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The Academy of Art University

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I thought about attending AAU for many manyBrightDesign Arts - Industrial Design/Graphic Design/etc
I thought about attending AAU for many many years before finally going. While I didn't have a terrible experience, my experience was not worth the money that it costs to attend this school. Best advice if you do decide to go is first to thoroughly examine the requirements needed for your degree. Make sure to get all basic credits (math, english, art history, speech, etc) done elsewhere. These classes are labeled as Libral Arts requirements at AAU. As of Fall 2015 every undergrad class here is about $2400 a piece per semester so there is no reason to pay that kind of money for general education requirements. Next piece of advice would be to be fully aware that you will need to literally LIVE your major to get the most out of it here. You have to work your tail off, probably harder than you ever have before. The grading scale here is very difficult. Basically, a B at a regular college is a C here. A's are extremely rare and difficult to come by unless you are a stellar designer or artist. One complaint for me is, while still teaching things in class, almost every professor both on-campus and online would tell you to look online to learn more about things. For the cost, I don't want to be told to basically self-teach. If it's simply that easy to learn about it, then there would be no reason to go to an art school. The school can be great if you are a die-hard, 100% committed student and creator. If your heart is not in it to spend the time needed to excel then there is truly no reason to pay the outrageous cost of tuition here.
2nd Year Male -- Class 2015
Surrounding City: A+, Individual Value: D
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#academyofartuniversity: This "school" is really like the waBrightFine Arts - Painting/Sculpture/Photography/etc
#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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If you think this describes you then youNot so brightArt & Design Department
If you think this describes you then you might feel the same...
In high school I was academic, involved in sports, very social, out going and open minded.
My opinion.....
Keep in mind I'm not one of those students who flunked out and am now writing this to smear aau's "good name". This is coming from someone who was entirely open minded the whole time and didn't trust the other negative messages I've read. Sorry if this is long but I want to break down my opinion into topics so I can fully give you the pros and cons of things.

In high school I challenged myself with AP and honors courses, so you can see how I was surprised when I found the course work to be lacking at AAU. My art and design classes were good experiences because I had never had courses dedicated to specific areas of an art discipline. The other classes like astrology, math courses, english courses, were JOKES. Absolute jokes. I learned nothing new and felt like I wasted time and money. I understand they might have made those classes more lenient because it's hard for other students to balance it with their intensive art projects.... but still... we were in college.. and it felt very much like I was being babied. If you're someone who likes to learn about all different types of topics and not just focus on one subject for the next 4 years then this school is not for you!

The teachers I can't say entirely too much for because it's honestly hit or miss. My teachers who were good were AMAZING... but my teachers who were bad were HORRIBLE. Sadly there really was no in between...


The campus doesn't feel like a "campus" at all. It's only a few spread out buildings throughout san francisco that you use aau busses to get to. AAU advertises the feeling of their campus to be "the city is your campus" but in actuality that's a bit of a stretch. It feels like I'm just going to a commuter school and everyone has to take these ridiculously timed and unrealiable buses. The actual facilities themselves are just OKAY. Even though AAU does cost quite the penny, the facilities provide 'most' of what you need to do what your classes assign. This is a shame though, because think of how much better the facilities could be if AAU didn't pool so much money into advertising and other things to boost their vanity.

Yes the 'campus' is in San Francisco and SF is possibly THE greatest city I've ever been to, it has it's cons. Yes the city has a lot to offer to do in your spare time, but one can only afford to go out so much.(Unless you're one of those snooty rich kids who don't have to worry about this) If you're a freshman this is especially true, because there really arent that many parties around so you'll have to go out and spend money or stay in and be bored. (unless you hear from a friend of a friend that their friend is having an apartment party)

So, if you can afford it, then SF is AMAZING.......
I did make a good group of friends at AAU but not as many as I thought I would because I found that a lot of people at the school were really into themselves or really shy and awkward.... AAU doesn't provide a lot of opportunities to meet too many people outside of your dorm besides the events they host at the cafes.. but those in themselves feel awkward and not at all fun. If you want a school with school pride/ spirit - THIS IS NOT THE SCHOOL FOR YOU.

A lot of people who go to AAU are more into being hermits so they can focus on their work... but honestly I go by work hard, play hard and I didn't find anyone who thought the same. Either the people who play hard are dumb or the people who work hard are nonexistent socially.

If you want to meet lots of new people.... this is not the school for you.
Well those are the main things about AAU I'd want to shed some light on. I hoped this helps someone avoid the same mistake I did. I ended up transferring to another school in cali and I absolutely LOVE IT. Even though I wasted a year worth of money and time because AAU did not transfer my credits, I still feel like it was the right choice for me.

If you're the same type of person I am, then please listen to me and AVOID THIS SCHOOL.

1st Year Female -- Class 2014
Surrounding City: B+, Individual Value: F
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The Academy of Art University
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