill in the gaps. This of course is my own personal plan. I want to teach just as much as I want to do 3D.

Anyway, even if you go to AI for a year, most likely your credits won't transfer so you would have wasted your time and money. If you don't plan of completing your program there, Do Not Start. Trust me. You will waste too much money. If you need more info from me about Sam Houston let me know! Good luck.
  06 June 2010
thanks for the reply cutieturtle07. i think i have a lot to think and plan.
  06 June 2010
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