I just don't know where to go, education-wise


So, for a week or more now, I’ve really been just struggling on any solid ground for how to get an education in modeling/animation (specifically but not limited to, the game industry)

Before you can think, great another teenager who things “WOW I WANT TO MAKE DA VIDEOGAMES LIKE COD TOO” and expect it to be all fun and play

I think I can safely say it’s not something that I want to do because it’s like “COOOL I want to make video games”. Well actually, yes and no.
No, because I realize and accept the fact that if I want to go as far as possible, I’ll have to put ALOT of time into perfecting my skills. So spending much (or even any) time playing videogames is the last thing on my mind.

Yes, because I love the idea of how everything is formed from scratch,Character-wise (From what I gathered) An idea->Sketch->Concept Art/Design->Modeling(some texturing, rigging, somewhere in there)->Animation. I love the idea of seeing something that starting from a person’s thought and ideas, being passed down and being given shape and life. Specifically the modeling process. Being able to look at a 2d reference of something from multiple sides, and forming it into this 3d object, that will go down the line to be given movement, it seems so rewarding in itself. Love the id.ea of being part of storytelling in a more interactive way that film/tv

But atlast, realistically. I am in high-school. One month away from graduating. As a kid, I just never thought the time would come where I would have to decide on what I wanted to do, and how I was going to do it. I looked into a few community colleges (with plans to transfer to a 4 year somehow) but looking at the reels and student work of almost all of them, it really just didn’t grab me. I looked at it and thought “Hell. I could probably produce that quality given a month and just half-assing and learning from online tutorials, and whatnot.”

My parents are heavily on the impression that the MOST IMPORTANT THING, and in order to move up in the world is getting a degree, nomatter what. While I completely understand where they’re coming from, I just cannot agree. Sure I can go to community college, then a 4 year college, obtaining a degree. but I just see myself having a hard time putting out good work, forget about getting a job.
All this path would take me is to 4 years, almost wasted, aleast in the aspect of starting a career, and the cost.

The way I see it, I have 3 general options;
community college>4 year>try my best to learn what I can outside the class(which I imagine will be hard, because I would have to balance it with other class’s work) and hope I have the skills needed to get an entry-job somewhere.

(Doubt this one is even realistic.) Expensive, well-reputated school, like gnomon, or calArts, or something. Which will cost near, if not 6 figures… Put just as much hard work to learning outside, and the hardwork and decication will most likely pay-off and I would start off with a well-off job. Then again, getting accepted itself is a whole other thing.

or, Online schools/programs/courses.(a certain one that was in mind was CG Spectrum which I read few, but great things about) The problem here is my Parent’s mindset and belief of college degrees, or even that it’s not “an official school” I even looked to schools to like animation mentor to try to counter this, willing to giving up modeling for animation.

Some may respond something along of lines asking me if I’m sure this is what I want to do in life. I can only say, I personally don’t know how anyone can expect a 17/18 year old to know, for sure what he wants to do with his life. I think it ultimately comes down to a leap of faith, which for me, If I had to do it with anything, the most confident thing I would do it with is modeling/animation.

I’ve been spending the last 3-4 days, spending litterally every free hour of my time awake at home just trying to come to a decision. I feel bad because it’s time I could be spending looking, and getting my feet wet with modeling/animating to a deeper level.

So, I highly doubt there will be any response, even more so one that will satisfy my mind, but there’s still some comfort in knowing what people who know what they’re talking about have to say.



you know deep down what to do. trust your instincts. uasally its the hard decision that makes no sense at the time.

basically you could get any job for a few months and do some online stuff and see how you go. if you are commited enough you could get an entry level job from online work and networking. theres lots of small companies that take people on. think outside the box. degreees are great for alot of industries but for 3d they make no difference and with things beings quite at the mo i would not get into a lot of dept unless i was loaded.

in england its very common for people around your age to take a year off and go travelling before entering into uni. basically you dont have to make a decision now unless your sure. follow you gut/instincts and you will always be happy imo.

do what inspires you.


Hey man,

 Don't be so down on community college. If you take around 14 credit hours, you'll spend around 25 hours a week on school total. That leaves plenty of time to get some part time work or learn 3D. 
 As cheap as community college is, its not a bad idea just to take a bunch of gen ed transferable credits. Grab some maths, psychics, foreign language, English composition, chemistry, and check with your preferred 4 year school to see if the credits transfer.  I know my local community college in Indiana charges around $120 per credit hour, or around 10 times less than the Art Institutes, Gnomon, or VFS. I wouldn't take any art classes from a community college though. They won't transfer, and an art degree from a CC won't do anything for you. 

If you do go to CC, don’t mill about. You really need to get straight A’s if you hope to transfer to a 4 year school. Especially considering how competitive the public schools in Cali are. You still have to get accepted into the school, so you’ll need to show good academic track record.

 I really really wanted to do VFX when I was your age, but as I got  into my early 20's it kind of wore off. Your psychology and the things  you value will change as you get older, so its always a good idea to get a degree to fall back on if you decide in a few years that games aren't for you. Taking 12-14 hours at your local CC and supplementing that with some outside 3D training might not be a bad idea. 



If you don’t share your parents’ feeling concerning a degree, I would suggest that you look past the degree itself and look at the value of the education behind it. Assuming you choose to own your education most of that value you will establish yourself with hard work, but other inherit values from a four year degree could be the networking the school provides, the networking you create from four years of friendships and other relationships, a broader more well rounded education and hopefully a more well rounded worldview, an opportunity to discover different talents that perhaps you might like more then the animation/vfx fields, and maybe just learning how to learn in a different way. Now a four year education isn’t for everyone, and there some that choose the four year degree path and just blow it, while others choose different paths and make the most of it; but consider the inherit benefits of a broader education in the overall picture of your life; though it doesn’t seem like it, you are still young and hopefully have a long joyful life in front of you. Whatever you choose, university, community college, trade school, online classes be determined to make the most of it. A famous quote says “What E’er thou art, act well they part”


If your parents are fronting the cash for you to get a degree. I’d say go for it, wherever you want and wherever they will allow. Someone willing to pay for you to exist and live is not something to take lightly. Your parents willing to pay for your college is probably the last time you will ever experience another human willing to unconditionally invest a large chunk of money in you just because. 4 years may seem like alot, but it’s really not.

However, if what your parents are trying to do is force you to sign papers to take out loans for you to get a degree and pay off the debt yourself. I would tell them to go do something not too nice to themselves.

Nothing creates longer lasting hard feelings than your parents forcing you into something you are half-sure of, but you do it because of their pressure, than 2 years later and $15,000 in debt you decide you can’t tolerate it anymore. Leaving you $15k in debt that you have to pay off yourself all under the pretense you did something ‘wrong’. I’m speaking from my own experience here BTW. The rabid mindless mantra of ‘get a degree, it doesn’t matter what or where from, just get a degree’ that is so rampant in the last generation I find absolutely and thoroughly obnoxious.

With that said. College can be very good. But it is more ideal to go to a state school, in something more traditional, and applicable, then it is to go an expensive art trade school. If you want to design or program games, getting a degree in mathematics, computer science, or even psychology from a state school with a long established program is probably the best route to go. But thats if you have an interest in getting more into the technical side of things, primarily programming. Which is not ever something to discount. I would personally argue that not being able to program is going to be as serious of a hindrance as not being able to do algebra, or even write and read at a college level. Being able to fully communicate and work with technology is really becoming as base of a necessary skill as is being able to fully communicate and work with other humans. There is this rampant viewpoint that programming is this some ‘other’ thing that some ‘other’ weird super smart people do off in boring cubicles and business parks. But this isn’t true, speaking the language of computers is really becoming critical.

If you really really just want to do art and you have no interest in anything technical, or anything a traditional STEM related program can do. Well… then you must walk the path of becoming an artist. You will not be able to pay anyone to teach this to you. It is incredibly idiosyncratic. I think no true artist has a paved pathway, because to me the very nature of artistry is the paving of a new path, carving something new out of that which is formless void. The artist sits at the very edge of what is comprehensible turning what may be deemed too ‘crazy’, ‘psychotic’ or ‘out there’ into something tangibly valuable to society. Dare I say it, but in terms of seeking development of artistry, the most valuable thing I did was just wander off into forests, and travel to new cities, or radically new ‘places’, with a pen and paper tablet in my hand.


^^^^ Great advice ^^^^


I took the 4 year route for CG and I’m about to start on my senior year. I would recommend avoiding this, as the debt is just not worth it. Take a year or two of CC and try Gnomon while you do that. Take their intro to Maya course maybe? See how much you really like 3D and learn about the different areas besides gaming while you’re there.



Thanks for the replies, guys. They have all been taken into thought with great weight. So, 2 weeks ago, I found myself in a CC’s orientation, while I felt great for doing something I saw that many people my age seem to know exactly what they want, how to go about it from CC, everything. While the orientation did a great job pretty much explaining everything to me, that I have ever had questions about. One thing was missing, the path to get where I wanted. (I sense I’m about to go on a rambling session so I’m going to cut it short) I thought it was set that I was going to to this community college (mostly because it’s what my parents wanted me to do.) and learn what I can on the side. Perhaps while working, and save up the funds to attend animation mentor or a similar school in the future.

Naturally, I like to keep my mother (she’s my “parents”) on the same page as me, so she isn’t under the impression I’m just wondering about in life, waiting to be told what to do, and how to do it, and just to hear her thoughts. I again, brought up online schools, I told her of the plan to attend the community college
(at this point I was enrolled in some classes, ready to go in the fall, classes for Liberal Art degree, which I found out the evening after enrolling in classes, that that certain degree is pretty much a joke >.>, but at this point my goal was to get a broader education, just go down the path, and hope I don’t screw things up.),
and that I would be more than willing to work during school, to attend a school where I can learn what I want to.

To my surprise, she seem to be a totally different person towards the subject than last time I brought it up. I don’t know what changed, perhaps she saw me actually reading a book XD (The Animator’s Survival Kit) outloud, writing notes, drawing sketches, and occassionally I would devote 30 minutes a day to take what I’ve read so far that I found to be vital, and wrote it down word for word (to improve my crappy penmenshit, and to try to sew it into my brain), and just doing. (Had a Digital Tutor’s subscription, where I was just abit of everything.), perhaps she saw me do this, when I wasn’t aware, or heard from my brothers. I don’t know.

Anyways, she seem to see that I really wanted to go through with this. She asked me to tell her about the school(s) I was looking into. I pulled up Animation Mentor’s website, I told her about everything I gathered, showed the student showreel, in which (I think this was the first time I actually showed her what it is that I was fascinated with) she asked if I was going to be the one ‘drawing’ these characters. I told her that these were pretty much models/characters inside a software, and that what I was going to be learning is to give them life, and giving them movement. She seemed to notice how confidently I spoke about this, as if I were already an expert. And I, jokily to tease her/convince her of my determination, said, oneday she’s going to watch a popular movie, and I would’ve contribute to it, and she would be able to boast to friends and family that her son ‘made that movie’.

(at this point I realized this got extremely lengthy, and fast >.> but I’ll keep going for the sake of there ever being someone in this situation, who would maybe benefit in someway.)

For, what may possibly be the first time, she looked at me seriously, she smiled, and pretty much told me she believe it would be so, and patted me on the back. Y’kno, I don’t really remember ever being told that. I was always told my everyone to just do something, and get it done. This was a huge motivator. I instantly felt 5 times more motivated and determine to make this happen. She told me, never to let anyone tell me how to go about my life, not if it’s not what I want. Going to my community college for a degree that would get me nowhere, and not make me truely happy, and just essentially settling and not speaking up for myself, was a waste of time. She would much rather see me working towards where I want to be. So it was settled, she was willing to support me, and pay for the cost, aslong as I promised to put 330% into it (ofcourse, I’ll probably take breaks when I feel I’m getting towards ‘burnt out’) and that my ‘job’ was to take my studies more seriously than ever, and make my goals happen. I never felt so alive, and determined, I was feeling great. Untill…

Negative Nancy, or my step-father walked into the room, asked what was up. My mother informed him that I will not be attending college afterall, as it didn’t offer what I wanted to do. He instantly shut down. If my mother weren’t there, he would’ve just shut me down instantly and completely. He stood there in silence as we continued looking at the information. Shortly he left, so once my and mother came to the agreement, I thanked her for sticking by me and letting me have the opportunity to have the time to contribute 100% of studying without worrying about money, and other financial responsibility.

I went upstairs to my room, all dandy and skipping. It didn’t take long for my step-father to follow, and basically just shove his… I don’t even know what to call it. It’s certainly not advice, or thoughts. He offered nothing but discouragement, asking me things I cannot hope to get him to comprehend without more senseless questions to follow. “Animation? Wutis that for? You want to make video games?” (He’s in the stubborn mindset that, given my past that involved quite abit of playing video games, and whatnot that I thought “Hey, I play video games. They make video games. DATS PERFECT” and told me, because it was an online school, that I was looking and wanting to waste my time. I couldn’t hope to form an arguement to get it through his head, that while it is online, and it isn’t necessarily what I would prefer. For the very same fact that it’s online, it’s what makes it successful and what makes it work. The ‘instructors’ or Mentors were not just teachers, they may currently have jobs, and may also be in different locations. I just sat there, waiting for him to go away. He continued to let it be known that he thought my decision was stupid, and just plainly the wrong decision. And that if I wanted to get anywhere I needed to go to college. (ofcourse, he wasn’t going to help contribute a dime towards helping me pay anything.)

I’ll take this chance to say, while I do realize that college is just about a once-in-a-lifetime sort of chance (not exactly, but you know what I mean) and that I may potentially miss out on great experiences, and friends. College isn’t the only places to meet new people, make friends and memories.
And frankly, the cost of college (not assuming a well-known/prestigious ‘animation/cg’ school) is abit daunting. I already feel bad about never having had a job at (now almost, age 18) nevermind the thought of having my mother support me for another 4 years, as she’s worked her behind off all my life. As long as I remember. I wouldn’t want to put her under that pressure while I’m out doing something I isn’t my dream, or even comfortably sure of. and only to go through those 4 years, and struggle to really do anything.

While I may not be getting the ‘broader’, general higher education, there have been people with far less, who have accomplish much more. (generally speaking) who am I not to do the same?

I believe strongly in ‘make the most of what you got’ and ‘you get what you put into it.’

So, to conclude. I did feel dishearten at my step-father’s words. I thought I normally shrug these things off. But this was different for some reason. Perhaps because this was something I actually cared about, and believed in. I began to doubt myself. ‘Maybe I am foolish, and just looking to waste my time and put off the reality of life longer.’ ‘What if I realize somewhere in the future that, this isn’t what I really want?’, ‘I could get distracted and demotivated and just…accomplish nothing.’

It took awhile, but I realized a few things later that night, while laying in bed. 1.It’s my STEP-FATHER, he’s always been like that. I’ve had just about all my life to learn to shrug off his useless thoughts off 2.There’s always going to be people that question your plans, and your abilities. 3.There’s also people who will question your plans (or in this quite, straightout say it’s a stupid idea), and your abilities because they have absolutely no idea what it is, you really plan to do. 4.and there will always be people who believe in your plans, and your ability to follow through, and execute. 5.Ultimately, it comes down to the person, he/she is the only limit to how far they can go.

So. (Jesus, why do I go on and on so much. I apologize, I really do :P) that night, after realizing these things, I went ahead and applied to Animation Mentor, just about kept my eye on my inbox, awaiting the test they told me to expect, took and finished it, 20 minutes after receiving the link, and am now waiting for word. I am both nervous and excited. Nervous as in, I wonder if in 5-10 years from now if this will be a major event that has effected my life greatly, and if for better or worse. Excited because of the chance to do something I have never really felt nearly as motivated, determined, and fascinated with.

(Now I’m debating if I should even post this >.<, oh well. If I were me, and I read of someone who was in a similar situation as me, and had this long of a read, I probably would’ve felt more at ease and benefited from it. So for the sake for the person who may or may not ever exist :p)

P.S, if you or anyone you know is/ or have attended AM recently, if I could get in touch for a few questions, that would be great. I have ~2 months till the term starts (assuming I’m accepted, and all goes well) and I want to prepare the best I can to make going into the program and smoothly as possible.(maya knowledge-wise, mostly) I have some experience with software like Maya and Max, from the time I had with digital tutor’s but I would still say I essentially know nothing.


This. Listen to this.

If you want to make it in animation, you’re going to have to live, breathe and eat animation. Don’t make the mistake of assuming a “backup” degree will help you, because it won’t - it’ll just sap you of your time and energy, and gradually, you’ll see your dream slipping away.

At several times at critical junctions in my “career” trajectory, I took the easy or “safe” way out, and had I just stayed the course and had the courage to say “no” to everyone else and their expectations, I’d probably be a lot further on. Of course, I’m much older now, which gives me a certain amount of hindsight.

Find a way of learning that makes sense to you, and pour your heart and soul into it. Don’t stop, don’t give up for anyone or anything. And, for the love of Mike, don’t waste your time getting into thousands of dollars’ worth of debt for a degree that doesn’t interest you.

Go get 'em, tiger.


That’s the plan. Eat, Breathe, and Live the stuff c:

Also, glad I won’t be disappointing Mike, this life.

Thanks for those words, Dan


Hey man,

Good luck with your online classes!

I wouldn't completly rule out attending community college in the future though. A community college is a public service, so you can sign up and take any classes at any time. At some places, you can even register and sign up for classes a week before they start as long as they have room. You can take just one or two classes per semester if you want to. They try to sell you on taking a full load of classes and going for a degree, but you don't have to. Just taking English101 and a 100+ level math class could be really beneficial to you, and would use less than 10 hours a week of your time. 

Trust me man, once you hit your mid 20’s you really start to settle down. Things become less about “me” and “I”, and more about others. Taking some gen ed classes might seem useless and boring to you now, but it can be an important investment in your future.

Also college is not a once in a lifetime experience. I didn’t get started on my degree until I was 22, and I’ve still got several years to go. There are people in some of my classes who are over 50.



Something taken into thought and consideration, I might just do some of those basic gen ed class on the side, if not in the future. I’m all for broadening my knowledge and whatnot, it can never hurt.


I get that you want to start working, but realize that you have a LOT of time to work.

There’s a lot of value in going to school in gaining general life experience and all those experiences inform your work as an artist. It also never hurts to have a degree, even if it’s not in a directly related field.

You could also quite feasibly do some community college classes and Animation Mentor or a similar program at the same time, and there are certainly courses you could take that will help inform your work, help you learn to think creatively, etc.

Just stuff to keep in mind. Either way, good luck!


Sounds like a good plan—college is great if it teaches you something but it’s definitely not worth the money just for the experience. Especially these days, don’t waste the money if it’s not going to do what you want it to.


I honestly haven’t read every post here, but I’m just going to offer a general reply, since I’m quite familiar with students’ confusion over their choices in terms of schools. I’m just going to copy / paste what I wrote in regard to another student’s question on a previous thread in this forum:

I highly recommend looking into college portfolio preparation classes in your area in addition to CC classes. Private art colleges and small studios like mine often offer them. In my experience, CC classes are great for giving a general survey of art skills (depending on the quality of the teacher) but are not generally enough to focus a portfolio strongly enough to gain acceptance to or scholarship money from major art schools.

My college prep students have earned nearly $2 million in combined offered scholarships, grants, and loans to major art schools and universities. I’ve sent 4 students to RISD with near full scholarships. Having a teacher with specialized knowledge in college portfolio prep can be a huge benefit for a student. So I recommend researching all of the options for prep in your area.


Wow, your thread, after reading it, has given me hope in my pursuit of 3d. I contemplated the idea of going to Gnomon, but my parents shut that down quickly. After talking with a few recruiters, they all said go to those specialized schools because in the end, you have the greatest chance of becoming the best and job worthy. Now because of your thread, I will convince them that these college classes I’ve been taking are not what I want and are still valuable, but I need to go with my gut.

Thank you google, you’ve done a fine job.


Haven’t had a chance to reply sooner, but I wish you the best on however you decide to pursue your education :slight_smile:


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