Formal education - how important is it?

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  08 August 2009
Question Formal education - how important is it?

Hi everyone, first time poster here and I'm in search of some wisdom.

I'm in a bit of limbo at the moment in regards to my career, essentially I haven't really got it going yet. Here's a bit of background...it's a bit of a life story in brief so I hope you make it to the end....

I'm currently 25 years old and I've been interested in 3D/animation/vfx since I was about 16 and I've been drawing for most of my life. However I've had a real mish mash experience trying to get myself headed in the right direction.
When I finished high school I did a 1 year diploma of multimedia with QANTM (this being in Sydney, Australia) which covered all the web applications as well as a bit of 3D and 2D animation, but not nearly enough of it. After that I found myself with about 6 months of Flash work but when this dried up I really found myself in a hole. I ended up toiling for 3 years on loading dock without much direction with my career plans and going through some personal issues. This time was blank spot where I basically didn't touch 3D or even put pencil to paper.
Last year I started doing some work exp with a creative retouching agency that taught me quite alot about photoshop and 3D rendering/modelling. I scored several months of real work with them doing retouching and some basic 3D stuff. I learnt a hell of alot, but unfortunately things took a nosedive in November and the financial crisis left me without any work.

Now doing a bit of soul searching and I'm considering stepping into some formal training. I'm primarily considering a fine arts degree as I've noticed this to be a common qualification amongst the successful professionals I've heard of, and those I've worked with. I just see a real benefit in training as an artist first and foremost, then taking into the digital realm.
As far as training with programs, I've been lapping up gnomon lectures and other training resources since the beginning of the year and they've really helped alot, so I don't feel the need for formal study for these just yet.

Basically I want to know, would it be worth the time? At this point in my life a 3 year committment to study will have a real impact on my life in terms of finances and way of life.
Would I be doing myself a disservice if I just did a few short courses with an art college rather than a full bachelor degree? Is there alot of extra fluff in a degree that I could safely do without?

Thanks in advance for any advice, and thanks for taking the time to read this
 
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