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The Minneapolis College of Art and Design

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Oct 01 2009Art & Design Department
Major Salary, Salary Trend, Satisfaction, Unemployment
I came to MCAD to pursue a cartooning degree, but after beginning my senior year, I'm beginning to question my decision making. This school really rides you, they expect a lot out of you and if they don't GET a lot out of you, you better rethink your life. I've been doing pretty good up till now. But like I said, I'm suddenly rethinking things. Now is not the time to pursue a degree in something "fun" or "something you enjoy." It's VERY difficult to live on an artist's salary (the teacher's will let you know this pretty regularly, they have no illusions) and it's NOT something that's easily attained. My heart's not in this anymore, and if you are thinking of coming here and you're not in it 100% you will not succeed. Plain and simple.

On the other hand, this is an excellent school. I can't tell you how much I've improved technically since I came here. My drawings are amazing, the classes are great, the teachers (most of them) know what they're doing and the students are all ready and willing to give advice on your art. It's a very supportive atmosphere, in fact a lot of the graduates will say the thing they miss most since graduation is the MCAD community. (Personally, I think 90% of everyone here is a really horrible, arrogant hipster, but the other 10% makes up some of the greatest people I could have ever hoped to meet.)Also, don't come here planning to get a boyfriend/girlfriend. Um. MCAD isn't really a school known for it's good looks. And artists are SOOO dramatic. Haha. (Seriously, if you come here single, please do yourself a favor and do NOT date anyone here. Date only people outside of the MCAD bubble.)

3rd Year Female -- Class 2010
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Faculty Accessibility: A+, Individual Value: C+
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Aug 17 2007Fine Arts - Painting/Sculpture/Photography/etc
Major Salary, Salary Trend, Satisfaction, Unemployment
I have spent three years at MCAD, and have had a bit of a struggle ever since I came here.
And it's not that the homework is particularly hard, or that the staff is unhelpful, but because of the fact that MCAD is full of people that have their own beliefs about art.

Art is biased. This is something that most people can agree on. You either like it or you don't, and it usually has very little to do with the talent of the artist and the amount of hours that were put into the piece, but simply because of the content of the compostion. If one of your instructors doens't like the content that you decided to put into your piece, then your grade is lowered.

For example. I had an instructor that was very against any type of illustrations that had 'fantasy' elements in them. So when a project was proposed to the class of 'hazards on the job,' my instructor did not like my proposed idea of a guardian angel falling over a child's toys in the middle of the night. 'Reality can be whimsical, too,' she said, and shot down my idea.

And she is like this with every student. There is a huge market for fantasy based work, with very talented artists making a fortune on their art, and MCAD looks the other way when it comes to things that cannot be observed and drawn from life. Examples of these individuals making a living off of fantasy based works are such artists as Amy Brown, Boris Valejo, Julie Bell, and Luis Royo.

MCAD has not one class devoted to fantasy based art. Nor do they have any ceramics or glass blowing classes. Anything considered a craft, and not fine art, is generally frowned upon here.

It has also been hard for me to network here. There are so many students looking to get great jobs, I'm sure the instructors aren't keen to start directing too many students to their acquaintances in the art field that they get swamped with freshly made portfolios, and they don't want to show favoritism with the students either.

I don't have any idea where to go in order to find a job that works with surface design and pattern making, and it seems that none of my instructors know where to go either. Also, there are very few internships for Illustration majors, as most Illustrators are freelance, and the rest of the companies coming to MCAD wanting interns are graphic design internships. And all students must complete an internship before graduation.

If you know the right people, and you are a 'shining star' with your art, in being that you happen to be interested in the right content that the art world is currently interested in, you'll be great. If you're like me, and enjoy things that aren't nearly as popular, you're going to have a bit of a struggle.

MCAD will pull and push a student in every single direction. The teachers will tell students that they need more complex compostions, while at the same time telling them they need to be simpler. They'll tell you to create your own style of art, and at the same time they'll tell you to branch out and try everything.

They want your work to be distinctive, but never the same. Frustration can run high, and tears may fall. MCAD may also be just the pusher that a person needs to set their feet in the right direction to change their art forever.

Personally, I wish I hadn't paid as much as I have for this education. I feel that I would have had an equally good experience at a public university, such as the University of Minnesota, and not walked away with nearly as much debt as I have now. When I graduate, I will have $80,000 worth of debt, because my art did not attract scholarships, I cannot work a full time job while still attending classes, and my family had nothing to contribute for me for my education.Just think. $20,000 a year. For four years. For one degree. It's a huge lump of debt to swallow. I would have rather received my Bachelor's elsewhere, then come here for my Master's. I wouldn't have nearly the amount of debt I do now.

3rd Year Female -- Class 2008
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University Resource Use: A+, Education Quality: B+
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Nov 01 2006Art & Design Department
Major Salary, Salary Trend, Satisfaction, Unemployment
I chose to go to MCAD after an exhaustive review of art colleges in the country offering degrees in comic art. My other two options, the School of Visual Art in NYC and the Savannah College of Art & Design didn't appeal to me as much as MCAD. Once I visited the campus, I was certain it was a good place to be.

MCAD isn't perfect, but I don't think I could have asked for a much better institution in which to pursue my degree. Of course, it was the knowledge, experience, and friends I gained there that were the really important thing, not the Bachelors. The best thing about MCAD is that it's a small school run by people who care about art and the people there. It's not a Wal-Mart-type art college, as I've heard some other places describes.

My experience with the comic department was very positive. I've come to consider most of my teachers to be friends (or at least fond aquaintances), and I know I'm an individual to them. I wasn't friendly with all the teachers, but I was never treated like a number and never ignored. All the staff at MCAD are very available to the needs and requests of students, from teachers to tech support to security to counselors. It's more like a village than a place of strict academia.

I always felt safe there, with rare exceptions. Public Safety looked after the student body as best they could, and any instances of robbery, theft, etc. reported to them were always made known to the student body at large, even the ones that occurred off-campus. After unusual spikes of criminal activity on campus while I was there, efforts were made to not only add more security checks and patrols but also offer free self-defense classes. Add to this that Minneapolis is a relatively safe city itself. Like I said, I always felt safe.

The Public Safety people were almost always really nice, too, and would give you an "escort" in their patrol vehicles if you needed it and they were able. This saved my butt a couple of times.

It's quite easy to have a social life at MCAD, too, provided you don't have too much homework. The school itself provides extra-curricular activities like yoga and special Spa Days with massages and cheap haircuts. There's also student-run clubs. During the warm months, it's common to see students stooping on the porches of the school-owned apartments that function as dorms. (But they're much nicer than real dorms.) Minneapolis is also a really fun city, and MCAD is in easy walking distance of Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown. The city's public transport is also a breeze once you get the hang of it. Luckily for broke students, there's not much need for a car if you know what you're doing.

Most of the negative experiences I had at MCAD were the fault of my fellow students and not the school itself, so I don't hold MCAD accountable. More than anything, I'm grateful I was able to attend, grow as an artist (and person) in its halls, and get introduced to a wonderful city in the process.In summation: MCAD, yay!

4th Year Female -- Class 2006
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Education Quality: A+, Collaboration/Competitive: C+
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