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Kansas City Art Institute

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Although I am from Kansas City, it wasQuite BrightArt & Design Department
Although I am from Kansas City, it was a hard decision to stay in KC and go to college. I thought I wanted to explore either coast (specifically Boston), but I really found a gem at Kansas City Art Institute. Every time I went on the campus before I was a student, I was treated warmly and really felt a part of the community. As a student, I was recognized as an active member socially and artistically. At times it was even hard to let myself fail because there were so many people holding me accountable for my success.

I majored in printmaking and at first I regretted going into the department because of the apathetic senior class. My class was so determined to understand traditional and contemporary printmaking and really leave our mark on the school and our world of printmaking. We bonded and truly enjoyed ourselves in and out of the classroom. It also took me a while to adjust to the teaching style from the teachers in printmaking, but I learned how to communicate with the three main teachers and get what I needed out of each of them, without getting frustrated. I think it would have been so easy to want to transfer out of the department and even the school based on a couple of peoples' attitudes. After realizing that I make my own experiences and I will make my education worth while, I opened myself up to learning so much from my studio and liberal arts teachers.

I took a variety of studio electives in various departments and always looked at them as a way to better my own personal work...not just make the work required to get an 'A' in the class.

Additionally, I come from a lower to middle class family and I truly have minimal debt in comparison to how expensive the school is. I was really afraid of debt while in school so I tried my best to always apply for outside scholarships, even when I was already a student. I also consulted the financial aid department every year to make sure that I was getting all the aid that was due to me from the government as well as institutionally. I worked full-time throughout winter and summer break so I could have money to pay for school out of pocket and even started making a couple of payments to my loans before I graduated. I consolidated my loans right after I graduated, so I have a locked in low interest rate. The financial aid situation is all about keeping good communication with the financial aid office to have a realistic view on what you're getting yourself into.

I know this is a lot of sporadic commenting, but if I can summarize: most people that have negative experiences are negative people and 'want, want, want' with out putting forth the effort to 'EARN'. There is a lot of sacrifice that goes into going to art college that most likely doesn't happen at regular university. Before choosing to go to a specialized school, ask yourself if you are willing to put in what it takes to rise to the top? Not just while in school, but after you graduate. There are so many successful alumni that have come from KCAI...they didn't get where they are by just showing up to class and commencement ceremony.It has only been a year since I've graduated and I know if I want to work in the world that borders fine art and commercial art (printmaking), I have to work hard to be different. I am not delusional and think that someone is going to find a dream job for me. KCAI gave me a great education and perception on life as an artist. Don't be persuaded against the school without getting the whole picture.

4th Year Female -- Class 2007
Useful Schoolwork: A+, Perceived Campus Safety: B-
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I loved my college experience.Design Arts - Industrial Design/Graphic Design/etc
I loved my college experience. There is no way to grow as an artist unless you are surrounded by other dedicated talented artists and educators. That was the most valuable part of KCAI. Foundations is especially rewarding, as is the liberal arts courses. If you're looking to be an illustrator like myself, that program is no longer available there, and was undergoing a painful transformation while I was there. That is my only regret about my school. The remaining departments are flourishing, and are relatively unique, in that they are mostly specialized fine art departments. Not all art schools are set up this way. They're usually dominated by commercial oriented departments. I tell my family that being at kcai was a little like being at Hogwart's as a wizard. It was so refreshing to not be an outcast like I was my whole life, and realize that there were other openminded, creative people that think like me. The work I was doing was so challenging, especially when I got there but it was learning that I could do magic, and that if I kept at it, there would be no limits to what I could see and what I could do. I was truly blessed to be offered need-based scholarships so I could afford to attend. I don't think there was another school that would help me with that.
Alumnus Male -- Class 2000
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As a high school senior, my plan wasQuite BrightArt & Design Department
As a high school senior, my plan was to become a graphic designer, and in order to become a significant one, I decided I should go to art school. I looked at Savannah and RISD and Pratt and applied and got in to all of them, but the school that impressed me most, strangely enough was the Kansas City Art Institute. I loved it's campus, the surrounding city, and the people I talked with were really helpful. They were also really helpful with scholarship, which was integral to me attending art school.

I'll be frank with you though. Some of the students, you wonder how in the hell they got there, but honestly I believe that those are the ones paying full tuition - most everyone that gets in gets some kind of scholarship, but there are a few students attending without scholarships. Also, the security guards are beyond ridiculous, I mean... as long as you're smart about your own safety, you'll be fine as long as you avoid the sketchy parts of town, but the security guards are really really stupid, and fall asleep most of the time. There was a stint at the beginning of the year where a few cars got stolen, and then it happened with a motor bike and then some more cars. If you come with a car, buy a club. I love the fact that it's a small campus, but I also hate it because of the limited people that I meet, and the fact that everyone knows your business, but it's also really nice because everyone knows your name, it's kind of like a large family, especially with the freshman class because we all know eachother. The teachers are really top notch (well.... the art teachers). The liberal arts teachers are TERRIBLE. But, that only means that their classes are really easy, which may be a good or bad thing to you. I've actually only experienced the freshman liberal arts teachers, and they were both adjunct, and recently hired so they shouldn't give the school a bad name, even though they really did suck.

However, the foundations program here... absolutely amazing. It was one of the first in the country and you learn SO much, its so comprehensive and challenging, I worked my butt off and managed to get an A-, they tell you at the beginning that they dont give out A's.

Stay away from the digital foundations class, those students are kind of isolated from the rest of the program both literally and fundamentally, so its best (even if you are a photographer or designer) to go through a traditional foundations education, because you will grow so much as an artist.

Extra Curriculars blow quite honestly. There's a cheerleading squad. They have some planned events that are kinda fun, but the town always has something going on, and you're right in the middle of the most exciting part of it. I've never been bored when I didnt want to be.

The location of the school is really quite unique and convenient. It's sandwiched between one sort of decent art museum and another actually quite nice art museum, there's the plaza (amazing historic shopping district) just a few blocks to the southwest, and the entertainment district, westport is just up the street, about a 10 minute walk or like 30 seconds in the car.

Kansas City really is a beautiful city, it's quaint but also very modern, very interesting and all about a clash between the old and the new, which is quite visually striking. The Kansas City Star Press Building and Union Station are two good examples. It's also on the banks of the Missouri river. I wouldn't call it a college town, I'd call it an art school town honestly. Every first Friday of the month, the community has an art "gathering" I guess you could call it, it's very popular, and all the galleries down town open with new art. The school had a parade in it, and we're usually very involved with "First Fridays" as they've christened it.

For designers, there's really a good surrounding design infrastructure with some downtown firms, as well as some firms that are linked tightly with the school and more local, such as hammerpress, a really interesting studio that uses old leadpress and woodtype and old ornamental press pieces combined with silkscreening and modern design; their style is so characteristic and iconic, it's really quite unique. An artist from Hammerpress also teaches at the design dept at the institute.

The institute (supposedly) has a good reputation as an undergraduate school, the reason why it never shows up in most rankings is mainly because it has no graduate program.

Oh. The food. It's really actually very hit or miss and usually miss. There are some days when it's good, but it's so limited and very repetitive. The staff is unhelpful, loud, and annoying, and for what you're paying for the food, it's NOT worth it. You only have to live one year on campus though. Oh, and living conditions are quite nice in my opinion. The rooms are bigger than normal dorms, well bigger than my experience with normal dorms, the furniture is old but useful, and the windows have pretty nice views of the green and vanderslice or the museum. Bathrooms are usually okay, you share one large bathroom with everyone on the floor and they're decent, not excellent. Really, that's everything I can think of. I hope it's helped somehow. Overall, I love KCAI and wouldn't go anywhere else, even the schools with more "prestige" because school is what you make of it.

1st Year Male -- Class 2010
Collaboration/Competitive: A+, Perceived Campus Safety: C-
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