Couldn't find a job with $70,000 degree


Video description -
Carrianne Howard dreamed of designing video games, so she enrolled in a program at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, a for-profit college part-owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. These days, the 26-year-old makes her living in a way that doesn’t require a college diploma – by stripping at a topless club. Like many investors, Goldman, owner of 38 percent of the Art Institute’s parent, Education Management Corp., was drawn to for-profit colleges by their rapid growth and soaring stock prices. Bloomberg’s Cali Carlin reports. (Source: Bloomberg)


Just imagine if she had spent:

$3,000 on a decent computer
$6,000 on software
$1,000 on tutorials
$25,000 (x2) years worth of living expenses

to actually make a short film, then

$10,000 to market that short film, pay for festival entries, etc…

The crappy thing about her situation is that it’s easy to add up the numbers and say she should have done something different (as I just did above), but we all know that she wouldn’t have gotten the $70k, unless it is spent at an institution.

It’s a brutal scenario that has been repeated over and over all around the world. Students really wanting to learn, and wannabe schools taking a huge portion of their income for the next tens years of employment - whether they get a job in the field or not.

BUT… the truth is that this is happening to University grads too. I know way too many English grads who are waiting tables rather than writing or teaching.

So, this woman is not unique in her situation, other than the ‘sensational’ aspect of her current career… which is her choice, and has nothing to do with her education (or lack thereof).

Worse, the education system all over the place is failing. A great video on creativity:



My view of those colleges is basiclaly summed up with Colins Bear .

In all seriousness, I dont really see how ‘game design’ can be taught, and how people that study game design think they are going to get a job…well…designing games. I’ve always viewed game designers as people that have worked their way through game companies. ‘Game Design’ encompasses so many different aspects of technology, as well as a very specific talent for creating something ‘fun’. Its not about ‘tightening the graphics on level 3.’

It just makes me think that somebody who studies ‘game design’ has no idea what they are actually studying.



Choosing where to go for an education in the CG field is incredibly tricky bussiness. And for-profit education is just plain wrong, atleast to a red swedish socialist-commie like me :wink:


This video shows some of her portfolio:

Her 3D models remind me of the kind of work that plenty of my fellow students were producing for a course run by Bournemouth, which was outsourced to Salisbury for the first two years. We were taught close to nothing in those years (despite complaining about the situation after the first year) and it was up to us to make the most of online tutorials and other resources. That split people into two groups - a group that tried to make the most of it and teach themselves and a group that seemed to be waiting for things to be thrown at them. To make things worse, people would pass tests fairly easily with work that wasn’t even remotely close to the level of work required for entry positions in the industry. Another reason for some of the students to just move along with the system and wait till it was too late, probably similar to Carrianne’s situation here.

I find it really shocking that institutions and universities can get away with things like that. While I still think students shouldn’t just rely on things taught in courses, I would at least expect the level of lessons to be sufficient to make people eligible for jobs. That being said it would probably be worthwhile adjust the grades to make people drop out of courses like that earlier if their work doesn’t meet any kind of standard. Rather that then letting people study 3+ years of their life and money, just to find out that they won’t be able to achieve much with what they were taught.

I left Bournemouth university in my BA-year after being given tutorial DVDs, which were basically just copies of existing training DVDs that our tutor (who was working on his animation master-degree at the time) had re-created with his own voiceover. That along with a few other incidents made my decision easy. I invested the money I had put aside for the rest of the year in tutorials, equipment and software and have been freelancing since. Similar to what Pixanaut suggested. If I had had a choice, I would have much preferred to graduate with a degree, which is actually worth achieving and not just given away for sitting through years of mediocre lessons.


What I don’t understand is that 3 years is a VERY long time. Wasn’t there a point, somewhere in those 1095 days where she said “You know…this isn’t quite working out…”

I remember looking at 3D schools in South Africa when I wanted to study, and just seeing their top student work, and instructor portfolio’s basically made me go the self study route.


I don’t think theres anything wrong with the principle of games design courses…

Like anything else its a skill that can be taught, and if your degree is good enough and you have some talent you should get enough of an edge to get an entry level position.

The problem is, certaily in england, that alot of universitys have looked at better animation and games courses and gone “hmmm those classes always get over subscribed, maybe we should offer a games degree.”

And what happens is people with talent join the smaller courses that are good, and anyone rejected by these courses filter down to the bad courses, where there are little too no quality control for entering the degree, I was a bit shocked on my first year at Teeside when most of my first year classes we’re doing absolutly basic stuff like drawing for beginners… I had an A at A-level art, The reason I had to take this though was because the course was games design and they accepted people on other critera as well as art and design.

But I saw that through and in the second and third year it actually became pretty good, I was able to tailor my degree too making more advanced art, and my final project was an modelling project, At the end I filled out a full course review and complained about the wasted first year if you we’re joing via the art discipline.

And you know what they listened and split the course into two, game art and games design, the course evolved and I hope its become more challenging, but it was still a decent course. And after taking some time out after uni to travel I thin got a Job as an Artist and haven’t looked back…

The biggest issue with any course like this though is, that they let people with barely any initial talent into the course. Rather than screening for the best. And this is going to always be the case at “for profit” schools which are not really existent in england… Some people just aren’t meant to do their dream job, and with todays “nobody left behind” attitude of entitlement, very few are prepared for when they reach adulthood and people suddenly tell them “your not good enough”


I think a lot of it depends on the person and how spoon-fed theyre used to living. when you go to school/nursery from the age of 5 and you make your daily routine involve waking up, go to school, come home go to sleep… Once you hit 18 its easy to go for the automatic “well, ill just keep doing the same thing” And just like regular high school if some of the lessons are crap or you have a teacher you dislike, you accept it as the norm.

I just watched the lady’s portfolio video, she holds up what amounts to maybe an hour’s sketch filled in with felt tips and tells us “I got an A for this”. If she got an A for those, then you can immediately see that university has no real standards, that would be my first worry about any for-profit educational place; that all theyre doing is selling you an expensive piece of paper so they cant really fail you from the course.

A couple of you came to the same conclusion I did having looked at the uni’s output. When I went to a few open days read the course descriptions, attended a few end of year presentations. I was pretty horrified at most of them, not particularly because the work was shoddy, but because the course lecturer actually thought that this work would get his students a job.


Dumb girl.

She could have dropped out at any moment. And in the video where she shows her work you can tell she takes no pride in it and knows it’s all garbage…but I guess that’s the AI’s fault? No. She wasn’t forced to attend.

Schools give people guidance, not ambition or talent. This girl doesn’t appear to have either of the latter, when it comes to her art. Sure, maybe her “A” grades are questionable, but it doesn’t look like she really cares. Why is she making a fuss now that she’s graduated? Why didn’t she make a fuss when she got her first “A” on a piece she knows is worthless?

Some of the best artists I know graduated from an Art Institute…the difference was that they put a ton of effort into improving their work and didn’t expect to be spoon fed results by their teachers.


I agree with ivanisavich.
I don’t know how her school works or how she worked at the school, but I know that I work probably as much time after school hours on my work, that I do in the official hours, and I’m sure that goes for the most of us here because we care and really - REALLY - want to learn what ever we do, be it design, modeling, animation or something else.

She could have learned how to draw by practicing weekends and nights, is she really wanted to learn and be good.

I know nothing about the school and maybe it sucks, maybe it’s good, but no matter what school she’s in, it’s gonna require a TON of extra work to be good, and it kinda feels like she didn’t invest that much of her sparetime into her work.



I will start off by saying that I am a teacher and pretty biased in my response to this particular issue. But that means I do have some more inside info then some.

First I would say that no matter what you are doing the fact is that what you put in is what you get out. It does not appear that this student really put in a lot of effort. No one says that sitting through class is getting you a job in any degree program (English, Business, etc). You need to strive to do industry standard work and above. The work and attitude this student is presenting is not good.

That being said I have taken courses and seen teachers teaching from a book or not even knowing what they are talking about at all and it is sad. I truly DON’T find this to be the case with Art Institute schools. I only have experience with one school (not Florida) but I do know that they share the same or similar curriculum across the board. There are PLENTY of 3d classes and opportunity to learn 3ds max, Zbrush, Maya, etc. I teach many 3d based classes and let me tell you, students DO NOT float through with A’s. Most of these students that would love to float through dread my classes as they actually have to work and they are greatly based on industry standards and production experience.

I have actually taught at many state, privet, and even community schools and I can truly say that in my opinion AI (the one in my area) has the best updated technology for students to work on, a solid curriculum of industry based classes, and many (I would even say the majority) industry based instructors teaching the students.

If a program like this was around when I started CG I would have benefited from it greatly. I started before there were any degree programs or even classes. Learning from a huge manual was about 100X slower and more tedious then having someone that has been in the industry show you, guide you, and answer questions for you.



what a hilarious video. She knows the work is crap but thinks the fault lies with the school. It’s too bad she didn’t have anybody to manage her expectations of what you should expect from most of these ‘video game design’ programs. But even after the fact, she still doesn’t get it.


I wonder how much money she made by selling her story.


Unfortunately there is now an added step that one has to take when attending a college for the purpose of making a living: market research.

The college will never tell you unless you specifically ask whether job titles associated with a given degree is marketable and has numerous job openings. If the college counselors doesn’t tell you, run away as hard and as fast as you can. Sometimes you will be told you have to move to another location when seeking work, which, in her case, would often be California, Florida or New York.

I have a family to support, and I knew that while my passion is in 3d animation, I could never safeguard our future by taking up a degree in that field especially with us being in Ohio. That said, I took up Business Finance and accounting… its crappy, depressing work but it certainly pays the bills.


It’s never to late to improve your skills after graduating with a bad degree.
Dumb girl” - well said.
And who ever was the investor of the $70K hadn’t a clue neither, in her case probably her parents.
Quite a pricy lesson/experience. Isn’t it?
I hope she has learned something out of it, but I doubt.


While she could and should have approached things differently, I still don’t think that excuses some colleges etc. charging considerable amounts of money, offering bad courses and giving people the impression they are doing well by handing out grades that are nowhere near representative.


What, no comments about the stripping?


Look at all the alternative for-profit schools in Germany, they do exist because it’s allowed. No one really cares about them, as long as those schools follow the law.
Don’t know about teachers at this school or what their job there is actually, maybe they are forced by the school administration to teach the way you discribed it, by giving the students the impression that they are doing well, just for the reason not to lose the students (money).
Maybe it’s the teachers fault, or maybe it’s the school administration’s fault. I don’t know.
One thing I know for sure, it is hard to follow the daily teaching/learniing process in a school for outsiders.


The video of her going through her portfolio is astronomically irritating. “I don’t know how I got away with having Donald Duck in my portfolio - That’s copyright, it shouldn’t be allowed but they let me pass with that”. Yes. It’s their fault.

The irony is I had to give up my dream of stripping & ended up doing CG just to make ends meet. :frowning:


what kind of college teaches you that in 3 years?? did she never go online to compare her work with anyone elses? pretty pathetic from the college but the students should have some knowledge about the industry.