Before reading, consider my situation: Japanese-American Painting Major from Iowa. Need not take any non-art-related courses because of AP classes and dual credit courses from high school. On 2 scholarships and a grant, otherwise paying with a loan which I shall pay myself (not my parents). Was somewhat pressured by family as well as personally tempted to attend a University for a degree in Mathematics or Physics, so coming to an Art School was a VERY DIFFICULT and HEAVY decision.
It's difficult to sum up SCAD's student body or faculty in one world or two, because I've met some of the most diverse groups of people here. I've met closeminded, racist, arrogant rich kids (which aren't few) as well as extremely bright, driven and inspiring students (which aren't few either, but compared to the former, are RARER in general). It just takes a bit of exploring.
As for Faculty, most generally know what they are doing. I've had my share of mediocre teachers... but there are some outstanding educators who are well worth the money (Professor John Rise for one).
Foundation studies are extremely important for developing a common artistic language and community among artists and SCAD understands this well... Those who claim that Foundations are irrelevant and a waste of money do NOT understand this. And those who fail to understand quickly drop--because SCAD, like any college, is NOT EASY. Professor Hamilton was very tough in Art History but I learned much (you just have to do your part of the work!) and got perfect exams. In Drawing and Design classes, the professors really challenged me to do much more and harder work than I've ever before... and surrounded by awesome artists, I felt extremely excited and energized. My professors treated me like a professional and I was more than willing to pour 12 hours a day into drawing, Friday through Sunday. If you can't do that, forget art. People without that drive won't get far in this industry anyway.
There ARE rich and snooty people who are mediocre at art, alright. But those people quickly disappear when they realize art education isn't something easy that you can get with your parent's money. And as you advance towards your degree, you realize that the ones who remain are the best and brightest in the world.
Savannah isn't the safest place in the world. I hear there was a drug raid last quarter with 2 SCAD students involved (who ended up getting shot) or muggings this quarter. There are a lot of tourists and people who don't know where they're going around. It's not as bad a place as more metropolitan areas, but it's not a haven either. Be smart about it, use common sense, take precautions, travel in groups... I've had no problems and have felt safe so far.
I eat extremely healthy and SCADCAFE is dissatisfying... I cannot eat out anywhere because of high sodium content, and SCAD food is very salty (though my friends disagree and pour on the salt and dressing. so I guess that's for those concerned about getting a stroke at 35). It depends on who the cook is that day. SCAD food is VERY expensive and usually not worth the money ($8-10ish per meal) so I am planning to live off campus and without the meal plan.
SCAD has a LOT of clubs, and Residence life staff and the Student Activities groups have things to do all the time, from dances to pajama parties and movie showings... to galleries, visiting artists, workshops, free food, hypnotists, and more. The gym is nice, the Library is impressive when it comes to Magazines and art-related texts (but kinda mediocre when it comes to sciences) and there are lots of good restaurants and interesting shops peppered around the city. Classes require heavy work, so you never run out of things to do.
Administration, I'd have to look into more. So far I've had no problems with the system so far, and SCAD generously gave me a free year worth credits for my college-level courses/exams, but all systems have it's glitches and corruption... You have to learn to outsmart the system.
SCAD has its negatives, but what overrides it all for me is the impressive number of stellar artists. From all over the world the best artists gather (though there are lots of mediocre people too, like I said earlier, those tend to disappear over time). When I go visit other Art Institutions, student work looks like... STUDENT work. They don't look like they poured their heart and soul into it. They don't look professional and serious. They look like drawings from photographs done in a hurry just to get it done... I don't feel passion, talent, competition, professionalism... that SCAD offers.
The SCAD classroom is simply at a higher level than that of other Art schools. That is why I am here... Not because the food tastes good or the clubs are fun or the classes are easy. I am here to BECOME AN ARTIST.
If the thought of Art History class exams that makes you memorize 100 artworks at a time scares you, or you're too lazy to go draw after dinner til midnight every day... you're not gonna cut it. But if you have the determination to be the world's best, SCAD is for you.