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College Advice/Guidance?

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College Advice/Guidance?

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I'm not from USA lizz, so I'll leave it up to the others to comment on the school you've mentioned. Have you checked this out though if you are keen on character animation?:

2 cents

Hi Lizz,
I know where you are coming from. I just recently graduated from a relatively new and small 3D school(it was 4 years old when I started) and had the same concerns you have now. What I did was I looked at student work that came out of the school and asked myself if it was up to industry standards. I got a good handle on what to expect and how well prepared I could be when I finished the program. I recommend looking at many other school's student work so that you can have something to base off of. From there you can decide if that is where you want to go, or possibly reconsider other options or schools.

Also, whichever school you end up going to, just remember that a lot of what you put into it is what you will get out of it. Study movement, watch animated movies, surround yourself with great animation. What I am trying to say is that YOU can make yourself prepared for the industry if you are willing... (this assumes that you also have the right tools, which hopefully the school will provide!) Just be sure to always compare your work to the industry, not fellow students.

There's my two cents! :D

"i love the graph editor"
and visit me on myspace...

One should never shy away from applying to an art school just because you think your portfolio isn't up to snuff. For one thing, obviously you're not an expert yet (otherwise you wouldn't be going to school!), so you're not really in a position to make a realistic evaluation of how good your portfolio is. Second, you don't know the quality of other applicants' portfolios--remember that even the schools with galleries of entering students portfolios only show the best of the best, the scholarship winners; don't compare yourself to them if you are just trying to get accepted. Third, you don't know what the standards of the reviewer are, you may have just what they're looking for.

Maybe it's a little late for you right now, since it sounds like you'll be going to school in just a month or two, but I hope anyone else reading this isn't afraid to apply to the schools of their choice. At worst you'll be out the $25-50 application fee, and if you are declined you have every right to contact the reviewer and request as to why you were declined so that you can work to improve your portfolio to apply again. Some schools even have representatives that travel around the country and will review your portfolio at no charge to give an opinion as to whether it's good enough and offer suggestions to improve (make sure the school knows you're a prospective student so they will keep you up-to-date on local visits!)

But it's never TOO late and you shouldn't feel like you made a mistake...Obviously at one point you thought this was a good school, so it must have some good points. I'd say it's a toss-up between DMAC and a local community college, either one is going to give you a good first year (or even first term, go ahead and try to transfer to the school of your choice as soon as you can.) A major disadvantage of transfering is that sometimes scholarships are only awarded to entering freshman, but that's not always the case; I was awarded a significant scholarship as a "transfer student" to SCAD, and I already have another bachelor's degree! There's a good chance you'll get transfer credit even from an unaccredited school if you provide enough evidence (course syllabus, classroom work, etc.) And if the transfer credit evaluator denies the credit, there's no reason you can't appeal directly to the dean of admissions of your school, fight all you can for your hard-earned credit. Their "guidelines" are really often just "rules of thumb" and anyone with authority at the school can usually do whatever they want, if they want you in. And trust me, they certainly want your money :)

Even a weak portfolio without diversity can get you in the door...I only had a few charcoal and pencil life drawings, in the form of poorly photographed 35mm slides, and was accepted to Ringling's illustration dept (they would have accepted me to animation but they cap the number of entries and I applied late so they were full.) If you do think your portfolio isn't diverse enough, then take a few local 1-day art gallery workshops to spread out (watercolor, etc.) Anything is good, often they just want to see that you're not afraid to experiment with different media. And of course make the rest of your application look good--list anything that looks even remotely like an honor, life experiences (e.g., month-long trips to Europe,) summer programs, etc. Just having a full sheet of paper can often get you placed into a different pile for review, if they are reviewing thousands of applications.

PS money is over-rated. Do what you want and go to the school you want, and let the finances fall where they may, even if you have to take out significant student loans (which really aren't that bad in the scheme of things.)

Just make sure that whatever you do with the rest of the money, "pay yourself first" by putting money into a savings account, then pay your bills on what's left. You'll never have financial problems if you follow that advice, and unlike most of America, you'll feel in control of your own destiny.


For the fiscally uninitiated.......Wouldn't that sort of activity removing things from savings negate the ability to draw from it?

Say I have 7 thousand dollars, and after a slew of bills, from loans to a house payment to whatnot, I have to take 2500 out...

So I pay it, and figuring the interest on savings right now, if you're lucky, is around 1 percent.........that decision, until I get 2500 more from working, just cost me 25 dollars? A year?

If I don't like losing money, that sucks....and if I like having extra money, that's ...a nice dinner for two in an off-metropolitan city...

What am I missing...

Well, it's not "savings" if you're spending it on bills, is it? The point is that you have to be putting money away that you won't spend. If you're going to be tempted to spend it, then have the money automatically withdrawn from your bank account the day after your normal payday, say, 10% of your gross pay, to put into a retirement account that you can't touch. A Roth IRA is a perfect candidate, you can put in up to $3000/yr, you always have access to the money you put in at no penalty, and the interest grows tax free. Then you pay the bills on what's left, and then what's left after THAT is for your "nice dinner for two in an off-metropolitan city."

If there's not enough money for the bills, well, that's a different problem that you worry about later. In that case, you need to either cut your spending (downsize to a smaller house, get rid of the cable TV, etc.) or increase your income. Don't settle for scanning groceries if you're qualified for basic office work. And don't settle for basic office work if you've got a college degree. And here's something novel, don't work for someone else, instead start your own business so you have your own control over your career.

It's your choice, if you want to spend your future away now and end up living paycheck-to-paycheck for the rest of your life, always obligated to someone else...

And again, free financial advice from me is worth every penny you pay. Go see a professional financial planner. If he/she costs $250 to do a financial plan that you stick with and you end up with $500 in the bank after a few years, well, it was worth it, wasn't it? (I've netted about $130k in 7 years, and about half that was only since I got motivated by my financial planner about 2 years ago.) And if they can show you the means to go to the school of your dreams, well, it's worth it, isn't it? Financial planning isn't about someone telling you to save money so you can never spend it, it's about evaluating your personal goals (mine include a race car, now that's not very sensible is it? :) ) and creating a plan to get there.


I see....I didn't realize the checking account still existed in your example...

I did two years of gen-ed at state and community colleges, so I only will be having half the problem of some people....but I was reading a forum last night where the guy had 120 thousand in debt after he was out of school......Let's give him a nice small place to keep him from splurging.........say 800 a month (to keep him close to his new animation job).....Now he's got a ridiculous loan payment PLUS the rent/house payment........and he's making, what, 35-40 thousand a year if he DOES get a job straight out? And the people were appeasing him telling him it was totally doable....

And hell, maybe it is, I'm only 20, I've never been truly pushed to survive financially, but it seems like it's miles and miles down the road, and maybe that he'll die still paying it lol ....In any event, has anyone ever seen a school be transparent about their costs? When a school is 30000 dollars, and then they say be prepared to spend another 2 thousand in supplies, another 7 thousand in room and board....well, then...

What does that 30 thousand go to? Say they accept 90 kids into their art program (maybe it's a bit much, but go with me)....I can imagine teachers' collective salaries, and equipment.......but a lot of the schools I've seen it's a once-and-done, pay-it-off thing where everything except one of their computer labs never sees updated equipment.......I'd feel better about paying the same for an education as I might for a nice house, if they could be upfront about why we face increasing and recurring costs...."Issues with budget cuts" tells me nothing......Bringing in new software licenses? Replacing desk legs? Repairing the auditorium? They sound ridiculous but that's because I don't know the reality...

PLease Go community college first then transfer

Hi there-
From my personal experience, experiment around in the community college setting where it is inexpensive and if you want more stuff in your portfolio, you'll get it.
I went to an AI school and 11 weeks was not enough to get portfolio quality work, do the community college stop then you can get to a running start and save lots of money because most of the classes will transfer.

I WOULD NOT go to a non accredited school ever. Wait until they get on their feet. If a school is not accredited, I don't believe you can use your borrowed monies from the gov't to pay for your education, you would have to pay out of pocket. If it goes belly up, I think you would be s-o-l, if you know what I mean.

Avoid the AI schools, they have a terrible reputation (no i didn't know until now), they rush you through, substandard instruction, truly a degree mill! They're not truthful with what "jobs" they are placing their graduates in, some locations have accreditation issues, they're over priced.....they hire their graduates on as instructors, so no one has real world experience, just a truly a mess. please see my personal story on "The Real Deal on The IL Institute of Art-Schaumburg" You may also want to join the yahoo group antiartinstitute...
any questions, please e-mail me

what abt vanarts??

what u guys hav to say abt Vanarts?? I joined their Game art and design course this sept04 and hope creates an eye candy demoreel in the end. U may check my portfolio here :)

school question(s)...

hello yall,
Great thread... I have to agree on the issue of those AI/institutes all over the place... I think they're definitely degree mills that are opportunistic due to the graphics boom.

So: I'm looking at going for an MFA/grad program... I used to work in production (a few games, various corporate gigs/CD-rom work, other graphics jobs, etc. etc..) and I'm into experimental/fine art work now, rather than industry or commercial work (though I love the work alot of those top studios are doing such as PIXAR, ILM,..).

I really don't relish the idea of all the loans I'll be spending/debt & money to academia, since grad schools are definitely alot of $$ expense, but that's the reality...
so as I'm looking into animation M.F.A. programs, the basic problem just seems to be EVALUATING them.

Since I can't travel to all these schools, I worry that their art department websites are getting waaaaay too slick & savvy, but how else to evaluate them?

So... is the best measure of a program's quality only understood by looking at their students reels? :confused:

I know I can look into where their grads go to work, but I think they'll always be able to brag about some of their kids going to some good studios just by the odds of talent+jobs out there nowadays.

I'd really appreciate any advice on this.

- Along the way, I'm checking out ONLINE M.F.A. programs (cause of my age/health), but unfortunately, I only found one... Academy of Art in San Fran seems to be the only one to offer a real M.F.A. as opposed to a fancy sounding/bookish M.A. degree.

( (I learned that an M.A. isn't that meaningful if you're a practicing artist, whereas an M.F.A. is the real terminal/final degree for artists who make art, as opposed to writing about it.. the M.A. folks seem to go on to write/study/PhD forever. WHEW...))

Hope that wasn't too damn boring!, but you should see how boring it is to try to find MFA's online while wading through all those AI's out there, let me tell ya.

Peace & thanx for any good advice,

- + [',] + -
Always remember that you are absolutely unique.
Just like everyone else.
-- Margaret Mead

Welcome Rob!


I can't offer alot of info, but regarding yuor search for online MFA programs. I seem to recall Johnson State College in Vermont offering an online MFA program, and I believe it requires about 4-12 credits onsite. I think the onsite would be an affliated art coop (Vermont Studio Center :confused: ). I came from a similar fine arts background as you, I couldn't afford animation school so I read books by Preston Blair, Kit Laybourne and Tony White (Who just happens to be accessible in the Desktop Forum!), and these helped me to start animating, Hope this helps a little. :)