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College student unsure of where to go next

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College student unsure of where to go next

So I've been at a community college for a while studying art and I'm unsure where to go afterwards. What universities should I be looking into and are there any in Illinois? and if I find a school that seems adequate what should I look into that tells me their animation program is worth my time? I also doesn't help that all well known schools cost my heart and soul. HELP!:eek:

what schooling doesn't cost your heart and soul? :confused: lol

-Jace T.


Lol! SO TRUE! Maybe some suggestions for some that only want half of my heart and soul on loan till I graduate. LOL!:D

There are threads on this matter here on the AWN forums, but in the interest of keeping things current, let's run down the basics again:

Schools in Illinois, I don't know of, but do that homework yourself.....there's likely a couple decent ones for animation studies. You can only find 'em by searching.

Once you have some narrowed down, there's a simple litmus test you can put them through: ask to confer with their alumni--the students that have graduated their animation programmes. Its real simple....if their grads are gaining work in the biz in respectable numbers, then the programmes are effective.
Don't take the school's word for the stats, though, do talk to the alumni directly, and as many as you can to gain a better consensus of the school and its faculty. if they will not let you consult the alumni......pass on the school.
-Do a better business bureau check on the school--if they have more than a couple of complaints, ask them why. Obviously, a lot of complaints means you should pass on them.

For the curriculum.........well, it depends on where you want your career to go. 2D's an option, 3D, games and phone apps--but understand clearly what EACH medium requires of you before you sign up.
2D should be the foundation course for animation, in that it tends to cover the essential basic studies, stretch & squash, overlapping actions, walk cycles etc... AND supporting studies like life-drawing, composition, storytelling, perspective.......and cinematic studies like storyboarding, layout, inbetweening etc.
If their 2D programmes do not address this sort of stuff, they are useless.
And when I say "address" this, I'm not talking about a 1 week class on the matter taught by some teacher's assistant. I'm taking minimum 12 weeks study for these--taught by instructors with industry qualifications.
3D SHOULD be more than just futzing around with Maya and building rigs etc. they need to cover the aforementioned 2D subjects as well as cover the software. If all they are doing is software, and going lite on the other stuff.....the programme is, in my opinion, shit. It will not serve you.
For games and phone apps animation, make sure they have studies that cover the specific needs of those. I'd prefer to see the basis once again, but also emphasis placed on things like cinematics and game theory. For phone apps, they should emphasize things like compositions in small scales, and effective animation with limited frame-rates. FLASH should be present as a software being taught--because its so common in industry.

Look for programmes that focus more on specific media, rather than catch-alls that try to cover "a little bit of everything".

Check out the faculty......and ask pointed questions here: do they have industry credentials, but make sure they are show/projects YOU recognize yourself. Furthermore, make a point to ask specifically what that instructor did on those shows/projects. I knew of a school ( thankfully now defunct) that claimed one of their animation staff had worked on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. They touted this fellow quite a bit, quite proudly.
He was their key animation instructor, in fact. He was a lighting tech on one of the one of the locations apparently. He had ZERO animation work credits--and yet he was the animation instructor. Go figure.

Be careful about that sort of thing.

Also, try to visit the campus in person.
A school "worth your time" will have a few things going for it. The facilites will be clean, well-lit, a safe part of town, in a well maintained, preferably modern building.
The facilities will be well-kept, the equipment should be modern, current and in excellent shape. Here's an example of something to look for: if for 2D studies, there should ideally be several line-test machines. Ideally at least 2 per classroom, minimum. The class-rooms/work rooms themselves should be well-kept, and designed properly. Some schools I have taught at were housed in co-opted warehouses, with very high ceilings.....and abominable acoustics. THAT makes lecturing a right bitch, and a problem for students to hear the instructor.
Every class room should have a working TV-DVD set-up.
Students should have reliable access to photocopiers.
Its those "little things" that add up that make the difference in the end, I think, but the primary qualities are what the alumni say about the programmes. Ask them about the positives, and the crap......the negatives. make sure you have a list of detailed questions to ask.
Since you've done community college time already, you already have a comparative experience to work off of.

Understand that the ideal student at the ideal school is a student who is about 75% ready for industry BEFORE enrolment into a programme that essentially grooms the student for the job. You will NOT find many schools that can teach you how to do this stuff from a cold start. The degree of self-development is just too much. ANY school you apply to should make that plain--otherwise they just want your money.
You need to assess YOURSELF before committing to any school. If your present art/talent levels are'll need to decide if your personal drive will allow you to focus on developing, in addition to learning the curriculum. Understand that where you place , talent-wise in class, will determine your job chances upon graduation, AND that all of your classmates will become your competition for the jobs out there.

Again, you are the one best equipped to decide if you can contend with all this.

There's a lot to chew on in what I just wrote, and there are other threads here on the forums that add to and address relative and tangential issues on this as well--do take the time to read them.

Good luck.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

So I've been at a community college for a while studying art and I'm unsure where to go afterwards. What universities should I be looking into and are there any in Illinois? and if I find a school that seems adequate what should I look into that tells me their animation program is worth my time? I also doesn't help that all well known schools cost my heart and soul. HELP!:eek:

the same problem i also faced that after college where to go and the best thing is to take help of seniors and counsellors.


Thank you this was very helpful!

You should clear fist that you are ready for the job or want to go for higher studies.

One option that I hadn't ever considered when I was looking for Universities was looking abroad. It can be a bit intimidating to think of going to school in another country, but the amount of cost savings can be ENORMOUS and the quality can be as good or even much better.

I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia (moving from Michigan) and even that was a bit of culture shock. I loved the school, had a great time, went into debt, but got a good job within 6 months out of school and the school and my degree played part in that. I don't regret it at all, BUT, I am still about $15k away from being debt free, and I graduated 9 years ago. I could have paid it off by now, but you know, there is always something more fun to spend your money on, so I just keep making the normal payments instead of trying to pay the whole thing off.

But I digress.

Since then I've moved to Europe and have seen firsthand some really nice programs. Specifically a really really amazing school in Denmark called "The Animation Workshop", I teach a class there once a year and it's a blast. They have a really innovative system in which you are taught nearly entirely by working professionals. The equipment is great, software always up to date and they really know how to push you and organize things. Look up Backwater Gospel and Space Stallions as some examples of final projects. You will definitely have a great couple of shots for your reel going to this school and working hard.

There are other European options but the nice thing for an American at this school is that all classes are in English and the Danish people speak excellent English. There were two or three Americans there last time I was up there.

If you look it up and it interests you let me know and I can connect you with a recruiter. I'll be teaching there again in March actually, if I come across an Americans this time I can ask them how it worked for them, maybe even connect you.


Chris Smallfield
Head of 3D - Shape Minds and Moving Images
My Work

Interesting enough to be

Interesting enough to be discussed, but I want to go further and delve deeper into the question of whether college athletes should be paid. Go to to find out more about this, as there is a very cool article here. Under this system, you will have a chance at least to be compensated for this influence. Administrators, coaches, and players allow competition to push them to the edge of the envelope, and this system won't stop that.