Full Sail University - Opinions?

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  01 January 2011
Full Sail University - Opinions?

Hey everyone.

I've been seriously considering attending the Computer Animation program at Full Sail, but don't personally know anyone that's attended, and was hoping I could get some insight.

I live in Miami, so a 3 hour drive to Orlando isn't a problem at all, but I've heard mixed reviews about the school itself.

Additionally, I also came across this "review" video. Granted, it's biased, and makes generalizations about the entire school based on only the Recording Arts program.

If someone who is / was a student of the program, or someone who knows about it, could give me some insight as to how well it prepares you, how good the classes are, etc., I'd greatly appreciate it.

  01 January 2011
I'm not a student there, but I just want to say that you should beware of schools that advertise on TV (which Full Sail has been doing a lot of). To me, it says they're just trying to get money. But, I could be wrong. I'm just saying to be cautious.
  01 January 2011
What about Ringling? If you want to do Computer Animation, then Ringling would be a much much much better choice. It's also a 3 hour drive from Miami.
  01 January 2011
I'm a Full Sail 2004 grad that studied 3D animation. The main reason I chose Full Sail over a 4 year university was the accelerated program. During that time, i was older than the avg college student and I really didn't want to go to a 4 year school.
I've learned a lot there, but I felt it was too short. With the amount I was paying for tuition, I needed more.
Each class is a month long and each month they teach you a different part of Maya.... 1st month - NURBS modeling, 2nd month - shaders, 3rd month - Polygon modeling, 4th month - Particle effects, 5th month animation, so on and so on. By the end of your degree program you had 2 months to create a demo reel, then you graduate.

After you graduate, don't think you're going to get a job right of the bat. (unless your very very talented and have a solid demo reel). I believe their percentage of grads that get jobs right out of FS is a high (should be around 50 - 60%, not 85%).
Your still going to have hustle for a full time job or even a internship (which I highly recommend after graduation). They do have a career placement department to help you with finding a job. They were great to me, but don't just only depend on them. You'll still have to make the effort to look for a job. You'll have to hound them for leads, which I did.

When I graduated it took me 6 months to get a internship, then eventually a full time position at a simulation company. Now, I work for Lockheed Martin as a 3d Artist and I'm also thinking about going back to school (UCF), to get my BA in Digital Media or Computer Science, i haven't decided yet.....

All in all, I was satisfied from what Full Sail had to offer. But I do recommend that you look into other Universities or Art schools, before deciding on FS. If I were you, I would put in the extra tuition money for a 4 yr University, since FS tuition cost seem to rise each year and their curriculum stay the same. You'll get more of an education and greater learning experience form a university, than FS.

Good luck.... And hope your dreams come true...

@Mekhit... They do advertise A LOT! I heard rumors (from many teachers) that Full Sail invests more money into advertisement than they do for talented teachers.

Last edited by Greenwu : 01 January 2011 at 03:59 AM.
  01 January 2011
Hey Fernalism,

I graduated from Full Sail August of 2010. A lot of what Greenwu holds true, such as it being an accelerated program and it feeling a bit short. Although I believe in 2004 they were only offering the 11 month associates degree and now its a 21 month bachelors program. Also the finals department has been expanded from two months to five. You now have a month of preproduction, three months of asset production, and one month of rendering and editing solely dedicated to your demo reel. If you want to see what I got out of it your can view my demo reel here www.zhutton.com/videos .

I would also say that about 40% of my class now have jobs in the industry including one compositing student that now works for the new Digital Domain studio in Port Saint Lucie. Also the career development department told us that 90% of students have careers in the industry within a year after graduating.

In the end it's going to come down to how much work you want to put into it. I saw kids that worked really hard putting in their evenings and weekends to really get what they needed out of the program and they have done great in the industry while others that had just done the bare minimum are now working minimun wage jobs while they get their work up to par.

I hope this was helpful!
  01 January 2011
@green well your very lucky. fullsail isnt bad but it isnt noob friendly anymore. Drive is very importanat but when your expected to learn Maya in a month by day 1 creating a character and day 30 turn in a 10 second character animation for a foundations class it can be scary.
  01 January 2011

I have two friends and five coworkers who graduated from Fullsail. While they all agree that they learned a decent amount while they were there, cost has to factor in somewhere.

Each and every one of them owes Sally Mae at LEAST $100k (some as high as $150k), with monthly loan payments around $1000+. Also, with Sally Mae's interest rates (variable, ranging from 4-10%) you'll end up paying them about $115,000 in interest after the estimated 20 years it would take to pay the loans in full. Grand total paid for school ~$200,000. You'll have to decide for yourself whether or not it's worth being in debt for a couple decades.

Personally, I chose to go to a regionally accredited (Ringling, SCAD, UCF, etc.) school and be eligible for state and national financial aid, with a guaranteed acceptance of my credits if I had chosen to go to grad school. After three years of $164/month minimum payments, I have $11,000 in student loans (from UCF) left to pay back. I also have a full-time job working in the simulation industry. Like Hugh said, how much you get from a program is directly proportional to how much time you're willing to put into it outside of class.
  01 January 2011
Thanks for the insightful replies from all of you!

I already have my first bachelor's, which is why I was / am interested in the accelerated learning Full Sail offers. Money's obviously a huge factor, but before I worry about how I pay, I want to make sure what they teach is worth it. I've just read a lot of bad reviews, but wasn't sure if they were the result of legitimate problems with the school, or just people who expected jobs right away and never put the work in.

I've still got a lot of thinking and decision making to do, but thanks again for the helpful information.
  01 January 2011
To sum up Full Sail, can they take you where you want to go? Yes, is it likely, probably not. Is it worth the cost, hell no. For just a tad more you could go to Gnomon, VFS, or even Ringling. The quality of education you get at Full Sail vs Gnomon/VFS/Ringling isn't comparable except for the cost of tuition.

So over all, you can get much more bang for your buck.

Edit: Granted Ringling is 120k (last I checked) and Fail Sail was around 70k, but still.
Nicholi Conterno - Gnomon Student

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

Post of Wisdom
  01 January 2011
Originally Posted by MrConterno: To sum up Full Sail, can they take you where you want to go? Yes, is it likely, probably not. Is it worth the cost, hell no. For just a tad more you could go to Gnomon, VFS, or even Ringling. The quality of education you get at Full Sail vs Gnomon/VFS/Ringling isn't comparable except for the cost of tuition.

So over all, you can get much more bang for your buck.

Edit: Granted Ringling is 120k (last I checked) and Fail Sail was around 70k, but still.

But do those shot courses give you a life experience, networks, a time for growing up, enjoying life while you are young and research?
  01 January 2011
Originally Posted by LittleClaude: But do those shot courses give you a life experience, networks, a time for growing up, enjoying life while you are young and research?

Not sure if you mean short courses or not but Ill reply assuming so.

As far as networks, I met Fausto De Martini (3d Art Director at Blizzard) last Wednesday and had a tour of Blizzard. This week we should be either going to Blur or "The Third Floor". So as far as Gnomon students and networking goes, we are doing pretty damn good. I know Ringling constantly has people from dreamworks and pixar visiting the school and students getting one on one time with them. VFS also brings you to near by studios and introduces you to some people.

As far as enjoying life, if you are going to school and not enjoying life, you shouldn't be going into the field. Gnomon demands almost all of my week but I haven't been happier.

As far as growing up, I do agree with you there. If you are just getting out of high school, I don't necessarily recommend one of these programs for most people. Ringling as an exception maybe. But both Gnomon and VFS expect you to come in and go balls to the wall for the duration of your stay.

I'm not sure what you mean by research due to it's context so yeah.

And as far as life experience, both Gnomon and VFS are located in large cities. I'd say large cities are one of the best places to gain life experience.
Nicholi Conterno - Gnomon Student

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

Post of Wisdom
  02 February 2011
I graduated from Full Sail in July of 2009, and I have not had a job pertaining to visual effects. This however is my own fault because I still have no applied. My reasoning for not applying is that I felt nowhere near ready to apply to any companies.

I studied dynamics when I was in the school, and I wish I was aware of their dynamics program before going to the school. I was not taught a single thing about dynamics until month 16 of 21. 2 months later I was already in my finals department putting together a demo reel showing what I learned... in the past 2 months? To make things even better, we did not have any visual effects teachers to help us throughout our finals department. We showed up to some of your weekly critiques where not a single teacher game to critique our work. The times that a teacher did show up, it was either a compositing teacher, rigging teacher or a lighting teacher.

When I left the school I had a great grasp on every aspect except for the one I ended up wanting to do. I felt that if I sent my reel to a company and was asked to do an art test that I would just make a fool of myself, and so I never sent my reel out.

Out of the kids I graduated with, I would say about 30% of them got jobs in the past 2 years in some field of the industry. Those were all of the kids who exceeded in the program, and so if you don't leave the school exceeding in your field, you will have to keep working on it before you lose your motivation.

As for the money factor, that is a huge issue. Quite a few people ended up just turning to the military because they had no other way to pay their loans off.

Before going and spending this kind of money, be sure that you want this. Look into the field, and find what you want to do before going to the school. Once there, focus on that one aspect for the whole 21 months and you will exceed. If you wait till the end to choose what you want to do, you will be left in the dust behind your classmates.
  02 February 2011
FullSail Value

I'm an April '08 grad from FullSail University, and if there's one thing I want to stress about the program is that if this isn't what you want to do for a living you'll know in the first few months.

Also keep in mind that the school is run more like a business than a university. So you have to take from it everything you can.

Yes, the program is accelerated and the courses are short. But once your in the industry you'll find that it's all like that. You'r constantly finding new ways and techniques to reach solutions. And you'll have to do so under short time constraints. When you land your first industry job, you'll feel as if you don't quite have everything you need to get the job done, whether it's certain hardware or software that you prefer, or more direction in what your supposed to be doing. Going through their program you have to teach yourself as much as the instructors are teaching you. FullSail in this manner was totally worth it to me. I learn more everyday. And I won't ever stop.

But again this is something that I gained from FullSail and not every student does. If your looking for courses where you have time to spare and want to polish every project as you go through, then FullSail isn't what your looking for. If you your looking for courses that are straight to the point and teach you the tools then FullSail is great. FullSail doesnt produce artists. FullSail just teaches you the tools, you have to become an artist on your own.

That's about as blunt as I can put it. As far as networking, Ya, it's nice to meet industry people and take tours of studios. And FullSail has guest lectures all the time. but the true value of FullSail is in it's networking. The studio I'm currently working at is over 50% Fullsail grads. Simply by word of mouth we kept getting hired one after the other. The friends and connections you make in school are what will land you jobs. Simple as that.

FullSail isn't for everyone and it's super expensive but I don't regret one minute of it. Best 2 years I ever had. I hope this helps out.
  02 February 2011
If you live in miami your best bet is to study at MIU of art and design or do an online degree in AAU or something similar. Driving 3 hours to school might sound ok, but it's not.

I graduated from MIU of art and design, and while I don't consider it better than AAU, it's a very good school with some very talented and experienced teachers. You get the bad apple from time to time, but I've seen incredible stuff come out of that school.
I know a couple of students who work at top studios right now. Plus, you get to drive less than 3 hours...
you were seriously considering driving 3 hours? holy crap...

Last edited by leif3d : 02 February 2011 at 10:12 PM.
  05 May 2011
I have 5 months left at Full Sail. Like what's been said, you have 5 months to create a reel now, which is a good amount of time.

I'd say the worst thing about the school are the general ed courses which are just a joke and I believe are there so they can have their fake accreditation, but honestly that isn't important and I did end up learning a few things from these classes.

What is important is the amount of growth I made in my artistic abilities and the knowledge of general visual effects and even more importantly all of the amazing professors and students I am surrounded with. They do have some poor teachers here and there, but the ones towards the end of the degree are top notch and I've learned more from in this month then I have in 4 months.

Something else that bothers me is the wireless internet in the school. It's almost unusable, but I don't think they have much control over it. They're just isn't a fast enough line available for them.

Lastly, the courses are improving every month. Bad teachers get fired and courses get major reworks and it's usually for the better.
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