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| Wow, where to begin? In general, my time at KCAI was great fun, emphasis on FUN. But I think every kid who goes to college is going to have the same fun, regardless of the school they attend--the kind that comes with growing up and learning who you are. |
Also, kudos to the liberal arts department at KCAI. My negative ratings and comments are meant only for the fine art instruction I received. During my time at KCAI, 1995-99, I found that I couldn't get enough of the lib. arts classes. At the time, I felt it was the only department that justified the outrageous cost of tuition, which, I have learned, has only increased since my time at the art inst. Many of the same profs are still there, and I imagine lib arts is still the best, strongest department on that campus.
So, I majored in photography at a time when digital was just coming into wide use. The campus had not yet been wired for internet. There was internet available in the computer lab and I think on a few machines in the design department. In the mid-late nineties, my department was called "Photo-video," and covered photography, video, audio, some film, and minimal animation. First semester of Sophomore year was offered as a sort of "survey" period, where each student took courses in all 3--photo, video, and computer animation, before choosing what he or she would like to pursue. I found the courses during the survey period to be pretty good, basic, introductory courses on the technique and theory of the media.
After "survey semester," instruction pretty much disappeared, and anything that was even remotely commercial was sneered upon by ALL the instructors (except the animation instructor), and some of the students. For instance, a fellow student was excellent at taking beautiful, pristine photos of natural landscapes. He had talent to burn. Most of the comments he received from professors could be boiled down to "well, it's nice, but what are you going to do? --make calendars for the rest of your life?"
In other words, the more off-beat, avant-garde and marginal your work was, the better chance you had to gain the respect of the professors. God forbid someone might want to, say, pay some bills with their work--this was no good at the high-falutin' Kansas City Art Institute, where elitism was the name of the game. Once, when a group of students, myself included, questioned our professor as to why we were not taught technique in a REQUIRED Commercial Photo class, our answer was "You want lighting techniques?--You can learn all that from a book!" If that was indeed the case, then why on earth were we enrolled in these courses? I never understood that attitude. If the feeling was that technique could be picked up in manuals and books, then surely, we must have been learning SOMETHING in art school. But what? I am still trying to figure it the hell out. I know for one thing that creativity certainly CANNOT be taught. You either have it or you don't.
Mostly, I learned the elitist language of the world of high art. I learned pretty words and phrases, that, when spewed forth in the presence of others, make you look like an asshole who paid exorbitant sums of money for a useless art degree.
What's the moral of my story? I am 31 years old and see no end to my student loans, which I have had to put in forebearance several times since graduating. In addition, a few years after graduating from KCAI, I found a small technical school and put myself through one of their certificate programs for graphic design in order to find a job that paid more than $10 an hour. This program taught me all the technical computer skills I needed, and was probably the smartest thing I have ever done. I have also considered dropping KCAI from my resume, since it does nothing but date me.Hindsight is most definitely 20/20, and if I had it to do all over again, I would rather save myself the financial burden and resulting resentment, and either go to a different school or just not even go to college. I know that sounds bleak, but it boils down to this: 18 years old with zero debt, or 22 years old, with $80,000 of debt, and no job skills to show for it. You decide.
|Feb 01 2008|| Alumna Female --
Class 2000 |
| I decided on the Art Institute primarily based on the campus visits and the facilities I was shown, which included painting and sculpture primarily, as well as foundations and Ceramics, you know, the departments they WANT to show off. My foundations year was absolutely stellar, the teacher I had was tough and demanding and treated me like an individual and actually helped me with a couple of family crises I was enduring during that year. I had decided to pursue Illustration with a plan to transfer into Interdisciplinary before they dropped the Illustration Department (much to the chagrin of well, everyone who was planning on going into said department.) But I shrugged it off, because I was going to go into my second choice department, New Media, or as it became known, Digital Filmmaking.|
Let me put out the good points about the school before I get any further. The Campus is very nice and the facilities for painting and sculpture and ceramics are great. Some departments are absolutely amazing as seen from an outsider and I dont doubt they are great place to go. The faculty, when you can get a hold of them, are very helpful and responsive. The campus is well located and central to many things in Downtown Kansas City. Some artwork is very experimental in nature and really does try to push the limits of what can or can't be done.
Now, onto the bad:
The faculty are a joke. They really are (at least in digital filmmaking) Some of them are NEVER in their offices and getting ahold of them via email is next to impossible, I often have to wait days for a response. The head of Digital Filmmaking Track has turned a department that could have been a great expiremental media department into a bad film department with no film facilities whatsoever. I question his skill with software that is required for video editing. He pushes his own aesthetic to the detriment of anything else and he has, on many occasions, taken equipment from the media center without checking it out or even telling anyone for weeks on end. Another faculty member does not even challenge students to hold themselves to a high standard. He will validate a video or photo that is complete shit and villify anyone who disagrees. He also holds an unrealistic schedule in his classes and ends up having to cut everything at the end of the semester due to lack of time.
The department has gone through a major paradigm shift recently and favors more cinematic film and squashes experimental video. This department used to be a mesh of multiple medias where one student could work on experimental animation, another could work on database video, another on audio, etc. Now, because of the main teacher, that is all gone or disappearing. The Most expiremental students are Seniors, the Juniors are sort of on the fence, but the sophomores are 100% cinema driven (though some fight against the teacher's whims, which I applaud.) Two students were convinced to come into this department based on complete lies (that we had a full experimental video suite, we don't.)
The workload in our department is inconsistent and the grading is erratic and based entirely on a) what the teacher thinks of the aesthetic of your work or b) if you have the easy going teacher, you'll get an A anyway. The assignments dealing with concept are far to vague and forced down the throats of students who are still trying to learn the software, and while this isn't a technical school, some students do need help with the software, help which is not available through the faculty.
The facilities were nonexistent until this semester, and they're still terrible. I have a laptop that I do my video work on. My $2000 laptop out rendered a $10,000 Mac Pro. I want to repeat that. my LAPTOP out rendered a computer built SPECIFICALLY TO RENDER VIDEO!!!!! The computers are run by a tech crew that doesn't know dick about video or how to run a server. The computers in our lab can not run dvds, software constantly crashes or doesn't work at all because students lack admin rights, software is missing key plug ins. There is no good HD workflow, cameras are constantly broken or being mishandled, we recently got 3 brand new 1080p monitors and we aren't allowed to use them because the department chair wants to permanently mount htem on the wall instead of making them available to students.
The school is also not well protected, people are assaulted regularly, though they are trying to figure out. The student body in general is a mix of rich kids who have everything handed to them or disillusioned students like myself who feel generally stuck.I would suggest skipping this school entirely. My list of greivances isn't even halfway over. The administration will lie to you completely to get you to come here and then, unless you're a painter, sculptor, or ceramacist, end up in a department with bad facilities and fickle teachers. Go somewhere else and thank me later.
|Jan 03 2008|| 4th Year Male --
Class 2008 |
| Okay first off i need to say on entering this school i was told there was an illustration department (the reason i came to the school), LIES! then i was told i could do new media work, also lies, the school cut the new media department and changed it to digital film. a not so well thought out department teaching its student's almost nothing. i mean i could be learning the same amount teaching myself, heck most of the time i am teaching myself how to do things. and i'm not paying $27,500 a year to teach myself.|
next i need to talk about the atrocious facilities (other than the painting department). the foundation department, also called as the temporary building (and it has been known as that for about 30 or 40 years now) is falling apart, i mean i was hurt about 10-12 times because of the of disrepair the building. then in the digital film department we just got a computer lab that is up to par, well if any of the softwhere would work that is. and there are about 3 rooms that are always freezing cold (coat worthy) even when it's 100 degrees out.
and last is the safety of the school. don't get me wrong security is good and they do their job, but i have been mugged 4 times on campus! and once is one to many times.in closing if you are thinking about coming to this school i would look at your other choices one more time. foundations, animation, and painting are wonderful here, but just about everything else isn't worth your time. there are better schools out there, KEEP LOOKING!
|Jan 03 2008|| 3rd Year Male --
Class 2009 |