StudentsReview :: The Academy of Art University - Comments and Student Experiences
Search for Schools by Region

or within distance of city

Similar Schools
Art Center College of Design -- Pasadena, CA
School of the Art Institute of Chicago -- Chicago, IL
Ringling School of Art and Design -- Sarasota, FL

  Who's got the Best?

Perceptual Rankings:
You Make 'Em.
We Post 'Em.
You Vote 'Em Up.
You Vote 'Em Down.
Aww yeah.

The Academy of Art University

There are 133 Comments


Sort By: [Date] [Major] [Rating]

Select Comments:

Positive Negative Neutral Advice
I am a graduate FILM student, went toQuite BrightVideo/Media
I am a graduate FILM student, went to the school for 5 1/2 years. Here are my gripes:

1) AAU is nothing more than an extension of High School, with a a lot of cliques and teachers playing favorites. As a film student this is VERY discouraging especially when you depend on other students for help. I can't count the times I worked on other peoples set only to get a " sorry I can't help you", when time came to repay the favor. A lot of teachers play favorites. I guesss they feel its easier to help only students who could be potentially helpful to their own career. ITS A LOT like the industry in that it plays to those who have money. For instance, one student flew down to LA, paid to have their film bleached by passed only for a simple class exercise. But thats just a reflection of the real world of TV and Film- only the privileged have a voice.

1) The advisors are incompetent, specially Ron Bun and Cindy Leo. It took an extra semester because my "advisor" was uninformed about my major and miscalculated my credits. Also the administration is sometimes incompetent. The AAU informed me just 3 weeks! prior to graduated that I owed them around $1,000. Since I have student loans, tuition is automatically deducted so I still don't understand where they got this balance from!? Thanks for not keeping your students informed and taking advantage your students AAU! :)

2) I would not recommend this school. Too expensive, outdated equipment (still using clunky semi broken 35/16mm cameras from 1960's), higher level classes had instructors that were RARELY THERE, specifically Randell Love- He was one of the two most knowledgeable teacher but was there only 5/16 classes!!! Also instructors are reluctant to give advise, I guess they see us as competition. The Head of the Equipment Dept Elan Santiago is an @$$hole, no other way of saying it. I dont know one person who has said something postive about him, but no one says anything. Reason why is if he doesn't like you, you don't get the equipment you need. He caused many good equipment techs to quit unnecessarily. Eduardo, David Drum and Miss Sumtner were cool.

I would advise to take specific classes or seminars in LA or NY where there are more resources. Do not get sucked into paying $100,000 in student loans for an education like I did. The degree is worthless, I even had the Senior Year Portfolio Instructor of Motion Picture & TV tell the class that point blank. This makes no sense to a blue collar person such as myself who doesn't have the money to spend thousands of dollars on projects semester after semester. If you want to get into film, buy a camera, pickup a basic book on storytelling and video production, get yourself a job and do self fulfilling projects on the weekend's off. Or just go to LA and work your way up. Thats what I'm doing now and I already have my degree.

Two big thumbs down!
PS- A lot of these problems are systemic of the Higher Ups. Alicia "Bush" Stevens should sell her privite jet AND helicopter AND limo and actually try to fix the school, because its a school not just a business.

5th Year Male -- Class 2005
Surrounding City: A+, Individual Value: F
Rate this comment:
Useless (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Helpful
I have completed 3 semesters as a gradQuite BrightArt & Design Department
I have completed 3 semesters as a grad level in this university.
So far, I have been very disappointed with this school. Here are the reasons why:

1. The quality of most TEACHERS is a joke!
They teach grad level, yet almost none of them have a grad level education themselves. Teachers are very arrogant and treat you like you are no equal to them. Most of them are not qualified to be teachers whatsoever. One instructor is

as young as 24 years old. Almost none of them act in a respectable or professional
manner. (including cursing in your face and during lectures, making inappropriate comments about students and their lifestyle, appearances, nationality and the list goes on ) So far, I have had only ONE decent teacher - the director of the department himself. The advisors are very incompetent as well. Most of them have no ida what you are doing, what the classes are all about.

2. The quality of EDUCATION is very poor. Your money is your application, not your talent nor grades to this school. Instructors do NOT teach you at AAU. They expect you to do and know everything on your own. You basically teach yourself everything. It is a really sad fact that you are paying to be taught and end up teaching yourself. Most of the teachers do not give any valuable feedback on your work. As if they scared to say a word. They suggest you go and ask your fellow students for feedback. My question is how do your fellow students know any better then you if you are in the same boat? Also, we do not pay money to our fellow students but to the teachers to TEACH us! In most classes you do not even know what grades you have because you do not receive anything back (grades or feedback). The instructors are told not to give out good grades (this comes from one of the instructor himself) so you will not get an "A" unless you are a Pablo Picasso already. Most of the grades they give out are "C's" and this is for working your ass off with hundreds of sleepless nights. It is simply a matter of them likening your work or not. I know most of the students fail classes. I have not failed any class yet but I know of many who did. My question, again, is how 2-5 students per class fail doing all the work? I do not know. It is simply not right. Your grades are 95% depend on the quality of the materials that you use. If you cannot afford nice paper or printer, do not expect good grades no matter how talented and creative you are.

Most of them are very dissatisfied with their education. A lot of them quit, some stay just because they already have invested too much money. There are also A LOT of asian students and AAU takes an advantage of them. AUU does not require for the international students to take TOEFL so most of the students DO NOT speak english at all or very poor. Therefore, it is very difficult for other students who speak english to work with non-English speaking students in class. AAU only cares about their money that is why they accept them no matter what as long as they pay!

4. The PRESIDENT of the school is a useless woman - Elisa Stephens. She comes to school (and anywhere) in a LIMO! Why? Cause you pay her and instead of fixing the problems of this school, she spends our money on herself and her expensive toys. Everywhere I read, people just despise her, and have no respect for her.


I would say that it has been a huge waste of my money. I strongly DO NOT recommend this school. You will be disappointed. This university is 99% concerned with profit and only 1% concerned with the success of its students.There are no school scholarships, loans or grants provided by this school.

2nd Year Female -- Class 2010
Surrounding City: A+, Education Quality: F
Rate this comment:
Useless (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Helpful
Architecture Department:Quite BrightArchitecture & Urban Planning Department
Architecture Department:
I enrolled in AAU's architecture department expecting to receive the tools that would help me grow creatively and academically. I don't even know where to begin to explain why AAU's architecture department is so faulty.

First of all, I'm warning that although some places they advertise that the program is accredited. It is only accredited by WAASC, NOT by the architecture accreditation board. And they just started the architecture department so no one has graduated yet, and they still don't have the curriculum don't pat.

If all you want out of an architecture degree is to be a little creative, then go for AAU. Other than that, graduating with their BFA in architecture will do nothing for you. The classes that should be there to support your future in being an architect like physics, language,and mathematics are ALL A BIG FAT JOKE. Excuse me but - I want to be a seriously taken architect and I want to have a level of higher education in subjects other than what is esthetically pleasing for a building.

Most of students are fairly all nice, but some of them are unmotivated and are just wasting their time and money. Whats worse is that they think they're better than you just because they went to a few years of community college. If you're straight out from high school - don't go here. You'll be treated like a baby. A stupid one at that.

Theres no communication with the some of the staff and the head of the department Alberto Bertolli. He just sits around and doesn't give a fuck when the instructors try to talk to him about regulating the curriculum. He honestly has no clue whats going on when the students bring up an issue to him.

Dont get me wrong. There are a few good things about the department. The computer labs and wood shop are all new, and the printing system is pretty efficient. The IT's and the shop helpers are all super nice. The actual architecture studio itself really is a good class to take, but only if you're lucky enough to have at least one of the 3 good instructors there (Ethan Wood, Beverly Choe, & Geoffrey Gibson).

If there were one thing to make you feel better about how dreadful the architecture department is, it would be the city of San Francisco itself. It's always alive and there's always something to do with lots of opportunities to meet people. Yes there's a big homeless population, but unless they're hobos in the tenderloin; they usually don't harm people or cause too much trouble.

The public transit system is pretty good, and if you don't feel like taking a bus everyone walks in San Francisco.

In the end you'll realize that San Francisco is your campus because AAU doesn't really have much of one. There is no school spirit. Since there really isn't a campus to unite the students, a lot of people kind of go off and do their own thing in the city. This could be a good or bad thing to someone.

To anyone thinking about going to AAU for majors other than the Architecture department: pretty much the only worth while degree is the Fine Arts.

My room mate was a Fine Arts painting major, and she loved every single one of her teachers. I've seen their course work and how much she and the other Fine Arts kids were improving and i can tell you that it is definitely professional grade work.

1st Year Female -- Class 2014
Surrounding City: A+, Extracurricular Activities: F
Rate this comment:
Useless (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Helpful
The Academy of Art University
Compare AAUSave AAU

StudentsReview Advice!

• What is a good school?
• Statistical Significance
• How to choose a Major
• How to choose your Career
• What you make of it?
• How Ivy League Admissions works
• On the Student/Faculty Ratio

• FAFSA: Who is a Parent?
• FAFSA: Parent Contribution
• FAFSA: Dream out of reach

• College Financial Planning
• Survive College and Graduate
• Sniffing Out Commuter Schools
• Preparing for College: A HS Roadmap
• Talking to Your Parents about College.
• Is a top college worth it?
• Why is college hard?
• Why Kids Aren't Happy in Traditional Schools
• Essential College Tips
Ah, college. Considered by many to be the time of a young person's lif... more→
• Cost of College Increasing Faster Than Inflation
According to NPR, the cost of college... more→
• For parents filling out the FAFSA and PROFILE (from a veteran paper slinger)
Just so you know, filling out these forms is a lot more than penciling... more→
• How to choose the right college?
My name is Esteban Correa. I am currently a second year INTERNATIONAL ... more→
• Create The Right Career Habits Now
Getting ahead in your career can be easier if you make the choice to b... more→

• Senior Year (Tips and experience)
It's the end of junior year and everyone is anticipating the arrival o... more→
• Informational Overload! What Should I Look For in a College or University?
We are in an instant information age, where you can find almost anythi... more→
• Personality Type and College Choice
Personality type is something very important to consider when deciding... more→
• A Free Application is a Good Application
As a senior finishing her scholastic year, I feel that it is my duty ... more→

• College Academic Survival Guide
The leap from high school to college academics is not an insignificant... more→
• Getting Involved: The Key to College Happiness
As a tour guide, the absolute, most frequently asked question I got wa... more→
• Choose a Path, Not a Major
Unless you're one of the fortunate souls who's already found their cal... more→
• The Scoop on State Schools
A recent college graduate, I vividly remember touring campuses as a p... more→

• The Purpose of a Higher Education
You are one of the millions of people this year applying for admission... more→
• The Importance of Choosing the Right College Major (2012)
One of the most important academic choices you'll make while in colleg... more→
• How to choose a college major
I was not sure what college major to choose. When you are in your late... more→
• How to guarantee your acceptance to many colleges
Are your grades are not what you think they should be from high school... more→

• Nailing the College Application Process
College applications seem to always be put on top of students procrast... more→
• What to do for a Successful Interview
Interviews seem to become more commonplace in every facet of life as o... more→
• I Don't Know Where to Start (General College Advice)
Preparing for college is a difficult time for every student and it?s o... more→
• Attitude and Dress Code for an Interview (General College Advice)
An interview is something we all have to go through when we get a job... more→

• Starting College (General College Advice)
College is a huge milestone in your life. You?ve seen the castle like ... more→
• Boston Apartment lease: Watch out!

Are you a student and about to sign the very first lease in your li... more→