Profit Schools - Can we condone them publically?

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polycounter lvl 15
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oXYnary polycounter lvl 15
I know many of you came from these but you admit yourself how much extra time and effort you had to put in because the schools failed to really prepare you or your knowledge/skills.

I see more people still going to these schools including some of our own members and I have to ask myself. Is the message not getting out?

Can we have an official Polycount article on this or a sticky being frank about what these schools can and cannot provide? At least one of their potential students who decides to do some research might come across this and rethink their strategy.

Its too late for them when they have already committed and find these complaints afterwords.

Does PC have to remain neutral on these?

Replies

  • kaze369
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    kaze369 polycounter lvl 8
    I think as a community we should have a strong stance. Perhaps Adem can create an official position paper based on the what the Polycount community says.
  • ZacD
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    ZacD interpolator
    My personal thoughts:

    I've heard good things about a very few schools (Gnomon and full sail?)

    I've heard bad things about a lot of schools (art and tech schools with 3D programs, and universities (can't land a job))

    I think community college is great place to test the waters if you aren't a self learner and they have a 3D program.
  • Rai
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    Rai keyframe
    Gnomon is amazing, though I believe they only give certificates?
    I could be wrong however.
  • danshewan
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    danshewan polycounter lvl 8
    ZacD wrote: »
    I've heard good things about a very few schools (Gnomon and full sail?)

    I don't know about anyone else, but whenever the topic of for-profit schools comes up, I don't even consider Gnomon to be in the same class as, say, the Art Institutes.

    Certainly Gnomon is expensive, but they're explicit about their portfolio requirements, the faculty is comprised of some extremely talented artists currently working in the entertainment industry, and I don't think I've ever seen bad student work come out of there.

    I think a frank examination of any potential benefits of attending an Art Institute (again, purely for the sake of example) would be an excellent idea, but the problem is that most people will look for the quickest, easiest way to land that 'cool' job without realizing the amount of work and dedication required, and unfortunately this is what the Art Institutes and schools like them are capitalizing on.

    Aside from some form of Federal intervention, I don't see how that's going to change for the better.

    Then again, as a college drop-out myself, I'm a strong advocate of self-teaching, and that slim percentage of people that could report a positive experience at a for-profit school likely would have had a similar success learning the craft without the schooling because of their own determination and aptitude.
  • penrod
    It's hard to blame a school when they are presenting you with an opportunity to learn the basics of game art. It is up to the student weather or not they want to take it a step further and put in the effort that is necessary to succeed.
  • whats_true
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    whats_true polycounter lvl 11
    It is up to the student weather or not they want to take it a step further and put in the effort that is necessary to succeed.

    This ^
  • eld
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    eld polycounter lvl 11
    But these are situations where students are encouraged to do basicly all the work on teaching themselves, and where the teacher actually doesn't know the correct knowledge, or knows anything at all.

    Where the better option is to just not go there at all, and learn at home.

    Until we have amazing super experienced game artists being teachers at schools, go to an art school instead.
  • oXYnary
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    oXYnary polycounter lvl 15
    I guess I should be explicit when I say for profit. I mean schools with actual STOCK and/or many "campuses" across the country.

    Gnomon, Digipen, Universities/Colleges, and Fullsail would not fall under this.

    ITT, AI, UAT?, etc. Would.
  • Disco Stu
    penrod wrote: »
    It's hard to blame a school when they are presenting you with an opportunity to learn the basics of game art. It is up to the student weather or not they want to take it a step further and put in the effort that is necessary to succeed.

    Or an opportunity for "schools" to make money from spoiled kids and clueless parents.
    Its like letting your cars doors open and the keys inside.
    I once went to a open day at a game art school in holland to see if it was something for me.
    A american named steve ford who was clearly a cocain addict showed his stuff and it was rediculously crappy, yet the parents and theyr 15 year old kids where impressed.
    The only positive thing about that day was that german police stopped me and
    my brother shortly after the border and thought that visiting a game art school
    was the crappiest excuse ever to buy weed.
  • ZacD
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    ZacD interpolator
    The article should also mention degrees don't matter, unless you want to move to another country to work in games within ~6 years, but I think it should also talk about the over school options besides for profit, even if the focus is those schools.

    My high school visited a local AI school that just got built with video/graphics programs, it seems they basically talk to the big local companies and try to feed them their students. They were pretty aggressive with trying to get me to check out their 3D programs at other campuses.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    This is intriguing to me. Being self-taught myself, I tend to have a negative reaction to schools offering such courses but I cannot out-right say that all schools are a waste of time & money. Even when I visited the local AI a few years ago to talk to students I couldn't help but feel it was just as much their fault for not learning as it was the teachers. (You don't play WoW when the teach is giving a lesson.)

    My biggest problem with ALL schools is that they build portfolios during these courses.

    Who the hell in their right mind would apply to an art job with a portfolio of their 'firsts' for everything? I once went to a school and was asked for advice. "Take everything you've created here at the school and throw it in the bin. Take everything you're learned and build an entirely new portfolio. Have this new portfolio reviewed - whether amongst peers or online - and make changes & updates accordingly. Do not, for your own sake, expect a job with what you guys are producing here today."

    I was never asked to come back after that. Which, in a way, proves other points being brought up here in this thread.

    I'd like there to be more discussion about this on the forum before I or anyone else on the Polycount Editor's team cooks something up about the subject.

    Here's a copy & paste of an article I wrote long ago which is somewhat on topic. It's about the importance of community involvement if you'd ever like to grow as an artist. I think its relevant to the conversation you guys are having here.



    Get Involved

    In the past, artists aspiring to work in the game industry were generally hobbyists seeking to do what they loved on a full-time basis. These people relied on support from friends and the online community to get the input needed to succeed in their field. modelers, texture artists, and animators would post their work-in-progress (WIP) for others to critique and comment on.

    Recently, more people are going to schools that offer courses in “videogame design” with hopes of one day making it into the game industry. It is my firm belief that although schooling can teach you the fundamentals, it isn’t until you get your work shown in front of others to have it critiqued and compared that you’ll fully develop a skill set and acquire the knowledge needed to become a successful professional. In addition, the networking options available to those active in online communities is far greater than anything a school can offer.

    Joining a community gives you the chance to post your WIP’s and get nearly instant feedback from others in your position or who those who already have professional art careers. CGTalk, CGChat, Polycount, ConceptArt.org and others are all websites that offer message boards for those who are looking for constructive criticism of their work. You’ll receive opinions from people with a wide range of experience and knowledge that are willing to offer words of advice to make your work that much better. Then there’s networking. Online artist communities are full of professional artists who, to this day, still post and remain active. Infact, if it weren’t for my favorite artist community, Polycount, I’d have never have made friends with industry professionals, made contact with the people at Threewave Software, or been given the chance to work with them as a full-time artist. However, be tactful. Artists hate nothing more than getting messages from people with the pure intention of knowing someone at a specific company.

    Networking should be about making friends and meeting people with similar interests. If you are contacting people just for the sake of a business contact the artist will know, and probably not appreciate it. I spoke with Ben Mathis & Andrew Risch to find out what they thought of online communities and what they can do for aspiring artists. Ben is an artist at Neversoft (Gun) with 2.5 years of experience. His employment history includes Mythic Entertainment (Dark Ages of Camelot) and Terminal Reality (BloodRayne 2). Andrew is the founder of Polycount.com which celebrated its 7th anniversary this year.
  • ZacD
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    ZacD interpolator
    WE NEED SOME RESEARCH, ask your coworkers if they went to schools and what ones, and if they thought it was worth it and if they have anything to say about the schools, and if they could go back, would they attend that school again or do something else to learn 3D.
  • Autocon
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    Autocon polycounter lvl 11
    ZacD wrote: »
    The article should also mention degrees don't matter, unless you want to move to another country to work in games within ~6 years.

    Completely false. Every studio I interviewed at and whilst working at Bungie all loved the fact that I had a degree. Each art director/art manager I spoke with like the fact that I had a degree. Yes you dont need one to get the job but that is compeltly diffrent from saying it dosnt matter because it dose, just not as much at a traditional job.

    They all valued and admired that I was passionate about my chosen career path to spend the time to get a degree. They saw the value in learning from a teacher/mentor much like on the job site. About being forced to work alone on projects or in groups. Having deadlines to meet. Having to present work to others. Taking artistic classes like life drawing, sculpture and shit. A few even really liked the fact that classes that I had to take like animation and scripting gave me a better understanding of the project at large, what goes into the entire game and the type of time and limiting factors those other disciplines have in connection to my own.


    I am in no way saying you need to get a degree. I got one, very happy I did. Wouldn't change it to save the 70 grand I spent over the 3 years. Made some of my best friends while at school/contacts at all the company's they now work for.

    I feel the college life, the structured environment, the life long friends I made was well worth it to me for 70 grand which in reality is only a year and a half of working in the industry. Yes I think these schools are WAY over priced and there mainly out for the money which wasnt some big surprise to me.



    I also find that a ton of people who bitch about how terrible these schools are people who never even went to them. They just spout off shit they hear from others based on some places teaching conditions and pricing. Maybe I just got lucky and AI San Diego is one of like 3 AI's that is any good but I honestly learned most everything I needed to in school from my teachers. I defnatly used PC and a few tutorials along the way to better improve myself as anyone who is passionate should but its not like I had a need to buy a Gnome or Eat3d DVD because of inadequate teaching.

    Problem is with most people when in classes is they just dont listen, they goof off, hang out with there friends and read facebook. I always listend to everything the teachers said, look notes, talked with them after class on things I wanted to know more about since you can only dish out so much info in 4hrs. To which I never had a teach say oh no sorry I dont have time for this. They were always enthusiastic that some people wanted to learn all they could. Even sat in on classes I wasnt taking.

    When doing projects/assignments I didnt half ass shit or not even do it like 90% of the people. I strived to make it the best work I could do and go beyond the assignment and expand on it because thats what I enjoy. I know nothing comes easy in life and if your not the best then your going to be some randy ass chump working at best buy for the rest of your life.


    For profit schools have the same method of graduating people as high school dose. D is for diploma in both high school and in college. Thats why most people who graduate from high school never go to college (not including self taught artist and the like). There just like the people in college who just "pass" and never get a job. They are lazy slobs who dont really care about what they do and are so stupid they think that a high school diploma, or a college diploma will have them set for life.


    EDIT: Also yes these schools are crazy expensive but there is so much free money flying around in scholarships its stupid. I got well over 15grand in scholorships by doing NOTHING more then writing a few 1 page papers on why I feel I should get said money and how it will benifit my life. And im a god awful writer. 95% of people never even try to get these scholarships (and this applies to every person attending college). There are thousands of dollars just floating at there for people to take. And much like school, most people dont have the drive or are just to stupid to go for it.


    Condone for profit schools on how much they charge, nothing else. They give you all the materials you need to get the job you want. If your not willing to put in the work then you dont deserve a job.
  • Sandbag
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    Sandbag polycounter lvl 14
    I agree with Autocon 100%

    I went to a public university, so I cant speak about private/for profit schools (though EVERY school is about profit...), but I would go back and make that choice again in a heart beat.

    The illustration program at Northern Illinois University was phenomenal and I learned more there than I would have ever imagined about art as well as about life in general. In fact some of the most valuable lessons I learned in college were not from the classes themselves, but instead from the situations, interactions, and responsibilities of life "on my own" at college.

    On-Campus College provided a huge social experience for me that I think is very valuable. It might sound cheesy, but I think all of those things have a huge impact on a person and should not be written off easily.


    Is it the ONLY way to go? Of course not. I know plenty of people that have succeeded and are amazing artists as well as just amazing people that did not go to college. Some people just dont develop and learn the same way. So no, it's not for everyone, just like anything. But do I think it was for me? Absolutely.

    On the subject, if anyone looking for a school is living in Illinois, Todd Buck (at NIU) is the most amazing illustration professor on the planet. Not only is he one of the most downright talented motherfuckers I have ever met, but he also has an amazing gift for teaching, and is full of an impossible amount of knowledge and experience. I would go back to NIU just for his classes alone.
  • Yozora
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    Yozora polycounter lvl 11
    I think anyone who reads polycount knows that a degree does not equal a job and that you have to work hard for it. If someone still decides to do a game art/design course after reading a bunch of education-related threads here, they would be wise enough to fully take advantage of those 3-4 years of practice.

    Its some of the people who don't read polycount that fall into the "trap" of expecting schools to do everything for them. Which means, any "official polycount article" for this won't be seen by those that actually need it.

    Anyway I think those who think they wasted 70k on a education like this without prior research deserve it, especially when the internet is so easily accessible.


    I'm also one of the people who splashed out lots of money ("only" £15k) doing a course without prior research but luckily for me, it is not something I regret doing.
    It gave me a career goal. If I didn't go to uni I would still be playing WoW all day and would not have had any interest in game art at all.

    That wouldn't apply to anyone reading polycount of course, so I'd only recommend doing a game art/design course to my gamer friends who don't have any career goals :p
  • ZacD
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    ZacD interpolator
    Some people don't use or avoid forums, an nice article would be a lot better than just random threads you have to dig through, I remember searching for school names just to see what cgs or any other game art site had to say about it, I never really stopped to read more than a few comments because there's a real difference between an article and some random comments on a message board.

    A lot of people still think being a game tester would be an awesome job (Grandma's Boy or "the tester"), I don't think its particularly the kids fault, its just that society tells kids college = job.
  • Alemja
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    Alemja ngon master
    As someone who is soon graduating from a private school (Art Institute of Pittsburgh) here's my stance on the issue. I'm well aware that I could have learned all of this myself, and if I knew everything that I knew now that I did 3 years ago I would have never even considered coming to school. My friends agree on this as well. Having said that if it wasn't for coming to the school in the first place I probably never would have gotten my foot in the door, I would have never found polycount, gotten my hands on some programs, figured out what I really like to do and wind up developed a much stronger work ethic. (Back at home I actually have only dial-up for internet so I could hardly use it and had no access to things like this forum)

    Now am I saying these for profit schools are good? Of course not, at this point in the game I'm not a moron I know very well that we're being ripped off and may not get a job right after graduation. However back when I started I didn't. School has made me realize what I truly love doing but yes at a hefty price, however I'm still going to work on my portfolio even when I'm out. It seems my AI fairs better than some of the others because there are teachers who know their shit but you still have some who don't know as much as they should.

    It's like what a lot of people say you get what what you put in to education. Was it all a complete waste of time, I wouldn't say no, not entirely because like I said there are things it helped me with. Would I recommend school to other people, no probably not. Only because I've learned that it is mostly independent research and can tell people where to start.

    It's a sticky situation really but in the end if you really love something you're going to go out of your way to learn about it, school or no school.
  • oXYnary
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    oXYnary polycounter lvl 15
    Autocon wrote: »
    Completely false. Every studio I interviewed at and whilst working at Bungie all loved the fact that I had a degree. Each art director/art manager I spoke with like the fact that I had a degree. Yes you dont need one to get the job but that is compeltly diffrent from saying it dosnt matter because it dose, just not as much at a traditional job.

    They all valued and admired that I was passionate about my chosen career path to spend the time to get a degree. They saw the value in learning from a teacher/mentor much like on the job site. About being forced to work alone on projects or in groups. Having deadlines to meet. Having to present work to others. Taking artistic classes like life drawing, sculpture and shit. A few even really liked the fact that classes that I had to take like animation and scripting gave me a better understanding of the project at large, what goes into the entire game and the type of time and limiting factors those other disciplines have in connection to my own.


    I am in no way saying you need to get a degree. I got one, very happy I did. Wouldn't change it to save the 70 grand I spent over the 3 years. Made some of my best friends while at school/contacts at all the company's they now work for.

    I feel the college life, the structured environment, the life long friends I made was well worth it to me for 70 grand which in reality is only a year and a half of working in the industry. Yes I think these schools are WAY over priced and there mainly out for the money which wasnt some big surprise to me.


    Maybe any article should give insiders from both positions.

    But anyhow again. THIS THREAD IS NOT ABOUT EDUCATION IN GENERAL! IT IS ONLY ABOUT FOR PROFIT SCHOOLS OF A CERTAIN TYPE. AI is included in this type. Your own admissions to me though show the school was after students for income. Not after students whom they knew could make it.
    Condone for profit schools on how much they charge, nothing else. They give you all the materials you need to get the job you want. If your not willing to put in the work then you dont deserve a job.

    Thats not a school then. Thats having access to a lab.
  • Sean VanGorder
    As a student currently attending the AI in Pittsburgh, I completely agree with everything Autocon and Adam have said.

    I know it's hard to justify how much money I am spending on my education here (it makes me sick to think of the debt I'm already in), but without going to school here, I never would have been involved with or exposed to anything related to Game Art. I played sports my whole life and was originally planning on attending Penn State to play football. During my senior year of high school my priorities shifted, and a few months before graduation I had no idea what I wanted to do. It literally came down to me deciding that I enjoyed playing video games, so why not go to school for it.

    In retrospect, it was a pretty foolish idea to make such a big decision that way, but I'm so glad that I did. Once I got to school here and started learning what game art was all about, I fell in love with it.


    I know that this school has flaws, and I understand why it frustrates people, but they aren't anything that you can't work around. Most of the people that bitch and complain about these schools are the ones who came into it expecting a free ride and a job simply by showing a piece of paper saying they were physically in a classroom for three years. You wouldn't believe how many of my classmates spend every 4 hour class on facebook or playing games. And once the class is over, instead of going home and working on creating games, they go home and play games. Like Autocon, I pay attention to everything, strive to do my best, and do more than what is required of me. I spend my extra time teaching myself what the instructors didn't have time to cover in class.

    Some people need the structured environment of college, and some don't. I, for one, needed it. It keeps me on track and motivated. Knowing that your fellow students are your future competition is even more motivation to do your best. It's also a great way to network.

    Like Adam was saying, I think the biggest flaw with the Game Art program here is that you need a portfolio to graduate. And I don't mean a specialized portfolio. I need everything. Environments, interfaces, characters, props, vehicles, concept art, you name it. I appreciate that in my first year I get a taste of every facet of the industry, it helped me decide that I want to be an environment artist. But requiring you to know everything to graduate is wrong for many reasons.

    I consider myself an environment artist. I hate doing characters and I'm just plain horrible at drawing. You would think that they would give you as much time as possible to become an expert in the field you choose. But instead of perfecting my environment art skills, I have to spend my time taking character animation classes that I will never use again. Also, I don't want to use my first attempt at something as portfolio material. So my portfolio will end up being comprised of some decent, but rushed, environments, some shitty characters, and some unrecognizable drawings. I could rant about this for a while, but I'll cut it off there.

    Anyway, I don't regret my experience here so far. I have learned enough to get myself started, and have made some life long friends. I guess it just comes down to the fact that school is what you make of it. Just like anything else in life, if you put in the time and effort, you'll be rewarded for it.
  • JasonLavoie
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    JasonLavoie polycounter lvl 12
    penrod wrote: »
    It's hard to blame a school when they are presenting you with an opportunity to learn the basics of game art. It is up to the student weather or not they want to take it a step further and put in the effort that is necessary to succeed.

    The problem is penrod, that some of these "game design schools" don't even have qualified teachers, so even if the student(s) have the potential to achieve great things, without the "teachers" knowing any of the key fundamentals... then its hard to put full blame on the students.

    Obviously there's going to be a majority of the class (more so in the first year I would take it) that just don't care, but there will also be a small few that truly care about the industry and learning and evolving their skill sets... and to throw that potential away because they don't have anyone to really teach them, well that's one of the BIGGEST issues I think that is currently plaguing these "game design" schools.

    I've thought about this a fair bit, and I have 2 main ideas or suggestions I guess that I think would help this out.

    It's unrealistic to get a course full of "current" working artists / programmers etc. in the game industry (or any industry, but I'm focusing on our industry right now), because of cost and the fact that i think a lot of these people do not want to leave and teach full time (still a young industry).

    I think if schools (i know a lot do this already) ask current industry folk to come and do a lecture / Q&A type class(s) for their students, it will not only inspire these students to work harder, but they can get current industry people to talk about their experiences first hand.

    The second idea (for schools though, i don't think this is too cost efficient) is to have programs focused on certain specializations. This industry is all about specialization now (is that a word?) and if we have focused courses working on a certain aspect of the industry, they could be churning out new breeds of artists, programmers, designers etc.

    I think it is important for people in the industry to take some time out of their schedules and get in contact with a program they think is worth helping out, and to do a couple of lectures or Q&A's to inspire these students into really pushing themselves to bring them to the next level.

    That's just my 3 cents... back to singularity (good game :P )

    /rant
  • Lamont
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    Lamont polycounter lvl 10
    This topic is interesting to me as well. I am self taught because we didn't have this stuff when I went to school. I was schooled on 2D animation at AI San Fran (I didn't like 3D at all), finished up with a diploma in graphic design at Platt in San Diego.

    Education is what you make of it, even at shitty schools. There wasn't any "Game design course", or "2D animation for games" course when I went. So I broke off from the pack on my own and learned these things. Bought books from all over on 2D animation and 3D art. Bought Pixels 3D and learned at home. Passed the classes and went on.

    On another side, not everyone is cracked up to do this. You go through education and still didn't turn out any better than when you went in. Either you didn't have the heart to get better, or you just can't do it. Then bitch that you have to strip or flip burgers to pay off that 80k loan.

    Or you do this very well, and just had the luck to try to get a job now. If you fall into this boat, don't loose focus.
    My biggest problem with ALL schools is that they build portfolios during these courses.
    That drives me crazy. Unless the work is so kick-ass toss it away. I know people who've been out of school for 11 years still passing their design/marker comp work in their portfolios.

    So again. Education is what you make of it. Whatever school you go to, there is a chance to learn something or use the equipment. What you learn in school vs. what you can learn online are totally different. Use both.
  • Yozora
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    Yozora polycounter lvl 11
    and to throw that potential away because they don't have anyone to really teach them, well that's one of the BIGGEST issues I think that is currently plaguing these "game design" schools.
    /rant

    I disagree about it being a BIG issue~
    Good students with a lot of potential will learn to study by themselves. They all end up in places like Polycount and talk about how their schools suck.
    They don't need to be taught, sure it makes it a little bit easier but as every self-taught game artist knows, the things taught at game art classes are things that you can learn yourself online.
  • haikai
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    haikai polycounter lvl 8
    I'm with Autocon on this. It would be irresponsible to dismiss schools/programs without more thorough evaluation of each one, and, honestly, I doubt any of us here can do that without bias. Of course most art schools are way overpriced, and you won't learn everything you need through the courses alone. Is what you're getting worth the price you're paying? That's for you to decide, but remember that it's not just about what you are taught as much as it is what you do with the environment they provide in other students and staff, technological resources, etc. It's hard to put a dollar value on some things as much as we all might want to.

    These kinds of jobs where talent, work ethic, and passion factors in your success are particularly difficult to evaluate in traditional school systems. You've got to meet them half way (and then some) by making the most out of bad assignments, be willing to learn on your own what they can't teach you in order to make the best product, and pay attention and deliver in your classes as if it were a real paying job (no matter how crappy a job it seems).

    If anything, I would have more problems with encouraging people to just stay home and try to learn things on their own through the internet. Of course it's possible, and of course there are a lot of people who have done well teaching themselves, but I really think those cases are exceptional. It's difficult to convince a lot of young and impatient students on the value of some sort of degree or accreditation, but it definitely is not useless.
  • kaze369
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    kaze369 polycounter lvl 8
    let's put this in another light.

    Would we be out raged at the people who thought that there money would safe with Bernie Madoff? Should we go off on rants and say those people were idiots for believing a guy like Madoff. Those people lost their entire savings all because of a corrupt person and a corrupt system.
    Or....should we say, lets go after Madoff and try to fix the system as well.

    Now I'm not saying my situation, or any other student in a for-profit school, is the same as those who lost their savings, but what I am saying is that we shouldn't be so hard on people and play "blame the victim" in every situation.

    This why I think Polycount should hold a firm stance on this issue and I also think we have the power to change the system as well.
    (this is my liberal hippie side coming out)

    edit: Perhaps I'm taking this too personally because I feel like my degree is worthless and now I have to teach myself the necessary skills while paying off my $60,000 debt.
  • jrs100000
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    jrs100000 polycounter lvl 8
    penrod wrote: »
    It's hard to blame a school when they are presenting you with an opportunity to learn the basics of game art. It is up to the student weather or not they want to take it a step further and put in the effort that is necessary to succeed.

    Would this sort of thinking work with any other type of degree? Do people graduate with an English BA without knowing how to use a comma? Do people major in history only to end up working night shift at the local Burger King? Are these travesties the student's fault or the school's?
  • Moosey_G
    jrs brings up some great points. In the end, isn't it false advertising? I've never fully understood what "video game design" was anyway.
  • Cojax
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    Cojax polycounter lvl 10
    I went to AI of San Diego. Which as Autocon has said. Was one of the best AI's in the country. Still there were a lot of things that really bugged me. Teachers that didn't know the material they were teaching and just throwing the book at us. At the end of the day it came down to 'you' buckling down and making a badass portfolio so you could get hired. We had tons of fellow students that just wouldn't try and play WoW every day.

    Really what helped me get my first job and start my career off, where the friends I made at AI, who all busted there ass to get a job. We would work with each other to get better and all ended up getting jobs. I wouldn't have met these people if it wasn't for the school. So was it worth the price of tuition? At the time yes. Now with 3 year degrees probably capping out at 120k+ its not worth it.
  • vcortis
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    vcortis polycounter lvl 9
    http://kotaku.com/5610985/how-a-bad-degree-robbed-a-stripper-of-her-video-game-love

    Watch the video. She shows her portfolio and actually makes a very valid case. The main reasoning being that the work she had done netted her an 'A' in every class when clearly it sucks. Yes, she could've been extremely proactive and gone out and done research, looked at boards, etc. But people are young and ignorant and being completley taken advantage of by these schools.

    Some of my co-workers teach classes. And it's sad that when they get kids in their class (they teach upper level stuff) they have basically 0 knowledge or very limited knowledge of creating levels, or 3d assets upon coming in.

    The college I went to wasn't fantastic (they're much better now that they've started bringing in Industry professionals and doing portfolio reviews), I was never taught how to UV or model. And many many kids that graduated with me are in similar positions as her. Thousands of dollars in debt with 0 skill or knowledge to show for it.

    Some schools are getting better though. AI of San Diego I hear good things about, same with full-sail, etc. but they're few and far between. Kids who don't seriously do their research, are being duped right out of the gate. They're being fed lies of "Yes your work is good, here is an A+... just give us your money"

    I think one of the main problems is that many schools require that in order for you to teach that you have your masters. Well news flash! Guess what? Anyone who has their masters probably has 0 industry working experience... and that makes them... You got it! Worthless! It means they don't have the knowledge to be teaching the class in the first place.

    Sorry that turned into a bit of a rant... but thought it was all relevant.
  • trancerobot
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    trancerobot polycounter lvl 7
    I watched that video Vcortis. Her 2D portfolio isn't something you can get a video game job with (she wasn't at all specific.. I guess she wanted to model?), but I kept thinking that she could at least find work as a graphic designer, and if not that, she can freelance as one.

    I'm glad I didn't sucked into a video game school. I think I would have been worse off for it. I can complain about attending a regular college all day but at least it's not that. I should count my blessings.
  • Thegodzero
    What i think schools need is to be certified by the industry they have programs for. No certification means you can't trust that what they are teaching will be useful to the students. Schools would need to have the program reviewed each year to make sure that its keeping up with what will be expected of students to get jobs.
  • Autocon
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    Autocon polycounter lvl 11
    jrs100000 wrote: »
    Would this sort of thinking work with any other type of degree? Do people graduate with an English BA without knowing how to use a comma? Do people major in history only to end up working night shift at the local Burger King? Are these travesties the student's fault or the school's?

    Yes this happens, it happens all the time. Most people (that I know atleast) who go to college dont end up doing what they majored in or anything related to that field. Thats why I don't understand why people are all OH NO's this never happens at traditional colleges...

    I also watched the vid, the only valid point she makes is those teachers that passed her with an A for that early shity work. They should be fired. But in her real portfolio her 2D/Graphic design stuff looked pretty good. There is already a thread on this whole stupid stripped whines about her degree stuff so I wont go further.


    As for what Jason mentioned before about having industry professionals come to schools that is exactly what happened when I was going to AI. We had people from Rockstar, Infinity Ward, Insomniac, Obsidian, High Moon, SCEA, SOE and a few others I cant remember off the top of my head come to talk to classes. Some even held workshops. They were almost always artists, once or twice we would also get a hiring manager.

    Not only that but all the teachers in the game art program had years of experience/still working in the industry. A few of my teachers had over 10 years of industry experience, some taught part time while still working in the industry and some did freelance work.

    I know AI LA/Orange County did the same thing/had the same type of teachers. Maybe its just a fort lauderdale thing.

    @kaze369 - you really cant compaire what Bernie Madoff did and the recruiting methods of for profit schools. As what he did was illegal and what for profit schools do is not. It might be kinda sleazy that they can get a lot of young kids to join there school who are never going to follow through with the work and walk away with nothing but the same can be said about traditional college.

    They do what any recruiter dose when they want you to come to there school or buy there product. They tell you the absolute best outcome you could have and sell you on that. Thats what any and every salesmen dose. They have no need to tell you that if you dont work hard you wont get anywhere far. That is a life less and if it costs you 70grand then, well lesson learned and you hopefully wont make the foolish mistake of slacking off again.

    @thegodzero - our AI had like 5 industry professional artists come to the school each year to review it.
  • JO420
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    JO420 polycounter lvl 14
    I went to an Art institute myself and i must say it was a complete waste of time. For starters the school did not have an intensive enough course to educate you properly in 3d to be anywhere near the point you had to be to land a job. The course was a 2 year course and the first year we had to take state mandatd courses such as social studies,math and psychology. The last semester was a crammed 2d art course which had no focus orr real structure. The final year we learned photoshop,3ds max basics and we were told to create a portfolio that was in no way focused towards game art.

    Our teachers were 80% useless, the 3ds max basic teahcer was alright and the Photoshop teacher was a graphic designer so he knew his stuff. Aside from that,dead weight. One teacher was taking and learning a course she would teach an hour later. Towards the end i knew there was no way in hell i was going to work in games and i along with other students pleaded with the dean to let us make character models and import them into halflife's multiplayer,which would have given us more benefit towards working in game development then what the school had to offer and it was flatly rejected.


    School is what you make of it,but to a certain extent. I had to work close to 40 hours to pay my bills at school and i didnt have a computer at home so that was a huge hinderence for me.Even the rich kids with all their bill paid,a PC at home and more spare time did not produce postfolios good enough to land jobs.

    Then came their assurances thta they had contacts in the industry and assisted with job placement,PURE BOLLOCKS! So in fresh out of school,looking for work and italk to the job placement office,they give me a job,tell me to speak to such and such. So i ring them and i tell them such and such referred me to this job and the person i was told to speak with didnt know anybody at the AI. Later i discovered they just printed job ads from the internet and gave them to me.

    So I am out of school,with no hireable skills what so ever with a massive debt i had to start paying off. So for the next two years i spent commuting back and forth(a 1 hour drive each way!) to the AI. The school allowed alumni to use the PCs to improve and work on your abilities. I was there so many hours people assumed i was still a student.

    The third year out of school i managed to land a job at a non game related 3d art and for 2 years i worked off and on doing non game art related 3d work and driving over 2 hours for each of the lack of 3d jobs in Houston.

    Finally,one day i discovered a website called POLYCOUNT,i began to humbly post my work and get crits and within a few months i landed my first industry gig! in 4 months i learned more on polycount than i ever did at the AI.

    5 freaking years!! it took,5 freaking years of shit jobs,long ass communtes,utter despair out of lack of game development prospects and 5 years of family encouraging me to do something "safe"


    In conclusion,Art Institutes suck balls,go to online communites,learn game art there and save the money.






    ahh and yes,one poster previously mentioned that you needed degrees to work overseas,not true at all. Aside from the UK who has shitty visa laws like the U.S it has not been a problem in 3 other countries i have worked in.
  • jrs100000
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    jrs100000 polycounter lvl 8
    Autocon wrote: »
    Yes this happens, it happens all the time. Most people (that I know atleast) who go to college dont end up doing what they majored in or anything related to that field. Thats why I don't understand why people are all OH NO's this never happens at traditional colleges...

    Yea, thats what I was trying to get at. There arnt many 4 year degrees in any field that will land a job on their own. The big difference with game degrees is that they cost a lot more and you look silly listing them on a resume for any non-game job.
  • fried
    I went to a college where 3D was not the main focus of the course. It was what I really wanted to do, but the college really dumbed it down. I went on to take the first job I could get after college, similar to JO420, I was stuck there for 5 years. I am still not doing what I want, but that is changing.

    I believe that no matter where you study, its up to you to make the effort of really pushing the envelope. I can study at VFS or gnomon and still be a slacker.
  • JO420
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    JO420 polycounter lvl 14
    jrs100000 wrote: »
    Yea, thats what I was trying to get at. There arnt many 4 year degrees in any field that will land a job on their own. The big difference with game degrees is that they cost a lot more and you look silly listing them on a resume for any non-game job.

    Very true,they are completely worthless,nobody gives them any sort of real weight or respect compared to a 4 year degree. When i was looking for work in the UK a year ago i had to do a points calculator to determine if i had enough points to work in the UK. 4 year degree gave you a certain amount of points which helped improve your chances at working in the UK. The Art institute was listed as an option in the points calculator. No points! none what so ever. I missed having the right amount of points by 2,if i had a 4 year degree id possibly working there now! So in 10 years of 3d experience the AIH degree has helped me in no way what so ever,if i was able to get points from it it would be the first time its ever benefitted me but till this day its the most expensive piece of paper i have ever bought.
  • ceebee
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    ceebee polycounter lvl 10
    I go to Gnomon and I definitely think I'm getting my money's worth. In the middle of the program (2 year) now and so far the majority of my instructors are amazingly talented and knowledgable professionals. You also see a lot of great artwork coming from your classmates, so you'll have plenty of motivation to pull all nighters and work on your stuff. However, just like every school you get out of it what you put in, no amount of instruction will make you an amazing game artist if you don't have the drive, it's the time you spend outside of classes working on stuff in your free time that gets you the gig.
  • ZacD
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    ZacD interpolator
    Schools that attract good students are always going to be great, there's competition between students and they help each other learn more.

    I was seriously thinking about going to gnomon for a while, when they only had 2 major course, the place seemed awesome, but I really couldn't afford and and rent. It was the only place that everyone was currently working in the industry, and they have a strong focus on traditional art, too.
  • Wahlgren
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    Wahlgren polycounter lvl 10
    We're lucky in Sweden i suppose. We don't have to pay for our education but most do take out a small loan to be able to live. For example my debt as i said in a previous thread was 10-11k for 2 years.

    But still, it's the "same" here. Lots of people go there expecting to be rockstars in 3D and game art by the time they graduate. Most people didn't realize they had to work extra.

    For some ungodly reason I did (and many others, maybe it was because of the people i hanged around?). We only had classes every now and then and long periods in between... but we did have personal spaces and personal computers in a room we could sit in 24/7 if we wanted.

    Either way. Most of the people that spent the time got gigs. Haven't heard of many that didn't.... but that's probably because I didn't hang with them and don't haven any contact with them.

    So yeah. School = Only one party a month, at most, shitloads of time spent in front of the computer. When your buds are out getting wasted doing hot chicks you should be pulling an all nighter infront of your computer. It's the only way you'll have a chance to get a job after school.


    That's my opinion anyway and i've basically just repeated what everyone else has said... but eh. I almost never write long posts. Enjoy it! :P
  • kaze369
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    kaze369 polycounter lvl 8
    Autocon wrote: »
    Yes this happens, it happens all the time. Most people (that I know atleast) who go to college dont end up doing what they majored in or anything related to that field. Thats why I don't understand why people are all OH NO's this never happens at traditional colleges...

    I also watched the vid, the only valid point she makes is those teachers that passed her with an A for that early shity work. They should be fired. But in her real portfolio her 2D/Graphic design stuff looked pretty good. There is already a thread on this whole stupid stripped whines about her degree stuff so I wont go further.


    As for what Jason mentioned before about having industry professionals come to schools that is exactly what happened when I was going to AI. We had people from Rockstar, Infinity Ward, Insomniac, Obsidian, High Moon, SCEA, SOE and a few others I cant remember off the top of my head come to talk to classes. Some even held workshops. They were almost always artists, once or twice we would also get a hiring manager.

    Not only that but all the teachers in the game art program had years of experience/still working in the industry. A few of my teachers had over 10 years of industry experience, some taught part time while still working in the industry and some did freelance work.

    I know AI LA/Orange County did the same thing/had the same type of teachers. Maybe its just a fort lauderdale thing.

    @kaze369 - you really cant compaire what Bernie Madoff did and the recruiting methods of for profit schools. As what he did was illegal and what for profit schools do is not. It might be kinda sleazy that they can get a lot of young kids to join there school who are never going to follow through with the work and walk away with nothing but the same can be said about traditional college.

    They do what any recruiter dose when they want you to come to there school or buy there product. They tell you the absolute best outcome you could have and sell you on that. Thats what any and every salesmen dose. They have no need to tell you that if you dont work hard you wont get anywhere far. That is a life less and if it costs you 70grand then, well lesson learned and you hopefully wont make the foolish mistake of slacking off again.

    @thegodzero - our AI had like 5 industry professional artists come to the school each year to review it.

    Well I have to disagree, the recruiting methods are the same and the only difference is that Madeoff stole peoples money. we can't forget that some of these schools are under federal investigation. if someone came to you saying he'll take care of your money, make it grow and that this guy had a good reputation, would you be the stupid one for losing your money.
    My point is that these schools fill students with hope and a chance to do something they love only to have the student end up in debt with almost nothing to show and at the same time have people like us look down on them because they weren't as lucky we are. This "blame the victim" attitude needs to stop. I'm not necessarily talking about you, just some of the other criticisms that have been posted on the other thread. I do take some responsibility for not having the skills necessary to get a job in the game industry, clearly that girl didn't, but why not change the system as well.
    This is why I agree with the original poster of this thread that the Polycount community should have a firm stance on "game schools" and the kind of content that should be taught to students.

    edit: most of the jobs I've had have been in the education field. Mainly because my mother has good connections. But I really think it's bad advice to tell someone, "you have to be like me in order to be successful."
  • JO420
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    JO420 polycounter lvl 14
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/04/education/04education.html?_r=3&emc=eta1

    A story on the schools being investigated.

    The report does not identify the colleges involved, but it includes both privately held and publicly traded institutions in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C

    Any coincidence all of these states have Art Insitutes :)
  • danshewan
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    danshewan polycounter lvl 8
    At one certificate program in Washington, for example, the admissions representative told the undercover applicant that barbers could earn $150,000 to $250,000 a year...

    I know it's awful that this sort of thing goes on, but this really made me laugh out loud.
  • JO420
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    JO420 polycounter lvl 14
    danshewan wrote: »
    I know it's awful that this sort of thing goes on, but this really made me laugh out loud.

    Fuck me,im in the wrong profession :)
  • ZacD
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    ZacD interpolator
    maybe the greatest personal stylist in LA, not a barber :P
  • Autocon
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    Autocon polycounter lvl 11
    kaze369 wrote: »
    Well I have to disagree, the recruiting methods are the same and the only difference is that Madeoff stole peoples money. we can't forget that some of these schools are under federal investigation. if someone came to you saying he'll take care of your money, make it grow and that this guy had a good reputation, would you be the stupid one for losing your money.
    My point is that these schools fill students with hope and a chance to do something they love only to have the student end up in debt with almost nothing to show and at the same time have people like us look down on them because they weren't as lucky we are. This "blame the victim" attitude needs to stop. I'm not necessarily talking about you, just some of the other criticisms that have been posted on the other thread. I do take some responsibility for not having the skills necessary to get a job in the game industry, clearly that girl didn't, but why not change the system as well.
    This is why I agree with the original poster of this thread that the Polycount community should have a firm stance on "game schools" and the kind of content that should be taught to students.

    edit: most of the jobs I've had have been in the education field. Mainly because my mother has good connections. But I really think it's bad advice to tell someone, "you have to be like me in order to be successful."


    Thats true I hate doing the whole "blame the victim angle" because it isnt fair to some. But I guess just from my experience with the fact that the people who didnt get into the industry were people who didnt put in work. They spent more time playing games then working on them. There have only been 2 artists who I went to school with who put in the work and turned out some great art that dont have jobs. But thats due to one not wanting to relocate and another has visa issues. Both did some great work.

    So yeah I will try and not do the whole blame the victim thing, but all the "victims" I personally went to school with brought it on themselves so thats kinda why I dont feel sorry for them. I know this isnt the case for everyone though.

    Also I wasnt trying to advise people that you have to be like me to be successful, as I dont think that at all. I was merely stating my experience and what I did so that I didn't have to become a stripper to pay my bills. It worked for me but I know that dosnt mean it will work for or is even possible for some.
  • Calabi
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    Calabi polycounter lvl 10
    Its easy to fall for a con when your that age, just out of school. You'll believe what your teachers tell you that its easy, that for such and such amount they will teach you everthing you need to know to get a job into the industry.

    Whatever you say about these people that they are stupid and lazy(possibly), I think one thing is clear though, that art cannot be taught, you can be taught certain methods of it and how to go at it. You can be taught how to use the software and what techniques to try etc.

    But you cannot be taught how to draw a horse. How to model a dragon. How to see and recreate whatever it is you are looking at. Fundamentally art takes work, patience and time to study and iterate and get better.

    To be be taught the parts that, you can be taught, should not cost £70,000. The resources and number of teachers should never cost that much. Also it could never be a garantee that you get a job what with the subjective and personal nature of art.

    It should not be presumed or inferred that everyone already knows this, or should know this because people do not.

    Surely its wholly misleading?
  • Fireflights
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    Fireflights polycounter lvl 8
    My biggest problem with college (aside from the cost) was the fact that I felt like I was being held back a little. Many of the courses were not advanced enough to challenge me artistically - the most challenging part was often the time management, as my school ran on a fast-paced quarter system. Being okay'd to register for classes that I imagined would be challenging (and extremely beneficial) was very difficult, because it meant I was deviating from the "standard curriculum" for my major. I had to jump through hoops to get some courses approved.

    I feel like if I had learned more, the cost of college would've been completely worth it. In an ideal world, I would've been able to customize my own curriculum...so every class was a learning experience. Of course, saying "you can all take a bunch of random courses, and we're going to give you the same degree" wouldn't really fly. :P In the end, though, I wanted a degree, and couldn't afford the other options that didn't offer financial aid...so college ended up being the route I chose. I met a handful of really talented people (students and professors alike) and was extremely happy with my professors, who knew what they were talking about, and all had years of experience to back it up. I guess the pros and cons for me ended up being pretty evened out.

    I still feel like I learned much more on my own than I did in school, though. Just disappointing to think that I could've spent all that time in those courses, learning more than I did.
  • nick2730
    JO420 wrote: »
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/04/education/04education.html?_r=3&emc=eta1

    A story on the schools being investigated.




    Any coincidence all of these states have Art Insitutes :)

    god i hope so, i went to AI of Illinois - schaumburg. Everything you described is exact. WE DIDNT HAVE A SINGLE CLASS ON TEXTURING. NOT 1. Ciriculum was a joke, the photoshop class was more image manip then anything. They straight out lie about job placement, contacts and cost. I learned next to nothing, you dont figure this out till your close to graduating and they have your money by the balls. I'm not even gonna touch on the teachers, literally threw books at us. They always seemed like you were not important rarly any lectures almost always projects you do and learn by yourself which i can do at home.

    Most are right school is what you make of it, but the class title and what you actually do or dont learn is so misleading. By the end of my graduation i didnt know how to unwrap. No one ever taught or explained it. Nor texturing How does a game student get that far without knowing? I had no idea what it was, bunch of friends had to teach and explain it to me.

    I graduated and I lack many of the skills needed to get into any job, i say skills not talent. Skills being, how/why to unwrap, how why to model things like that, technical.

    As long as they get your money, you get a diploma. They could care less of the educatio you recieve. At least thats how i feel about my tour. Wish i could write to someone about it, or do something.

    Hopefully this disswades anyone ever thinking of going to an art institute
  • kat
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    kat polycounter lvl 13
    vcortis wrote: »
    ...they're much better now that they've started bringing in Industry professionals and doing portfolio reviews...
    ...

    I think one of the main problems is that many schools require that in order for you to teach that you have your masters. Well news flash! Guess what? Anyone who has their masters probably has 0 industry working experience... and that makes them... You got it! Worthless! It means they don't have the knowledge to be teaching the class in the first place...
    Just wanted to quote these two as they seem to be common themes in this issues - schools improve with professional/industry involvement. And more often than not the teachers that are used aren't experienced enough to teach their subjects.

    All this kind of relates to the "does the current school system kill creativity" topic that was discussed recently
  • Mortague
    For a long time I have been dissuading people from going to a private art focused school as I did. Regardless the quality of education, the trades, in this case art, do not warrant the high price tag. This whole field can be taught via websites such as polycount, dvds, tutorials ect. One could certainly get a great education at one of these schools but those same people will probably get a great education in anything they do as they are the ones motivated to succeed.


    That's not to say i don't like college, on the contrary, I love college. After many years I have been attending classes for the love of the education at a traditional college. I firmly believe in college but think the education sought should be in the basics, math, science, literature, history, art. College should be about learning how to think and filling our minds with ideas and knowledge so that as we pursue our chosen job fields we are prepared mentally for the challenges of life. The specifics of the chosen job field such as modeling and texturing can be tought to ones self. Its also a great place to get laid.

    In short, my advice to anyone wanting to be in any of the art fields: Go to hte nearest state university, work hard, get good grades, enjoy it and on your own time draw, paint, sculpt and spend countless hours on polycount.

    It could always be worse. My brother is a third year med student in his mid 30's with 300,000k in debt, no life. Another year and a half of that then five years of residency where it really sucks. 60-80 hour work weeks, high stress making roughly 40-45k a year while he either defers loans while they accrue interest or uses what little money he has to make his monthly payments. Things get a little better after residency with a two year fellowship making better money but not a lot. If successful after all that he will be pretty much be guaranteed a job. But by that time we will probably have socialized medicine in this country and he wont make a dime.
  • Richard Kain
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    Richard Kain polycounter lvl 14
    It isn't really proper to harp on the fact that "what you put in is what you get out." Most of the posters here are quite aware of this. We've all seen it before. If you don't invest the time and practice necessary, you won't improve. And if you don't have a solid portfolio, it isn't reasonable to expect employment anywhere.

    That's not really the issue here. The real problem is that the majority of for-profit educational institutions are drastically overcharging for a sub-standard product/service. If I go to a college, I should be able to expect certain educational standards from the professors and the curriculum. If those standards are not met, I would expect to be able to pay less. (since I was not being provided with as much) This has nothing to do with how I use the educational resources at my disposal, it is about those resources themselves.

    These schools are charging an arm and a leg for an educational experience that frankly sucks. My advice to potential students is the same as it always has been. Don't go to those schools. Apply to traditional accredited colleges that have decent art programs. Apply for scholarships. You will be able to go to college and get a degree without tying yourself down with ridiculous debt.
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