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California College of the Arts

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I started out at a small, private, cometitiveSuper BrilliantFine Arts - Painting/Sculpture/Photography/etc
I started out at a small, private, cometitive liberal arts college. I loved it - very academic, "easy" if you've managed to get in as it all follows a fomula: study. take test. write essay. make Dean's list. The only thing I could imagine studying for four years was art - so I transferred here for a proper BFA. (I majored in Photography)

I LOVED it. The school is small, the faculty attentive, the darkroom plush and well maintained. Even as a transfer I had room to take a few classes outside of my major. The kids who do well in art school are the same kids who'd do well anywhere - it's just as challenging as any other program, just in a different way. The "formula" for doing well doesn't work - you have to be self-directed, communicative, AND produce good work. There's no "just" doing the assignments. I had professors who'd worked under Ansel Adams, Noam Chomsky, and who belong to Magnum... I had one professor I really disliked, and they only lasted one semester as many students complained (and the dpt. listened!). I didn't get along with my dpt. advisor, which is a shame as there wasn't really an alternative I could go to w/o chaning my major.

There are *some* trust fund 18 yr olds, but they don't seem to last. Most of the people in my class were studious, hardworking, and a number were older or second degree students. There wasn't much "partying" because everyone was working or studying! I can't speak for other departments, but photography, graphic design, architecture etc... have reputations for being a bit more straight-laced. That said, you are in SF! and the whole city is there as a resource - great place, though a bit pricey. There are few traditional extracurriculars, but lots of kids are involved in non-profit or grass-roots/community art projects; I also studied abroad over the summer, which was excellent (year-long exchanges are available too).

I had trouble with financial aid off and on - I got enough funding, but the occasional administrative error (not always CCA's fault either - some govt./bank errors and typos) led to some stickiness. Be assertive, and stay on top of things!

I have never had trouble finding employment - and though it's not been "in my field", that's also been my choice. I currently work in finance (of all things!) and am using that to fund my work. I know several people who graduated at the time I did who ARE employed as artists, designers, etc...

The campus is urban, but I liked it - the Oakland campus is a hodge-podge of odd looking buildings (beautiful library!) surrounded by park-like redwoods and a cute neighborhood; the SF campus is in a beautifully rennovated, light-filled warehouse. Both campuses could use more parking. I skipped the dorms and lived in share-houses, usually with UC Berkeley students, which worked quite well and allowed a safer neighborhood than downtown Oakland!Keep in mind... it's one thing to get handed a graded paper or test that you can quietly fold and put in your bag. While there are a fair amount of tests/papers, you will have critiques for studio classes: you will stand up in front of the whole class while they tell you what you deserve + why and everyone will know if you did your work/homework/research or not!!!

3rd Year Female -- Class 2004
Education Quality: A, Perceived Campus Safety: C-
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I went to CCA to study for myQuite BrightIndustrial Design
I went to CCA to study for my second degree. I have a BA from a top tier University. I was hoping students, teachers, office workers, departments, would all work together towards a same goal, but was very disappointed. From the outside, the school presents well, the student work looks amazing, the staff is overall friednly. Once I actually started attending I realized how disfunctional this school really is. I really felt most of the student body was, arrogant, unfriedly, and clicky, and the teacher body was self-absorbed. I would hardly get any feedback from either students, or teachers, and only learnt to depend on skills I already had prior to attending. I would not recommend this school to second degree students or adults returning to school, perhaps young inexperienced high-school graduates can put up with the attitudes, unorganized staff, and condescending teachers, but I know I couldn't because I know it isn't the way things are normally done! In the end I decided to put my graduation on hold and attend a different school.
1st Year Female -- Class 2009
Campus Maintenance: A, Faculty Accessibility: D
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In 2005 I visited California for 2 weeksQuite BrightOther
In 2005 I visited California for 2 weeks from Northern NY (think Canada) and I fell in love. As soon as I found out about CCA my junior year of high school, I was pretty stuck on it (despite my $6,000 a year scholarship to RIT that I got for doing nothing). Please don't do that, look all over the place and visit everywhere.

Ok, so I was in love before I even got there. I lived in the dorms, which are insanely expensive for their size, especially since you're sharing with another guy. That said, my roommate was always at his girlfriend's, so I always had the room to myself. Be sure to call the bottom bunk, otherwise it's pretty awkward if you have a girl over. But honestly, I loved living in the dorms, there's no better way to do it. I've seen all the dorms and they're all really cool. Webster's chill, Irwin has a sweet view from the roof, and Clifton is just great all around.

The Oakland campus is amazing, it's just awesome in every way. The SF campus is pretty sterile, but there's always work up on the walls which is cool.

I went in majoring in photography/painting, then switched to architecture, then ID/interactive, then to Individualized. I'm now looking at that school from HS for photojournalism. If CCA had a photojournalism major with a record like that of RIT's, I'd definitely stay. The area is really great. Living in Rockridge is heaven. You can catch the BART into SF for a night of excitement or you can go to berkeley or any of the other places. I walked and explored a lot. I rode my bike EVERYWHERE. The traffic is wicked fun to ride through. The area is awesome, but the rent is insane out there. good luck finding a room for under 600 a month plus utilities (I'm used to maybe 250/mo with utilities included).

A lot of the students don't care, a lot are morons, most are wicked rich, so what that's all colleges. most of them are great folks. There's usually a party to go to and have fun. I don't smoke or drink or anything but I hung out with everyone and had fun no matter what.

Campus jobs are easy to get if you can get to them and they're easy as pie.
The teachers are pretty great (if you dig painting, f'sho check out Chris Brown, he is the boss, for real). But I didn't really feel like I was getting anywhere with any of it, like it was fizzling out real quick. It doesn't seem like a promising future.

So the reasons I left were:

the school wasn't exactly what I wanted
the price tag of the school in relation to the education quality as well as the high cost of living in the area

The area is awesome, the openings are cool, lots of snooty art snobs, a bit expensive, wicked fun, some of the best memories ever, and I made some great friends from all over the world and I even learned some Chinese. If you're interested in this school, visit and try to sit in on some classes so you get an idea of the level of things. For me it was a tad slow and tedious, but others really loved it. Go CCAC!

1st Year Male -- Class 2015
Innovation: A+, Extracurricular Activities: D
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