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The Academy of Art University

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I greaduated AAU in December 2012

Nov 12 2014Art & Design Department
Major Salary, Salary Trend, Satisfaction, Unemployment
I greaduated AAU in December 2012. When I applied in 2006 they told me it would cost roughly $80,000 to get my BFA in Commercial Photography there. By the time I was done I was $144,000 in the hole before even counting in the interest.

While I was there instructors were in and out the door every semester so it was random luck if you were to get anyone good. From my experience you had about a 1 in 6 chance of getting someone good. But probably 3 out of those 6 we pretty awful.

From the time I started to the time I graduated the number of photo students more than tippled, studio hours decreased, and they in no way vaguely bothered to keep the amount of equipment up with the increased demand. (You could see how may of each piece of gear was available, or not, to loan out at any given time.)

The LA classes were laughably easy and were maybe, MAYBE, high-school level.
They charged about $1300 a month for a SHARED studio, while the market rate at the time was about that for a studio two building down the block , so housing rates are pretty much extortion.

The available transportation was never on time, so if you had back to back classes you were pretty much always late for the second.

Every year there they raised the tuition by something like $225 a unit (most classes are 3 units)
One year they told us the reason for the tuition increase was to offer us perpetual CS6 suite licences which they are now pulling from everyone one.

I can't even apply to consolidate my loans that I took to go to AAU because, banks, and credit unions (I've tried 2 banks and 3 CUs) don't believe that someone who attended the academy will be able to repay the loans.

Just don't go. Is there value to the education they offer? Yes. Is it anywhere near $144,000 dollars (roughly $300,000 if you include interest over the standard repayment time, (roughly $1,300 a month)) that it actually cost. NoThe Academy of Art University was the biggest mistake of my life.

Alumnus Male -- Class 2000
Starting Job: Bike shop sales Preparedness: D Reputation: F
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#academyofartuniversity: This "school" is really like the wa

Sep 15 2014Fine Arts - Painting/Sculpture/Photography/etc
Major Salary, Salary Trend, Satisfaction, Unemployment
#academyofartuniversity: This "school" is really like the walmart of educational institutions. Greedy and profit-based. Everyone on the top is out to make a buck and the students get the short end of the stick.

You can go to a proper art school in san francisco like #californiacollegeofthearts or #sfai for the same price and get a first-class education. Most of the students do really good work but they are foreign and they do not realize that having a degree from AAU is like having a law degree from an online correspondence course. Yes, you technically have the degree, but it will not get you anywhere.

Most legitimate art schools screen their prospective students in based on their portfolios. AAU does not. It is a free-for-all where anyone who can write out a check is a future art student. You should know that you have the skills and background to be a good art student before you commit to paying all of that money.

Some students do not speak english well enough to understand the coursework and then have to take courses again

Instructors here have to teach a lot of courses each semester so they can not give their best, even though most of them are genuinely decent people.

The president lives in a penthouse in Nob Hill that gets featured in design magazines while most of her employees are struggling to make ends meet. They ride the bus and muni to get to work while she houses priceless antique cars all over the city. The disparity is sometimes too much to take.Do yourselves a favor and apply for the other great schools in SF.

2nd Year Male -- Class 2018
Surrounding City: B+, Collaboration/Competitive: F
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review of art school

May 31 2014Fine Arts - Painting/Sculpture/Photography/etc
Major Salary, Salary Trend, Satisfaction, Unemployment
review of art school
What it takes to be successful
From my own personal experience, becoming a successful professional artist, requires you to be a business person. You as a person are a brand seeking to sell you're work or service. AAU does not take this approach. It teaches, get a degree, right a resume, make portfolio, and apply apply apply apply apply. THey'll tell you constantly, "disney wants to see this, pixar wants to see that, O DISNEY'S COMING TO GIVE A PRESENTATION TALK!" YAYYY as if disney(or any other art studio company) is giving jobs away like amusement park rides. It just doesn't work that way.

Professionals Will Tell You What it Takes
The most telling evidence is what EVERY SINGLE TEACHER(proessional) explicitly states. "In my (insert year)yrs of work, i have not once needed to provide my art degree." As further proof, I've got freelance artist friends making 80k a year range, and all, ALLL, ALLLL(including myself) of them saying the same, they don't give a FUCK about your degree. IT JUST DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY. Yes, there are a few that will snag a position or two at some gaming company, but it doesn't happen very often. There are not enough openings to provide for the thousands of qualified graduates every year. Disney alone, only hired 2 concept artist from aau out of the past 6 years that i can recall. 2!!!! WTFFFF??? isn't obvious? The bottom line, they have to like your work. Done simple, i don't care what school you came from what degree you have, do I like your work? If you have outstanding skills and ideas, welcome a board! Plain and simple.

How Is this a Scam
Now, half of the stuff you have to learn is, the "liberal arts(general degree courses)," A FUCKING MONEY MAKING SCAM! This is suppose to be an 'ART ACADEMY" A career and skill building school! Not a pay "60k$ worth of non art related courses just to fulfill your requirements to graduate scam." Yes, completely UN ART RELATED! for example, you must pay for classes like psychology, sociology, even spanish and math classes that are well over 2k each, JUST TO FULFILL the 60+ unit requirements. And you have to do this while studying the overrated art courses(many of which can be learned for 10% of the price elsewhere).

Cost of School
So as you can see, a big concern is cost. I have 80 k of debt. And that is with discount. 30k from grants 35k from transferred courses. (3 yrs comminity college). Essentially the full price someone who is planning on enrolling after high school is 150-160k depending on where you living as well. I saved money living an hour away, outside of the city for cheaper rent. If you were to get a dorm, it can be easily 180k. THey call this affordable financial aid.

Getting Life Started
I am not able to get my life started get married and have children, because of my debt. Most of the money I make goes to loans. 1k+ a month on loans a lone. This is the debilitating leg up on the industry AAU gives you! It's So debilitating, losing said leg maybe more appealing.

Half of Half of Half of the teachers were AMAZING!
Lets divide this into a pie. Out of all the courses, Off the bat, half of the courses are bs. The useless "liberal art courses(astronomy, english, math,shit you don't need as artist). As explained, useless for finding an art related job. So we can agree on that. So now, we lose 50% of the teachers. We only have 50% left to talk about. There will drama and politics between teachers and students, as there would be anywhere, ESPECIALLY art school. Sadly, there are teachers who never grew out of their ego. Their art got to there head. Can't blam'm their human too. Let's be frank, making art is easily turned into a popularity contest. MY ART IS BETTER THEN YOURS! A lot of bloated egos. I'd say 20 percent of the remaining 50% had this problem. No matter HOW MUCH work you do, or HOW good you are, diligent, the teacher plainly think you suck as person. PLAIN AND SIMPLE, why? *whisper* because you are better then them. It's a competition out there, and these children teaching, feel threatened by other competition. Your presents threatens to take their thunder away. So it is their duty to take YOUR'S. That leaves us now with 40% great teachers. Honestly, i learned EVERYTHING i needed to learn in my foundational classes. Meaning, my beginner courses, learn how to draw a ball, a figure, color, and perspective. All taught in the first 3 years. EVERYTHING ELSe, the 3-5 years you may have left depending on wether you transferred units, is complete waste of time. SO half of 40% is now 20% So my rating on how much of the school was worth it? 20%!!! These teachers were IMO were the best of the best.

How many jobs did i land as a result of school portfolio work?
All the work that i ever got, were from personal pieces. except one, that paid total 10$hr total payout was about 500$ Considering the amount of time spent the job, cost of school. THIS WAS hardly work at all. Iv'e gotten several gigs, that put me at 20-30$ hr from works completely personal. Doing what I like gave me work. Focussing on things i wanted to draw, GAVE ME WORK. A piece that i did 2 years PREVIOUS to AAU garnered me a 10k gig. In short, I could've done without Art School. Matter of fact, i'd have 10xs more in the bank had it not been paying for cost of school.

How is the school growing
This is how they doubled in size from the time i started to the time i left. Honestly, the student works i saw in their promotional dvds from 2007 were quite mediocre. Some better then others, but nothing compared to the work today. We built them up through the work the best of the best showcases in their yearly even, The Spring Shows(all of the work go on to dvds that get sent out as mail to prospective students). Students pay tons of money to produce art work for the school, that they use to advertise to future students. Kids at home say to their parents, " LOOK AT WHAT THEY TAUGHT THEM, LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL WORK THEY LEARN TO DO!" It's the equivalent of saying, look at all the lovely work at deviant art, if I join deviant art, i'll be JUST AS GOOD. It's the craziest scam ever pulled this art school system. The fat cats are laughing their asses off, because we are essentially giving up an arm, a leg, and our first born, in order to advertise FOR THEM. Paying them tens of thousands in order to WORK FOR THEM. It's brilliant. hindsight is 20/20...

Take responsibility for yourself
yes, i was young and gullible, and under the traditional mindset. School is worth the investment. I'm the one who took the leap of faith. I'm the one to blame. Do your research, look at testimonials. Look at what alumni are saying, not just what the school is saying.

What did I gain from it.
I'd say a handful of friends. Did that network help me find ANY of my current or previous jobs? Naw, none. But hey, i met some WONDERFUL people that I would not have otherwise. This isn't a guarantee either. It's not like you pay 180k and you meet awesome people, that's dependent on your own social skills. Many artist i've met were very anti social and hermits. They didn't have very many friends at all. So meeting those people is heavily dependent on you. And a big problem in ANY school is, politics. Many people seek to be your friend because you have something to gain. You might as well join a club in your local community college, and make friends there. So you'll have to ask yourselves, after ALLLL of this, is AAU worth it?

Who benefitted the most.
A hand full of star athletes. The 1% of the graduates. These are the best most talented students. These guys are the job winners. Even so, the poster children of the schools, the ones that get chosen to give talks at their school, GET LAYED OFF! And it's not their fault. The art industry is very cut throat. You have to think of art school like training to play for the nba. Only the greats succeed in finding the big corporate jobs. The rest, survive on their own. By hustling. Even then, you'd have to be great.

Preparations for a Stable Job
There is no such thing, especially in the art world. You are constantly hustling, which is a good thing, it teaches you not to get comfortable, so that in case of a crisis, you lose your job(which in many cases you don't lose work, you finish work), you can easily stand back up and find another, most times you'll work 3 jobs simultaneously. Where as in other types of work, once you lose work, it may take years to get back up. This is the greatest thing, IMO about being a freelance artist. You are the sole provider of your well being. You depend on yourself, and not a company. And AAU did NOT NOT NOT teach me how to be self sufficient. They teach you how to be a cog in an already crowded machine. Freelancing means you are you're own money making machine, you are your own sustainable wheel. You spin for yourself.

Clueless TeachersAfter all of my time spent at the school, i now feel, they didn't have a fucking clue on how to be successful. They teach whatever course they are told to teach, then they receive paycheck and live their life. Those teachers got their position through the system, so of course they'll be teaching according to the system.

Alumnus Male -- Class 2000
Starting Job: Illustrator Preparedness: D+ Reputation: F
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The Academy of Art University

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