Originally Posted by MattShort
So now I have these questions...
Try out Rendering and Lighting? Well the fundamentals of Lighting you can get from either Jeremy Birns "Lighting and Rendering" or Lanier's "Advanced Maya Texturing and Lighting." I definitely recommend picking up both of those books if you are interesting in lighting and texturing, and such. Most of the classes that teach it are more advanced that you won't be able to take till down the line. Jeremy Birn actually teaches classes through this site for an affordable price, but you'll need to have some general know-how, and Maya at home.
Most of those classes listed really don't take much knowledge beforehand, that's why they are introduction classes. When I took those classes the only experience I had was with Photoshop, and a little After Effects, which is why I struggled a bit with the Caps class. You already have some modeling experience, so you have a leg up, but I'd definitely get roughly comfortable with Autodesk's Maya before taking the CAPs class.
I'm not too familiar with the Summer study program, I'm sure it's probably pretty introductory. I still think your best bet for now is just downloading the student edition of Maya, and running through every tutorial you can find, pick up some books on the subject, maybe get some Gnomon DvD's, etc. Just start getting familiar with the software, the curriculum at AAU is designed to help you along from the introduction to the more advanced stuff. If you get yourself to the point where you feel really confident with the software, and what you are doing, you may be able to skip some of the introductory classes which would allow you more advanced classes down the line.
If you did really want to jump-start your education, just make sure it's the school you want to go to. Not many classes transfer between these private art schools. If you are set on AAU, the Intro to Computer Graphics class is a good place to start, it will educate you on how the industry works, terminology and all that. History of VFX is good to know also, neither of these will touch any programs really though. When you do, it will be mostly using Maya. Even then, the Academy is pretty grounded in traditional art, your first year you probably won't even see a computer, they start you off with a lot of traditional drawing and sculpting classes to make sure you have a strong foundation before you move into the digital realm. So you'll have time to play around on your own even when you get to school, you don't really need to worry that you'll show up at school, and feel lost not knowing the programs. Though anything you learn beforehand will just help with the process.