Search form

How critical is picking the right school?

12 posts / 0 new
Last post
How critical is picking the right school?

My son is a senior in high school, and is searching for an animation school/college. He wants a strong 2D program as well as computor annimation. He has received alot of info from different schools, the problem is I can't afford to fly all over the country looking at schools. We did vist Ringling last year, and were very impressed. But I know it's difficult to get accepted, so my fear is paying out alot of money at another school thats not going to provide the education or opportunities. Does anyone have any first hand knowledge of any of the following? Art institute of Phila., Collins college AZ.,Savaanah School of Art and Design, Digital media arts Baco Raton Fl., Art institute of Miami, there was another school in Tampa but the name escapes me at this time? What about Full Sail in Winter Park Fl., Is that a definite No No?

I just read this post and am coming late the conversation but I went through the same dilemma with my son in 2001, which art school to go to?? I work at Warner Bros. Animation so I went to our recruiter at the time and asked which schools he looked at for new talent. He told me that they looked at the expensive art schools of course but that one of his favorite places to get new talent was from a small animation program at San Jose State University (in California). He said this program insisted that their students have a through understanding of 2D animation before they went on to 3D. From my years of experience in animation I can say this is an issue with the young hires coming our of art schools. They tend to be very creative, know the 3D programs well and are a wiz on the computer but some of them have difficulties in the work place because of their lack of experience in 2D animation.

Anyway, a state university is a lot less expensive than a private art school (though these days maybe not by much) but we did check into the program at San Jose State in 2001 and it was very good, we were impressed. In addition my son liked the broader "college experience" that the campus offered. I can tell you that we have had a few interns at Warner Bros. Animation from San Jose State and that all of them got hired for projects by us after they graduated.

Below are the web sites to San Jose State's Animation program; you might like to take a look-see. Good luck to you and your son.

Sully, I checked out the links in your post and it sounds like a good program.
At this point my head is spining. I just pray that we make the right decision and he gets accepted at the best school for him.

Thanks, Joe

general college search advice

Joe -

I know your son is interested in animation and he may keep that interest for his whole life, but just remember that of lot of college students change their minds about what they want to study once they get to college and learn things about various fields. Rather than focusing solely on animation, I would advise that you look at several areas that interest your son and find a school that covers several of them.

If you have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college, it will be much easier to apply to a graduate program in the future should goals shift as they often do.

Another consideration is that only a very small proportion of those who work in the animation industry are animators these days. Particularly in 3D the majority of artists in the field work as modelers, lighters, shaders, storyboard artists. An education that focuses solely on animation is limiting. Much of the 2D work goes over seas, so for someone who likes to draw, work in storyboarding or any preproduction area, like concept art, may be more interesting than animating.

No one school is right for every student. Many other factors figure into the choice as well, like proximity to home, enrironment (rural, urban, suburban), preppy or vege, etc.

I teach at RIT and right now I don't know enough about your son's interests to tell you which program here would be right for him within the offerings we have We have programs in animation (focuses on storytelling), computer graphics (focus on design, interactivity, games, animation) or illustration (emphasis on drawing, but can compliment with animation courses).

just say no to full sail...and probabaly Collins College (their commericals should be enough to want to kill yourself.)

umm yeah I mean I don't know if your kid as a stong art background. If not then getting into Ringling would be hard. I hear Savannah's animation program is going through some tough times right now but you might want to double check on that somehow. I'm hopefully going to go to there for visual effects starting next year. And I don't know much about the other schools.

however answering your original critical is picking the right school. I will say this school will promise a job after graduation. To tell you the truth...the best animation program I know of is Animation Mentor ( ). This is however a online school, and you may say "yeah right" to this right away but google it and you will find a lot of info including blogs of other people doing it. Basically you get a mentor (mostly people actually working at pixar, dreamworks, and blue really) and they teach you things over webcam and there is this whole system of communication. is a thead on thats like 500 pages long (one of the biggest theads on the site)

I have no read one bad thing about AM...literally.

So, say you did this, and you absolutely need traditonal college, why not go to a community college at the same time?

Other than that, it all depends on your kids willing to push himself and learn as much as possible. The school isn't going to produce his demo reel for him...he has to do it himself.

hope this helps.

Joe Headley

Thanks for the reply Bsmith, By the way I would say my son's art background is strong, He's had 4 years of art in HS, and has taken 2 pre-college Saturday art courses at the university of the arts in Philidelphia, (gaming and animation, and a porfolio prep course) and will take another 10 week course this spring. Also that animation mentor is very intriguing!

no problem.

if you wanted you could prolly check Ringlings website and look at some of the student work on there and check the quality and what not.

I would say a lot of people who don't do the research will overlook and will be the first to critize about it being online. I mean when your son is looking for a job and he says he was trained by an actual animator from [pixar, dreamworks, sony, ILM, etc] compared to some teacher at an art school you might or might not have had professional experience. Most people will probably think its a scam but its obviously not if you read about it.
Also Ringling and most other art schools are very expensive as you proabably know..which is another advantage of Animation Mentor.

I'm going to and it's an incredible program. The 1st year focusses on teaching fine arts skills that will be useful for the rest of your life as an artist. Major talent working @ the school as teachers. One thing is expensive. o_O

That mentor program seems really interesting though it seems like your son will have to have a very good work ethic to motivate himself to work at his assignments.

Also Ringling and most other art schools are very expensive as you probably know..which is another advantage of Animation Mentor.

I too haven't heard anything bad about AM but what a school like Ringling has that AM doesn't is a proven track record, a great career services department and recruiters that show up every spring looking for new hires.

Granted a diploma from any school doesn't guarantee you anything but it can make that first step into the industry a lot easier if you work hard enough.


Department of Computer Animation
Ringling College of Art and Design
Sarasota Florida

Hi Joe, and welcome to the AWN forums. This is a tough choice. Art schools aren't like trying to Law school where you can find the best school with ease. There's a little more PR from art schools. I haven't gone to any of the schools you mentioned. I graduated from the Academy of Art College, now University, over 5 years ago. Currently I'm in my third semester at I'm in the first class. I can personally say this is the best animation school I've every gone to. This is not an ART school where you learn to draw and paint and do color design. This is strictly animation. They encourage you to draw but they don't teach it. It is mostly 3D (Maya) based but students are encouraged and often do some assignments traditionally, or with stop motion. The school is set up in 12 week semesters and each new semester builds upon what the students learned in the previous semester. So you learn the basics and gradually get more advaced models to animated every few weeks. This is doen so the students aren't overwhelmed with a fully articulated human from day one. Its a great approach to teaching animation. I mean I just had an hour long lecture on eye blinks a couple weeks ago. Just blinks. So they really get into it.

Oh, and they've already had serveral student hired at some game companies, some at Blue Sky, and two got hired at Disney Feature working on their next animated film. And they haven't even completed the whole course yet. Actually one of the students that got hired at Disney, that's her first animation job ever. So they seem to be doing some thing right at the school.

Like I said though, it's not an art school. Only animation. I think you are going about this the right way, by asking for first hand accounts of the art schools. If you talk to the school, of course they are going to say they are the best place and have good job placement programs and stuff. Try and talk to as many students as possible. Try maybe a google search of the school names to try and find some students' webpages or Blogs and email them. Students are usually pretty straight forward. Good luck.

the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

iMack, Thanks for the info.

Ed, I agree with what your saying, Obviously Ringling is a well respected institution.

Animation Ape, That google search sounds like a good idea, I will try that.
I hear what your saying about the admission folks. Good luck to you with AM,
sounds like that concept offers a unique learning experience, and added to your prior education from the Acadmey of Art's you should be in a good position to achieve your goals.

Thanks, Joe

It will be very cool if you

It will be very cool if you can help me solve my problem and understand the topic related to teacher's dilemmas in the learning process and how to solve them. Also, I want to draw your attention to this article, since if you are also a teacher, then you are definitely faced with various moral issues in the classroom teaching their students. It is very important to understand that the main thing is to determine the need or interest that you want to satisfy.