Kansas City Art Institute is extraordinary. Let me begin by going over a number of different points about the school. First and foremost is the education...
The freshmen year also known as "Foundations" is quite amazing. Essentially, Foundations is one, big philosophical and spiritual experience. Don't get me wrong, you will do a load of drawing and other projects, but I believe that the fundamental idea behind Foundations is to change you; it changed me. It's about thinking differently, perceiving the world differently, and most importantly it's about learning about yourself, who you really are, what you believe in, what you stand for, and what you find beautiful. It's all about developing ideas and meanings. Additionally, Foundations is meant for you to discover all new ways of expressing yourself... you may be an illustrator at heart (like myself) and come out as a sculptor! There are students that go into Foundations as filmmakers and come out at ceramists!
Now... the curriculum. The way the curriculum works is that, you begin Foundations with very little control... your professor will tell you what to draw whether you like it or not. Then... after the first several weeks you will be given some control, then a little more... and then a little more. Soon, by the end of the semester you might be able to create whatever you'd like.
Occasionally you may be given really thought provoking assignments... for instance my instructor told us that our assignment was to, "Do something impressive with color" and that was all. Sometimes the teachers will read you poems and you would make art about what you took out of it. I found it fascinating... because I'm a geek.
Now, to be honest, I actually hated Foundations for the longest time because I didn't know any of this. I thought that we would be practicing how to draw very rigorously, and learning how to draw the human figure, how to draw perspective and all these technical things, but that's actually the following year! Like I said: Foundations is more of a philosophical experience, your artwork deals with ideas and meaning.
Sophomore year is the technical year, you'll be learning all kinds of techniques and whatnot. After Foundations, the teachers are apparently not very weird and are actually applied and know that you all want to get jobs and not be some independent artist working part time at a Starbucks. At least this is what the design school teachers are like... the fine arts teachers are kinda weird too.
Don't be fooled by the advertisement for KCAI... you might think of KCAI as this wonderful school where everything is gold and silver and gleaming beautifully... no. Most of the buildings are really old, all of them have weird chemical smells, paint is chipping or super globbed on the walls and floors. The Foundation studio is basically a warehouse, the floor is concrete and you have big studios with this kind of thick wall to tack stuff on. It's not what I expected, I thought that a school that costs $30,000+ would at least look a little nicer, but no. Get used to it!
The dorms are a lot of fun, all the freshmen are required to stay there and since the dorms are so small you basically know everyone in your class. Also, fear the elevator... it's definitely not safe, I'm surprised nobody has died in it. (Actually some girl peed in one of them when she was drunk! She was my friend's roommate, haha!) The great thing about the dorms is that each floor has a theme?like I was in a Star Wars themed floor, there was a Harry Potter themed floor, another was like ancient Japanese folklore, and they change every year. Lots of fun!
Downsides to KCAI... EXPENSIVE. EVERYTHING IS SO EXPENSIVE. The tuition... the books... the supplies in the book store... the meal plan... everything! Make sure you take out like $2000 extra per year on your student loans because you will need it I'm sure. I used $1200 last year on supplies and books. Also, books! Sometimes your teacher will say they have a book and you never end up using it, so I wouldn't buy a book unless you actually have assignments out of it. Or use a friends.Advice: You can learn like, how to make art on your own you know. You don't NEED to go to KCAI... I transferred to a state school because they're teaching the same stuff, and it's cheaper there!